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Tipping Your Hotel Housekeeper / Maid

I love staying in hotels. I like the plush bedding, the spotless, well-appointed rooms, the fact that I never have to make my bed. But rarely did I think about the hotel maids who make the nice stays possible. According to travel experts, guests are supposed to tip hotel housekeepers/maids, but most folks don’t. I’ve only heard that guideline a while back, and have only started tipping a few months back.

One thing that struck me was that hotel maids are so invisible that it’s easy to forget them. Unlike a waiter or waitress who’s right in front of you bringing you drinks and food, I’m not in the room when a housekeeper cleans the toilet, changes the sheets, or dusts the TV.

Once I started learning more about hotel maids, I felt guilty about all those years of not tipping. But I also don’t want to start adding $10 in tips to every 3-day trip. Now, to make sure I’m a conscientious guest, I do a couple of things. I hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign on my door – I am rarely in a hotel room longer than 2 days, and I just don’t need the room cleaned and the bed remade every single day. When I check out I leave $3 or $4 underneath the pillow (somewhere where the housekeeping is sure to find it).

CNN Money published a good article on hotel tipping:

So when and how much? (Lizzie) Post offered these guidelines:

• Tip every day to ensure your tip gets to the person who actually cleaned your room.
• Leave a note in your room with the money indicating it is for housekeeping.
• Tip $1 or $2 per person, per night in most hotels. In higher end hotels, $3 to $5 per person per night is typical.
• In a motel, tips are generally not necessary for a one-night stay. The $1 or $2 standard is appropriate for multiday stays.

Tipping housekeepers is “a really lovely thing,” said Reneta McCarthy, a Cornell lecturer who started out in the industry as a housekeeping manager with Marriott.

“But generally speaking I would say the majority of people don’t do it. And when you look at it, you know, I hate to say it, but this is not considered a tips position. The housekeepers, unlike the bellmen, are not filling out tip reporting forms,” she said.

The national average hourly wage for bellhops was $11.40 in May 2010, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics wage estimates. The average for housekeepers was $10.17, according to survey data. Survey forms issued by the bureau ask for information on tips, but it’s unclear how reporting varies between housekeepers and bellhops.

Even now, I don’t always remember to tip. Sometimes I will run out of cash. Sometimes I will be running out to catch my flight and simply forget. But most of the time I try to tuck in a few dollars here and there.  I guess I figured if restaurant servers are tipped, hotel maids – with an arguably more difficult (and much less visible) job – should be too.

Do you tip your hotel maid? How much do you tip?

  • Benjamin - I'm guilty of being a horrible housekeeping tipper. I've been traveling for work extenesively over the last 12-13 years and I also just recently heard about housekeeping tips being "customary" (within the last few years anyway).

    I had occasionally tipped for exceptional above and beyond service, but tipping for expected service is a little new to me.

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  • Michelle - I always forget and I feel bad. I usually put the do not disturb sign up though so that they won't clean it. ReplyCancel

  • kim - "According to travel experts, guests are supposed to tip hotel housekeepers/maids." I have never heard that. I feel that tipping (everyone) got out of control with the run-up to the recession. I wonder if these experts work in the travel industry. It does depend on your view on tipping – I feel that tipping is for a job well done, and for those who don't make minimum wage. ReplyCancel

  • Money Beagle - I didn't start tipping the housekeeping staff until the last several years, I think probably on our honeymoon in 2007 was the first time. But it makes sense and is probably one of those items that people just aren't aware is appropriate. I agree that you should leave the tip every day that your room gets cleaned versus leaving one large tip at a certain time, because the person cleaning will likely rotate from day to day. ReplyCancel

  • Jeff Sustainlifeblog - I sometimes tip if I'm going to be there a while, but usually Im only there for 1 night and out the door. If it's more than that, I also hang up the sign because I can use the same towel and dont care if the bed is made. ReplyCancel

  • Jessie - wow… i have never tipped for this before.

    I was a chambermaid for a while back in high school and never received any either – I honestly believe that they are getting paid to do a job…what you are you meant to be tipping for?? ReplyCancel

  • thatthingcallmoney - Interesting topic. If I am staying in a hotel for more than 1 night, I hang up a 'do not disturb sign' because I truly do not like to be disturbed (you know strangers being so close to my personal belongings) and I feel it's waste (of housekeeping staff's effort) to keep up a room I barely used. I don't believe in tipping in general. I tip at restaurants/pubs at whatever the going 'rate' is. I believe that everyone should get paid fairly for the work they do so society could cut out tipping all together. Keep it simple right! I don't like the idea that I have budget tipping into my budget at restaurants, travelings, housekeepers, tutors, whatever the case maybe…this makes life more complicated than it needs to be. ReplyCancel

    • FrugalFoodie - I agree, I tip at restaurants because I feel like I have to. However, if the service is exceptional, then I am willing to tip more, especially at hair salons, but for expensive restaurants…I have reservations. Why am I paying $60 for that steak anyway? Shouldn't some of those profits go to everyone involved in making that steak and not just the owner or chef? I appreciate a nice meal, but I don't like the expectation that you have to tip a crazy amount just because the food is more expensive. ReplyCancel

  • emma - We always tip – in Cuba (where we've stayed at resorts), we normally leave between $1 – $3 a day, along with toiletries, clothes, shoes, etc. Obviously you wouldn't leave those things at hotels in North America, but in developing countries where things like a pair of pants is 2 to 3 months of your salary (not including food, etc), they need those things.

    I haven't stayed at any hotels for overnights/weekends, but provided the room is clean, and they bring us things if we request them (i.e. an extra pillow, etc), I would intend to leave tips, especially if we make a mess (sand on the floor, etc). At one resort, the maid folded my clothes that I had just thrown on the chair. I was kind of embarrassed about that! ReplyCancel

  • Bonnie - We tip $2-$3 a day and usually leave $5 on the last day (of a week-long stay) as an extra bonus. :) ReplyCancel

  • CnC - I work in a hotel (in marketing) and not having much experience traveling didn't realize how hard their job really is. The ladies at my hotel are all teeny tiny and they have an extremely physical job on their feet all day long. I agree that they can be "invisible" which I think most people take as a sign of a good housekeeper. However, a good portion of our guest comment cards thank their housekeeper for being so friendly, helpful, funny, caring… the list goes on and on. I know that the ladies who work here take great pride in their job and go out of their way to make the guests in their rooms have a great stay. I don't know if people tip them but I see the response they get day to day and I hope they are rewarded for their work. Since being here I have certainly been much more conscious of the work that really goes into some of the positions in a hotel and like to recognize people who do their job well when I travel. ReplyCancel

  • Pam - I tip $3 per day. My aunt worked as a hotel maid and she used to tell us horrible stories about how messy the rooms were and how hard it was to make so many beds so quickly. I always try to leave my room reasonably nice – yes, they are a maid but NO ONE should have to clean a pig sty! I also leave my recyclable cans and bottles grouped together with a note to the maid that she can take them. Every penny counts! ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie - I feel like a jerk because I tend not to leave a tip. But you're right, they definitely deserve it. From now on, I'll try to remember. But usually if it's a work trip I'm in such a hurry to get out the door in the morning that I forget. But I guess a good idea would be to set out the tip the night before! ReplyCancel

  • James Hart - I usually give tip for my housekeeper to make her inspired and feel that she is important in our family. This way he will continue her loyalty. ReplyCancel

  • helen c - im a hotel housekeeper and the things we are expected to clean especially after kids are in a room takes extra time. running back and forth after linens towels and supplies is exhausting. sp please remember to tip housekeeping. ReplyCancel

  • carol - My husband and I tip $10 a night. We always make sure to have that money on hand. I have never had a housekeeper at home so even though I work, I have always been the one to clean bathrooms and make beds. I can't imagine doing that ALL DAY long! It has to be the worst job in the hotel. Far worse than the bellhop, valet guy, concierge, waiter/waitress, bartender. I try to keep our hotel room neat so her job is easier and if we see her in the hall, we always thank her for doing such a nice job. I think if you have to skimp on tips, skimp on the others. Their jobs are easier. ReplyCancel

  • Lisa - I always leave $5 a night (or $10 if in a higher cost of living city). I wrap it in a sheet from the notepad provided, label it housekeeping and leave it on the nightstand by the phone. And I always try to keep my room somewhat neat. They make so little for what they do, that I’ve always felt they deserve it.ReplyCancel

  • Mint Victoria - I do not really know what to say exactly about the line “guests are suppose to tip housekeepers.” I do think that it is not really an obligation but more of an act of appreciation. I tip housekeepers who do exceptional jobs, but I would honestly say that I do not tip for jobs expected to be done. Thank you for this post. ReplyCancel

  • sunshine - I recently started working as a housekeeper in a 3 star chain hotel. Most people do not tip. Yes, I do get paid, 8.50 an hour. My raise was .25 for a year with the company. No benefits. I love cleaning the business people rooms. They usually stay only 1 to 2 nites and are very neat. I don't like the familys who think all we have to do is clean their rooms. Maybe they could at least aim for the trash can, straighten up the counter in the bath so i can wipe it down and pick up their clothes off the floor and bed so i can do what i have to do. Also we have to be very upbeat and cheerful at work when we see a guest in the halls. I sometimes don't want to be cheerful or happy, i have a problem at home or just a crappy day. The least most people could do is be cheerful back to us, we do exist.Please don't ignore us. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. I would love to hear other housekeepers opinons. ReplyCancel

  • Diana - I'm a hotel housekeeper who is on her feet the entire shift, no lunch break often working on an empty stomach. The trash left to clean up defies description. We are expected to clean the room in under 30 minutes but the mess the guest leaves behind makes the job much more difficult. They leave a room a total pigsty, no tip, and to make it more insulting they don't take the time to collect their clothing which I'm glad to throw in the trash. The worst story is the SOB who woowd his date with rose petals all over the room; the sheets(king size bed) were ruined by the stains of the petals, the spa bathtub was loaded with rose petals, the carpet was covered in petals, the bathroom floor was covered in petals. You know what the bastard told me as he was leaving the room? Have fun cleaning this room. I described this room to my supervisor who told me to get used to it as Valentine's Day was approaching. WTF? For $10.00 an hour? ReplyCancel

  • Vacation Hotel - In some cases I believe gratuity is added on to your bill. I know with cruises this is true. I'm not sure about luxury hotels. ReplyCancel

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