Travel in 2015: Meet Waldo Hernandez, head concierge at New York's Carlyle hotel

Hernandez talks weddings, sightseeing tips and hanging out with Madonna

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The Independent Travel

Waldo Hernandez is head concierge at The Carlyle Rosewood Hotel, in New York City. Opened in 1931, the hotel's guests have included JFK, Princess Diana and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

It's 3am, I'm struck with jetlag and want to see some of the city. What do you recommend?

The subway is 24 hours here, so take the 6 train to Grand Central Terminal and take in the architecture. Next, head down to the new Fulton Station at the World Trade Center, and see the new Santiago Calatrava station. Then jump back on the train and head to the Brooklyn Bridge City Hall station, where you can walk across the mile-long bridge and watch the sunrise over the skyline. Then, head for pancakes or huevos rancheros at Clinton Street Bakery on the Lower East Side.

What's the strangest request you've ever had from a guest?

Lately, I think because of the weather, a lot of our guests have been asking for us to call the airline to tell them that they're running late and to hold the plane for them. It's the weirdest thing. You think, "Aren't you well-travelled? Where does this come from?".

How about code words? I heard that asking reception for an extra pillow could be misconstrued as a request for a prostitute...

To be honest with you, no. That stuff is just illegal as a concierge – the gambling and prostitution and drugs. Those are the three things that every concierge stays away from. I'm sure there are a lot of people that think it, but most of our guests are a little more civilised. They're more concerned about their flight waiting for them at the airport.

How about, if I were to say, can you get me a table tomorrow night at Per Se, would you be able to do it?

Um, no. There's a handful of restaurants we have contacts with, but three-star Michelin restaurants are challenging.

How about if I wanted an albino tiger?

That's impossible. We get questions about dogs travelling to the United States. But nothing outrageous like that.

OK, how about if I wanted to get married on top of the Empire State Building?

Sure, absolutely. That's an easy thing. We do lots of Central Park weddings as well, and we had a couple who wanted to get married at the top of The Carlyle – it didn't happen but we could definitely do it.

But what if I wanted a wedding with the albino tiger, that wouldn't fly?

Not so much. I did have a couple of guests last week. I met them, and they were really nice and within two hours they called me and asked me if I could come down to City Hall and be their witness. I don't know if they were setting me up. It was nice that they offered, but I couldn't do it.

What has been your proudest accomplishment in the job?

One of the great ones was Madonna's daughter celebrating her birthday. They did a whole spa day, so I got to spend a lot of time with them which was kinda great. That was a surreal moment – seeing this woman who is so powerful be bossed around by her daughter.

What's the best tip you've received?

For tax purposes, I really don't want to give you a number. But some guests have given us up to $3,500. I think that's the most I ever got.

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