The Downton Effect: British Hotels see the Return of the Butler
It’s all looking rather 1920s in the UK hotel industry, as businesses cash-in on the feverish popularity of the nation’s favourite fictional aristocrats by reinstating the ‘internal concierge services’, or, for want of a better word: butlers.
The Edwardian trend is being reported across the UK, with Cameron House, a baronial mansion on the banks of Loch Lomond in Scotland, hiring George Telford, a butler with 30 years’ experience of serving wealthy families and royalty, while the Café Royal on Regent Street in London will reopen as a luxury hotel offering complimentary butler service to guests in all 159 rooms, which start from £450 per night. Not restricted to already-affluent premises, butler service is even available at the 21-room Plas Rhianfa boutique hotel in Anglesey, for a mere £300 per day.
Thomas Ashley, one of four butlers at London’s Bulgari Hotel, remarked on the phenomenon: ‘Butler service is a very British thing and the increasing interest in British lifestyle and traditions - particularly this year with the jubilee and the Olympics - contributes to the growing trend’.
Critics argue that the 'butler effect' may be a cynical marketing ploy, whereby hotels re-brand their staff as such without providing additional customer value. There are, according to Daniel Jordaan, the Lanesborough Hotel’s head butler, certain traits which identify the real thing. When asked in a Financial Times interview whether there was anything he wouldn’t do for a guest, he said, ‘No. There’s only one line we wouldn’t cross: when it becomes morally unacceptable or illegal’.
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GATE8 Press Team