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This story first appeared in the Feb. 27 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
The Grand Budapest Hotel‘s society of crossed keys — a secret fraternal order of concierges who come to the rescue of the hotel’s fictional Monsieur Gustave (Ralph Fiennes) — not only is based on an actual society of concierges, but there also are 55 members of the group in L.A. Members of the international Les Clefs d’Or (The Gold Keys) head the concierge desks at such hotels as The Montage, The SLS and The Beverly Wilshire. The group — whose distinctive lapel pins in the shape of crossed keys are nearly identical to those seen in the movie — was founded in 1929.
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While concierges sometimes do call on one another for personal favors, they usually do so when asking for help with guests, especially VIPs. The London hotel’s Sarah Dandashy has asked a colleague in New York to help her secure a table at a hot Manhattan restaurant for one of her guests, and she’ll secure intel from fellow members when they have regulars in common, enabling her to “send amenities up to their room from another concierge from the other side of the world!” And during Oscar weekend last year, the society helped save the day for Peninsula Beverly Hills concierge James Little.
The hotel was putting together a special weekend for one of its VIP guests, including securing afterparty invites and arranging styling. “The day before they arrived, the guest contacted us because they only drank Martell Creation cognac,” recalls Little, who reached out to 35 Southern California distributors with no luck. So he called a Les Clefs d’Or counterpart in New York who was “able to contact his connections and found one bottle of Martell Creation with a wholesale distributor in New Jersey.” It arrived by FedEx the next day.
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