Karim Bernichi, Assistant Head Concierge, Crowne Plaza London – Kensington

Q: What do you enjoy most about being a concierge?
A: I enjoy helping people, making sure their stay is hassle free and that they remember the hotel and particularly the service as exceptional, evoking an emotion in guests to promote loyalty and affection.
I enjoy the diversity and spontaneity of working with such a cosmopolitan clientèle and how the demands on me vary so dramatically.

Q: What did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
A: I am an animal lover and it was always my dream to work as a vet, or maybe in a zoo looking after the big cats.  I became a concierge, a long way from being a vet, but am very happy with my job – I find it really satisfying.

Q: Do you have any favourite stories from your work life?
A: I once had to go and get a piece of luggage  for one of our VIP guests from an address that he gave me located just outside Paris. I left straight from the hotel wearing my concierge uniform and when I arrived at the address given by the guest, I found out that he had given me the wrong address.  I called the guest to confirm and he gave me a different address located about 7 hours by train from Paris, near Lyon. I spent the night in Paris – luckily my Mum lives there and was happy to accommodate me for one night. What was expected to be a 4 hour straightforward trip, ended up being over 24 hours, mostly on trains. Seeing the guest happily reunited with his bag was a satisfactory reward for the long journey though.

Q: Tell us about your favourite hidden gem in London?
A: Personally, my favourite place in London is Shad Thames. It’s an historic street that has Tower Bridge at its west end, and runs along the south side of the River Thames, set back behind a row of converted warehouses; it then takes a 90 degree turn south along St Saviour’s Dock. The street is partly cobbled and is host to well-known riverside restaurants. The area also includes numerous cafes, bars and shops for quick shopping or nights out. I’ve  been living around here for the last 10 years and it’s a favourite place to stroll with my wife and daughter in the evening and on weekends.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
I was told by my General Manager that “your job as a concierge is to be a master communicator; to greet every person you meet in a friendly manner so that they can feel the natural warmth of your kindness, acceptance, and recognition. Except for the more serious circumstances, a warm and enthusiastic smile creates the best starting point for a mutually enjoyable conversation.”

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