If the walls of our Milestone Hotel in Kensington could talk they would certainly have many interesting tales to tell. With roots dating back to 1689, the site has served as a private home (with residents as varied and colourful as a Russian ambassador and a mistress of James II), an academy for young gentlemen, a Jesuit school, and even a lunatic asylum, before being transformed into an elegant Victorian hotel. Blending historic charm (guests can take their breakfast in a former chapel) with contemporary facilities, beautiful views of Kensington Gardens and impeccable service, The Milestone knows how to look after its guests.
Fran O’Hanlon is one of three dedicated butlers at The Milestone Hotel. Perhaps best described as a true gentleman who is dedicated to perfection, discretion and personal service, Fran’s hospitality career spans over twenty years, five of which he has spent working as a butler at The Milestone Hotel. We caught up with Fran to find out all about the life of a butler in one of London’s premier five-star hotels.
Being a butler is quite a specialist career choice. What do you enjoy most about your job?
‘One of the most enjoyable things about being a butler is the chance to meet new guests on a daily basis, and to make sure that their diverse requests and needs are being fulfilled as quickly as possible.’
How do you ensure that you are catering to the needs of each guest?
‘We have many returning customers and we do our very best to remember their likes and dislikes. Whether a guest prefers classical music, a certain type of flower or a particular tea, we make sure to source this before their arrival to provide that extra special personal touch, making them feel welcome as soon as they enter the hotel. We recently had a guest attending an Eric Clapton concert, so we made sure to set the iPod in his room to a Clapton playlist for when he arrived.’
What is the most memorable request you have received from a guest during your time at The Milestone?
‘One of the most unusual requests we have ever had was helping a distraught guest to locate her lost wedding ring. After retracing her entire day, we finally found it behind the counter at one of the big pharmacies in Piccadilly Circus.’
The role of a butler relies on personal service, but what does this mean to you?
‘Being a butler, you have to enjoy striving for the absolute highest standards in personal service – in fact, I think I’ve been a butler most of my life without even knowing it! Our guests state many reasons for returning to the hotel including the personal service we provide and our friendly staff, as well as the striking décor and delicious food. However, the greatest compliment is when guests say that “returning to the hotel is like coming home” – for us that is what the Milestone Hotel experience is all about’.
If you fancy experiencing faultless butler service for yourself, then book a room at The Milestone and immerse yourself in luxury and 1st class service.
All images © Red Carnation Hotels