Middle-aged and crusty? Not us, says the king of British butlers

Anthony Seddon-Holland is seeking to revive one of the country's quirkiest professions. Hazel Davis reports

Butlers are as crucial a part of the English stereotype as crumpets, cricket and country lanes. But one of its leading lights says the industry needs some new blood. Anthony Seddon-Holland is The Man when it comes to butlers. He has more than 20 years' experience as a hotel head butler and trainer and has established teams at more than 50 five-star hotels around the world, including The Ritz and Claridge's.

He is also the managing director of the British Butlers Guild, an organisation dedicated to the promotion of the ideals, ethos and traditions of the British butler. Seddon-Holland comes from three generations of professional butlers. You could say he was born to it.

And Seddon-Holland looks set to perpetuate his high standard when he takes over at York's newest hotel, the five-star Cedar Court Grand Hotel & Spa, which opens tomorrow. It's one of only a clutch of hotels in the UK to have butlers. Presenting itself as a hotel "inspired by the golden age of travel and luxury", it is the perfect destination to train a new breed of personal service providers.

A former British Army rifleman, Seddon-Holland has worked all over the world, including India, Bali and Jamaica. He has worked as butler to a Russian oligarch and on the Las Vegas strip after starting as an under-footman (deputy butler) in an English stately home.

The butler department at The Grand, says Seddon-Holland, will be small at first, but it will expand. "In the sense of a five-star luxury property, the butler is a one-stop shop for guests," he says. "They will help them check in, they will help them organise a trip to the theatre, unpack their suitcase, everything."

You have to be a pretty special person to do it, he says. "You need to be flexible, be good with people and to be a good communicator." Far from being a servile or demeaning job, Seddon-Holland says it's a very important one. "I did a radio interview a few years ago in which someone asked me whether I felt like I was lacking in self-respect. I don't see being of service to people as being demeaning. People don't say the same about policemen or nurses. These are all service industries."

It's this attitude, according to Seddon-Holland, which may put young people off entering the industry. "We do have an image of being middle-aged and crusty, but that's far from the truth," he says. "It has a negative image it doesn't deserve."

There is a lot of job satisfaction to be had for someone entering the profession and, in some hotel chains, the possibility of fast-track management roles. And no two days are ever the same, he says.

The new butlers at The Grand will receive on-site training from a man who has trained some of the most respected butlers in the world and has done his bit to set the UK standard for butlers. Seddon-Holland's stints abroad and around Las Vegas are testament to the possibilities being a butler can present. But being a butler in a hotel rather than in private service can offer more job security and better working conditions. "I used to work for the third richest man in Russia," he says. "He got four hours' sleep a night and I had to go to bed after him and get up before him."

As an in-service butler, Seddon-Holland got used to working 21-hour days. "If you're in a hotel, you can do shifts and you get to meet different people. If you're in service, you never get to go home. The challenges are different and the rewards are different, but you are covered by laws which say how often and when you can work."

How to become a butler

You rang m'lord? Ways to get your foot below stairs

* Academic qualifications aren't necessary, but most butlers have at least basic training or qualifications in hospitality or catering. See www.cityandguilds.com/ 4315.html for details

* You can study for a City & Guilds Level-2 diploma for butlers. See www.accreditedqualifications.org.uk/qualification/ 50015138.seo.aspx for details

* Visit the British Butlers Guild website for details on training, www.britishbutler guild.com/index.htm

* The Butler-Valet School in Oxfordshire offers short courses and bespoke courses in how to be a butler. Visit www.butler-valetschool.co.uk for more details

* The Cedar Court Grand in York is still recruiting trainee butlers. For more information, visit www.cedarcourtgrand.co.uk/ work-at-grand-hotel-york.aspx

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Extras
indybest
Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Software Developer

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Join a fast growing software co...

Guru Careers: Graduate Account Executive / Digital Account Executive

£20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Graduate / Digital Account Exe...

Guru Careers: Junior Designer / Design Graduate

£18k: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Junior Designer / Design Graduate to join...

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager / Graduate Trainee

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Key Sales Account Manager/Graduate Trainee i...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum