When it comes to living a luxurious lifestyle, hiring in help to take care of the little things and alleviate you of everyday stresses and strains can go a long way toward making you feel pampered and well looked-after. From personal assistants to chefs, bringing on a team of in-house staff is a great way to keep yourself organised and enjoying each day to the full – but when it comes to the five-star treatment, few do it better than the humble butler.
Traditionally employed within lavish hotels to take care of guests by handling greetings and check-ins, making dining and entertainment arrangements and ensuring that their every request is catered to, butlers have the potential to up level any holiday or minibreak to opulent new heights – and hiring one to work for you in the home will allow you to continue to enjoy the experience each and every day.
If you’re unsure whether a butler is for you, then here, we take a look at just why they can quickly become so indispensable, as well as how and where to find your perfect match.
What is a butler?
A butler is someone who serves as a personal assistant to a wealthy or high-ranking individual, typically performing a range of different household tasks such as laundry, grocery shopping, and running errands. In some cases, butlers can take on additional responsibilities for their employer as required, such as helping raise children and providing administrative support, as well as facilitating dinner parties and other social events. They are also responsible for maintaining social graces and etiquette in some cultures.
Butler etiquette rules around the world
Generally speaking, butlers are expected to behave highly professionally at all times, although exact expectations differ depending on where you are in the world. For example, it is customary in Japan for butlers to bow when they greet their guests, while butlers in European countries would likely shake hands with their guests.
In China, meanwhile, it is customary for the eldest son in a family to become a butler. During his training, he is taught how to act and speak like a gentleman, including greeting guests properly and handling delicate situations to assure they are always left feeling satisfied and at ease. If the eldest son is unavailable or unwilling to take on this role, then the next in line (usually the second son) will instead take up the challenge.
In Western society, on the other hand, anyone wishing to become a butler would need to attend a formal school to gain the qualifications and experience necessary. So, if you’re in the UK, then you can rest assured that any butler you hire who comes with glowing references has the knowledge and know-how to do a good job.
What does a butler do?
A butler’s primary role is to support the household, serving as a personal assistant to the head of the home.
Depending on their experience, the butler may go above and beyond the basics, with some even providing financial advice if adequately trained in this field, and providing business support through business administration, planning of events, and scheduling of their employer’s calendars.
An etiquette rule to keep in mind is that you should never offer money to a butler – instead, you should compensate them with gifts such as wine or flowers. Most will be more than happy with the salary they receive for their duties, and will not accept anything extra on top – but small gifts such as these will always be appreciated.
How do you hire a butler?
Before hiring a butler, it is wise to gain a thorough understanding of what you expect of them, as this can vary greatly from person to person. The duties you’d like them to perform, and the skills and qualifications you require them to have are all important points to consider that will help you to make the right choice – for example, do you want them to help around the house, or will they need to be trained in managing a wider team of staff to keep your household running smoothly?
Hiring a butler can be done through an agency, with many specialising specifically in professional household staff – but word of mouth recommendations and referrals from others can also be a great way to gauge who might be a good fit for your needs. Finding a reliable butler isn’t hard, as long as all your requirements match up with their abilities and experience, and many agencies have house staff and butlers ready to work – so if you can’t wait to catch wind of the right person by chance, then approaching an agency is the best way to get the ball rolling.
What is the cost of hiring a butler?
Once again, there are some strange etiquette rules worldwide when it comes to hiring a butler and the price you can expect to pay for doing so. In some countries, it is considered rude to ask someone how much they charge for their services, while in other cultures, it is customary for the host to pay the butler directly. And even in countries where tipping is not customarily done, some people believe that a butler always appreciates a tip – although once again, this is generally done in the form of gifts as opposed to money.
The actual cost of a butler varies from country to country, with experience and expectations also playing a role when it comes to the expected salary. Generally speaking, a butler is expected to receive a healthy salary as they are skilled workers with aptitudes ranging from labour and administrative work to managing a team of staff beneath them to ensure their employer’s needs are met at all times – but working with an agency to find your perfect match will give you an idea of what you will pay for the privilege.
How to work with a butler?
In some cultures, it is customary for the head of the household to be assisted by a butler. However, there are also many cultures where it is customary for everyone in the household to help with chores and not leave all the responsibilities to the butler, leaving them free to assist with higher-level duties instead.
If you’re arriving in a new country – whether for a short stay, or a permanent move – and are considering hiring a butler, then there are a few basic points to bear in mind.
A butler is an employee of the house, therefore, must be treated with respect – and, like any other employee, they have rights that protect them from abuse. There could be many cultural differences between yourself and your butler, depending on the part of the world your butler is from compared to where you are from personally. For instance, a butler in Spain will know that it is considered polite to wait until their host has had a chance to sit down before sitting down themselves so as not to interrupt their conversation, whereas those in other countries might take a different approach to this.
The bottom line
Butlers have an important role to play in the inner workings of any household they are employed by, and can quickly become indispensable. Taking care of a family’s needs while being sensitive to their cultures, they will ensure that your life runs smoothly and without a hitch, so be prepared to pay them handsomely for their services and you’ll form an excellent and mutually beneficial partnership that will last for years to come.
If you’ve been looking for a way to alleviate the daily stresses and strains of life and have more time to relax and enjoy, then taking on a butler could be the best thing you do for yourself in 2022, and there’s no time like the present to begin your search.