How to Find the Best Concierge at Your Hotel

by SharonKurheg

When you go to a hotel that has a concierge desk, it can really be a crapshoot. You can wind up with an awful concierge who is obviously getting paid a commission for their recommendations. Or you can have an amazing one who does everything right and truly is as helpful as can be (we’ve experienced both and OMG, were the crappy ones CRAPPY! But the amazing ones were AMAZEBALLS!).

When (well, if) your 3-star hotel has a concierge desk, there’s a decent chance that your concierge (if they offer one) might be more of the “works on commission” type. But if you’re staying at a 4- or 5-star hotel, there’s more hope that you get an amazing concierge – and there’s an easy way to see if you have “the best of the best,” with just one quick glance…

If you see a concierge wearing a pin that looks like this:


Then you’ve hit the jackpot.

Concierges wearing that pin are part of a society called Les Clefs d’Or (“Golden Keys”), and they are known to be some of the top-notch concierges you’ll ever find.

Founded in 1952 (but with roots going back to the late 1920s), the association was organized so concierges in the area could network and work together for the benefit of their respective clients. It’s gone through several changes over the decades, but the goal is still for members to be the “elite” concierges, who can “open any door” (hence the “golden keys”) for their clients. Although the society began in France, it’s since grown to include concierges from all around the world, as a way to make their guests’ experiences the best they can be.


The requirement for membership in the society varies from country to country, but in general, potential members have to be at least 21 years old, have to have worked five years in a hotel, and at least three of those years as a concierge before they can apply. Some chapters require a written exam that tests knowledge of wine, menus, airlines, florists, and general problem-solving (i.e. Where can you find a pink poodle at 3 am?). You need to provide letters of reference from the past and present employers. You also need to provide letters of introduction from two active members of the Society.

Attaining membership isn’t easy, and only about 25% of those who apply are allowed to join this society that vows to “accommodate every guest request so long as it is morally, legally, and humanly possible.”

There are currently over 4,000 members of Les Clefs d’Or, and they can be found in over 80 countries. If you get a concierge who’s a member in your travels, consider yourself very, very lucky. Enjoy!

*** Thanks to David P. for his assistance with this post!

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jfhscott March 10, 2024 - 8:48 pm


I encountered a member of the Clefs d’Or at the Holiday Inn in Charleston (yes, the Holiday Inn). He name dropped Clefs d”Or like everyone at Cornell name drops “Ivy League”. It was brutal.

I am not persuded that this “honor” is any more significant than being in “Who’s Who In American High School Students”.

SharonKurheg March 11, 2024 - 8:36 am

Shrug…one bad apple doesn’t spoil the whole bunch. We’ve had several members of the Clefs d’Or who were lovely. Maybe the one you spoke of was a jerk & that’s why he was at a Holiday Inn?

Christian March 10, 2024 - 11:55 pm

I knew about the keys and have seen them on occasion but I never knew how exclusive the membership is. Thanks for another fresh and interesting topic.


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