What is a “Rack Rate”?

In case you have ever wondered what a so called Rack Rate is in hotel language, here’s your chance to finally find out!

A rack rate or published rate, often displayed in the guest room, used to be the hotel’s room only official or standard rate which varied by room category.

It served as maximum price from which all other discounted rates were calculated. Typically, actual sales rates represented a more or less large discount.

In recent years, the term rack rate has gone out of fashion. Nowadays it is called Best Available Rate, Best Flexible Rate or Regular Rate. Sound familiar?

At the end of the day all that matters is the overall offer to the consumer with the components rate, tax and service charge, any extra perks and benefits as well as cancellation and payment conditions.

Enjoy safe travels with whatever rate!


Butler Service – myth or added value?

Have you ever stayed at a hotel that offers real butler service? Did you view the service as beneficial? Did it enhance your stay? Did it make a difference?

Here’s a brief look behind the scenes.

Enjoy your reading!

What is butler service?

Butler service is a very personalized service that goes the extra mile by identifying and anticipating guests’ needs almost before they do. In a hotel or on a cruise ship butler service provides the guest with a single point of contact that fulfills every little request discreetly and ideally with a smile.

Who employs butlers?

According to the International Institute of Modern Butlers, butler service can be offered in private estates, resorts and hotels, private yachts and jets, cruise ships and commercial airlines, hospitals, upscale retirement homes, as well as the consumer-service side of businesses.

What qualities are expected from a butler?

Fast thinking, caring about people, taking the time to get to know the guest’s needs, making them feel comfortable, dedicated to giving personalized service to guests, extremely polite and articulate and an unsurpassed attention to detail.

How do luxury hotel brands perceive butler service?

For the St. Regis brand for example, butler service has been a hallmark since 1904 and is – as the St. Regis signature service – an integral part of the St. Regis experience providing an additional level of service.

St. Regis states that “the main concept of offering butler service is to identify what an individual guests needs and make sure we are thinking for them, tailor-making our service levels directly at what will make them more comfortable to stay at the hotel.”

The St. Regis brand is one of the very few hotel brands out there that has a real differentiating feature – butler service.

What are examples of butler service in a hotel?

Welcoming guest upon arrival. Serving welcome drink. Checking-in formalities. Providing guest with all information regarding hotel facilities and the stay. Unpacking and packing guest’s luggage. Liaising with different hotel departments such as housekeeping. Shoe shine. Clothes pressing. Collecting and returning laundry. Making reservations. Arranging transportation. Concierge services. Listening. Among other things.

What are the challenges in today’s world?

The basic challenge is to combine old school hands-on technics with an innovative approach. No re-inventing the wheel here but adjusting to modern technologies and ever involving guest demand patterns. Another huge challenge is the sharply rising demand for qualified butlers from a spate of new luxury hotel openings predominantly in Asia with China leading the pack by a considerable margin.

Is butler service not just a repacking hotel services of standard?

In many hotels yes, however, if done right there is a clear distinction between standard service and butler service whereby butler service does add value to a hotel’s offering. Butler service can and should exceed the hotel’s standard service offering.  One major distinction is that the butler is proactive and anticipative so that the guest does not need to bother taking care of anything himself. The service offering typically includes anything without any extra charge with a dedicated butler standing by and serving as the guest’s single point of contact.

Is butler service not just a justification for charging higher rates?

Butler service executed well does justify to charge a premium. In addition, it can lead to a higher percentage of return guests and higher occupancy.

Which hotels should definitely offer butler service?

It all depends on the hotel’s value proposal and desired positioning in the marketplace. Generally speaking, the upper end of the true 5-star spectrum should definitely offer butler service across all guest room categories.

Various hotels offer this service just for certain suite categories or for their suite product altogether and not for ordinary room categories.

About 30% of the world’s top 1,560 hotels offer full or partial butler service: https://true5stars.com/hotels/butler_service

How does one become a butler?

Numerous private butler schools exist today, such as The British Butler Institute, and top graduates can start at USD 50,000 – 60,000. Additionally, major luxury hotel brands offer traditional butler training while some hotels have trained a sort of pseudo-butler for service in defined areas such as “technology butlers” who fix guests’ computers and other electronic devices, and “bath butlers” who draw custom baths.

Butlers have traditionally been male, and this remains the norm although more and more women are employed.

Top butlers in private households can make as much as USD 150,000 per annum.

Butler is a prestigious profession in exclusive locations with reputable employers.

Enjoy great butler service wherever you might find it!


What makes a true 5-star hotel pet-friendly?

Your four-legged furry friend is part of the family, you go everywhere together, so why should your upcoming vacation be any different?

Here’s your top 10 list of things to consider when bringing your pet to a luxury hotel:

1. Do airlines like to transport pets in the cabin?

Check with the airline about their pet policy. Not too many airlines are pet-friendly. In case you travel on your own private jet, 1. does not apply.

2. Do the best hotels generally have a pet-friendly attitude?

No! Instead the vast majority of true luxury hotels has a “pets – no thanks” policy.

3. Which hotel types accept pets?

Typically more city than beach hotels accept pets.

4. What is a pet in this context?

A pet in this context can be a dog and in many cases a cat as well. Not sure about other four-legged companions though….

5. Are there any weight restrictions?

Yes, there are! Typically your friend should not exceed 11 kilos / 25 pounds. However, in some hotels dogs of all sizes are welcome.

6. How many pets are allowed per room?

Typically just one but it all depends for example on the room type.

7. Are there any room type restrictions for pets?

Yes, there could be. In some hotels pets are only welcome to stay at the villas or bungalows and not in ordinary rooms or suites.

8. Are pets free to roam the property?

Haha, of course not. They are confined to the guest room. When there is a need to go for a walk they must be leashed in the hotel at all times. The walk itself, of course, has to take place outside of the hotel premises.

9. Do pets stay for free like babies or children up to certain ages?

Some hotels let your friend stay free of charge but they might incur a one-time cleaning fee which can be as high as USD 100. In most cases however, luxury hotels do charge a daily fee which is typically about USD 25 – 60 but can occasionally be up to USD 100.

10. What kind of treats or even luxuries are offered to make and keep our friends happy?

Actually hotels are quite creative when it comes to providing your best friend with a truly memorable experience…..welcome basket with treats and toys, “pet sleeping” card, deluxe bedding, comfy duvet, turndown treat, dog jumper, meal options, mineral water, in-room massage – grooming – pedicure, sitting and walking by hotel staff, outdoor play areas, pet birthday celebrations, in-room photo shoot with a pet photographer, taxi service to a pet spa and even a three-course meal prepared by a Michelin-starred chef!

As a passionate dog lover with two adorable doggies at home, here are my final tips:

1. Check the hotel’s pet policy because every hotel has different rules.

2. Contact the hotel ahead of making a reservation to make sure everyone is on the same page.

3. In case you are granted a “special treatment” with respect to your pet(s) make sure you got this in writing, email will do.

Any pet-related hotel experience you would like to share?

Happy vacation with the entire family!