You're Not Tipping Your Hotel Housekeeper Enough

Think $2 a day, minimum.

cash left under pillow
No, tipping isn’t a “suggestion.” | elwynn/Shutterstock
No, tipping isn’t a “suggestion.” | elwynn/Shutterstock

New data shows that the majority of us aren’t tipping our hotel housekeepers properly. According to a study from The Vacationer, only 39% of people tip their house keeping staff—meaning that 61% of people are not leaving tips. That’s downright atrocious. And listen, maybe you didn’t know that you were supposed to, or were unsure of the etiquette around it.

Let’s clear that up, because tipping isn’t a kindness or a favor—especially in a country like ours, where most of the hospitality industry relies on tips. In recent years, thanks to extensive organizing, the average wage for hotel workers has gone up. But the average November 2023 salary for hotel housekeepers, according to Zip Recruiter, is $32,092 per year, or $15 per hour.

Tipping is, unfortunately, the difference between a living wage and poverty wages. While housekeepers across the country are demanding better pay from their companies, that battle is far from won. Until everyone in the country is guaranteed living wages, tipping is not only the right thing to do, it is a necessary part of the service industry and our economy.

Anytime you check out of a hotel, motel, resort, or any type of facility that A) provided you lodging, and B) employs cleaning staff, remember to leave a separate tip for housekeepers in your room—and not just give one lump sum to the front desk (that tip will go to various other hotel employees, but probably not the housekeepers).

And if you disagree with this, go argue with your mother.

So, now that we’ve established that you should be tipping your housekeeper, here are the details to make sure you are doing it right.

How much should you be tipping your housekeeper?

According to the American Hotel and Lodging Association, housekeepers should be tipped between $1 and $5 per day. Certified etiquette expert Lisa Grotts advises between $2 and $5, while Annie Davis, president of the boutique travel agency Palm Beach Travel says “$5 is the new $1.”

Between all of this advice, $5 per day is the best way to go.

How frequently should I be tipping?

You should be tipping housekeeping staff per day. Unite Here, a labor union that represents 300,000 tradespeople, including hotel workers, is currently running a campaign that calls for hotel guests to request housekeeping services every day. Refusing services can make it harder to clean rooms and reduce hours and wages for housekeepers.

“You should do it every day because you might not get the same housekeeper every day,” Steve Turk, founder of consulting firm Turk Hospitality, told Thrillist. Before Turk became a consultant, he worked at various hotels for 20 years, including Mandarin Oriental, Nobu Hotels, Trump Hotels, Delano, and Viceroy.

“Remember the tip is not just for cleaning your room while you are there, but for what the housekeeper did to prepare the room prior to your arrival and after you leave,” said Turk.

You should be letting in housekeeping staff on a daily basis and tipping on a daily basis.

Should you tip in local or US currency?

“My general rule is if the dollar is stronger in whatever country you're in, for example, Latin America, Mexico, or the Caribbean, tip in dollars,” Turk said. “However, in European countries or places like the UK, type in local currency such as pounds or euros.”

Who else should be getting a tip at hotels?

Depending on where you are staying, you might be getting service beyond housekeeping. Did the concierge plan every detail of a week-long trip or just book a dinner? According to Davis, a concierge should be getting their own tip at the end of your trip.

"At the end of your stay, a traditional tip should be between $30 and $100, depending on the length of your stay," Davis said. "A $500 tip is not unheard of if your concierge planned a special occasion and made your trip unforgettable.”

At hotels where you’re encountering more service workers, like pool attendants, bellhops, and valet attendants, each of those people should be getting tipped. The AHLA has a tipping guide, which can be seen below, that has suggestions for each service.

Courtesy of American Hospitality and Lodging Association

How can I make sure I am prepared to tip properly?

The easiest way to make sure you're tipping properly is to take out and set aside cash before you even leave for your trip. For my four day trips, I try to take out $25–$30 dollars in small bills, specifically so that I can leave tips for hotel staff. It takes about 10 minutes of my life, and is such a small portion of my trip budget. 

Looking for more travel tips?

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Opheli Garcia Lawler is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. She holds a bachelor's and master's degree in Journalism from NYU's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. She's worked in digital media for seven years, and before working at Thrillist, she wrote for Mic, The Cut, The Fader, Vice, and other publications. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.
Kastalia Medrano is a New York-based journalist and avid traveler. Follow her on Twitter.