Confessions of a Courchevel housekeeper, Part 1

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First confession: I didn’t actually clean in this…

For about five months of the year I like to take a break from my busy lifestyle of traveling the world /sponging off my mum to actually do some proper paid work in French ski resorts. This year, that mostly consisted of cleaning up after disgruntled Russians and unruly Brits in one of the most exclusive ski resorts in the world. It also involved a lot of soul searching and some pretty big life revelations…

Ever wanted to know what’s going through you housekeepers mind? Ok, probably not, because I bet it’s never even occurred to you. Just in case you are curious, here are some of my confessions from my time as a housekeeper, which will hopefully remind you that your bed is made by a human, who is probably having a worse day than you…

 

  1. As someone who has stayed in a lot of hotels, I’m ashamed to say that I’d never really given much thought to the people who clean my room before. I mean obviously I tip in poorer countries, and at least try to keep it tidy, but it’s never occurred to me that the fallout from a night’s pre-lash can ruin someones day, whilst a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign can actually make it. If you want to do a good deed a day whilst traveling, pass up on housekeeping if you don’t really need it (I mean do you even notice beyond the folded toilet-paper end, seriously?)

    And please, for the love of God, don’t pee in the shower!

  2. Every day is a struggle. Cleaning is exhausting and let’s face it, demoralising work. (Four months on, and I still have shoulder issues from polishing…) But as a seasonnaire, I always had the mountain as motivation and a reason to stay.  This made me think of all the people who don’t have this luxury, people who work themselves to the bone in this degrading job to feed their families, unable to draw comfort from promising themselves as I did every day that I would leave if it got any worse. I could tolerate the feeling of powerlessness, knowing that come May I would be leaving, and my final pay package would fund my full recovery on a beach somewhere. However, this didn’t stop me thinking almost every day about my grandmother who worked as a housekeeper for thirty years, walking miles to work in the Greek sun, having already done a morning’s work in the fields at dawn,  all whilst raising four children. I bet she still didn’t complain about stingy tippers as much as I do…

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    Putting things into perspective…When the first run of the season makes up for the 72 hour week!

  3. Cleaning people’s rooms gives you a unique and often creepy insight into people’s lives. There’s something oddly intimate about it, as you tend to build up an image of a guest over the week, from the books left out on the side, to the products that they use and even where they leave their pyjamas. It’s always fun trying to match a guest with a room during breakfast/ bar shifts, but it get’s a bit creepy if you accidentally let certain information slip when you’re chatting to them in the bar after work…
  4. I’m definitely judging you, and your housekeeper probably is too. From the women with Chanel handbags but Primark pyjamas to the single men whose rooms smell of women’s perfume, I’m drawing allllll kinds of conclusions.  
  5. I sometimes try your perfume/hand cream/fur coats. Come on, I have to have a little bit of fun.
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    Not these though. Jeezus...

     

  6. I sometimes play God. When the lovely man in 209 told us that he needed his room cleaning thoroughly because his boyfriend was leaving and his unsuspecting wife was arriving, a receipt for an expensive dinner for two may have found its way from the bin onto the bedside table. She didn’t need to waste any more of her time with him.
  7. Tips are nice, but snacks are sooo much better. And free alcohol is the dream. Changover days have been saved by packets of Haribo and crates of beer left on the balcony. We’re basically scavengers, and even leftover toiletries mean more beer money at the end of the day.

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    We named him Dmitry

  8. I’m basically a pro at guessing where you’re from, without peeking at your reading material/ passport. And you guys really perpetuate stereotypes. Bulgarians invariably have a holy icon on one bedside table and a bottle of Vodka on the other, and almost every Asian family who stayed brought a rice cooker with them. Stereotypes aside, there were loads of quirky patterns that I never would have guessed. British people can’t seem to leave the country without a week’s supply of home comforts (fyi, leaving Dairy Milk on the bedside table =playing with fire) while French people’s rooms seem eerily tidy by comparison, with an extensive collection of medicines, balms and grooming tools. They make their beds to perfection but almost always leave skid-marks and a trail of pubes around the bathroom.  My favourite guests by far are the Norwegians though, as I often have to check the list to see if the room has already been cleaned and then look for signs of human activity.

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    Too much snow is NOT A THING!!!!

  9. While I have a pretty good reason to be miserable during housekeeping shifts (when powder days mean housekeeping takes twice as long because people stay in, as there is ‘too much snow’…) It shocks me that despite having hands that are raw from the chemicals, not to mention the aches and pains from carrying/bending/polishing,  I am rarely the most miserable person in the hotel. Guests who supposedly ‘have it all’ but can’t crack a smile over breakfast before a day’s skiing/shopping make me wonder when, or rather if, they will ever be happy.

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    This view actually makes waking up at sunrise to work bearable…

  10. Finally, If you don’t give a shit then I don’t give a shit. I know I’m supposed to clean every room to the same standard, but let’s face it, if you don’t respect yourself enough to flush the toilet after you’ve used it, or rinse blood/snot stains off the shower before they crust, then I can only assume that you don’t care about streaks on the glass or crumbs on the floor. On the other hand if you are a clean and tidy person then I will go the extra mile to make your room spotless, knowing that you will appreciate it, and all of my hard work won’t be undone by the morning.

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    All guests are equal…But some are more equal than others!

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