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Luxury travel tip – get to know the concierge

Mauricio Ammazzini at Villa San Michele

Mauricio Ammazzini at Villa San Michele – drawing a detailed map upside down

Simply Sunday – and actually, particularly if Sunday is a weekend where you are, you need a concierge even more.  Weekends can be pretty lonely for travellers away from home.  Getting to know the concierge can put you in the right direction when it comes to local boutiques or fashion outlets.  Want to shop in Switzerland on a Sunday?  Forget it. Which restaurants are open on a Sunday (this might be tricky in Rome, for instance)? What about gyms that open at decent, as opposed to slothful mid-morning times, at weekends?

The concierge is the answer.  InterContinental concierges offer special local experiences on their hotel’s website.  In London, for instance, Ashley Harman at InterContinental London Westminster suggests running through St James’s Park and around Hyde Park (a good workout, this one). Australian Simon Rose, at InterContinental Park Lane, is full of food ideas – dine in, at the lovely Cookbook Café or the fine-dining Theo Randall, or head east along Piccadilly to Fortnum & Mason or The Wolseley.

The gal comes across sensational concierges more and more.  In Geneva, InterContinental concierge Nicolas Avril put a personal farewell note in her departure car, while Mandarin Oriental‘s Samuel Léveillé arranged the visit to Hublot.  In Florence, Four Seasons’ Paul Lydka arranged visits to the Gucci Museum and the private sanctum of parfumer Lorenzo Villoresi. A few miles away, up at Villa San Michele in Fiesole, Mauricio Ammazzini, holds court.  Last time he appeared in print, in Orient-Express’ excellent ‘visit Italy’ booklet, he was taking kids around Florence on a Vespa – here he is in more usual pose, behind his desk in the lobby decorated with mediaeval frescoes.  Yes, every luxury hotel should have a concierge like these legends.