The Berkeley’s fashion trunk

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Imagine entering your hotel room to find a wardrobe of designer dresses, all in your size, clean, pressed and ready to wear. For free. It’s a service reserved for those privileged few staying in one of the W Hotel’s vast suites in Leicester Square — a partnership with fashion rental site Girl Meets Dress, in which the hotel’s W “insiders” will fix guests up with six dresses per stay from designers such as Givenchy, Dolce & Gabbana and Erdem.

Stylish extras are the latest trend in an ever-evolving concierge service being rolled out by luxury hotels. Where once they would be asked to make restaurant reservations or secure theatre tickets, today the roles of the concierge are fashionably wide-ranging. They might include the rental of sunglasses for patrons caught out on a sunny New York day, as available at the James Hotel in Tribeca, or tracking down hard-to-find sneakers, an amenity offered at the Dream Downtown in New York’s Soho.

“New York is a Mecca of sneaker culture, and our guests have a unique sensibility. When they come here, shopping is one of their priorities,” says Ro Anand, global director of brand activation and partnerships for Dream Hotels, of which there are six worldwide. “We started receiving requests from people trying to find certain styles of sneakers. As our concierges are very well connected, we decided to create a programme dedicated to finding them.”

Anand and his four-man team have now sourced 200 pairs for his various patrons. The most challenging request was for a pair of 1991 Nike Jordan 6s that took over a week to find — they came from a resale store in downtown Los Angeles. (Usually, the team can source sneakers within 24 hours.)

And, this month, the Berkeley in London will launch its new Trunk service, a treasure trove of vintage accessories to which suite guests have complimentary access for the length of their stay. After making a quick call to the concierge, the trunk will be wheeled in for perusal. The giant, white leather case is filled with seasonal trinkets from consignment website Vestiaire Collective. Guests can borrow any item — be it a gold, enamelled Saint Laurent clutch or a jewelled Schiaparelli brooch — and then simply return it to the trunk afterwards. All items are for sale.

None of these hotels stands to benefit financially from such partnerships: there is no commission or affiliate programme, it is just an extension of an amenity that makes life easier for their customers. In an era of experiential luxury, such extras are all about providing an exceptional level of service. Each destination has a very specific guest to cater for.

“The real skill,” says Vestiaire Collective’s co-founder Fanny Moizant, “is when the concierge can anticipate the guests’ desires before they do. Then, they can surprise them with something out of this world.”

Wardrobe services are a natural progression for luxury destinations, where partnerships with fashion brands already exist. They also help to take the planning out of packing. Forgotten pyjamas? Not to worry: at the W, a neatly folded pair of special edition silk pyjamas from William Tempest is left on the bed, compliments of the hotel. Need a summer coat for that unexpected downpour? Every wardrobe at the Berkeley comes equipped with a classic Burberry trench for guests to borrow. If they want to keep it, they simply pay for it on check out. At the W’s Hollywood outpost, each room has a “clothing menu” from streetwear label ABDB: a fashion room service where guests order clothes as they would a cappuccino.

Essentially, each fashion concierge offers guests the luxury of a shopping trip without the need to leave the hotel. And this is only the beginning. At the Dream Downtown, Anand will engage a stylist in the coming months who, after an initial consultation, will pre-fill closets with garments from Barney’s that guests can try on and purchase from the comfort of their suite. As a holiday memento, it certainly beats a shower cap.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.
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