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A Hotel Head Butler's Day

Lanesborough Hotel head butler job duties.

Photo: Philip Hollis

6 A.M.

The snooze button is not an option for Daniel Jordaan, the 35-year-old South African who oversees all 23 butlers at London’s iconic Lanesborough hotel, in Knightsbridge. “I’ve wanted to be in the hospitality industry since I was six years old,” he says. “My parents owned a hunting lodge in the Karoo, so I learned early on the importance of good service.” After completing his training at hotels across South Africa, he landed a job at the Lanesborough, one of the first London hotels to institute private butlers 20 years ago. From the moment Jordaan wakes up, he’s on the job. “I watch BBC News religiously every morning, since I deal with politicians, celebrities, and royals all day,” he says. On his train ride to work, he checks e-mail on his BlackBerrys—he has two—and reviews the arrivals list.

7:30 A.M.

Jordaan inspects the butlers on shift. (Shoes shined? Check. Fresh shave? Check. Suits ironed? Check.) “I hire people who have extreme attention to detail, along with great intuition and manners,” Jordaan says. He personally delivers hot coffee and tea, a newspaper, and the weather report to his guests, and switches on the news or opens the curtains, depending on requests.

7:45 A.M.

“A guest arriving today wants a rare Japanese apple in his room upon check-in,” Jordaan tells the main kitchen’s chef, who places the order. At a hotel where it’s rumored a guest once asked for, and received, zebra milk—no request is too outlandish.


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