A birthday card featuring a bellhop holding a tray with the words ‘Happy Birthday’

– Blank inside for your own message
– Printed in the UK on premium card stock
– Supplied with a white envelope

In stock

SKU: C0031 Category:



The shiny shoes, the tuxedo with red buttons, the epaulettes on his shoulders, and his red pillbox hat – these are the hallmarks of the life of a bellhop – otherwise known as a bellboy.

The Life Of A Bellhop or Bellboy

Here’s a description from Roger M. Rogers in his 2006 book of reminiscences Bellboy to Barman of life aboard the Royal Mail Lines ocean liner Alcantara.

“ The bellboy’s uniform was a maroon jacket with sixteen buttons, two gold epaulettes on the shoulder, a pair of white gloves that were placed under them to hang from the shoulder, and a pillbox hat, black trousers and along with black socks and a highly polished pair of black shoes.”

The Alcantara sailed between Southampton and Rio de Janeiro.

Can you imagine a bellboy on his first voyage, dressed up in his uniform and looking over the side of the ship as it docked in Rio?

Who dreamed up the outfits for bellboys?

In fact, do they have bellboys on board ships or in hotels any more? Does anyone use the word bellhop or bellboy in conversation any more?

I wondered where the word came from.

The Origin Of The Word Bellhop

Bellhop is the American term. It turns out it derives from the idea of the young men having to ‘hop to it’ or be quick when they are given instructions to deliver messages or carry luggage for guests.

The ‘bell’ part of the name comes from the fact that the hotel’s front desk clerk or the purser’s office on board ship would ring a bell, and the bellhop would come as quickly as possible to find out what job he had to do.

I bet you can picture a bellhop or bellboy walking around the lobby of a hotel or the first-class area of a passenger ship calling out ‘Message for Mr Smith.’

There’s even a website written by a bellhop. The first entry is an insight into the world of the hop-to-it servant who subsisted on tips:

“I recall a recent morning when, while hailing a taxi for an elderly gentleman, I felt the curious eyes of a colleague on my back. Staring at me in wonderment, it was as if he was seeing himself for the first time. After closing the taxi door, the elderly man giving me $10 and thanking me rather too profusely, my colleague asked, “What will we do when people don’t give us money for no reason at all?”

And here’s a former bellboy from the UK who worked on a liner before WWII recounting his life on board ship.

“Up in the morning, we used to do gym. Then we’d come down, get changed, go and have breakfast first, and then get on our uniform, muster at 8 o’clock or half past 7 in the morning for inspection, where they’d inspect your fingernails, make sure your uniform was clean and tidy, shoes polished, hair cut.”

On a more sombre tone, the Encyclopedia Titanica has an extract from a report from the Chicago Inter-Ocean of 21st April 1912, which gives a gripping description of the fifty bellboys on the Titanic, not one of whom survived.

“We saw numbers of them smoking cigarettes and joking with the passengers. They seemed to think that their violation of the rule against smoking while on duty was a sufficient breach of discipline. Not one of them attempted to enter a lifeboat.”

On a more upbeat note, in the film The Grand Budapest Hotel, one of the main characters is described as a lobby boy.

In fact, he has the words written on his pillbox hat. I think the film (or the novel by Stefan Zweig) must have coined the name because when I put ‘lobby boy’ into Google it comes up with references to the film, and nothing else.

Perhaps lobby boy is a Central European version of bellboy, for that is where the film is set.

SKU: C0031

bellhop holding a tray with the words 'Happy Birthday'