The Job and What's Involved

Housekeepers make sure that hotels are clean, welcoming and ready to accept guests. They are usually in charge of a team and their main duties, depending on the size of hotel, are likely to include:

  • Checking that high standards of cleanliness are maintained and that rooms are correctly serviced.
  • Supervising and training staff, and planning staff rotas.
  • Making sure there are supplies of linen, cleaning materials and items for the rooms, such as tea and coffee, soap and shampoo.
  • Stocktaking and managing budgets.
  • Paperwork, such as maintenance reports and room check sheets.
  • Health and safety matters, including those related to hazardous cleaning materials.
  • Dealing with lost property.

Housekeepers organise their staff to clean guest bathrooms and bedrooms, and to clean and prepare public rooms such as the lounge and restaurant. They inspect the work of their team, looking out for things such as a dusty surface or sugar missing from the tea and coffee tray in the room. They have to make sure anything damaged or faulty is repaired or replaced, and arrange for any necessary repair work to the room itself. They also make sure the equipment staff use, such as vacuum cleaners, polishers and trolleys, is in safe working order.

Keeping staff motivated and focused on guests' needs is an important part of managing their team.

In large hotels, housekeepers may have a team of supervisors to control the work of room attendants and linen room staff. Floor housekeepers supervise the work of a team of room attendants or housekeeping assistants, with responsibility for a particular floor or floors. In small hotels, they might have a more hands-on role, possibly doing some cleaning themselves.

Housekeepers have to control costs for cleaning materials, linen, laundry, maintenance and wages. They work closely with reception staff, the general manager and suppliers.

Hotels are open all hours, which means housekeepers may need to work unsocial hours. This could mean starting work very early in the morning, working in the evenings and nights, and possibly weekends and public holidays. Larger hotels may operate shift systems.

Housekeepers may be able to work part time or only in the busy holiday seasons. Some jobs may be on a live-in basis.

Housekeepers work throughout the hotel, but they may also have an office where they can deal with paperwork. They may have to handle cleaning materials and equipment.

Many hotels supply a uniform or have a particular dress code.

Starting salaries may be around £12,000 a year.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

There are more than 35,000 hotels and guesthouses across the UK. Large hotels are the most likely to employ housekeepers. There are also jobs in private clubs, holiday centres and health spas.

Although competition for jobs is strong, there is a shortage of housekeepers, particularly at more senior levels. London and the south east of England employ the largest number of housekeepers, followed by Scotland and South West England.

Jobs are advertised in trade magazines such as Caterer and Hotelkeeper, in Jobcentre Plus offices, and on recruitment websites such as nd Jobs may also be advertised in local newspapers and there are many recruitment agencies that deal with hotel jobs.

Education and Training

Many housekeepers start out in this industry with few or no formal qualifications, and it is not unusual for people to work their way up from the position of room attendant (see Hotel/Accommodation Room Attendant for more information). Many hotels want to see some evidence that applicants are good organisers and communicators, and they usually need to be at least 18 years old.

Those with A levels/H grades may be able to enter the industry as a housekeeper, although some housekeepers have HNC's/HND's in Hospitality, Foundation degrees or degrees.

The minimum requirements for an HNC/HND are one A level/two H grades. For a degree, entrants usually need two A levels/three H grades and five GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3), or equivalent qualifications.

Other relevant qualifications include the:

  • Institute of Hospitality Level 2 Business Skills Certificate for Hospitality, Leisure and Tourism.
  • SQA Intermediate 2 Hospitality - Reception and Accommodation Operations.
  • SQA Higher Hospitality - Reception and Accommodation Operations.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Training is mainly on the job, and usually includes handling cleaning chemicals safely and safe manual lifting.

Trainees may start work as assistant or floor housekeepers and work towards relevant NVQ's/SVQ's, including Housekeeping at Level 2 and Hospitality Supervision
at Level 3.

The Institute of Hospitality is also developing new qualifications for the industry, including the Certificate in Management for Hospitality, Leisure and Tourism (Level 3), and Diploma in Management for Hospitality, Leisure and Tourism (Level 4). See for more information.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A housekeeper needs:

  • To be an excellent organiser.
  • An eye for detail.
  • To be good at training, supporting and motivating staff.
  • To be good with numbers if they are responsible for their own budget.
  • Tact in dealing with guests and staff.
  • To make quick decisions and solve problems on the spot.
  • To be physically fit and prepared to work hard.

Your Long Term Prospects

In larger hotels, there may be opportunities to progress into more senior housekeeping positions, such as head housekeeper, executive housekeeper or accommodation manager.

Housekeepers may be able to move into a related job within a hotel, such as front-of-house manager or training manager. They may also move into another industry and work in a similar role such as a domestic services manager at a hospital, or facilities manager at a university.

Highly-experienced housekeepers may be able to move into general hotel management or run their own hotel.

Get Further Information

British Hospitality Association, Queens House,
55-56 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London WC2A 3BH
Tel: 020 7404 7744

Confederation of Tourism, Hotel and Catering Management,
118-120 Great Titchfield Street, London W1W 6SS
Tel: 020 7612 0170

Institute of Hospitality
14 Palmerston Road, Sutton, Surrey, SM1 4QL
Tel: 020 8661 4900

People 1st, 2nd Floor, Armstrong House,
38 Market Square, Uxbridge UB8 1LH
Tel: 01895 857000

The Springboard Charity & Springboard UK Ltd, Coopers' Hall,
13 Devonshire Square, London EC2M 4TH
Tel: 020 7497 8654

United Kingdom Housekeepers Association (UKHA),
Flat 7, 14-15 Molyneux Street, London W1H 5HQ

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Additional resources

Additional resources