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Best Jobs for Couples in 2019

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Working Visa UK Requirements & Application Guide

If you’ve not worked in the UK before, or want to find out if you’re even able to, it can be hard to find the answers. Even if the job you’re applying for is based in a ski resort in the Alps, a palace in the Middle East or a Private Household in Europe, you still may need UK immigration to give you the right to work here because as a UK-based recruitment agency the majority of our clients are also based here and so employ their staff on UK contracts and second them overseas on UK work permits.

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7 Places You’re About to Add to Your Bucket List

With 195 countries making up this incredible world we live in, there are only so many you can physically visit each year. So, to make sure you don’t miss out, we’ve compiled a list of seven of our favourite and most unique destinations, all with an underlying theme – vivid colour! Enjoy!

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Interview with an Estate /House Manager

Silver Swan Recruitment recruits for a number of private households and estates worldwide. The private household industry can offer a very rewarding and lucrative career and can provide the opportunity to travel the world. Working in a private household can often be challenging as no two days are ever the same, however, this variety helps to make roles really enjoyable. You become an integral part of the family and are relied on heavily to keep the household running smoothly. To give us a little more insight into the working world of Private Households, we have interviewed an extremely experienced Estate/House Manager to better explain what it’s like to work in such a prestigious role.





Russell Orford has most recently worked as an Estate/House Manager for a UHNW client based in London. He oversaw the running of their 5 homes worldwide – 2 based in London, 3 overseas.


How did you start working in Private Households?

I spent 12 years in the Army in the Scots Guards, wearing the red tunic and Bearskin Cap. This gave me a large number of skills which were incredibly useful and transferable to the world of Private Households. When I left, I helped a friend of a friend with their maternity cover managing a house for a Titled Couple in Chelsea. I loved the variety of the work, and coming from the Army, I thrived on doing a good job and making things perfect.

I had a brief dabble in ex-military recruitment which really helped me understand where my skillset was, but most importantly how the job market works. The benefit of a good, tailored CV and understanding what good recruiters can offer you, both as a client and a candidate.

I then landed the job which started everything for me, managing a very large house, for an UHNW businessman with bordering OCD tendencies. The standards were incredibly high and he was extremely demanding – not unreasonable, but everything was either perfect, or it was wrong.

In your experience, does the role of Estate/House Manager differ among households?

I think the role of Estate or House Manager covers such a wide range of responsibilities that it can only ever be different due to different requirements. Some require cooking, some a little housekeeping, others need a real hands-on approach, while others want a more set back managerial style.

sports cars private household jobs

What is your typical day?

There is no such thing! I have my standard things which I would do on a daily basis, checking the whole house, fixing the dressing room (resetting all the hangers, to be equally spaced etc). I would also make time to speak to all the staff every day, to ensure they were happy, knew what they were doing, and also felt connected and supported.

When it comes to my workload, I would class it as a good day if I got to complete 50% of the work I planned to do that day. There are always changes, always problems to fix and last minute immediate tasks given by the Principal.

What challenges do you face on a day to day basis?

The biggest challenge I find is staff disagreements. As in every workplace, there can be disagreements between staff members, and this will always come down to you as an Estate/House Manager to fix. Just yesterday I had two housekeepers in two different properties have a row, and both handed in their notice before 0900. Not my favourite morning, but after some listening and talking they are now both staying!

candelabra on posh dining table

What do you find most enjoyable in your role?

I love doing a good job, and fixing problems, whether it’s staffing, technical, logistical or sourcing hard to find items. I don’t look for praise, but am very pleased when there is no criticism – if there is nothing wrong, then everything is right! (I have been pulled up for the length of the wicks on candles which have already been burning for an hour!).

What do you think makes a good House/Estate Manager?

The ability to adapt to anything, listen to everybody but make your own decisions, hear everything and say nothing. You must be there first, but put yourself last, behind not only your Principal but also every other member of your staff. It is an amazing privilege to be in the position to work in the incredible houses we are allowed to serve in and to manage a team of people whose sole aim is to make someone’s life better. It’s not always easy, but when you get it right, it’s perfect.

polished wine glasses on table

Fancy working in a Private Household?

If you have some good hospitality experience and feel you have the right personality traits to suit working in a private home or estate then please get in touch and we will help you either find a new opportunity or secure your first role within a private estate.

Browse our current vacancies here and click here to get in touch.

butler training courses in the uk

Butler Training Courses in the UK

Silver Swan Recruitment places Butlers in private households and palaces all over the world. All our butlers are of the highest standard and have completed butler training to gain the skills required to do the job. Salaries normally start around £35,000 a year and go up to £100,000+ for the most experienced Butlers within a prestigious private household. Below is a list of the top UK Butler training courses.

butler school uk

British Butler Institute – London

Mr Gary Williams undertook his formal training at the then world-famous Ivor Spencer International School for Butler Administrators in Dulwich, London. The school was established in 1981 and His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales invested Ivor Spencer (the founder), with the MBE at Buckingham Palace in 2002. The British Butler Institute International School for Butler Administrators and Household Managers (Trained British and International Style), equips professionals with Modern and Traditional Skills that ensure they are able to deliver excellence around the world.

What they offer:

• 5 Day School for Butler Administrators and Household Managers = £1,350

• 10 Day School for Butler Administrators and Household Managers = £2,700

• Week School for Butler Administrators and Household Managers = £4,890

Click here to find out more.

butler training course uk

Exclusive Butler School – Kent

The Exclusive Butler School was founded by John Pettman, himself an ex-Royal Butler who started his career at Buckingham Palace and progressed to The British Embassy in Paris. John worked alongside two of our Butler Trainers, Mark Moynan and Michael Taylor, who are also ex-Royal Butlers, to produce a programme tailored to creating the ultimate Private House Butler by providing true British Butler Training.

What they offer:

• 2 Week Butler Course = £5,800 + VAT

• 1 Week Superyacht and Chalet Steward/ess Interior Course = £1,500 + VAT

• Bespoke Tailored Butler/Hospitality Training = from £600 + VAT for 5hrs, to 40 Hours (10 x 4 Hour Modules) for £4,800 + VAT

Click here to find out more.

butler training uk

The Butler Valet School – Oxfordshire

Mr Rick Fink is the quintessential English butler. He has worked for many foreign Royal families including the British Royal family. His pedigree and experience put him in a unique position to pass on the highest skills and standards to students interested in pursuing a successful career at the pinnacle of the service offering. Ditchley Park is one of England’s finest country houses. The Butler Valet School offers a unique opportunity for students to gain first-class knowledge and skills to master traditional butling techniques tailored to 21st Century requirements. All the courses are personally overseen by Rick Fink and his experienced team and the price includes accommodation, breakfast, and all meals at the school, plus travel to and from the school each day, back to your hotel.

What they offer:

• 4 Week Butler Course = £7950

• 2 Week Butler Course = £5,160

• 2 Week Bespoke one-to-one Training = £10,500

• 4 Day Bespoke one-to-one Training = £3,750

Click here to find out more.

butler course in the uk

Bespoke Bureau – London

The prestigious British Butler Academy has won recognition internationally. The Academy offers the most sought-after Elite Service Training in the world and features weekly in press/media and TV across the globe. We teach all types of service training to individuals, companies and resorts across the globe. Prices are inclusive of the training, materials, transfer, full accommodation and board, tuition, practical elements, field trip, role play training and much more.

What they offer:

• 2 Week Butler Course = £4000 + VAT

• One-to-one Training = £1000 + VAT per day.

Click here to find out more.

training for butlers in the uk

British Butlers Guild – London

The British Butlers Guild is an organisation dedicated to the promotion of the ideals, ethos and traditions of the Traditional British Butler. The British Butlers Guild was established in 2007 by Anthony Seddon-Holland, a 47-year-old professional butler with over than twenty years’ experience as a professional butler, estate manager and hotel butler department manager. Anthony comes from three generations of professional butlers. The British Butlers Guild offers 1 to 4-week courses carefully designed for those wishing to pursue a new career or to enhance and expand their existing knowledge.

What they offer:

• 2 Week Butler training course = £4,200 + VAT

• Weekend seminars on building a strong CV and interview technique.

Click here to find out more.


Click here to see what Butler positions we have available right now.

entrance gates to mansion in background

A Day in the Life Working on a Private Estate

To some, working on a private estate may seem something out of date, ‘Downton Abbey’ esk and generally something from the past. However, this booming industry is far from it. With more and more individuals training and working towards this luxurious hospitality life style, I thought it would be a good idea to write a short piece about what is actually involved in some of the key roles responsible for running such prestigious estates.  This ‘Day in the Life’ blog will explore the kinds of roles available to you, the day to day chores involved and how it could lead you into a full and fruitful career.

Estates can vary in size from just a few acres to hundreds, therefore roles and responsibilities can vary massively. For the sake of this blog I am going to discuss a 35-acre state with 1 Estate Manager, 1 House Manager, 1 Chef, 1 Butler, 1 Housekeeper and a Gardener.


Estate Manager

 Let’s begin with the bread and butter holding the whole place together. The Estate Manager is pretty much what it says on the tin. However, unless you have Private Household experience, you are unlikely to land yourself this important role. The Principal (the owner/head of the house) needs someone who knows the industry and understands the importance of the smooth running of his/her properties and land.

The role is full on, hands on and often Estate Managers are on call 24/7 however once you have found the right job, this is often a career with longevity, benefits and very substantial pay packet. Some of the day to day activities include: hiring staff, liaising with the House Manager, sourcing and discussing with contractors, administrative tasks including budgeting and planning events and functions.

As you can probably tell this is an extremely wide-ranging and diverse role and although it’s extremely hard work it’s unlikely to ever get boring. Each day is different and if you are looking for a challenge to spice up your career maybe this one is for you.


House Manager

Household managers are usually responsible for planning, organizing and coordinating events, assisting the Estate Manager where necessary. Managing household calendars and schedules, ensuring appointments are met, keeping on top of the house maintenance, arranging extra help where necessary, paying household bills and completing any other administrative tasks.

Also, in this instance the management of the other members of staff is key. From creating rotas to ensuring that tasks are prioritised and completed to the highest of standards. Again, this is a very varied role. It requires high class organisational skills, the ability to multi task and of course people skills.



Private Chefs have total control of their kitchen. Sometimes you will have a sous chef alongside you but more often than not the kitchen is yours. Taking charge of menu planning, sourcing of quality ingredients, grocery shopping and catering for the whole house, this is your time to shine!

Usually you will be catering breakfast lunch and dinner for all members in the home, including children (packed lunches may be part of your role too), and all staff. It’s a great role for someone with passion and a thirst to experiment, you will often be required to cater large dinner parties with the need to impress. Sometimes you will have to cater events, fluctuating from canape receptions, to BBQs and sit-down meals. However, you must remember that you are not catering for just anyone. Often the Principal and their family have specific needs and requirements that are not to be taken lightly. This is a prestigious role in a competitive industry so you must be able to adapt your style and techniques should you need to.



According to the Butlers Guild the Butler is ‘Chief servant of the house.’ The role of the Butler often depends strongly on the formality of the household. Generally, the Butler will assist in the smooth running of the residence however unlike the House Manager this is often on a much more personal level to the Principal. Often the Butler’s role will include (but is definitely not limited to) maintenance jobs around the property, serving food and drink, hosting, assisting with event planning, wine cellar organisation, wardrobe management, greeting and chauffeuring. The role can often involve traveling the world with the Principal, not everyone’s cup of tea but many see this as a huge perk.

In some smaller households, there is no need for a House Manager, the Butler simply mimics the House Manager. Alternatively, in a larger household there could be whole team of Butlers with different responsibilities (e.g. dining room Butler, Pantry Butler etc.).



As a Private Housekeeper, you are expected to complete all basic cleaning duties including vacuuming, dusting, mopping, surface cleaning, ensuring all bathrooms are immaculate, making sure all other areas of the home are clean, neat and tidy. In addition to this, other tasks include taking care for household pets, polishing the silverware (sometimes a task for a Butler). Washing dishes and assisting the chef with cleaning the kitchen to high hygiene standards. You may also be expected to run errands, for example going to the dry cleaners and grocery shopping. It is often the Housekeepers responsibility to organise laundry and purchase cleaning products within budget. Occasionally when events are taking place at the residence, temporary housekeepers will be bought in to assist.

Some households have a specific nanny to take care of the children, but often if the children are at school age, the Housekeeper would assist in this department. Helping them dress in the morning, making sure they have breakfast and generally ensuring they have everything they need.



Last but not least the Gardener. This role doesn’t need much explanation, many private residences have a large amount of woodland grounds which means a full-time job for a very experienced and capable gardener. The role often includes outdoor maintenance including pools, tennis courts, gold courses. It’s a year-round task ensuring the grounds are respectable, colourful and in line with the Principals likes. You will need to be able to work alone and manage your own time while liaising with the Estate Manager regarding external contractors.


These roles are all instrumental in the smooth running of a Private Estate. Often these are ‘live-in’ roles which mean no bills and an easy commute! Experience is key when it comes to Private Households, starting from the bottom and working your way up. There are many different avenues you can come from, spending a season as a Chalet Host or Yacht Steward are both great paths to begin your Private Household carer and here at Silver Swan we can assist. We are specialists in Luxury Chalet, Villa, Yacht and Private Household recruitment. If you are unsure about where you could fit in, get in touch, with our wealth of knowledge and experience we will be able to help guide you into your new career.



Starting a career within a Private Household

Silver Swan Recruitment recruits for a number of private households and estates worldwide. The private household industry can offer a very rewarding and lucrative career and can provide the opportunity to travel the world. Unbeknown to most, this private hospitality industry is huge with a surprising number of homes and estates in the UK as well as overseas who employ staff. It is not unusual for these families to have multiple homes, all fully staffed.

Working in a private household can often be challenging as no 2 days are ever the same, however this variety helps to make roles really enjoyable. You become an integral part of the family and are relied on heavily to keep the household running smoothly. Each family will be different and you must therefore adapt your working style to suit each individual household. Some families will want to interact with you and will want you to feel that you are part of the family, other more formal households will not want this personal interaction. They will want you to be seen but not heard and will expect you to do your role with very little conversation with family members. It is vital that you take your time when applying and interviewing for positions as finding the right family to suit your personality and working style will have a direct impact on your level of enjoyment and success in the position. The perfect match between yourself and a family can result in a career for life within their home.

butler serving drinks

Job Opportunities within Private Households

The type of roles can vary depending on the requirements of the household or estate, however, they will typically include:

All roles are as important as each other, and each member of the team plays a vital role in the successful running of the house.

Getting Started

The first thing required to start a career working on in a private home or on a private estate is to gain some good 5* service or housekeeping experience. Ideally, this is within another private environment such as a chalet or villa, or alternatively, a small boutique hotel would also be a good place to start. The desired role will determine the kind of relevant experience you will need to gain in advance.

There are various training courses which are worth looking at if you do lack the hospitality experience required. There are numerous Private Household Training Academies who offer training for Butlers, Housekeepers, Couples and more. You can expect to be trained on the following:

  • Service & Silver Service
  • Management
  • Housekeeping
  • Etiquette
  • Wine Knowledge and Food Pairing
  • Russian Service

Application Process

Recruitment agencies are a great starting point when the time comes to start your job hunt. Very few NHW households will advertise their roles directly and manage the recruitment process themselves, the only time they will recruit a new member of staff themselves would be if someone is recommended to them by someone they trust. The majority of staff recruitment would go through a bespoke recruitment agency. Families will often use the same agency every time and so will have a good relationship with their consultant who will have a good understanding of the family, the household and the role. The consultant will, therefore, know the kind of person who will fit well with the family and who will succeed in the role. They will spend time matching candidates to positions to ensure the fit is perfect each time.

When it comes to applying for Private Household positions, the following factors are very important:

First Impressions – you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression!

  • Make sure your CV is well written, well formatted, easy to read with no spelling or grammatical mistakes. Cover letters are useful to outline your skill set and match your qualities to that required of the role. It is also useful to include a photo on your CV.
  • Be sure you are well presented and smartly dressed for all interviews.


  • Longevity on a CV is important. It will show your loyalty and commitment to your previous positions and will assure prospective employers of your ability to stay in a role long term. If you do have a number of short-term positions on your CV, be sure to provide explanations of why you left each role. Working in each role a minimum of 2-3 years should be your aim.


  • The referencing process is taken very seriously. Both the recruitment agency and the Principle themselves will want to speak to your previous employers. It is useful to have written references ready to present at interview stage along with contact details to enable them to be verified. Expect your previous 3 employers to be contacted. References must be solid for your application to proceed.

What’s Next?

If you have some good hospitality experience and feel you have the right personality traits to suit working in a private home or estate then please get in touch and we will help you either find a new opportunity or secure your first role within a private estate.

Browse our current vacancies and click here to contact us.