Valet trays are more than just a home base for your bells and whistles — a.k.a., your EDC (everyday carry), PWKs (phone, wallet, keys) or MVPs (most valuable possessions). They’re a reminder about how important — and just how easy to lose — these things are.
Americans spend on average 2.5 days a year looking for things they've lost, a 2017 report revealed. The same researchers discovered that the things that get lost most are often the smallest: in a week-long window, 33 percent of those surveyed said they'd lose their phone at least once; 28 percent said they'd misplace their keys; 27 percent said their glasses would go missing; and 20 percent said their wallet would be nowhere to be found.
Having a valet tray for your phone, keys, wallet and whatever else means you'll never worry about where you might've set them down ever again. Sure, this a valet tray isn't as safe as a vault, but it's an attractive way to display the good-looking wallet or clever brass carabiner you carry. Plus, if you buy a bigger tray — our go-to, Billkirk's leather trays, comes in three sizes — you can store more, including anchors like a small bottle of bourbon or a mug full of fine-tipped markers.
Even though you'll ideally cover most of the valet tray's top surface, you want to choose the right one — one that works in the space you're putting it in and fits what you need to store. Billykirk's No. 471, for example, which we crowned best overall in our valet tray buying guide, to be a happy medium between big and small and capable of caching quite the haul.
Billykirk No. 471 Valet Tray
What's Good About Billykirk's Valet Tray:
There are different sizes for different folks.
Billykirk's signature valet tray comes in several colors and sizes: Nut Brown, Natural, British Tan and Black (seen above), as well as Original (No. 309), Large (No. 471) and XL (No. 555). This gives customers plenty of flexibility when deciding which tray is right for their space. If it's a tight, minimalist desk setup, perhaps No. 309 in stark Black, but if it's a light, wooded kitchen space, the No. 555 in Natural might be a better fit.
For me, the large tray in black was the best fit. It sits beneath my computer monitor, offering space for camera dongles, cologne, my wallet and keys, a lighter (for candles, of course) and my jewelry.
This is high-quality leather.
Each tray is hand-molded in California from premium full-grain leather that's been vegetable-tanned if Nut Brown, Black or British Tan. If it's natural, you'll notice — it's un-dyed. Each tray is unique, too, because the mold might leave markings and the edges, branding and stamps (if added) are all done by hand, too, with different heat tools.
You'll notice the patina developing after the first few landings. Your keys will scratch the surface; a ring will form where your mug sits; the edges, which bump up against your laptop, will wear. This is all okay, and, frankly, encouraged.
What's Not Ideal About Billykirk's Valet Tray:
Some valet trays are softer on their contents.
While a soft suede top would make this tray harder to clean, one might be appreciated for a special edition photographer's edition, or something. The leather is by no means rough nor unkind, but it could be gentler on items like an open camera, your precious jewelry or your sunglasses.
Billykirk No. 471 Valet Tray: The Verdict
When it comes to valet trays, Billykirk is the best place to start. Sure, four colors isn't a ton, but there's enough variety here — in both size and color — to appeal to most folks' aesthetics. Plus, unless you're placing heavy items on the edge, which you shouldn't, this tray should last for a hell of a long time — probably longer than you'll own that set of AirPods.