Last week I was given the opportunity to spend 24-hours as a Platinum® Cardmember*, with full access to the American Express® dedicated concierge service. Now I’m going to begin my little “day in the life” with an admission: a few years ago I would have scoffed at the idea of a concierge. Who needs a person on the end of the telephone to sort their flights/book their hotel/send flowers to their Mum/get them tickets to see One Direction? Surely the fun part of booking a holiday is all of the Googling and flight juggling and Tripadvisor reading?
Fast-forward to the present day and I can completely understand why very busy people use concierges. It’s all well and good that you enjoy Googling your holiday destinations, but what if you travel abroad every other week and don’t have the time to constantly check flight times and availability? What if it’s not a lunch booking for you and a friend, but for a group of clients you need to woo and the restaurant you want is impossible to get into? What if (God forbid!) all of the One Direction/Glastonbury/Madame Butterfly tickets have sold out and to get some you need to ring a dozen merchants and wait on hold for hours at a time? I used to be quietly disdainful of people who professed not to have enough time to do basic administrative chores, but since having a baby and attempting to work almost full-time hours I am now fully won over by the idea that someone, at the other end of a phone line, could make things happen for me without me having to think too hard about it.
So it was with a great sense of excitement that I embarked on my 24-hours as a Platinum Cardmember. And things got off to an absolutely rollicking start by the fact that the concierge phone-line (which will forever be known in our household as the Bat-phone) was picked up straight away! And in addition to this, the man on the other end of the phone sounded like James Bond. I felt as though I’d been given a hotline to British Intelligence and – all of a sudden – asking him to plan me a day and night out in London seemed like a shallow ask. Surely I should be requesting speedboat transfer to a secret off-shore laboratory? A helicopter to meet me on the roof of the British Museum where I would be waiting, all in black, with my secret mission written down in invisible ink on a self-combusting piece of paper . But no. Nothing like that. “Would it be possible,” I asked, after the obligatory security questions had been completed, “to find me somewhere swanky to stay in London with a husband, a dog and a baby?”
When I think about it, that’s probably more of an ask than the helicopter getaway. I mean, what nice hotel wants to accommodate a woman with a crazy travelling circus? But this is where Platinum Concierge comes into its own: whereas I am always eternally pessimistic when booking anything (“the flights are bound to be extortionate”, “I bet they won’t have any tables left”) Platinum Concierges is the opposite. It seemed that nothing was too much trouble. Possibly because (I imagine) they are incredibly well connected and are therefore confident that they can get you what you require and fully meet your expectations.
Or, as in my case, completely exceed your expectations. Because I ended up staying at the Me Hotel on Aldwych, which is one of those sexy-sauve places where people order Espresso Martinis and wear skyscraper heels and – importantly – don’t turn up in the lobby with a suitcase sticking out of the top of a pram, a baby under one arm and a manic dog attached to the other.
But turn up I did, and amazingly they let me in. And not only did they let me in, they had our room ready with cot, dog bed and a little selection of dog shampoos and conditioners.
I had been anxious that the whole dog/baby situation would be a bit of a sore point, but as I sank into the double-double bed (bigger than a superking, I don’t even know what the word is for this size) I wondered what I had ever been worried about.
The planning for the rest of my 24-hours I had left in the hands of my Platinum Concierge, wanting to see what he came up with. My brief was “a grown up day with my husband so that we can feel like proper people again”. Except that we’d have a baby in tow. (The dog was being dog-sat by friends for the daytime part, thankfully, otherwise I think even Concierge would have been struggling!)
I was so relieved to see that the focus of our day was the lunch – Concierge had (quite rightly) assumed that some kind of romantic dinner a deux would perhaps be inconvenient with a little baby, and had booked us in for lunch at HKK, the East London outpost of the amazing Hakkasan restaurant. Chic, modern, very grown-up, it was exactly the kind of place we wanted – and the baby slept through from the moment we sat down until the second the bill was placed on the table.
As Platinum Cardmembers for the day, we had gorgeous complimentary cocktails on arrival, and then for lunch had lobster dim dum and the freshest and juiciest prawns in sweet and sour sauce. There was a kind of “speed” menu for business people in a rush, but it didn’t feel rushed at all. Probably because we ordered three extra naughty dishes to supplement the menu – we ate so much that we had to have a mini-snooze in the taxi afterwards!
And then onwards, to the Ai Weiwei exhibition at The Royal Academy of Arts. Platinum Cardmembers can use the corporate queue, which is usually much quicker than the general admission line, so luckily no queueing for us – which was a blessing, as queueing with a big pram was never going to be at the top of my list of fun things to do! The exhibition was just brilliant – do try and get to see it if you’re in London, there’s more info here – and we probably spent a little too long pondering over all of the exhibits, because by the time we left it was nearly six o’ clock. Platinum Concierge had suggested all sorts of delights – an evening show, more amazing food, a shopping session with a personal stylist – but we were absolutely shattered! There was only one last question for them. “Where can we eat near to our hotel that’s low-key, quiet, and won’t mind a dog and a baby?”
“May I suggest room service?”
Bravo. I can honestly say that our day was so easy and smooth and it was all perfectly curated for our needs. I wish I had known about Platinum when I was a younger fashion model and constantly on the go – Platinum Cardmembers get all kinds of benefits that would have made my life infinitely better and easier! Access to airport lounges (over 700 of them) with Priority Pass; hotel upgrades – when available – with partners like Hilton and Starwood; comprehensive travel insurance and complimentary drinks or treats at top restaurants. Things which definitely make life a bit more special and travel that bit easier.
If my brilliant experience has whet your appetite and you’d like to find out more about becoming a Platinum Cardmember, visit americanexpress.com/uk/content/platinum-card. You can read more about the benefits below.
Curated to Make your World More Special
Platinum® from American Express curates extraordinary and enriching experiences for Cardmembers across travel, fashion, shopping, dining, music and the arts.
These experiences range from personal shopping advisors to bespoke events from the likes of National Theatre and London Film Festival to complimentary dining courses or cocktails at some of the world’s best restaurants.
There are also a whole host of other benefits available, including:
Platinum Concierge – available 24-hours a day to advise, support and simplify Cardmember travel and lifestyle needs
Lounge Access – relax in one of over 700 lounges sprawled across over 90 countries with Priority Pass
Hotel Deals and Upgrades – with Fine Hotel and Resorts plus benefits including upgrades, complimentary breakfast and late check-out with Starwood and Club Carlson hotels
Wi-Fi access – thanks to Boingo, with over a million hotspots worldwide
Membership Rewards – earning a 1 MR for virtually every £1 spent. Membership Rewards points can be redeemed against a wide range of shopping, flights and holidays across a range of globally renowned brands including Paul Smith, British Airways and Harrods.
The great news is that you can earn 30,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend £2,000 in your first three months of Cardmembership, which can be redeemed against the following, among other amazing benefits:
Two return flights from London to Barcelona/Venice (15,000 Membership Rewards points per person) or one business class flight from London to Barcelona/Venice (30,000 Membership Rewards points per person).
One Membership Rewards Point can also be converted to one Avios point, giving access to a whole host of travel benefits. Terms, taxes, fees and charges apply.
If you’d prefer a Card without any rewards, or other features of a Cardmembership fee, an alternative Card is available.
Platinum from American Express has an annual fee of £450. Applicants must be 18 years old or over, UK residents and approval is subject to status
The Platinum Card is offered by American Express Services Europe Limited which has its registered office at Belgrave House, 76 Buckingham Palace Road, London, SW1W 9AX, United Kingdom. It is registered in England and Wales with Company Number 1833139 and authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
*This advertorial is in association with American Express