housekeeping standards at the Riu Arecas, Tenerife

Sandra The Great

When we were on holiday in December, we had the greatest maid in all the land. Her name was Sandra, and I wanted to take her home with me. (OK, full disclosure: it turned out that her name wasn’t Sandra at all, but Terry and I spent the entire trip thinking it was, so she will be known as “Sandra” for ever more. Luckily we didn’t ever call her that to her face, though, because that would’ve been embarrassing, a bit like that time in Florida when we took an airboat ride and Terry spent the whole ride calling the captain of our boat “Capt’n Mike”, even though his name was actually Pete.)

On the first day of our holiday, we returned to our room to get changed for dinner, and discovered this:

My nightie, arranged like a butterflyYes, that’s my nightdress. Let’s take a brief moment here to think about the depths I have sunk to, that I have now been reduced to posting photos of my nightie on my blawg. It’s not what my parents had planned for me all those years ago when they spent all that money sending me to university, I’ll tell you that for nothing. That aside, though, would you lookit my nightie! It’s shaped like a butterfly! Rest assured that I did not leave it like that when I left the room that morning. No, I probably left it scrunched up in a ball somewhere, but Sandra, God bless her, found it, and arranged it like this for me. LIKE. A. BUTTERFLY. I mean, OK, at first I was a bit, “OMG, someone has been touching my nightie! That I slept in last night!” But once I got over that, I was all, “meh, I wonder if we could afford a maid at home who would do this for me?”

Sandra was just getting started with us, though. Oh day two, we returned to our room to find this:

hotel bedNot only was the nightdress shaped like a butterfly, SO WERE THE BEDCOVERS.

“That’s it,” I told Terry, “We’re taking her home with us.” Then I walked into the bathroom and discovered that Sandra had arranged all of my makeup in order of size. I. Almost. Died. “You better learn how to do this stuff,” I shouted to Terry. “Or I’m never going home!”

But! There was more! You’ll notice that only my nightclothes are represented in these images. Let’s not think too hard about why that might be, mmmkay? Sandra DID think about it, though. I think it probably bothered her. That’s why on day 3:

hotel bedShe actually went into Terry’s wardrobe, removed a t-shirt, and folded it neatly on his side of the bed (WAIT: how did she know it was his side of the bed? God, I started this post thinking it would just be a humorous story about Sandra the housekeeper, and before I know it I’ve uncovered the sinister truth about the hotel we stayed in. The Famous Five done taught me good.), kind of like a massive hint to Terry. “Would you just WEAR SOMETHING to bed, like a decent, God-fearing person!” I imagine Sandra muttering to herself as she laid out this shirt, her heart filled with reproach. Or maybe she just thought it would look nice?

You’ll also note that this was the day a new Nightie Shape was introduced:

nightdress folding techniques(Why yes, we DID document our nightwear on vacation. Doesn’t everyone?)

I dunno, I think I preferred The Butterfly to be honest. Still, she had to double up on her work that day, what with the t-shirt and everything, so I’ll let her off.

The nightwear shapes continued all week, halting only at the weekend, when Sandra had a couple of days off, and the replacement housekeeper didn’t bother with the shapes. We were kind of gutted. I expect Sandra was, too. In fact, I like to think that on her days off she lay awake at night thinking, “How will that red haired one know what to wear to bed tonight, HOW?!

The following Monday, however, Sandra was back in action, and she had a little something special planned to make up for her absence:

She left Terry a FLOWER! And premiered a new design for the bedsheet! (And, of course, the butterfly nightdress, but by then that was the very least we’d come to expect.) Look how happy I am to see this bed, people! I haven’t been that happy since I got back, seriously. God, I wish I hadn’t started this post, it’s really making me want a holiday…

After that, we stopped documenting the housekeeping, because let’s face it, it’s a bit sad to take photos of your bed every day, isn’t it? It’s like those people who take photos of what they wear, and… oh. *nervous laugh*

We didn’t stop speculating about what wonders Sandra would perform next, though. I was sorely tempted, in fact, to start setting her little challenges, like leaving a bunch of clothes and shoes on the bed and seeing if she would correctly match them, for instance. I also really wished we’d brought Terry’s gimp suit from Halloween I can’t believe I have a lifestyle which allows me to type the words “Terry’s gimp suit…”. I feel a bit weird, now.) and left it under the pillow, just for the sheer hilarity of coming back from the beach one day to see it spread out on the bed, next to my nightdress. “I wonder if she would arrange it like a butterfly?” I wondered. And then, once I’d imagined this, I couldn’t stop laughing about it. I seriously laughed for about three days straight. I’m actually laughing as I type this…

(Um, we didn’t actually set Sandra challenges, or anything like that, by the way. Because that would make us a couple of assholes. We just made sure to tip her well, and I’d also sometimes get up an hour earlier than we needed to, to clean the room before she got there. Well, I wouldn’t have wanted her to think badly of us, you know?)

Anyway, all of this is apropos of absolutely nothing at all, it’s just that I was looking through the holiday photos the other night, and I saw these and was reminded of… well, better days, basically. I have a bunch of other untold holiday stories to tell you, too. Next week: the mysterious tale of Stripey McStriperson, the only woman in the world to out-stripe Amber: try not to get too excited, people…

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books by Amber Eve
  • Siel


    We also had this on our holiday to Jordan, they placed the towels on the bed in the shape of a swan or a heart, so cute 🙂

    I love your polka dot nightdress, btw 🙂

    January 24, 2011
  • Sandy


    My mismatched PJs would not a pretty butterfly make, I wonder what I would’ve got?? LOL!

    *Considers folding PJs to see what shapes can be achieved*

    Terrys gimp suit sentemce did verily make me guffaw out loud…startled the cat too!

    January 24, 2011
  • I had this in Venice too, it really freaked me out the first time because she managed to do it in between going down for and coming back from breakfast

    January 24, 2011
  • Steph


    Okay, I need a Sandra. Immediately. Maybe I could train one of my cats to make nightie-butterflies instead?

    January 24, 2011
  • Jessica


    We must find this Sandra and see if she has any sisters so we can all have beautiful beds! I love holiday surprises like that.

    January 24, 2011
  • Ha, I like what she was doing with the sheets. Our house keeping would make our towels into animals and use our sunglasses to give the towel-animals faces. We tooks pictures too.

    January 24, 2011
  • Hi, I just awarded you the stylish blogger award…find it here….


    January 24, 2011
  • Oh Amber, you would clear wet yourself in delight if you took a cruise. Every single night, a different TOWEL ANIMAL awaited us. It was immense!

    January 24, 2011
  • LOL I had it too in Sinay, Egypt) They arranged the big towels as swans, which freaked me out because we got to our room at sunset, it was already dark inside, so imagine you open the door and see 2 DARK HUGE MONSTERS sitting on your bed, with the fading light coming from the window on the background!

    But telling the truth I would totally freak out if someone would touch my clothes. I’d actually ask the girl not to do it. Telling the truth I always have problem with the maid organizing the bed. Go figure what people might leave there under the blanket.. I kinda feel it’s invading my privacy..

    Oh but I laughed so while reading your post, and when I came to the idea of Terry’s Halloween suit… hahaha I just can’t stop laughing))

    January 25, 2011
  • OMG, I love it! I want a Sandra too. Thank you for baring your nighties (which are so cute) for the sake of the blog! I’m reminded that I need to revamp my sleep attire. Like, seriously.


    January 25, 2011
  • Monica



    What a treat to return to you room and find these lovely surprises! It is such a special touch. I love your nighties too! May I ask where you purchase them? Is there an online retailer you prefer?

    January 25, 2011
  • Ooooh, those nighties are absolutely adorable!!! (And don’t worry- as long as you’re photographing them off you and not on, we’ll still love you. ^_^) Do you remember where you bought those two particular ones?

    January 25, 2011
  • hehehe such a funny post. Wouldn’t we all want a sandra in our lives? I need one right now especially, with the moving countries and packing of things, dismantling of furniture…your hotel room looks like such a peaceful haven… yes I definitively need Sandra in my life.

    January 26, 2011
  • I get really unerved when housekeeping do stuff like this – but your nighties are sooo pretty!

    Also, I’m passing you a stylish blogger award! See for details x

    January 26, 2011
  • myra


    Please place an order for a Sandra for me too. She would certainly be challenged here. I have stopped picking up Raymond’s clothes and other detritus he leaves all over the house, and just shrug as he is desperately looking for his various belongings. The house is a tip all over, but I am much less stressed and say, “The x or y will be where you left it,” when he can’t find things. Wonder what Sandra would do with them. Perhaps create a little corner (that would grow exponentially) to put his things for him to collect. Very funny post xx

    May 30, 2012