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Meet the concierge: Burak Ipekci

With a wealth of experience and with contacts across the city, Burak Ipekci is indispensible to guests of South Place Hotel. He shares insights into his demanding role with Global Blue, and offers insider tips for making the most of a trip to London

Verity Hogan
Verity Hogan,

What qualities do you need to be a great concierge?
It’s definitely a lifestyle more than a job, and you need to have an extra spark to make it a success. Many skills can’t be learned. While you can, of course, learn about an area, the ability to build a rapport, retain a vast amount of information and put people at ease immediately is something you’re born with.

You are a member of the prestigious Society of the Golden Keys – how do you join?
The society is a fraternity with around 4,500 members worldwide. To be a member you have to have been a concierge for more than five years, be recommended and seconded and then undergo testing as well as an interview. It has to be tough because you don’t want to undermine the integrity of the organisation. I see my fellow members as kindred spirits. Many are great friends.

Can you describe an average working day?
Every day is different. I meet different people with different needs every single day. I’m always on the go, from the second the day begins, and I’m the face of the hotel, whether I’m behind my desk or out at an event. Starbucks and sweet treats keep me going.

What is the most common request?
Questions about dining and transport are the most common, especially when guests are unfamiliar with the area around the hotel. Happily, we have a Michelin-starred restaurant, Angler, on site; it’s something of a destination restaurant for locals, too.

And the more unusual requests?
People who know exactly what they want are usually unafraid to ask for it. While working in New York I was once asked to source a particular barbecue sauce that is available only in Louisiana. The bottle arrived after the guest had checked out so I re-routed it to his Caribbean home, just in time for a party the next day. I’m frequently asked to accompany guests to events. As long as it’s legal and moral to do so, I’ll try to meet every request to the best of my ability.

How do you cater for regular guests?
Long-term guests begin to see me as a friend, and many call me when they’re travelling to ask for tips and recommendations. For regular guests at South Place I’ll set up their room before they arrive so that it is exactly how they like it; this can be anything from returning their clean laundry to ensuring their favourite toiletries are stocked in the bathroom.

Where is your favourite place in the hotel?
I’ve been here since April 2013 and I’ve seen the hotel grow in stature and really make its mark. With its modern art, laid-back atmosphere and acclaimed restaurant, well, it’s the magic formula. If I have to pick a favourite part then it’s the Kuryakin room, which features all-red décor and a bold red lacquer table.

How would you spend a day off in London?
I’m a keen cyclist and I love being outdoors so I’d probably make for Regent’s Park and then head into Soho. I love the energy of that area, with its mix of glamour and grime as well as its great bars and restaurants. London is a great city to wander around and explore.

South Place Hotel, 3 South Place, London EC2M 2AF, +44 (0)20 3503 0000, southplacehotel.com



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