Need transportation to and from the airport or Churchill Downs?
Need an after-hours appointment at a jewelry store to pick up a bauble for a Derby party?
Need reservations at Louisville's hottest restaurants and bars?
You don't have to stay at a premium hotel to find premium concierge services. Laura Wallace is the one-woman show behind City Concierge of Louisville, and she's ready to serve you the best of Louisville. Her business is unique and allows her to act as a concierge for anyone needing help getting around the city or with special services, like finding transportation or getting into a jewelry store after hours for relationship emergencies. Derby can be chaotic, and Wallace can help visiting individuals and businesses enjoy their visit by serving as someone local on their team.
"I basically bend over backwards to make anything a client needs happen," said Wallace.
Wallace was the head concierge at the Brown Hotel and realized there hadn't been a real concierge there before her for years. She said that it didn't really have much to offer guests. She proceeded to build a knowledge base about Louisville and to make connections all over the city so she could be more helpful to the people staying there. Management took notice and provided her with more books and educational materials. Wallace also impressed the Brown with her ability to help other employees do the same. The Brown took notice and made sure she was there to run things when they wanted to ensure superior service—like when George Bush Sr. was staying there or for the Ryder Cup.
"I liked taking care of people; I liked the job," said Wallace. "But I hated the schedule and working with a management team."
After Wallace left the Brown, hotel management continued to call and ask for her help with affluent clients. A friend suggested she give them a high hourly rate, and she was inspired to begin her own concierge business so she could continue to provide services on her own terms.
Some of her duties as a concierge include getting people booked into restaurants, helping them with shopping, making reservations and recommendations, finding the perfect gift, giving tours of the city and making sure her clients have the best possible Louisville experience. Wallace also helps locals rediscover their city and learn about Louisville in ways they may not have before.
She also helps locals with an array of services like getting guys out of trouble when they forget a birthday or helping someone who has family coming in from out of town, such as at Derby time. She helps people make a good impression on others, whether it is small-scale event planning (like a date), entering a shop after hours or having impressive transportation pick them up.
"One of my clients bought a car for his wife for her birthday," said Wallace. "I handled everything; a special menu for her at their chosen restaurant, driving 70 miles to pick up the car, putting a bow on it, storing it at my place and delivering it.
Relocation services are another popular offering of City Concierge of Louisville. So impressed with Louisville that you want to move her? Wallace takes people to look at homes, furniture and other local needs. She also helps corporations who want to wine and dine potential employees by entertaining them and helping them to fall in love with our city. Wallace was able to pull 21 Derby tickets for Millionaire's Row seemingly out of thin air one year when some people flew in and found their ticket broker did not actually have their tickets.
"Showing people around the city is the best job in the world," she said. "I had this couple that had traveled to over 100 countries. They owned a vineyard and publishing company and had always dreamed of visiting Churchill Downs. It was so cool to see them nearly jumping up and down like kids at age 60 when I took them there. They were so happy. That's the best."
Here are some of Wallace's insider tips:
Avoid Fourth Street Live! at all costs
Its mostly corporate and doesn't represent the city. You're not going to have good food or get an idea of anything that Louisville is about. You're going to get a generic experience that you can get in in any city and overpay for it.
Experience Louisville at The Rudyard Kipling, Actor's Theatre or The Why Louisville store. Ride the Belle of Louisville. St. James Court is also an amazing place.
There is a lot of history in Louisville. Conrad Caldwell House is a historic mansion in the Court built in 1883. It offers tours and hosts events like the Spirit Ball in Winter. The Old Louisville Chamber of Commerce can give you information on walking tours or ghost tours in the fall. Speaking of ghosts, Waverly Hills Sanatorium has been cited on TV as one of the top 10 haunted places in the world.
Nulu is a great district to visit on East Market Street
This neighborhood has an array of awesome art galleries and restaurants, and has been part of an Earth-friendly ripple in Louisville. Wiltshire on Market is Wallace's top recommendation for a restaurant. Its dishes are made with all fresh and mostly local ingredients that they get from farmers so it's never the same menu. If this restaurant were in New York City, you wouldn't be able to get in for six months.
If you're looking for some grooming…
Try Market Street Barber or Derby City Chop Shop (for guys). They're hip full service shops that give great haircuts and have affordable pricing. Market Street Barber gives a great straight shave, while Derby City Chop Shop sells LPs and grooming products like tins of mustache wax. Women should check out C Luv Grow in Lyndon. It offers a line of all organic products
Stay at 21c or the Seelbach
Wallace's favorite hotels are 21c Museum Hotel (one of the top hotels in the world), which offers extraordinary toiletries and an art museum and the Seelbach, which has an amazing history, great food and is gorgeous. The Al Capone room is breathtaking.
Here's a cool thing to do in Louisville
Visit Best of Louisville Magazine winner De La Torres on a Wednesday night for Spanish cuisine and free Spanish Classes. Stick around to enjoy La Bodega tapas bar.
It's currently closed for maintenance, but Dreamland Filmworks Theater is in the back of Decca on East Market. It's like a roadhouse with a lot of pews and cushions, where you can gather with friends and watch films. Up until this point, it's been BYOB, but it's currently renovating to have local beer on tap. IT has artistic flicks, mainstream films, and a monthly theme like "Hysterical Women".
You can contact Wallace for more info or put her services to use by calling 502-836-4376 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos by Joe Mays: Alien Twilight Photography
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