Here’s How Much to Tip Hotel Housekeeping

Etiquette experts reveal tipping advice for hotel stays, including when, how, and how much to tip housekeeping.

Travel planning is all about the details. But while you may be a master at uncovering the cleanest hotels and practicing proper airplane etiquette, there’s an element of being a guest that stumps even the savviest of travelers. Tipping etiquette—who to tip, when and how to do it, and how much of a tip to give—can be confusing. Never mind the fact that it often involves complicated mental math. And nothing is as befuddling as figuring out how much to tip housekeeping in hotels, motels, extended stays, and Airbnbs.

The fact is, tipping rules aren’t as clear-cut here as they are in other circumstances. “Unlike waitstaff that is always tipped between 15 and 20 percent, this is one area of tipping that is not calculated by any percentage,” says Julia Esteve Boyd, an etiquette consultant who has worked with royal families, politicians, and business executives.

To help you understand how much to tip, we turned to the pros. Our etiquette experts answered all of the questions you’ve been afraid to ask—and perhaps some you haven’t even thought of yet.

How the pandemic has changed tipping

The COVID-19 pandemic changed hotel stays, and it has significantly altered tipping etiquette in many situations, including in hospitality, says Toni Dupree, certified etiquette coach, CEO of Etiquette & Style by Dupree, author of Whose Fork is it Anyway?, and etiquette columnist for MVMNT magazine. Housekeepers have been hit doubly hard: Not only have they had their hours and tips reduced due to fewer people traveling, but they now have increased cleaning and sanitizing protocols. Plus, they have the added worry of having to be in small spaces where there may be lots of germs.

Do you have to tip housekeeping?

The answer is a resounding yes. The people who clean and take care of your room during your stay, clean and sanitize it between customers, and answer the sorts of things you really shouldn’t be asking hotel staff are essential workers. Yet many people forget or overlook this portion of the service industry. This is a big problem, as these workers depend on tips, says Dupree. Tips for hospitality workers aren’t just nice—they’re necessary income.

How much to tip housekeeping

The general rule for how much to tip housekeeping is to give housekeepers a minimum of $3 to $5 dollars a day, says Lisa Grotts, a certified etiquette professional, founder of Golden Rules Gal, former director of protocol for the city and county of San Francisco, and author of several books on etiquette. This is the same for hotels, motels, and extended-stay hotels, as they all have regular room cleanings. When packing up at the end of your stay, keep in mind which things you can and can’t take from your hotel room.

How Much To Tip Housekeeping Infographicrd.com

Tipping housekeeping during COVID-19

Considering the extra work the housekeeping staff is doing to keep you safe and healthy, you might want to tip more generously than you might otherwise, Dupree says. And keep in mind that although you may see housekeeping less in the day-to-day operations—cleanings may be limited to minimize possible COVID-19 exposure—that’s no reason to reduce or skip a tip. Your room is getting cleaned whether you see a housekeeper or not, so show your gratitude with a nice tip.

When should you tip housekeeping more?

Consider tipping $5 a day or more if the housekeeping staff had to clean up an extra dirty room, turn it over at a quicker pace, accommodate special requests, bring extra deliveries of supplies, or deal with any other extenuating circumstance—say your dog soiled the carpet or your tinted moisturizer exploded all over the bathroom, says Boyd. You can do your best to be a respectful guest by avoiding these things you should never do in a hotel room.

Do you tip housekeeping on the last day?

Housekeepers often rotate days and schedules, so it likely won’t be the same people each day. If you tip at the end, the housekeepers who cared for your room earlier in your stay won’t receive a tip. Instead, tip every day of your stay, as this ensures the tip goes to the person or people actually cleaning your room, says Grotts. Not sure how clean your room really is? Use these tips from a former hotel inspector.

Do you tip housekeeping more during the holidays?

Holiday travel adds extra stress on everyone and extra work for those cleaning hotel rooms, so it’s no wonder you’re questioning how much to tip housekeeping during the holidays. While you’re not required to tip more during the holiday rush, it is a kind gesture, says Grotts. “If you can afford it, it never hurts to be a little more generous,” she says. “The service industry is not paid a lot, and they rely on tips to supplement their income.”

Can you tip hotel housekeeping without cash?

Cash is still king when it comes to tips, says Grotts. Leave cash in an envelope or with a note indicating it’s for housekeeping. If you prefer not to use cash, you can leave a tip through the hotel concierge and ask them to give it to the cleaners. They should be very willing to help you get the money to the right people—a helpful front desk is one of the top signs a hotel has good customer service.

How much to tip housekeeping at a cabin or rental

Most vacation rentals, like Airbnb, VRBO, and timeshares, have set rates with all the charges built into the final bill, including cleaning, says Grotts. This means that an additional tip—either to the hosts or the cleaners—isn’t necessary. But if you had a wonderful experience and the place was sparkling clean, a thank-you note or a good online review is always appreciated, she adds.

Sources:

  • Julia Esteve Boyd, etiquette consultant
  • Toni Dupree, certified etiquette coach, CEO of Etiquette & Style by Dupree, author of Whose Fork is it Anyway?, and etiquette columnist for MVMNT magazine
  • Lisa Grotts, certified etiquette professional, founder of Golden Rules Gal, former director of protocol for the city and county of San Francisco, and author of several books on etiquette

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Charlotte Hilton Andersen
Charlotte Hilton Andersen, BS, MS, has been covering health, fitness, parenting, and culture for many major outlets, both in print and online, for 15 years. She's the author of two books, co-host of the Self Help Obsession podcast, and also does freelance editing and ghostwriting. She has appeared in television news segments for CBS, FOX, and NBC.