Dear Salty, I’ve started traveling quite a bit for work and find myself in hotels 1-2 weeks a month. For no other reason than I like to have my privacy, I hang the Do Not Disturb sign or let the front desk I decline housekeeping service until I check out.
In the cases of a multi-day hotel stay, should I be tipping housekeeping for the duration of the stay, or just for the days my room is cleaned? I leave my room in pretty good shape, but have no idea what an appropriate tip is. I’ve been targeting $5 per day or per clean (depending on what I have the cash for), hope that doesn’t make me a cheapskate!
The kicker is that I’m expensing this, and my employer doesn’t have any guidelines, so I’d really like to ensure I’m being fair to both parties financially involved. I don’t really want to be out of pocket for a work trip (does that make me a cheapskate?) but I don’t feel comfortable dropping too much of my employers money or stiffing the housekeeping staff.
Thanks for writing in with this question. Hotel housekeeping staff might be some of the least appreciated service people around. They work behind the scenes, so it’s easy for some people to think they’re “out of sight, out of mind.” And unlike tipping servers, which is even encouraged by those “here’s what 15%, 18%, or 20% of your bill comes to” suggestions on your receipt, tipping housekeeping is a big gray area. Most reports I’ve seen put the figure of hotel guests who tip housekeeping at about one in three.
To my mind, that means two in three hotel guests should be ashamed. We’ll get down to brass tacks in a bit, but bottom line: You should absolutely tip hotel housekeepers. It’s the service industry. You’d tip bartenders and bellhops, so housekeepers should count, too. Those housekeepers clean your toilets! They touch the gross sheets! They vacuum up toe clippings! I know, I know, in a perfect world, hotels just pay their housekeepers a decent wage. I’m with you. (This headline made me cackle.) But we don’t live in a perfect world, and your refusing to tip shortchanges the people cleaning your room without actually doing anything about their wages. Sorry to crap on your moral high ground.
The American Hotel & Lodging Association suggests $1-$5 a night for housekeeping. I’d lean on the $5 side, especially if you left trash around or if your kids opened every tiny soap and then hid them throughout the room. (Monsters.) If you’re getting housekeeping services every night, tip each night. Some people wait until the end of the stay, but you might have different housekeeping staff from day to day, so one worker ends up with nothing while the other ends up with an oversized tip. Another word to the wise: Make sure the tip is clearly a tip. Leave it somewhere obvious and use the hotel paper to write “Thanks!” or something.
Your question, though, is more complicated, because you’re only getting your room cleaned once per stay. In that case, if no housekeepers tidy your room the other two nights, I think you can just leave a tip on the final day. Only one person is doing the work, so only one person gets the tip. As for how much to leave, I think your $5 per day they clean is appropriate, especially because you can expense it. While I’m sure you are a clean, proper, non-ratbag person, imagine all the assholes who totally wreck their hotel rooms and never tip. It’s not your job to make up for their behavior, obviously, but isn’t it nice to try?
Got a question about dining out etiquette? Or just a general question about life we can help you with? Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org