The authors at this site love DC (oh really? yes. really.) and are often point-people for people’s questions about the city, where to go and what to do. But aside from our 20 authors, there are other roving DC experts in the city, hidden at every turn. Hotel concierges. They know and love DC (maybe more than our authorship), and I’m sure answer more questions about this city than all of us combined. One of the most-loved and well-respected concierges in the city is the Hotel Monaco’s Luis Colmenares. Luis has huge accolades, he’s a Member of the prestigious Les Clefs d’Or USA, and the Vice President, Washington Area Concierge Association. Luis is even a Notary Public, the man is ready to help assist your every whim.
So what does a guy like Luis love about DC? Well I was able to get the skinny from one of DC’s best advocates.
Katie: How long have you lived in DC, and how did you arrive here?
Luis: I grew up in Caracas, Venezuela, and moved to Washington DC purely on a whim nearly 22 years ago. I originally came just for a one-week vacation, but when I got here, I loved it so much that I never went back home! I worked as a travel consultant for 10 years, and have been a concierge for the past 12.
As a hotel concierge, what’s the most frequently asked question you answer about DC?
More than anything, I am asked for hours and directions to tourist hot spots, like the Mall or the monuments. Recently, I’ve had a surge of questions about Georgetown – what to do there, and the best places to eat and shop.
What’s the one place in DC that visitors should not miss?
Just one? I think the White House is the most important place someone can visit, because it represents the center of American democracy. Just remember that I can’t get tickets for you, no matter how nicely you ask! It all needs to be arranged before you get here.
What is the most overrated place in DC?
The Washington Monument. Most people, even locals, don’t realize that there a lot of other places that provide just as good of a view of the city with no lines. I always recommend the Old Post Office Pavilion on Pennsylvania Avenue – you don’t need to get tickets, and it’s free to go up.
When people ask for something off the beaten path in DC what do you recommend?
People will come to DC to just visit the museums and monuments, but we also have a lot to offer outdoors that tourists don’t know about. The two places I always recommend are the C&O Canal in Georgetown and Rock Creek Park.
What restaurant do people request reservations for the most?
Old Ebbitt Grill, and of course, Poste!
What would you change about DC if you could?
The metro, the metro and the metro! In particular, the hours of operation – it should definitely be 24 hours a day, as that’s the type of city that DC is turning into. This is also one of the most common complaints I get from guests staying at the hotel.
What type of person visits DC? Who is your typical hotel customer?
It really depends on the day of the week and the time of year. During the weekdays when Congress is in session, we get mostly business and political travelers. On the weekends and in the summer, we get a lot more families and tourists.
You work with a lot of venues, restaurants and destinations – who do you enjoy working with the most? What venue is difficult to work with?
I love working with City Segway Tours and Old Town Trolley; they are very accommodating and our guests love their tours. Every once in awhile, we’ll have a problem with a restaurant or beauty salon, but not very often.
Since you deal with tourists every day, where do you go in the city to get away from them?
When I really need to get away, I’ll head to U Street or Cleveland Park. It has a really local feel, with a great nightlife and restaurant scene.
What are the silliest and strangest questions you’ve been asked about DC?
You’d be surprised how many people ask, “What kind of stores are in the National Mall?” It makes me laugh every time. I’ve also been asked what the “DC” stands for in “Washington DC,” and one guy asked if I could arrange to have him speak to Obama.