Confessions of a Front-Desk Hotel Agent: The Celebrity Edition


I worked at the front desk of a fairly large hotel chain when I was in my late teens and early twenties and to say it was an education would be an understatement.

Holidaying guests would have what we called “vacation brain” — forgetting how to do the simplest of tasks like work a remote or how to turn a shower on and if you were rostered on an overnight shift (which I did many-a-time), a revolving door of “midnight guests” would come and go.

The hotels I worked in weren’t run of the mill establishments, however.
I was lucky enough to work in two five-star hotels, which would often be home to some of the biggest celebrities in the world.

From the Backstreet Boys to Rod Stewart, Celine Dion, James Blunt and P!nk (it was the early 00s) — our hotel was a celebrity hotspot.

If you were lucky enough to work in the VIP section, mingling with the world’s high-flyers was commonplace (when I say “mingling”, I mean being at their beck and call), but if you were another hotel employee, it would take a stroke of luck to be in the right place at the right time.

Celebrity discretion was of the utmost importance when you worked in a hotel. Someone from Westlife could be standing right in front of your colleague, and if another hotel guest asked if that was Nicky from Westlife (God, remember him?), you had to say: “I’m not allowed to give out guest information.”

Surprisingly, there was never too much “diva” behaviour going on — in fact, I remember most superstars liked routine, privacy, comfort and sometimes someone to chat to.

They ordered the same foods, the same coffee, the same pillow and the same service — probably to normalise an extraordinary experience.

While it was pretty exciting to be young and surrounded by celebs, there was a darker side to it too.

One very famous crooner called our hotel home each year when he toured Australia — and the year I worked there, I happened to be on overnight shifts.

Of course, whenever his room would call, butterflies would happen upon the pit of my stomach, because each night, I knew it would be him, calling in for the overnight menu from room service.

Ordering the same thing — a cheeseburger and fries — he would say to me: “We’ve got to stop meeting like this”. Heart-stopping stuff when you’re a 19-year-old.

While it was totally flattering, you couldn’t read too much into it. Not because he was a celebrity, but because of the bevy of women his security was hired to scout for at his concerts for an “after-party” in his room. Blegh.

On another occasion, we caught out (but with the utmost discretion) a boy bander having ordered porn through the movie channel (this was before streaming on mobile phones) and had to face him the following morning.

Yup, if you’ve ever ordered an adult movie at a hotel and thought the front desk couldn’t tell — I have bad news for you. They can.

Generally, celebrities behave pretty well — unless you’re a visiting rugby team from a neighbouring country who engage in drinking kava. Well, this was quite the time.

One night, after winning their game, said rugby team ate, drank and threw up in one of the conference rooms and rather than tell anyone, tried to cover it up with boxes, only to leave it for housekeeping to find the next morning… nice!

Yes, this is completely disgusting — but overall, the perks of working with celebs were pretty great.

I got free tickets to James Blunt (which my cousin Dominique and I still talk about to this day), Celine Dion, various rugby games and one night, Hamish Blake gave me a $200 voucher for Cargo bar after he and Andy Lee held an event in Sydney for their famous gravy chip.

All in all, it was certainly an education of some sort and in the craziest way, prepared me for my future career as an entertainment journalist.