How the butler does it

When it comes to packing, the butler staff at London's Lanesborough Hotel knows how to get the most out of your luggage—or into it. They've had to stuff suitcases with wedding dresses, hockey sticks, clerical robes, two fresh turkeys from Harrods, a 3 1/2-foot-tall toy Dalmatian, and eight pairs of Wellington boots. Karen Beat, one of the hotel's two female butlers, has rescued the contents of bags improperly packed with leaky bottles of vinegar, whiskey, and aftershave; she herself puts bubble wrap around breakables. When loading women's luggage, Beat always bundles clean lingerie in white tissue paper tied with a colorful ribbon for easy identification. Here are some of her professional packing tips.

Pack heavy items, such as shoes and toiletry kits, before the more delicate ones. Place them along the suitcase's spine to balance weight at the bottom.

Use tons of tissue paper: line your suitcase; place additional tissue between each layer of clothing. Wrap it around shoe heels, and stuff it up jacket sleeves.

To reduce wrinkling, turn jackets inside out and fold them in half with tissue paper or dry-cleaning bags.

Line the bottom of your suitcase with trousers, letting the legs hang over the outside edge. Then pack the rest of your travel gear—lighter materials on top. Wrap trouser legs over the pile; they'll keep their crease.

Stuff socks and rolled-up belts into shoes to save space.

Take along plastic bags for laundry or wet swimsuits.

Hang clothing in the bathroom while showering to steam out wrinkles. Most electric gadgets can't build up enough steam to smooth rumpled garments.

Bring an empty soft bag for souvenirs.

If you want to use your suitcase's restraining belts or ties, use a nightdress or socks wrapped in tissue paper to prevent crushing.

Keep a checklist of items you regularly need on a trip.

Still arriving with mangled clothes?You could always take a cue from the Lanesborough guest who bought his butler a round-trip ticket to Norway to hand-deliver two new suits.