Don’t panic – I’m not declaring my love for a stranger – a concierge- on my website just yet.
But rather acknowledging the astonishingly good, insightful & even riveting entertainment the concierge at Rome’s Hotel De Russie provided for me tonight. For at least 30 minutes, it was like falling in love.
The Hotel De Russie has hosted some of the world’s most successful and famous people. George Clooney, The Beckhams (the whole family), Brad Pitt, Jude Law, Justin Bieber, Robert Downey Junior and Jessica Biel are just a few who have stayed there, so I guess the concierge have had a lot of five star practise.
I was on my way out, it was 9.30pm, (late even for Rome) & I needed a restaurant. Not just any restaurant – in the Jewish quarter, amazing food, brilliant atmosphere & no pizza or pasta, I needed a change I told the concierge. I admit I was being fussy, but not deliberately.
What unfolded before me was a sea of passion. It’s the only way to describe it, and I don’t know that you’d see it anywhere other than in Italy. Bob ( not his real name – his concierge name) & Alessandro swung into action before my eyes. It was like watching a dance.
There were two problems – one was it’s late August and so many places are closed for the holidays, the other was being 9.30pm, many were flat out & not picking up the phone – & unless they did, the concierge couldn’t be sure they were open.
The air filled with staccato conversations as the two concierges talked together, then to people on the phone, slammed phones & picked them up one after the other calling every restaurant they could think of, then calling in favours to find me the right spot. They spoke in Italian, so I could not understand a word. It was the energy I felt & read. I looked left, right, back left, and on it went. It reminded me of tennis.
Had George Clooney or Victoria Beckham witnessed the same thing ? I pondered. After about 6 minutes of this frenzied energy, Alessandro said – I’m calling my mother. She knows what’s open, what’s good & where the tables are in that area.
Two minutes & three phone calls later no joy. She swore in Italian (I think) loudly in her fabulously sexy Italian accent & leaned over the counter looking me in the eye saying “if you see a blonde woman with a white poodle, pink sneakers & immaculately dressed – tell her to stay home. My mother has a better life than me – I need her on call for me, that’s her job, she’s my mother.”
I was hysterical – she was dead serious. This was no laughing matter. Whilst the pair continued to scan computer screens & bash numbers into their phones, I started to talk through the dinner with them I’d had the previous night – which was a complete disaster.
That cost almost 400 Euro for raw fish & salad for two, bottled water, 5 wines, fresh fish & 2 more salads, coffee & dessert. And all whilst staring at a grotty piazza- so no view. Rome can be pricey.
The concierge team were horrified beyond belief to hear of this “catastrophe” as they called it, caused by “criminals ” (the restaurant management), & wanted to call them on the spot and insist I go there immediately for a complimentary meal to rectify things – such is the pull of a concierge in Rome at a high level hotel. But I’d had enough of grotty piazzas so politely declined – and they’re restaurant hunt went up a notch.
Fearing a lack of success tonight, and with things slipping through there fingers, the concierge’s energy raised as the conversation moved to tomorrow – where was I having breakfast, lunch & dinner?, they inquired.
I felt like forgoing my dinner and sitting in front of these two all night – it was pure theatre. If these guys can’t get you in somewhere, no-one can. They ultimately found me a fantastic restaurant, and a taxi, and I was treated like gold throughout my evening there.
In a city like Rome, where things can be hot, hectic and exhausting, staying in a hotel like this, with a concierge service at this level is worth every cent. And I guess what I am really talking about is basic human kindness and generosity of spirit – which just isn’t as common these days as it should be. We could all learn something from these guys at the concierge desk at The Hotel De Russie.