If you’ve ever stayed at a higher end property, you may have noticed a concierge wearing a shiny golden pin consisting of crossed keys.
These members belong to an elite group of professional concierge members called “Les Clefs d’Or” and as a traveler it pays to have an idea of the level of high service these members can provide you with.
In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know about Les Clefs d’Or (aka the golden key concierges).
What is Les Clefs d’Or?
Les Clefs d’Or (pronounced like “le-clay-door”) means the “keys of gold” in French and is an international network of concierge professionals who are dedicated to providing the best service possible to hotel guests.
Founded in 1929 in Paris, Les Clefs d’Or became international in 1952 and now they have over 4,000 members located in 80 countries and are found in over 530 properties.
You can always tell if you are dealing with a Les Clefs d’Or concierge because they have the crossed golden key bling on their lapels, which is pretty hard to miss.
What’s so special about Les Clefs d’Or?
This professional concierge society stands out for a few “key” reasons.
The extensive network
One of the reasons why this society is so valuable is that they can rely on each other for just about anything (see Grand Budapest Hotel ).
These connections help facilitate requests, services, and communicate special preferences so that the concierge at another hotel (even a competitor hotel) can better anticipate the needs of that guest.
This network, which fosters friendship among members, also is a fantastic way to share ideas and experiences which help other concierge members stand out to guests.
You get the feeling that with this society, just about anything is possible.
And that makes a lot of sense when you consider that the entire society is made up of people committed to going the extra mile for guests.
It wouldn’t surprise me if this is one of the most efficient and influential organizations out there when it comes to getting things done.
This society also has specific standards for how the concierge should carry him or herself.
Some of these relate to maintaining a professional appearance and staying poised under all circumstances. These are not the type of hotel staff that would “lose their cool” or snap at guests.
When it comes to interacting with guests, the society puts a lot of focus on small details like responding to emails in a timely manner, informing guests of dress codes, hidden fees, and listening attentively.
They also put emphasis on protecting the identity and confidentiality of all guests, which is obviously a super important factor for high-profile guests.
One of the things I like most about their standards is that they state to never promise guest results “unless you are positive you can deliver.”
Sometimes a hotel can get ahead of themselves and commit to doing something that they aren’t able to come close to doing and it leads to a lot of disappointment.
But perhaps one of the most impressive aspects of this society is that the recommendations are never “driven by incentives or commissions from outside sources” and are always based on “first hand knowledge.”
One of the usual drawbacks of dealing with a concierge is that you might suspect that they are being driven by commissions rather than what is best for you.
So having a society of concierge members committed to not doing this is a pretty big deal.
It’s also very reassuring that if one of these concierge members recommend a restaurant to you, chances are they have personally visited that restaurant (probably on many occasions).
They also have standards for the concierge when dealing with vendors which is really important.
These help to ensure a positive relationship between the concierge and the vendors and help avoid conflicts of interest.
The service attitude
From all of the interviews I’ve watched and articles I’ve read, there is a clear attitude that these members possess when it comes to guest requests.
It’s an attitude of always striving to figure out how something can work and doing everything within their power to make it work. Not everything is possible but if there is a way to make something happen, a member of Les Clefs d’Or will generally make sure that it does happen.
What hotels have Les Clefs d’Or?
As you would expect, these special concierge agents will be found at higher-end five star and four star hotels.
Some of the most high end properties have multiple golden key members and you might even find a property entirely staffed with them if you’re real lucky.
You’ll notice that most of the golden key concierge members will be found in large cities like New York City, LA, San Francisco, Las Vegas, etc.
To give you a sense of the type of properties that you can find these members at, here’s a sample list of properties valid as of early 2023:
- Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale
- Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel
- Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills
- Park Hyatt Aviara
- Lodge at Torrey Pines
- Ritz-Carlton Rancho Mirage
- Omni Hotel San Diego
- Fairmont Hotel (San Francisco)
- Grand Hyatt on Union Square
- St. Regis Resort Aspen
- Conrad Washington DC
- Mandarin Oriental Boca Raton
- InterContinental Miami
- W South Beach
- Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World
- Trump International Hotel Waikiki
- Four Seasons Resort Maui
- Loews Chicago Hotel
- Aria Resort & Casino/Vdara Resort & Spa
- Cosmopolitan Resort
- MGM Grand Hotel
- Edition Times Square
- Park Hyatt (New York)
- Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia
How do you become a member of Les Clefs d’Or
Becoming a Les Clefs d’Or member is not so easy and there are some specific requirements.
First you have to have a minimum of five years of experience as a full-time lobby-level concierge.
Then, you will need to have strong recommendations (I believe from two people who are current members) and you will have to pass an extensive written and oral exam.
Reportedly, it can take members up to 20 hours to complete the exam which has a mixture of multiple choice, fill in the blank, and short answer questions.
These questions would cover all areas relevant to the service of a concierge including travel, food, wine, etc.
For example, they may be tested on their knowledge of top rated restaurants or chefs or perhaps have to recall the details of a decadent dish.
As difficult as the exam sounds, surprisingly only about 20% do not pass — perhaps because those who are interested take the preparation process very seriously.
A good hotel concierge can help make your stay dramatically better. But a concierge who is a member of this society of golden keys can reliably work some serious magic for guests. Look out for them on your next upscale hotel stay and see what they can do for you!
Cover image via lesclefsdor.org.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.