5 Insider Itineraries for These Top 5 Destinations, According to Luxury Hotel Concierges

These five concierges in Paris, Hong Kong, Cape Town, London, and Marrakech reveal their favorite city itineraries that they usually only share with guests.

Jason Laker-Jones, the head concierge at the Corinthia London, stands on the hotel's front steps holding luggage in each hand

Jason Laker-Jones is the head concierge at the Corinthia London.

Courtesy of Corinthia London

Walk through any high-end hotel lobby, and you’ll probably see it: a concierge desk where a smiling staff member is ready to assist. But it’s also a place that guests all too often pass up. (And if they do stop by, it’s mostly to book theater tickets or to try to score a reservation at an impossible-to-get-into restaurant.)

What savvy travelers understand, though, is that a top-notch concierge can be the secret weapon to a truly special trip thanks to their deep knowledge of their home city. They can unlock an experience you might not have known existed—like a vibrant cultural pocket of Hong Kong or a cultural site that reveals Marrakech’s ancient history. At the very least, they can find the best way to bring to life your long-held fantasy about a destination, like partaking in harvest season in the Winelands of South Africa or embarking on a culinary tour of Paris. Here, we’ve tapped five of the best concierges around the world that can make all of that happen . . . and more.

Art and flowers in Chelsea, London: Jason Laker-Jones, concierge, Corinthia London

London has a wealth of cultural experiences throughout the year, and a personal favorite of mine would have to be RHS Chelsea Flower Show (in 2024, it’s taking place from May 21 to 25). The flower show is the epitome of British summertime culture, and it turns urban London into a horticulturist’s paradise. And when combined with Chelsea in Bloom, where surrounding designer stores and Chelsea boutiques compete to create their own floral masterpieces, the week feels like a quintessential British experience.

Chelsea also happens to be my favorite neighborhood, since it offers the traveler a holistic London experience: art, culture, a food market, and a vast array of dining options. As far as what to see here, the Saatchi Gallery showcases the work of emerging artists, highlighting contemporary works in a beautiful space. For a bite to eat, I recommend The Butcher’s Tap and Grill by noted English chef Tom Kerridge. A true highlight is curating a picnic with items from the Duke of York Square fine-food market, located steps from the Saatchi Gallery, to enjoy in the Chelsea Physic Garden, which was established in 1673. And no trip to London is complete without a visit to iconic department stores Harvey Nicholls, Selfridges, or Harrods, and I suggest a trip to all three. From $1,202; book now

A cultural immersion in Hong Kong: Michael Chou, chief concierge, The Peninsula Hong Kong

Michael Chou is the chief concierge at The Peninsula Hong Kong.

Michael Chou is the chief concierge at The Peninsula Hong Kong.

Courtesy of The Peninsula Hong Kong

Although Hong Kong is often thought of as a hyper-modern financial center, there’s so much more to the city. For example, one of my favorite places is Tai Kwun, a revitalized historic complex in Central’s Soho district, and I always recommend guests visit for its blend of culture, art, and a sense of the past. It’s a former police station and prison compound that was completed in the 1920s. Now it’s one of the main places in Hong Kong to see modern art and architecture (Herzog & de Meuron designed the JC Contemporary gallery, which looks like a giant cube and hosts several exhibitions a year). Elsewhere in Tai Kwun, you can see what the city looked like a century ago through its preserved buildings, including old jail cells. Afterward, I suggest guests take the steep Peak Tram ride from Central to Victoria Peak (known locally as simply “the Peak,”) which is one of the highest points in Hong Kong and offers breathtaking views of the city—especially at night.

The concierge desk at The Peninsula Hong Kong is flanked by two staircases.

The concierge desk at The Peninsula Hong Kong

Courtesy of The Peninsula Hong Kong

There are also a couple of neighborhoods I love to recommend. The first is Mongkok, known for its bustling markets and lively atmosphere. It’s easy to immerse yourself in local culture by exploring Temple Street, which has a famous night market filled with food stalls, fortune tellers, and vendors selling everything from clothes to electronics. I also love the West Kowloon Cultural District, which is a hub of arts and culture in Hong Kong. Here, you can visit the M+ Museum, another Herzog & de Meuron building that showcases contemporary art, design, and architecture. The Hong Kong Palace Museum, meanwhile, offers a look into Chinese imperial art and history. For those interested in traditional Chinese opera, visit the Xiqu Centre, with its stunning architecture and performances. From $830; book now

Paris for gourmands: Julie Benoit, lead of guest experience, SO/ Paris

Left: Julie Benoit, the lead of guest experience at the SO/ Paris, poses on a rooftop. Right: A room with orange chairs, decor, and lighting

Julie Benoit is the lead of guest experience at the SO/ Paris.

Courtesy of SO/ Paris

The first thing most guests want to know when they arrive in Paris is where to eat and drink, as there are so many options. It can feel overwhelming, but I have a list of favorites that I love to share. Tekès, in Sentier (the former garment district), offers vegetarian cuisine with Levantine-inspired dishes meant for sharing in a cozy, candlelit atmosphere. Then there’s Caché, tucked away between the Père-Lachaise cemetery and Rue de Bagnolet. It’s kind of a Parisian secret that serves Mediterranean cuisine featuring fresh fish daily. It’s perfect for a summer evening, especially with its cobblestone terrace.

Collier de la Reine is my team’s favorite spot, and it has a cocktail bar, a brasserie offering French dishes and seafood platters, and a wine cellar. Sushi Shunei is one of the best omakase menus in Paris, in an elegant and minimalist setting dedicated entirely to sushi. Only a maximum of 10 people are allowed in the intimate dining room. In 2016, Jean-François Piège opened Clover Grill, a now very well-known steakhouse in the heart of Paris, offering exceptional cuts of meat cooked over charcoal or spit fire. BB Blanche is the perfect spot for a brunch alfresco as spring begins. Set in a former private mansion, it offers a quintessential Parisian experience.

The first thing most guests want to know when they arrive in Paris is where to eat and drink... I have a list of favorites that I love to share.
Julie Benoit, leader of guest experiences, S/O Paris

For bars and wine cellars, the options are almost as vast, but my favorites include L’Avant Comptoir du Marché, located under the arcades of Marché Saint-Germain, one of Yves Camdeborde’s renowned spots, perfect for social gatherings over drinks, with light snacks or a full meal. Grain[s] is a small wine and sake bar in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Près with ’70s-inspired decor (zinc counters, terra-cotta floors). It barely accommodates 15 people. Candelaria is a standout Mexican taqueria in the Marais, with everything made in-house, including the tortillas, as well as a world-class cocktail bar. Fréquence has as many wine bottles and shakers as there are vinyl records, all with a cool Scandinavian ambience in the Bastille neighborhood. Cravan in Saint-Germain-des-Prés has vibes inspired by art, fashion, cinema, and literature—perfect for enjoying a cocktail in a special setting. From $653; book now

South Africa for oenophiles: Nigel Oosthuizen, concierge guide, One&Only Cape Town

Luvo Ntezo, the head sommelier at the One&Only Cape Town, studies a graduated cylinder of wine in a wine cellar

Luvo Ntezo is the head sommelier at the One&Only Cape Town.

Courtesy of the One&Only Cape Town

Here in the fertile agricultural regions around Cape Town, we have legendary vineyards that are a big part of life for many Capetonians (combined, the Cape Winelands produce about a billion liters of wine each year). We have a few one-of-a-kind experiences here for guests that show off Cape Town at its best when it comes to wine. These tours give hotel guests a behind-the-scenes glimpse of how it all comes together, from the soil to bottling. Luvo Ntezo is our head sommelier at the One&Only Cape Town, and during the harvest (which is usually in January) you can participate in an exclusive tour of Simonsig Wine Estate in Stellenbosch with him.

Here, the experience begins in a tractor. You meander through the vineyards while indulging in the knowledge of an expert winemaker. A walk in the vines includes soil analyses and picking grapes while learning about viniculture. Then, you visit the cellars and learn how grapes are de-stemmed, sorted, punched, crushed, and finally transferred into barrels. This is a fun and interactive day that also includes a delicious lunch, as well as a winemaker certificate to remember the experience by—and of course a delicious tasting of wines set among the vineyards. From $1,225; book now

Stories from the desert: Omnia Driba, concierge, Mandarin Oriental Marrakech

The Salon Berbère at the Mandarin Oriental Marrakech features white arches and white furnishings.

The Salon Berbère at the Mandarin Oriental Marrakech

Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental Marrakech

Two of the most special aspects of Marrakech are its historical sites and the desert. First, I would recommend all travelers start with a tour of the Medina—the original walled city in Marrakech. Must-see stops include Koutoubia Mosque, Medersa Ben Youssef (a 14th-century Islamic college), and Bahia Palace. We can arrange private tours of the Medina, which is a wonderful way to learn the history of the city. And then for something more adventurous, my favorite experiences we offer are the outings to the Agafay Desert, which is only about 30 minutes by car from Marrakech.

You have a couple of options in terms of activities. One is a quad and buggy ride across the rugged sand dunes and desert terrain. Otherwise, you can try a camel ride that will eventually take you to a traditional Berber tent where a Moroccan lunch is served. (I’d suggest doing the quad ride in the morning followed by the camel ride afterward, if you want to try both.) The best part of this excursion is when the sun sets: There’s a bonfire for staying warm while stargazing. We can also arrange a hot-air balloon ride over the Atlas Mountains at sunrise, followed by breakfast by Dar El Bacha, a beautiful old palace in the Medina, which is now a museum. From $1,743; book now

John Wogan is a travel, design, and culture writer and editor based in New York and California. His work appears regularly in T, The New York Times Style Magazine, and Architectural Digest.
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