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Is Butler Service Worth It?

Discover how to take your travel plans up a notch with butler service and find out if it’s worth the extra expense.

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Fans of Downton Abbey know Carson, the quintessential butler to Lord and Lady Grantham. Others remember Hobson who so faithfully served Arthur onscreen. And, of course, Alfred was always there for Bruce Wayne (no matter which Batman movie you prefer). That kind of personal service isn’t just for cinematic show. Today, at travel destinations near and far, you can have someone attending to your every need by adding butler service to your trip.

What is Butler Service and where is it available?

With butler service, you’re assigned a staff member or a team of staff whose job is making your stay as enjoyable as possible by handling—and even anticipating—all your travel-related needs and requests. Think of it as next-level service beyond what’s typically available through the front desk, concierge and housekeeping staff.

Butler service used to be reserved for the richest or most famous guests at the highest-end properties. Today, it’s available to the general public at many properties. Look for it when booking at the following:

  • Luxury hotels where all or most rooms come with it
  • The nicest rooms or suites at higher-end and even some standard hotels
  • Certain high-end cabins or suites on many cruise ships
  • Resorts, especially all-inclusive, exclusive ones

To book butler service where it’s available, just choose a room, suite or cabin that comes with this particular amenity.

Typical Tasks Performed by Butler Service

You can generally expect an assigned butler on a cruise or at a hotel or resort to do the following:

  • Arrange your arrival and departure airport transfers
  • Greet you upon arrival, privately handle your check-in and escort you to your accommodations
  • Provide you with their phone number so you can reach them directly
  • Determine your favorite snacks and beverages and stock your room with them daily
  • Provide in-room breakfast service every day of your stay
  • Pack and unpack your luggage
  • Launder, iron and/or lay out your clothes throughout your stay
  • Make reservations for restaurants, spas, tennis courts, golf courses, excursions and more
  • Handle special requests as extensive as pre-arranging the logistics for a marriage proposal or as spontaneous as planning a romantic meal for two in your room on a few hours’ notice
  • Gather everything you need for a perfect day, such as having chairs, towels, sunscreen and a cooler with refreshments ready and waiting for you for a day at the beach
  • Draw you a bath at the end of the day

Assigned butlers often contact you before your arrival to introduce themselves, find out the purpose of your trip and note your preferences and travel plans to begin coordinating everything on your behalf.

The Pros and Cons of Butler Service

The most obvious benefit of butler service is having one point of contact for everything related to your trip and the personalized attention that comes with that. Additionally, booking accommodations with butler service typically means you’ll be staying in one of nicest and, often, largest rooms, suites or cabins available. This helps explain the additional cost, which is one of the few downsides to butler service. Rooms that feature this amenity are almost always more expensive than those without it.

For example, we found that a weekend stay in the heart of Manhattan in mid-April at a luxury hotel featuring butler service runs just over $1,000 a night for the least expensive room option or more than $15,000 for the most expensive suite. By comparison, you could book a room in a higher-end hotel without butler service for the same weekend in the same vicinity for $367 a night. Our research also found that selecting cruise accommodations with butler service can more than double your cost.

Another con: The increased interaction required to provide you with personalized service may feel intrusive to those who prefer their privacy when on vacation. But if you express this preference to your assigned butler, they will work behind the scenes or when you’re away from your room as much as possible. Let’s say you don’t want someone else unpacking your luggage; simply let them know to leave that to you.

Etiquette Tips Related to Butler Service

While the staff providing you with butler service work extremely hard to make your stay as convenient, memorable and enjoyable as possible, you’re responsible for treating them politely. Good manners include:

  • Respecting their working and non-working hours: In many cases, butler service is available 24/7, but confirm this when you book and avoid calling them directly during any off hours.
  • Understanding that your butler may be assigned to more than one guest: In that case, you may need to occasionally wait a few minutes for a response, and butlers appreciate your patience.
  • Asking and using their name: Butlers enjoy getting to know the guests they’re working for, and the use of their name is a sign of your respect.
  • Avoiding requests that are illegal or not allowed: When you book, find out exactly what is included with butler service at a specific property, and never ask a butler to do anything that violates their employer’s policies or is against the law.

Finally, you should always tip your butler. A good rule of thumb is somewhere between $25 and $75 dollars a day, depending on the number and types of tasks they fulfill for you. Another option is tipping approximately 5% of your nightly room rate.

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CUNA 2023 diamond award trophy icon

CUNA 2023 Diamond Award Winner

Financial Education

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