Is tipping at hotels sex-biased?
May 8, 2013 12:21 PM   Subscribe

I've never worked in any hospitality industry, so I'm just wondering as a casual consumer/observer. How come people are supposed to tip their valets and bellhops at hotels, and they are always only men while there's no rule that you tip the housekeeping, and they are always female?

I've always heard that at hotels, you're supposed to tip valets and bellhops and waiters and bartenders, of course. When I go to hotels, they are almost always male. I've never seen a female valet or bellhop (why is this btw?). But the housekeepers are always female immigrants and I've never heard of people tipping them. What are the wages of these groups? Do valets only work on tips and get no base hourly rate like the housekeeping staff? Do the high rollers who go to vegas give big tips to valets and bellhops but nothing to the housekeeping? Why aren't women either applying for or getting jobs that tip well?
posted by KimikoPi to Work & Money (34 answers total)
People are most definitely supposed to tip their housekeepers.
posted by ohmy at 12:22 PM on May 8, 2013 [85 favorites]

You are generally supposed to tip the cleaning staff at a hotel. See this question or this answer or a host of others if you search.
posted by brainmouse at 12:23 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

I ALWAYS tip housekeeping, a couple bucks at a motel and about 5 bucks daily.

I got called out for this by my manager when I tried to expense it for business, but eff her, she can be a cheap asshole, I'm going to keep tipping.

If you leave your toothbrush out at a hotel, and you don't tip housekeeping....well, enjoy that shiny toilet.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:24 PM on May 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

Yeah, you are definitely supposed to be tipping your room cleaning staff.

I'm currently at a hotel and all the valets are women, so not sure if there's a real gender bias there. Bellhops, though, I suspect part of it is the requirement to lift over 100 lbs.
posted by General Malaise at 12:24 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

It's a complicated question. While you are "supposed" to tip housekeeping, a lot of people don't. I think that's in part because cleaning is "unseen" and undervalued labor.
posted by spunweb at 12:25 PM on May 8, 2013 [6 favorites]

Valets, bellhops and waiters are in your face. They're there in front of you, carrying your bags and bringing you your food, for which you hand them money, often directly. Housekeeping shows up after you've left.

You're supposed to tip housekeeping, and people do, it's just not as obvious.
posted by bondcliff at 12:29 PM on May 8, 2013 [4 favorites]

Oh gosh yes, you're supposed to tip housekeeping as well.
posted by jph at 12:30 PM on May 8, 2013

If anything, I tip housekeeping and not the bellhop. Or at least, the bellhop not as generously.

You know the old thing about being nice to the people that prepare your food? These people are alone in the place that you're living for the moment, cleaning your shit.
posted by cmoj at 12:46 PM on May 8, 2013 [4 favorites]

I've never seen a female valet or bellhop (why is this btw?)

This is probably because that being a bellhop entails the manual labor of lifting and transporting heavy luggage. Sexual dimorphism exists in humans and men have more upper body strength. I suspect this is also the reason why I have never seen a female skycap at any airport.

By the way, as has been mentioned in several comments, it is general practice to tip housekeeping staff. This is perhaps most explicit on cruise ships, where many cruise lines will provide envelopes for guests to tip their cabin's housekeeper and room steward.
posted by Tanizaki at 12:49 PM on May 8, 2013 [3 favorites]

I've seen female valets and bellhops - the last hotel I stayed at had one who took our luggage to our room.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:54 PM on May 8, 2013

N'thing that you are supposed to tip housekeeping. Also, valets and bellhops, in addition to being in your face, are sort of optional. (Except at very fancy hotels, I guess, but I don't stay at those.) At the sort of hotels I do stay at, *if* there's valet parking or a bellhop to offer to carry your bag, you can also choose to park your own car or say "that's ok I'm fine." So you're tipping them for something you've chosen to have them do. It's not common at all to choose to never have your room cleaned.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 12:55 PM on May 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

while there's no rule that you tip the housekeeping

Yes, there is. It's in the cultural lexicon enough that it's frequently wondered if one should tip a little each day or once at the end of your stay.
posted by spaltavian at 1:01 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

So the OP doesn't feel stupid, I had never seen anyone tip the housekeeping staff before a few years ago, and I'm 39. In retrospect, it seems obvious but not to everyone.
posted by josher71 at 1:14 PM on May 8, 2013 [7 favorites]

There's a rule--at least $5 a day. I've never not tipped. I don't know anyone who doesn't know to tip. When I traveled with film crews, I usually doubled it, as we had so much stuff.
posted by Ideefixe at 1:16 PM on May 8, 2013

For an interesting look at how tipping bellhops and valets works, and why tipping housekeeping is often different, read Jacob Tomsky's Heads in Beds. Entertaining and also pretty illuminating.
posted by stellaluna at 1:16 PM on May 8, 2013

I tip housekeeping. I agree that it's the not-face-to-face thing mentioned above. It's really easy to stiff someone you don't really see.

However, the reason I tip housekeeping is because I used to WORK as a housekeeper. In the mid 90s, I worked for 2 summers and one winter at a very busy resort hotel in the Pacific Northwest. And I can tell you that more than 99% of people do not tip housekeeping. I would clean 10 to 14 rooms a day, 5 to 7 days a week, and about once or twice a month I would get a tip of $5 or so.
posted by peep at 1:25 PM on May 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

I have only thought to tip housekeeping the one time an envelope was provided, and this was during a 5 day stay at a hotel for work. I ended up tipping about 10-15 if memory serves me, and thought I was being generous... perhaps not, though, by the comments in this thread.

In other instances (mostly road trips) I always clean up after myself. Granted I'm not going to wash the towels or make the bed, but I don't feel that I am responsible to tip for an overnight or otherwise short stay where I am on "guest" behavior and being extra tidy.

I can see if I had a bunch of people with me, or otherwise left the room a mess, but after spending 100+ dollars for a place to crash for 6 hours and head back out on the road, I don't much see a need to also provide a tip.

And don't even get me started on valets. I can park my own car, thank you very much. At one restaurant I occasionally go to, they have 15 spots where you are allowed to park your own car, and about 80 designated for valet. If those 15 spots are filled, I'll usually just find another place to eat.
posted by Debaser626 at 1:47 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm in my late 40's and was always taught that one should leave a tip for housekeeping - at least a buck a head per day, these days, unless things are unusually messy. Frankly, I'm shocked that so many people don't. Besides the fact that it's a whole lot of work for fairly crap pay, these are people who are alone with my toothbrush.
posted by rmd1023 at 1:49 PM on May 8, 2013

I work in hotel management for a handful of hotels in the Charlotte, NC area. These are not fancy hotels (think Holiday Inn Express, Hampton Inn, etc.) so no valets or bellhops. Most, but not all, of our housekeepers are hispanic females, I don't know the reason. A basic housekeeper gets anywhere from $7.25/hour to $9.75/hour. The top wage for an Executive Housekeeper is $14.25/hour - but they aren't usually cleaning rooms.

I was like you before I worked here, I had no idea that anyone tipped housekeeping. But of course some do and it's always appreciated. They don't make much and they work just as hard as the Frontdesk staff who is making around $2 more an hour.
posted by ZabeLeeZoo at 1:52 PM on May 8, 2013 [5 favorites]

I will also say that one should leave a little something daily, because different people may clean your room on different days, so you want to spread the love around.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:18 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

I didn't know about the housekeeping tip for a shamefully long time, but boy, did it make perfect sense to me the second I did find out.

My husband and I stayed in a hotel last week, and we left a tip for the housekeeper. We wished we had left a lot more when we realized the rooms were being cleaned by a man, his wife, and their maybe 8-year-old son.
posted by Coatlicue at 2:40 PM on May 8, 2013

I usually tip housekeeping, but not the valets or bellhops, but only because I usually park myself and carry my own luggage (I sometimes tip them a little when I check in anyway).

I have to say though, I never knew anyone else did, at least not a regular thing.
posted by bongo_x at 3:09 PM on May 8, 2013

I've tipped housekeeping for the last 10 years, and I've found notes in my room from housekeepers thereafter, asking for additional money to help a struggling family member, to care for a child. Etc. So, tipping is certainly helpful to them by one example.

I've never seen a female valet or bellhopĀ 

You're a casualty of the same 'sexism' you're wondering about - the better question is, how come you hardly see a female Hotel GM, or female Head Chef at the hotel, or a female CEO of any hotel chain? Set your expectations higher of where you want to see more female visibility within a hotel.
posted by Kruger5 at 3:15 PM on May 8, 2013

Mod note: Do not turn this into an argument about: sexism, tipping, the United states or any particular gender. Thank you.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:32 PM on May 8, 2013

You all may tip housekeeping, but I don't think you're representative of the larger American population. I think the question is valid, even if you're "supposed to" tip.
posted by geegollygosh at 6:09 PM on May 8, 2013

My mother was a housekeeper for over 15 years (DC area) and still works in a hotel (kitchen). You're most definitely supposed to tip, especially if you're a messy and dirty person. Housekeepers like my mom got paid around $10-12 average. Tips my mom got averaged from $2 to $50, even getting $2 was good. Sometimes they get split between the housekeepers who have been keeping the room clean for you if you've been staying longer.

And actually, they work way harder than front desk staff. I know because I have seen my mother work as a housekeeper (Marriott treated her decently and had a bring your kid to work day) and I briefly worked (summer job) at the front desk of another Marriott. My mom was evaluated on how fast and clean she could get the rooms and it is back breaking work. My job was a breeze compared hers. Sure, I had to handle guests screaming at me, being rude, and deal with other customer service grievances but it's nothing compared to being a housekeeper. Flipping beds, cleaning every single nook and corner, getting the bathrooms spotless from ceiling to floor and vacuuming with huge cumbersome machines...this is already hard enough to do when you're living at home and somewhat neat. So imagine how shitty of a job it is to do this as a living and with some guests being incredibly dirty and messy (oh the stories my mom had...). So yea I would never compare any sort of CSR job with a labor intensive job like housekeeping. It can/will ruin your health as it has done to people like my mom and her co-workers.

Sorry for the tangent, just wanted to provide some insight!
posted by driedmango at 6:17 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

"I suspect this is also the reason why I have never seen a female skycap at any airport."

LAX has a bunch. I don't know if you're just suffering from confirmation bias or what (I've never seen a female bellhop, though, but honestly, I've seen maybe twenty bellhops in my life).

I generally leave between $5 and $20 for the housekeeping staff, based mostly on how much I would want to be paid to clean up after my bullshit.
posted by klangklangston at 6:41 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Of course you tip housekeeping. I hate the idea of someone being in my room when I'm not there (it feels like an invasion of my personal space) so I always leave the "do not disturb" sign on the door the duration of the stay. But I do leave $15+ tip when I leave. Who doesn't tip housekeeping? (I also prefer to carry my own bags and park my own car -- again, stay out of my personal space and don't touch my personal belongings. But I would tip in those instances as well, I just try to avoid them.)
posted by Brian Puccio at 7:37 PM on May 8, 2013

My parents tipped at Holiday Inn types places when we went on road trips when I was a kid; we tipped a dollar per person per night, but left the money tucked underneath a pillow on the morning we checked out. It only occurred to me much much later that inflation means that I should be tipping at least twice that amount when I stay in hotels nowadays.

I yakked in my bed once and left 20 dollars and a profuse apology.
posted by spamandkimchi at 8:30 PM on May 8, 2013

Response by poster: Ok interesting...I think the attitude of "Duh you tip hotel housekeeping" is not that representative of the entire population. I am working class and my mother was a residential housekeeper, so I don't think people who don't know to tip are "stiffing" anyone deliberately. Also, it's obvious on cruises because they provide you with envelopes with instructions. If you leave money in your hotel room (no hotel I've ever stayed at has provided an enveloped designated for housekeeping tips), how would the staff even know it's for them and not just bills you left out? Some people may leave small bills around without intending to tip. Also, my parents never tipped housekeeping (of course, they could never afford to stay at a hotel) so I think its a custom that gets passed down to kids since you would never see anyone tipping their housekeeper in public the way you see in lobbies or restaurants. I'll consider it in the future.

I have no interest in female CEOs or GMs at hotels because they are not visible and I did not ask about them. But I will be sure to tell my little girl that she, too, can manage a hotel one day.
posted by KimikoPi at 9:12 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you leave money in your hotel room (no hotel I've ever stayed at has provided an enveloped designated for housekeeping tips), how would the staff even know it's for them and not just bills you left out?

I take a small piece of note paper (like they keep by the phone), fold it with the money inside and write "housekeeping" and "thank you" on it.
posted by bongo_x at 10:21 PM on May 8, 2013 [6 favorites]

how would the staff even know it's for them

One custom is to leave the tip on the bathroom counter with a glass or tiny shampoo bottle or something weighing it down. This is generally far enough outside of the usual 'leaving money around' behavior that it is a pretty clear indicator that this is something different.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:13 AM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

how would the staff even know it's for them

The nearly universal indication is to leave the money on a bed pillow - never had a single moment of confusion in years of domestic and international travel.
posted by Kruger5 at 7:59 AM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Like bongo_x, I leave the money in a folded piece of hotel paper, sometimes weighted down with a glass or something. I have been known to double (or triple) my tip and write SORRY WE ARE SUCH MESSY JERKS if things (drinking) got out of hand in my room the night before.
posted by miskatonic at 1:50 PM on May 9, 2013

« Older I need help finding motivation to study when I can...   |   performing arts group in SF for the untalented? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.