Life Tips #10: Joao, Hotel Butler, 39

1. A butler is the extension of an arm for the guest. You call me to unpack, book a table, …

1. A butler is the extension of an arm for the guest. You call me to unpack, book a table, organize laundry. The guest walks back into the room and the pyjamas are on the bed, the shirts hung up.

2. You know straight away when it’s a lover not a wife. The wife normally looks after the husband’s stuff so everything is packed together. With a mistress it’s all packed separately. When we unpack we see the difference.

3. You must not think of yourself as a servant. You’ll feel inferior, a slave. You are offering a service that is being paid for. This is a factory, where 140 people work. You are an assistant; a PA for the duration. But there is no job I can’t do. When I arrived from Portugal I cleaned toilets in a huge office block for a month.


4. When you unpack you can find out everything about someone. If they are organized, or have expensive clothes, they are nouveau riche. Old money is unflashy. It’s the small things, like toiletries, that are a giveaway. The nouveau riche will buy the top brand, but old money Colgate.

5. This job makes you think about people’s dreams. When they arrived in London, many of the other hotel workers wanted to study, but they got stuck as waiters, and missed their moment.

6. Strip away the money and everybody is essentially the same. I’ve taken care of Jack Nicholson, Mariah Carey, and seen Tom Cruise in his underwear. Some stars request a microwave in the room to warm up takeaways. Will Smith’s PA faxed a list full of healthy items, but when he arrived he ordered McDonald’s and double choc cookies from Starbucks.

7. To be stuck in a lift, it happens.

Words: Stephen Emms


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