Housekeeper's job no bed of roses

Housekeeper's job no bed of roses

Changing a bed can't be that difficult, can it? Wong Yat-hei finds out that hotels have higher standards than your mum when it comes to keeping a bedroom clean and tidy

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Making a bed at a hotel isn't simple.
Making a bed at a hotel isn't simple.
Photo: Bruce Yan/SCMP

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Hei got an easy start to change the pillow cases.
Hei got an easy start to change the pillow cases.
Photo: Bruce Yan/SCMP

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But getting to grips with the sheets created a few problems.
But getting to grips with the sheets created a few problems.
Photo: Bruce Yan/SCMP

Tidying up has never been my strength - just have a look at the mess on my desk at work.

So I thought it might be a good idea to learn how to keep things clean and tidy from a professional.

Carter Lam Wing-fung is guest experience manager at The Langham hotel. He kindly offered to show me the ropes.

Lam is a graduate in hotel and tourism management from the Swiss Hotel Management School. He is also a cleaning guru; whatever the stain, he has a solution. As a newbie, some of these methods are far too advanced for me. Instead, I was going to focus on one seemingly simple task: making the bed.

Of course, making a bed in a hotel isn't as simple as throwing on the sheets and straightening the pillows. The hotel has extremely high standards that must be met every time.

Firstly, I needed the right clothes. I changed into simple black trousers and a plain black top. I didn't look as smart as Lam in his three-piece suit.

I soon learned there is a rule or procedure for just about everything when it comes to keeping a hotel looking good.

You can't just go barging into rooms, for example. There may be guests still inside sleeping. Instead, Lam instructed me to knock lightly on the door three times and then call out "housekeeping".

When there was no response, I had to repeat the routine 10 seconds later, and then a third time after that. Only then was I allowed to open the door. I was already losing patience!

After entering the room, I was told to turn on all the lights and open the curtains. If there are any faulty lights, it is the job of the housekeeper to report it to the maintenance department.

Then I moved on to the main event of the day - making the bed.

Lam was kind enough to give me an easy start. I began by changing the pillow cases and that seemed simple enough.

Then things became more complicated. I'd always thought changing sheets was a two-person job. The sheets are two metres wide, so can be hard to handle.

But Lam seemed to have no problem by himself.

When it was my turn to try, I needed a helping hand. As though to make things even harder, there are no elastic corners on the sheets. The bed sheet is just a rectangular piece of cloth.

To keep it from slipping, you have to secure each corner under the weight of the mattress. Getting all four corners in place without one slipping is no easy job!

I finally finished - with Lam's help - after 40 minutes. The bed was presentable, but I was sweating. Lam told me the standard time for a housekeeper to change the sheets is around five minutes. I better get practising.

I have a new-found respect for those who tidy hotel rooms. I will try my best not to mess up the room next time I visit a hotel.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Housekeeper's job no bed of roses

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