Nobody likes to feel like a tourist. Whether you’re in New York or New Delhi, wandering aimlessly or, worse, finding yourself someplace a local would never stoop to visit is an entirely unpleasant experience. Lucky for anyone visiting London, there’s Simon Rose.
Since 2008, the concierge at InterContinental London Park Lane and has made it his business to provide the hotel’s guests with some of the most unique experiences the city has to offer. It’s a position that’s kept Rose, a native Australian, plenty busy.
“I think in any major city, the sites and attractions really change,” he says. “What sets apart our concierge from other hotels is our network and ability to get guests into restaurants, performances, tours, historical houses—all sorts of things that other concierges couldn’t.”
And how does he do that? Well, Rose is hesitant to reveal too many tricks of the trade, but he does say, “One of the most powerful things I’ve found in my job is not only making sure you’re taking care of the guests and our internal customers but also leveraging the relationships with the people that make the city tick.”
While Rose says he’s lucky to work in a hotel that’s home to one of his most-recommended restaurants—Theo Randall, the rustic Italian spot inside the InterContinental—not every hotspot is so easy to find. According to Rose, guests have recently been clamoring to get into restaurants like the modern Mayfair Indian spot Benares and the Peruvian restaurant Coya as well as always-sold-out theatrical experiences like The Book of Mormon, now at the Prince of Wales Theatre.
While hard-to-get theater tickets or reservations at a hot spot are classic concierge gets, what Rose does for his guests—like recently booking an after-hours tour of the Tower of London—can require much, much more.
“I had a guest here who proposed on a certain pink beach in Bermuda, and he wanted to renew his vows and bring back that experience—so he asked me to arrange a jar of this very specific pink sand that you can only find in Bermuda,” Rose says of one of his more challenging projects. “And that was arranged within a 72-hour window.”
Another time, Rose was responsible for meeting a client’s specific tastes when he wasn’t even at the hotel.
“One of our regular clients has a particular taste for grouse, which is a bird here,” he explains. “There’s only a certain time of the year where people are allowed to shoot these birds, and it’s a very prized possession to have the first grouse of the season. [The client] requested for me to get 50 of these birds and have them packaged, wrapped and sent to the Middle East within five working days. That was an interesting one.”
Not everything is quite so complicated, however.
“The royals here in London are still very popular, as are the changing of the guards and the Houses of Parliament; the average person who comes and spends four to five days in London wants to be hitting those major points,” Rose says. “We have relationship swith a couple of companies that have the bespoke tours here in London, with guides who knows history and can really bring it to life. That’s something I always want our guests here at the Intercontinental to experience during their stay.”
The InterContinental has invested heavily in its concierge program, including creating videos available to guests with insider tips on the city they’re visiting and rolling out an app with information from InterContinental concierges around the world. Still, having someone like Rose on your side is an unparalleled perk.
“When people are traveling, their time is so valuable,” he says. “I would love for our guests to be coming to us and using us as much as possible to make the most of their time.”