You may have seen a hotel butler service advertised before and wondered what exactly these butlers can do for you?
Would it be worth it to book a room with butler service or are you better taking care of yourself?
In this article, we will take a detailed look at how to make the most of a hotel butler. We will cover the things that you will want to ask them and explain what the process may look like.
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What is a hotel butler?
A hotel butler is a staff member dedicated to providing you with personalized attention and service throughout your stay. A hotel butler can be of any gender and sometimes they are essentially your personal concierge (more on that below).
What kind of training do hotel bulters have?
Training levels will vary across the globe but typically your butler is going to have at least a few years of experience in the hospitality industry, similar to how golden key concierges are required to have requisite years of experience.
Sometimes the butlers have specific training like at the Outrigger Beach Resort Fiji, where butlers have gained valuable training at the Australian Butler School.
Or for properties like the Aria Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, they could go through one of the notable butler programs like the Guild of Professional English Butlers.
In other instances, a brand could have its own butler training program like the St Regis.
What type of hotels offer butlers?
You’re not going to find butler service at your every day hotel like a Holiday Inn or Marriott Courtyard (shocker). Instead, these are going to be found at luxury properties and resorts, such as the St. Regis, Sandals, Four Seasons, and others.
Often times, the butler is attached to a specific room type.
It’s not uncommon for a presidential suite to come with butler service but there are also lower level suites that come with butlers. Sometimes they are actually called “Butler suites” and these could be some of the best rooms offered by the hotel.
If the hotel offers a butler service you might be able to pay to take advantage of the service even if your room does not come with it but there could be a hefty charge and staff limitations so that won’t always be a guarantee.
How does hotel butler service work?
At high end hotels, your butler service may be available 24 hours a day. (For this reason, you may have a duo or small team of butlers that you interact with rather than a single, dedicated individual all the time.)
Sometimes the butler is solely focused on your stay which could be the case when paying for one of the most premium rates like a penthouse residence. Other times, the butler may have multiple rooms or simply serve a single floor.
In terms of how you contact them sometimes you just have a phone number that you can call or text. Other times a hotel may give you a special phone or tablet that you can use.
This is one of the major perks of having a butler service because it allows you to receive service in real time. You don’t have to waste time trying to get hold of someone or waiting for someone to get back with you on your requests.
If you have ever struggled to get in contact with room service or had to wait extra long for housekeeping to bring you an extra towel, you know how frustrating those circumstances can be.
But with a hotel butler, those issues become a thing of the past.
The best way that a hotel butler can deliver
The best type of hotel butler service is the type that puts a personalized touch on your experience and anticipates your needs.
This could mean catering to a special occasion with surprise champagne, having special chocolates delivered to you after a romantic dinner, etc. Other times it could be helping to round up a specific collection of alcoholic beverages tailored to your taste.
One way that they accomplish this is by reaching out to you prior to your stay, often by email. They could send you over a form to fill out that can provide them with helpful details like your arrival time, size of party, etc.
This will also give you the opportunity to voice any special requests or preferences that you might have. For example, if you were trying to plan something special for an anniversary or honeymoon, you could voice that to the butler.
Or perhaps a member of your party has specific dietary needs? A talented butler could help create a meal plan that makes life easier for that person during your stay.
If nobody from the property reaches out to you then feel free to be proactive and make your requests prior to your stay. (I would typically try to make any requests at least two weeks prior to your scheduled arrival.)
And if you need anything during your stay, the butler can act as a type of personal assistant so that you can focus on enjoying your trip and not running errands or putting out small fires.
For example, if you realized you left your tie at home a butler could run to the nearest department store to find you a last minute tie (that actually works with your outfit).
Or maybe you are out by the pool and you realize you are out of sunscreen, just buzz your butler and get that fixed pronto.
Basically, the idea is that the hotel butler is going to help make your stay as memorable as possible by making your life easy in a warm and professional manner.
Sure, your room may blow you away with ocean views and brilliant floor to ceiling windows, and you might be dazzled by fine dining and wonderful spa treatment. But having that personal connection to a butler can put the experience over the top and set it apart from other hotel stays.
Other ways that a hotel butler can help you
Not every hotel will be able to deliver as described above but if they can’t, you should be able to expect some of the following perks and services.
If you need to arrange a transfer to and from the airport your hotel butler can help you do that. Whether you are trying to drop in via helicopter or just your basic sedan, a butler can take care of you.
A warm hotel welcome
Even if you did not make pre-visit arrangements with your butler, it’s not uncommon for them to give you a warm greeting upon arriving at the hotel.
There could be some welcome champagne involved but other times it’s just a heartfelt intro to your stay (that often allows you to bypass the front desk).
If the property has a lot going on or your room is tricked out with different features, that butler should be able to get you up to speed on everything you need to know.
I’ve always appreciated getting greeted by someone who is so passionate about the hotel and I usually always leave the interaction finding out a few things about the property that I didn’t know.
So don’t underestimate the value of a good welcome!
Luggage assistance and other small needs
Typical butler service would involve transporting and possibly even unpacking and packing your luggage.
You may not find it appealing to have someone else unpack your luggage but ask yourself if you’ve ever had someone unpack your luggage who is professionally trained for that specific task? If anything, maybe you can learn some nifty packing techniques, like how to keep your clothes wrinkle free.
A highly skilled butler is also going to take care of your requests for things like clothes pressing, shoeshining, special room service deliveries, turn down service, drawing relaxing baths, etc. Sometimes they will accomplish these tasks with astonishing speed and efficiency.
Need a little bit of extra motivation to get out of bed?
Hotels like the St. Regis Bangkok allow you to schedule for a butler to bring coffee or tea up to your room and even your preferred newspaper.
Experienced hotel butlers often take the service a step further than just booking services. For example, if you booked an excursion through your hotel butler they could also provide you with a cooler filled with refreshments and beverages for you to take with you. It’s all about going the extra mile.
Assistance for your pet
We’ve written about the difference between a hotel that merely accepts pets and a hotel that is pet friendly.
Some of these hotels that cater to pets have a special service for dogs where they will take your dogs for walks or help them get comfortable. For example at the Fairmont they have something called Canine Ambassadors.
Your butler may be able to assist with pretty much any need for your pet so it’s always worth running those requests by them to see if they can help out.
It’s possible that your butler could provide you with insider knowledge and access like at the New York Hilton Midtown where butlers specialize in providing guests with all the need to know info about Broadway shows and unique experiences.
At beach resorts like the Mandarin Oriental, Canouan, a lot of times the requests revolve around setting up cabanas, lounge chairs, and other beach amenities so that guests can get started early in the morning without the hassle of finding open space.
Hotels like the Conrad Maldives even have what they call an Instagram Butler, which is someone who can help you take the most Instagram worthy photos around the beautiful resort.
Butler meets concierge?
Lots of times the butler can act as a concierge which means that they can help you with things like making restaurant reservations, booking tours, shows, spa treatments, etc.
The big difference is that the hotel butler can take care of many more duties (like all of the ones mentioned above) and the hotel butler is honed in on your specific needs unlike a concierge who would likely be serving the entire hotel.
This does introduce the question of whether or not you should contact the concierge when you need strictly concierge-like services.
That’s because unless the butler is actively working with the concierge, there’s a good chance that the concierge could be more skilled at working magic like finding hard to get reservations, show tickets, etc.
Limits to what the hotel butler can do for you
Just like a concierge, there will always be limits to what a hotel butler can do.
You always want to consider the nature of the location.
Resorts located on remote islands obviously don’t have access to lots of amenities but a property in a major city could essentially have access to everything.
Try to refrain from asking for anything illegal or anything that would potentially get the butler into hot water with hotel management. Stray from the drugs and prostitutes. (Remember, certain things can get you kicked out of a hotel room!).
Trying to involve your butler in your personal travels should also generally be avoided. While some butlers may be willing to partake, for the most part butlers want to maintain a professional relationship with you — not a personal one.
So inviting them out on the catamaran or to join for dinner would not be a good choice.
Another thing to avoid is overly burdensome requests.
While some butlers will do all they can to appease a guest, you might be stepping over the line if you are making requests for things that take up a lot of their time but provide little value. For example, asking them to watch over your precious shoe collection for a few hours….
And finally, make sure that you formulate your requests in a respectful way. Avoid coming off as entitled or demanding and always do your best to show sincere appreciation for the work they are doing for you. A personalized thank you letter can go very far.
Tipping your hotel butler
The tipping situation for a hotel butler may depend on the type of resort and your location. In lots of places outside the US, tipping is just not customary or only reserved for extreme cases.
If you are staying at a property where tipping is welcomed, such as pretty much any property in the US, then you could go about tipping in a few different ways.
Sometimes it can help to kick off your stay with a healthy tip so that your butler feels extra motivated to deliver at a high-level. That of course comes at the risk of not getting your money’s worth for your tip just in case they don’t step up their game.
You could also tip by the day. This often works out to about $20 to $40 per day and sometimes you can even tie it to the price of your room and tip about 5% to 10% of the room rate.
And finally, you can decide to leave your tip at the very end of your stay.
Of course, the amount that you tip likely will depend on the level of engagement you had with the butler. If they dazzle you then your tip should be equally as dazzling.
If a butler really blows you away consider writing positive reviews about them and mentioning their name online. You can also refer the hotel management to these reviews so that they are aware of the outstanding service provided to you.
Some butlers work for hotels for extended periods of time so you can always make a special request for that same butler if you return for another stay!
Is a hotel butler NOT for you?
While many people would be excited at the prospect of having a hotel butler cater to their every need, for some people a lot of what I have written above sounds like a huge turn off.
Many people don’t want to be bothered on a vacation and don’t want to constantly be checked on or feel like they have to engage with someone, remember to tip, answer an email, etc. They also might feel awkward asking other people to do certain tasks like shine their shoes or make a bed.
For these people, it might be better to decline the butler service even if it is a part of your room.
Or, you could simply tell the hotel that you are not a “butler person” and don’t want to be bothered but will reach out if there is anything that you need.
Admittedly, a hotel butler is not for everyone. Not every hotel guest needs or wants assistance with luggage, making reservations, filling out an itinerary, etc.
But for those who like a bit of special attention and personal service, a hotel butler can help alleviate a lot of the stress of traveling and make everything feel a lot smoother.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and CNBC. Read my bio.