Tipping hotel housekeeping

A question that comes up frequently is if travelers should tip hotel housekeeping, and if so how much should they tip. This discussion has 9-16-14-2come up again with the announcement that Marriott is partnering with Maria Shriver to start leaving envelopes in their rooms suggesting that hotel guests tip housekeeping. According to travel tipping etiquette, a good housekeeping tip is $1-3 per night.  Some people recommend leaving a tip daily, as the person cleaning your room may change from day to day.

There are several schools of thought to this. Some people see tipping housekeeping as similar to tipping bellmen, valet, or room service waiters. Others complain that Marriott (and other hotels) should pay their housekeepers more instead of asking their customers to give them a raise. According to the article, the median salary of a hotel housekeeper in 2012 was $9.51. (However, it also states that in some DC-area hotels the housekeepers are unionized and make double that.) A reader poll done a couple of years ago shows that 39% of business travelers don’t ever tip housekeeping, with only 23% always tipping.

My overall tipping philosophy is that it’s better to tip too much than too little. I am typically only in a hotel room for one night, maybe two at the most. On longer hotel stays I will always tip, but for shorter ones I don’t always. And I’ll be honest—it’s hard for me to remember to bring any cash at all on a trip, and I’m always so busy that remembering to tip every single day is just not going to happen. I get why it’s a good idea, but it’s not realistic for me.

I have read in a lot of places that people just aren’t aware that they are supposed to tip housekeeping, and if the Marriott tipping envelopes bring awareness to the situation then IMO that’s not a bad thing. But you know what would be the most convenient thing–if there were a line on my receipt where I could add a tip, so I wouldn’t have to remember to stop by the ATM.

Readers, what do you think? Do you tip housekeeping? Will the Marriott envelopes encourage people to tip more?

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  1. I am only going to start tipping the housekeepers when the hotels start tipping ME on all the days that I decline house keeping.

    I spent 7 nights in a Hilton a couple of weeks ago, I had the room cleaned twice. Of course, there was no discount applied to my bill.

  2. The problem with the tipping culture is that very few will go above their normal level of service and still expect a tip. Provide these workers a living wage. I would still tip for great service and I think most people would too. They problem is these workers now stand and stare at you for a tip when they’ve performed a basic function. Very few are motivated to give great service because most people reward them for poor service because a tip is expected.

    I travel light with a small roller bag. I shouldn’t be made to feel bad about not wanting to hand my bag to a bellman that doesn’t deliver my bag to me until 20 minutes after I am in my room because he is waiting for me to actually be in the room so that he can get a tip. If I have multiple bags and they are helping me out, great, the looks I get when I simple say that I can handle my bag is outrageous.

    I have on multiple occasions had to call the hotel staff to have my room that was ‘just serviced’ re-serviced because of the poor housekeeping job that was done. As stated the staff could or could not change each day. Should I leave a tip the next morning in hopes they clean the room better? or that it’s different staff that day? I never see the person, so how do I know?

    Pay these people a living wage for good service provided and removed the awkward relationship created when tips aren’t appropriate, but are presently desired to supplement their wages. Maybe then it will motivate them to provide GREAT service to truly earn a tip.

  3. I tip because I know that the workers are underpaid. That said, I can’t support Marriott. Their new policy is enforcing the tipping culture. They are expecting the customer to pay the wages instead of doing it themselves. Sorry Marriott, you are now on my “no stay list”. Pay your workers a living wage.

  4. You can protest by not tipping all you want, but the fact is, not tipping a waiter, bellman or housekeeper isn’t going to change their base wages. I always tip the bellman when I hand over my bag, not when they bring it to the room. I tip the maid every single day. I worked as a server, and sometimes a tip gave me enough to eat that day. If your room was not cleaned you need to call housekeeping, or the front desk. Sometimes I include the tip for the maid on my expense account under TIPS, not once have I ever had it questioned. When I travel on my own nickel, I still tip.

  5. I tip $5 a day for room/ $10 a day for suite because I almost always travel with my 5 and 6 yr old and they create double the work for the housekeepers.

  6. I always tip because I used to be a housekeeper at a motel when I was in high school back in the 80’s & know it’s a hard job. Even better than getting a tip back then was when a stay-over didn’t require service. I could spend a little longer cleaning the check-out rooms & still be done by the time I was expected to finish. So now I do all the things I used to love from guests – throw away my own soap, put all trash in/by the trash can, don’t require my room to be cleaned when I’m staying for a couple days & tip at the end.

  7. I always tip housekeeping as they are typically the lowest paid of hotel
    staff. I don’t buy Road warriorette claim that she travels without cash!
    I think you are cheap! I agree with Karen & Jayne that not tipping will not
    prove anything & only hurt the workers.

  8. Ditto what Karen said. These people have hard and thankless jobs. I stay in a Courtyard Sun-Thur. I decline room service during the week but leave $5 on my pillow. I also keep my room pretty tidy and put things like the suitcase rack back where they came from.

    Yes Marriott should pay more by my little “protest” of not tipping won’t change that and would only hurt the people who can afford it.

  9. Here’s my concern with the Marriott move: it feels like they are going to try to make housekeeping a tips-based profession, like waitstaff, in order to be able to legally pay them less than minimum wage. I have no problem tipping housekeeping that has done a great job, and especially if I’ve tracked in a decent amount of dirt (hello, beach trip). I just don’t want to enable Marriott to pay these people any less than minimum wage–and hopefully give them a decent raise, considering their profits!

  10. Although the media often reports an hourly wage for chambermaids, many hotels pay a per room rate. In order for the maid to make $9/hour, they have to clean 6 or 7 rooms in that time period. In order to do a good job, they sacrifice their wage. When I learned that (NY Times detailed after the Dominique Strauss-Kahn attack on a chambermaid), I started tipping. If I am staying 2 nights, I do notice a real improvement – not just to the level of cleanliness but often receive extra coffee, soap, whatever, and a note saying thank you. Once my husband got homemade cookies the day after tipping. Last – $5 doesn’t ‘mean much to me, and it means less to my company. But if you maybe make $9/hour, it does mean something.
    That said, they ought to get a decent wage and not have to rely on the kindness of strangers.

  11. I’d love to see a poll on if people on business travel expense their tips. Obviously when I tip on a restaurant bill that goes into my expense report, but I don’t track other tips (bellman, housekeeping) for expenses nor does my expense system have a good method for inputting cash tips. With the frequency that I travel paying tips out of pocket adds up quickly, which I fully recognize is a terrible complaint in the context of a conversation about underpaid workers. At the same time, if my company is paying for my travel shouldn’t tips be covered?

  12. I expense my tips (including room cleaning, if I have my room cleaned).

    We have to submit photos of all receipts; I write out “housekeeping tip” on the notepad in my room and take a photo of that with the money on top of it.

  13. Tipping is a terrible custom that has gotten way out of hand and is far too confusing for the average person. I’m in the ‘pay a fair wage’ and no tipping camp.
    I have no problem giving someone a bit extra if I require some special extra service, but I’m generally low maintenance. Isn’t the bellman’s job to take a bag up (I do it myself), and the maid’s job (though not a fun one) to clean up the rooms?
    I don’t expect a tip for doing my job every day, so I certainly don’t appreciate others expecting me to hand them extra money for just doing their job.
    The only tipping I do regularly is 20% at a restaurant, but I don’t like it. I’d still rather see wait staff have a good wage instead.
    (and just FYI, I have worked in food service and as a bartender previously so been on the other end of this- and still feel the same.)

  14. I always tip a few dollars on multiple night stays because I feel like if I leave something or have something valuable the housekeeper won’t take it. But I would say more than 1/3 of the time the housekeeper doesn’t take the few dollars I leave out. Envelopes are a good idea…

  15. the housekeeper doesn’t take the few dollars I leave out

    That likely occurs because it’s not obvious that it’s intended for them, and not your spare cash that you left lying on the table.

    **I** don’t leave cash lying around, but others might. No housekeeper wants to be accused of taking money that wasn’t intended for them, so that 1/3 likely is erring on the side of leaving it alone if it’s not crystal clear that it’s a tip and not a random dollar.

    After reading about exactly this issue, I now put the tip on my pillow or the nightstand with a note that says “Housekeeper.” (I have several times returned to find a thank-you note on the note!)

  16. Being of the opinion that housekeeping *should* be paid a decent wage by big corporations is all well and good, but the fact of the matter is that housekeepers do not make a lot of money and not leaving a tip is not going to change that. I have worked in hotels and, trust me, housekeeping is a thankless job. You would not believe way that some people leave their rooms. And generally, the more disgusting the room is left, the less likely there will be a tip. So I always leave a tip…it will make little difference to me at the end of the day, but it makes a big difference to the person who’s cleaning up after me.

  17. I’m a victim of the electronic money era, especially on business trips, when I use my corporate card for everything. I would love to tip but often find myself without cash (and time for going to an ATM which often accrues extra charges).

    I would love a way to electronically tip housekeeping staff either on the hotel bill or with a swipe machine in the room.

    Cash is so 1990s. 🙂

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