Hotel Tipping
February 7, 2008 7:58 PM   Subscribe

How much do I tip the housecleaning at this hotel?

I've been here for a couple months. I've only let them in once a week to change the sheets and towels, vacuum, etc. It's an ok, but definitely not fancy, downtown suite hotel. Basically it's a very small one bedroom apartment.

The company that brought me here is paying for it and I'm not taking home a lot of money

I leave next week. What is appropriate to leave for a tip? And will they distribute to all the different women who might have done the job?
posted by miles1972 to Work & Money (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
posted by TheNewWazoo at 8:50 PM on February 7, 2008

I'm not sure how the distribution works but whenever I stay at a hotel, I usually tip $5 for every day that I've stayed. Perhaps you could do something like $10 for every month you've stayed. Can you expense it?
Remember, these people don't make a lot of money and they spend their days cleaning toilets and removing sex- and sleep-funky sheets....probably for many more hours a week than you or I can imagine working.
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 8:53 PM on February 7, 2008

I do a lot of business travel, and recently stayed at the Hyatt for three weeks on business. I know some coworkers tip the cleaning staff, but I never do - I can't afford it. I already have to tip when dining out (I was on the road for three weeks, and I usually spend at least one week out the month traveling) and I get compensated for meals via a smallish per diem...that money is coming out my pocket. I also have to tip taxi drivers after long rides to the airport. If I have a lot of luggage (for an extended stay) I often have to tip a doorman to bring my bags up for me (neither the Hyatt nor the Marriott allow guests to bring their own luggage up).

So, to make a long story short, I tip the maids five bucks a week, or a dollar a working day. I'm not made of money, and my company doesn't cover petty cash.

Sorry, hotel workers, the taxi drivers and the waiters got your cut.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:54 PM on February 7, 2008

With this little information and not knowing what "I'm not taking home a lot of money" means, I would not leave anything. One way to look at it is that you did them a big favor by not requiring them to clean your room 6 out of 7 days. Also, you can not ensure that all the proper people will get a piece of the action.

Or, leave $40 in an envelope that says on the outside "For everyone who cleaned room 222 for the past two months." The $40 represents $5 per week which is actually $5 per day cleaned.

Is it possible that you could expense the tip? Will you be submitting other receipts for reimbursement.? Why not include a claim for the tip too?
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:55 PM on February 7, 2008

Wanted to add that I spent quite a bit of time in my journalism days working with a colleague who was doing a piece on hotel workers trying to unionize. They really do struggle so just leave them something.
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 8:59 PM on February 7, 2008

Your tip doesn't necessarily have to be cash. Since they weren't in your room regularly, you could buy a sealed box of chocolates or cookies and put them on the bed when you leave with a note that says "thanks a lot, I appreciate your hard work." The housekeepers will share them later and talk about what a good guest you were.
posted by 913 at 9:29 PM on February 7, 2008

I guess my point was, due to the sheer amount of travel I do for business, I think it's kind of unfair to expect me to tip hotel workers...or anyone else. In most cases, the cash comes out of my pocket and cannot be expensed. It's essentially a penalty for working on my part. And it pisses me off to no end to have to tip taxi drivers. Or airport shuttle drivers. I suppose you might call it 'donor fatigue.' I also have to spend at least six hours a month sorting through expense claims - six hours that my desk-bound colleagues can use to work on projects.

But when traveling on vacation I do indeed tip the hotel workers (and the taxi drivers and the hotel shuttle drivers) ten bucks a night or whatever.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:29 PM on February 7, 2008

I leave pocket change. And that's like every time you go out and come back empty your change type of pocket change. This is single business traveler who can go for 5 days with the Do Not Disturb sign on the door and is fine with the standard 3 towels thing, and don't need my bed made. Asked staff for coffee on occasion. Left $10-15 in change on the counter.
posted by zengargoyle at 9:30 PM on February 7, 2008

Response by poster: I like 913's idea but do we really think they'd like chocolates or cookies over cold hard cash?
posted by miles1972 at 9:51 PM on February 7, 2008

I leave $10 for 1-2 nights and $20 for a 3-to-5-night stay, and a thank-you note. But I like fresh towels, the bed made, &c. And I was a chambermaid in my youth.
posted by nicwolff at 10:22 PM on February 7, 2008

But when traveling on vacation I do indeed tip the hotel workers

So you vary your tipping habits based on why you're there rather than the quality of service? I totally understand donor/tip fatigue and hate having to tip for every little thing when I travel. But you tip when you travel for pleasure, so you acknowledge that tipping is the right thing to do. It seems to me that you're penalizing the hotel staff because your company is too cheap to cover tips. They're doing the same job and probably have no idea why you're in town or how often you travel, nor do they care. Tip to the extent you appreciated their assistance. Is it unfair to expect you to tip hotel workers? Yes, but the unfairness is in your employer expecting you to cover the tip, not in the hotel workers expecting the tip.

As for the original question, I recently spent a month and a half in a hotel for work. It was the same sort of small 1 br apartment suite. They gave me fresh towels every day, but only changed linens and did a full cleaning of the suite a handful of times. I left $60 -- $10/week.
posted by jewishbuddha at 11:50 PM on February 7, 2008

Typically, one woud leave $1-2 a day for each day of your stay that the room was serviced. More if it's a nice hotel, or if you leave a particularly jizzy mess.

Having stayed there for quite some time, if you leave a larger tip, chances are it won't get distributed evenly to all the people who performed the work. In this case, it would be a better idea to leave your gratuity with a manager who can make sure it goes to everyone involved. Before you check out ask for the front desk or housekeeping manager. Also remember that giving positive feedback (as a supplement, not a substitute) on comment cards and surveys is a very big deal for them as well. If anyone went above and beyond, be sure to recognize them.

And good for you for thinking about the housekeepers. Working in a hotel, I get to see how often they're overlooked and unappreciated. Just yesterday, a guest accused someone of taking a t-shirt from his room, saying "She clearly stole it." He called back after checking out to say that he found it in one of his bags.
posted by sambosambo at 12:48 AM on February 8, 2008

a couple of months? leave a benjamin and expense it as tips.
posted by caddis at 4:38 AM on February 8, 2008

Get Rich Slowly says $5 minimum. I'm not sure if that's per day or not. In your case, I'd leave $5 per day the room was cleaned, at least. Don't leave chocolate or anything besides cash. These people are working incredibly hard - let them choose what to do with the money you would spend on them. Plus, lots of people won't eat food from strangers.

If you have been at the hotel long enough to develop some sort of a relationship with them, then maybe you could leave cash, a note, positive feedback to the hotel mgt, etc.

But when traveling on vacation I do indeed tip the hotel workers ...

This is disturbing. KokuRyu - You need to get a new job, or express your aggravation to your boss. Perhaps your per diem is inadequate to cover your expenses (incl tips). The solution is not cheap-skating the service industry. You need to accept or change your reality, rather than taking it out on people who have worked very hard. Basically you are transferring your frustrations with your employer and the fact that we live in a society where tipping exists onto the poor room service person who did nothing wrong.
posted by n'muakolo at 8:28 AM on February 8, 2008 [2 favorites]

I'm honestly surprised that this question got as much of a response as it has. Tipping room cleaners is, as best I can tell, a relatively new phenomenon.

My rationale for not tipping is manyfold. Primarily, it's that the cleaner is not providing any sort of value-add. A hotel requires that a room be cleaned between guests - that's part of being a hotel. Additionally, hotel staff are not paid tipped wages - they get minimum wage (n.b. I'm in favor of a living wage, but that's another discussion). I don't require any service beyond that which is minimally required of a hotel, and so I drop the DND card on the doorknob the minute I arrive. In the same way I can carry my own bags, I can keep my own room tidy.

Next, even if the cleaner does tidy my room during my stay, there's no value-add in having a "good" versus a "bad" job done, and there's no chance for interaction. What does an "amazing" job look like, and how would you possibly give your cleaner any feedback on what could constitute improvement? It's very much a one-shot task, in the same way that my mechanic's job is. It's either done or it's not.

Tipping bugs me enough already, but seriously, to tip a person who does a job that offers no opportunity for variation in service is just silly.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 9:21 AM on February 8, 2008

Nothing. I never understand why some people leave tips in hotels.
posted by thomas144 at 9:38 AM on February 8, 2008

Do you believe that the person who cleans your room makes a wage that fairly compensates them for the work they do in cleaning your room? If so, no need to tip. If not, you should tip the difference between what the worker makes and what you believe the wage should be. And if when traveling for business, your wage/per diem is insufficient to cover that tip, you should ask your boss for more money.
posted by decathecting at 11:48 AM on February 8, 2008

And to tag on, if you do believe the person cleaning your room is adequately compensated for the work he/she does, then you need to educated yourself.
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 11:57 AM on February 8, 2008

Your beef is with your employer who is not compensating you for legitimate costs of required business travel.

When I look at the housekeeping staff, I notice that they are often recent immigrants with limited English language skills. This isn't a job that people select when they have other opportunities. For that reason I try to be generous with my tips. Also, I do believe that there is variation in quality. When I found another women's underpants in my freshly made bed at the Marriott, I didn't tip.

It's easier if you tip when the chambermaid visits, so you tip the right person. Since you've missed that opportunity, anything you leave probably won't be distributed perfectly across the housekeeping staff. If you see the same chambermaid everyday or often, just hand her the tip you feel is correct and say thank you.
posted by 26.2 at 9:56 AM on February 11, 2008

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