According to Room Checking the average time to clean a hotel room in three- and five-stars hotels amounts to 20.5 minutes for a stayover and 31.5 minutes for a guest departure, with 61% of the guests departing daily. Changing bed linen and towels, making beds, vacuuming floors, dusting and polishing furniture, cleaning bathrooms, replacing stocks of guest supplies and re-stocking drinks in the mini-bar are some of the tasks carried out by the housekeeper before a room gets inspected and becomes available for the next guests. And while a housekeeper set of skills may be unknown to many it also includes:
- Ensuring company standards are followed in welcoming and acknowledging all guests;
- Answering immediately to request from guests, as well as from other departments;
- Adhering to all safety, security, and company procedures and policies
This week we are meeting Ann that talks about her experience as a housekeeper for one of the most exclusive five-star hotels in London. Here she learnt the secrets to provide a five-star experience to the hotel’s guests and how to deal with VIP’s requests. She also reveals how the toll of this highly demanding physical job on her body led her to change her job to find an ideal work-life balance.
How did you get a job as a housekeeper in one of the most exclusive hotels in London?
I applied online for the position several times before getting a chance to get an interview. Once I was invited for the interview, I prepared myself by focusing on customer-facing skills. During the meeting, I used examples of situations where I demonstrated problem-solving skills, patience and a positive attitude, without forgetting to smile. I also had many years of experience as a cleaner in different countries, so that helped as well.
Did you have to undergo a training? What did you learn?
Yes, I had to attend an induction day, and weekly trainings, to learn the hotel policies and the most efficient cleaning technics.
What was your background before joining the hotel?
I worked for several cleaning agency for many years and in different countries.
Which were the skills required for this job?
You need to have stamina and physical strength, good eye for detail, and politeness.
Can you describe a typical day of work?
Imagine running something in between a marathon and an obstacle course race every day of the week, five days a week. It is a very demanding physical job that in time can affect your physical health.
How many rooms did you have to clean every day? What standard was required?
Each day I had to clean from nine to twelve rooms. Depending on the size of the room, I had between 45 and 90 minutes to get the best results. In other hotels, housekeepers have only 30 minutes to clean each room, but that is not enough time to clean at the highest standards. Also, once a month, an area supervisor was coming around to check the standard of cleanliness, that in London is rated at 4.5, by looking at any minimum sign of dust. If standards are not achieve, the hotel needs to improve its cleanliness.
Have guests ever been rude to you?
Not really rude, but some people love to complain about minor things with the reception just to put you in troubles. One famous actor complaint about me closing the door when I was vacuuming the room, it was just about me not wanting to annoy him with the noise! He was in the next room.
Did you meet any famous people?
It was quite frequent to get VIP’S as guests. I met Simon Cowell, but I didn’t even know who was at the time, he likes to laugh, and was very friendly. Also, I can remember a dreamy Lindsay Lohan, and Slash, very charming and kind.
Did you have to follow a specific protocol when dealing with VIP guests?
The rules were the same, but generally the most experienced housekeeper would be sent to deal with VIP; privacy was a golden rule, of course, so no gossips allowed.
What were the highlights and lowlights of working as a housekeeper for one of the most exclusive hotels in London?
Highlights were being in a nice work environment, annual staff parties and gatherings. The main lowlight was that it was a very demanding job and physically draining.
How was the relationship with other housekeepers?
Generally, they were all quite young, and they would stay in the job for short periods. With others there was some friendship.
Why did you decide to leave this job?
It was a taking a physical toll on me, I had recurrent back pain, and it was not getting better in any way. I decided to become a private housekeeper to protect my health and to achieve a better work-life balance.
What is your job today?
As mentioned above, today, I work as a housekeeper for private families. Working for families allows me to set my own schedule and have more control over my income. The plus is that I can also use my cooking skills, that is something I am enjoying it.