Do You Need A Butler or a Housekeeper?

Do You Need A Butler or a Housekeeper?

Published on December 4, 2023

In today’s world, the roles of the Butler and Housekeepers have evolved and merged significantly. This may leave you wondering if you need a Butler or a Housekeeper. In this article, we will share our expertise to help you decide.

The Role of A Butler

Let’s clarify what a Butler’s duties are, there are of course many but these are the most common of them. Setting the table and serving all meals, drawing a bath, making various appointments and arrangements for the Principals, packing and unpacking, pressing clothes, polishing shoes, arranging flowers, polishing silver, party planning, purchasing, meeting and greeting guests, maintaining the wine cellar, providing beverage service. The role is trusted by principals and discretion is key. Butlers are trained to pre-empt and always be one step ahead,  anything from getting out the umbrellas ahead of walking to dinner with them knowing that it’s going to rain, or automatically placing the green tea next to the desk before its asked for each day.

The Role of A Housekeeper

The role of a housekeeper is often one that people cross reference with a cleaner. However the personal nature of this role allows you to serve the Owner of the home knowing all their needs. A cleaner would come in and pick up items, clean the area and set items down again. A Housekeeper would return any items to their correct place. Housekeepers just know when trousers are left on the back of the bedroom chair it means send them off to dry cleaning.

Housekeepers clean with immaculate care and detail with a knowledge of the correct cleaning products to use on delicate surfaces. At night they know that you like 2 bottles of water next to the bed. The correct setting for the bedroom thermostat. The laundry is completed, as well as the wardrobe organized beautifully.  The house never runs out of toilet paper. The magic fairy that empties the hair out of your hairbrush is indeed the Housekeeper.

Both roles preempt the principals every move. The newspapers arrive on Sundays, the specific tea  to drink is always in the cupboard, the luggage is brought to the bedroom for packing ahead of being asked. The inventories are maintained and every time a drawer is opened or cupboard it’s organized and neat.

Do You Need A Butler or a Housekeeper?

It comes down really to what’s important to you? Do you entertain lots with formal gatherings?
Do you want some at your beck and call? Is cleanliness, laundry and your wardrobe more of a concern to you?
Housekeepers are often the most common role for many houses. It’s a step up from a cleaner but the extra money you have to pay usually outweighs this decision.
Whereas Butlers are more suitable for large properties with homeowners with a busy lifestyle.
Employed to oversee the other staff instead of or as well as the House or Estate Manager. Extremely skilled in all areas of their duties. Ask them to purchase wine or maintain the wine cellar and this will not fill them with horror, they know that the ideal humidity will be between 60-70% and the best places to go for good wine will be somewhere they have used for many years with a trustworthy reputation. What you pay for is experience, yes it may cost you more but this may be worth it depending on your needs.

Is it ok to Combine the roles?

Well, do you really want someone one minute cleaning the toilets then the next serving guests their dinner? Both roles perform different duties and whilst staff are be flexible and help in all areas where needed, clearly defined roles allows for staff to understand expectations. In many houses it can be common practice for the housekeepers on occasion to take out plates to the table to help. For Butlers they may help turn around bedrooms and bathrooms at the last minute but in a large household this isn’t realistic or indeed professional.

You could of course have a full time Housekeeper and then hire a butler temporarily when you have events. We at Polo and Tweed can help with that.
Equally you can have both and have both and ensure that everyone understands each other’s role. Very often Polo and Tweed go into houses and train Housekeepers in Silver Service, in case the need arrises for them to use these skills. We also train Butlers to perform Housekeepers’ jobs with ease should they have to step in due to unforeseen circumstances.

Have you considered how versatile a full-time butler or housekeeper is? Polo and Tweed are here to help if you would like to hire a butler or housekeeper. When finding the right individual you should take your time and consider all your options. If you are looking for your new dream job, Polo and Tweed offer E-Online Butler training or E-Online Housekeeper training . This can help boost your CV and make you stand out to employers. If you’d like to chat with us, please do get in touch by giving us a call on +44(0)203 858 0233.

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