The Personal Attendant to the Men of the House.
Our seasoned valets can handle your affairs smoothly, and are accustomed to responding to VIP clients with high standards. Discretion and loyalty are paramount for our valets, and it’s a quality we regard highly when filling key household staff roles.
Your Valet is always at hand to respond to personal issues, and their CV will reflect years of experience catering to high-profile individuals and VIPs. As such, they possess a meticulous eye for detail, and are highly attentive to your particular needs.
With the highest standard of professionalism and discretion, your Valet will have a ‘can-do’ attitude, matched with courtesy and charm.
Butler or Valet? Blurred Lines or Well-Defined Roles?
The positions of Butler and Valet are both found in a large household, but are sometimes combined into one role, depending on the client’s needs and the size of the household. The main difference between a butler and a valet lies in their duties and responsibilities. A butler is often considered to be the chief of staff of a house or estate, the ‘cornerstone’ of the household, and supervises other staff members. The valet is generally considered to be the personal male attendant of a male client who is responsible for his client’s clothes and appearance, who sometimes tends to his client’s personal matters and details. However, it is also important to note that there are variations in the responsibilities of butlers and valets in modern households.
Who is a Valet?
Valets are usually men. The female equivalent of valet is Lady’s Maid. Valets were traditionally employed by gentlemen belonging to noble or wealthy families, but in today’s world are often found in hotels and resorts. In a smaller household, the butler may double as the valet, hence the somewhat interchangeable nature of the two job descriptions (see graph).
Responsibilities of a Valet
- Storing and keeping inventory of clothing, jewellery and personal accessories
- Assisting in toiletries, dressing, and hair styling
- Packing and unpacking for travelling and serving light meals
- Doing light mending, pressing, polishing shoes, and other general housekeeping tasks
- Providing personal assistance to the employer
- Ability to respond and fulfil requests such as booking travel arrangements, dealing with outside purveyors and suppliers (clothes, accessories, etc.).
- Organising and processing secretarial requests as needed
- Answering phone calls and greeting visitors
Desirable Personal and Professional Characteristics of a Superior Valet
- Tact and Diplomacy
- Knowledge of Current and Proper Etiquette Practices
- Honesty and Dedication
- Personal Initiative and Commitment to Assisting Others
- Self-Assured and Confident
- Courteous and Polite
Modern Portrayals in the Arts
In recent pop culture, valets have figured very prominently in TV and film. In the past few years they’ve had celebrated roles: Bontemps (played by Stuart Bowman) in BBC’s ‘Versailles’, John Bates (played by Brendan Coyle) as first valet to Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham (played by Huge Bonneville) and the scheming yet tragic figure of Thomas Barrow (played by Rob James-Collier) as Lord Grantham’s second valet in the Julian Fellowes period drama ‘Downton Abbey’. In 2018 a marvelous portrayal was created by Silas Carson as Bullimore/Khan, J.Paul Getty’s butler/valet/house-runner in The FX’s Network biopic “Trust”. (Fun fact: Bullimore’s true name is Jahangir Khan. Bullimore was the name of one of Paul Sr.’s previous butlers, and Getty simply passed it on to Khan so that he wouldn’t have to learn a new name. Ouch!)
In more distant film and TV representations, we have Kato, Inspector Clouseau‘s valet and martial arts partner in the Pink Panther movies, Giles “Mr.” French (Sebastian Cabot) in the late 60’s sitcom Family Affair, Hobson, (John Gielgud), Arthur’s valet, and of course George/Georges, the faithful valet of Belgian detective Hercule Poirot in Agatha Christie’s mystery series.
That directors and screenwriters would assign prominent character roles to the valet and butler is testimony to the critical and impressionable role that valets play in the lives of their clients. A reliable, discreet, capable and calming influence is hard to find, and at Irving Scott we’ve curated an enviable list of carefully selected and vetted men who can fill the shoes of this key household role.