I’ve started cleaning house digitally; going through thousands of photographs, notes and half-written stories. I’ll be posting a lot of my favorites on a more regular basis now along with musings and travel updates. While digitally-spring cleaning, I happened to dig up a mini-interview I’d originally pitched to World Hum while reviewing 5-star luxury hotel, The Milestone for Sherman’s Travel back in 2010. Though my other piece, Odd Jobs: Interview with a Nigerian Garment Fixer was published, this one below didn’t make it so I’m sharing it here instead.
Meet Terry. He’s the Hotel Butler at the 5-stay luxury dig, The Milestone Hotel and Apartments located across from Kensington Palace and The Royal Gardens in London. While reviewing the hotel, I was instantly enveloped by Terry’s feisty enthusiasm and jolly candor.
What’s your job title?
Terry: I am the hotel butler.
How long have you been a professional butler?
Since 1990. I’ve worked for the Milestone for 6 years now.
What does your job entail?
I try to make our guests feel at home. Before they check in, we find out what their preferences are and we learn their names. We try to take away the guest feeling like a stranger and make them feel like they’ve come home.
And how do you make the guests feel at home?
I don’t assume what the guests want. I ask. You have to be attentive without being intrusive.
What oddities do guests request?
We’ve got an excellent concierge who can track down anything our guests want. We once had a Middle Eastern prince request a pure breed hairless cat on a cold day. We called all over London and tracked down a hairless cat breeder. We found one and kept stroking it to keep it warm until it got to the hotel.
Setting the concierge a challenge and the personal satisfaction that comes from overcoming that task is the reward.
How will you share your knowledge with others?
I am currently writing a training manual for the next butler. It will share my experiences. I can’t teach people how to have a personality and how to adapt their personality to suit each guest.
What will you do once you retire?
I will buy a wagon; attach it to my car, and drive all over Europe. One of my guests once said, “Terry, why don’t you come and spend time with us in Idaho?”
And I told them jokingly, “With all due respect, I am a butler. Do you know how much the airfare to Idaho costs?!”