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Tipping hotel housekeeping

Both Michelle and I grew up with mothers who always left a tip for housekeeping when they stayed in hotels. Michelle’s mother even taught us that you should tip each day, rather than at the end, because it is sometimes the case that supervisors go into the room first on the last day to pick up any tips that are there [1].

It makes sense to me that we tip housekeeping; one traditionally tips those in service occupations (waiters, cab drivers, bellhops, etc.). Hotel housekeeping staff do a hard job. As far as I know, they traditionally get paid relatively little. It also seems that it is often a job held by immigrants trying to make a life for themselves. It strikes me that in the name of being green, many hotels are finding ways to increase staff workload (you may not have to change the towels, but we’ll make you clean extra rooms in exchange).

When I first started as a faculty member, I asked a few older faculty members how much they usually left for housekeeping staff. (I love my mother and my mother in law, but sometimes they did not represent the norm [2].) Their responses made me sad. The first said something like I don’t recall my parents ever leaving a tip, so I never thought about doing so. The second said The College won’t reimburse me for tips for housekeeping, so I don’t leave them. At that point, I think I gave up asking other people.

These days, I generally leave $5 per person per night. I think that’s a reasonable amount. Strangely enough, until I got to this point in the essay, I don’t think I’ve ever thought to do a Web search to see what’s recommended. Let’s see …. Time Magazine says that more than 31% of people don’t tip housekeeping, and recommends either $1 to $5 a night [3] or $2 to $5 a day [4]. TripAdvisor says $2-3 per night up to $5, more in high-end hotels [5]. ’Eh; maybe my tips are a little high. I probably won’t change.

About the only time I talk about my policy is when I’m traveling with students, or when I know that my students are traveling. In that case, I tell them my policy ($5 per person per day, leave the tip each day) and tell them to do the same and either I or the College will reimburse them. (Okay, sometimes I just hand them the money for the tip.) I hope that provides useful modeling for them.

If you are reading this and don’t tip hotel housekeeping, please consider doing so. As I noted at the start of this essay, it’s a hard job and it pays very little. In most cases, if you can afford to stay at a hotel, you can afford a little extra for the people making your stay nicer.

[1] It’s a depressing world, isn’t it?

[2] Okay, if I’m honest with myself, they rarely represented the norm.

[3] That number comes from the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

[4] That number comes from the Emily Post institute, or some such.

[5] Don’t blame me for that mediocre phrasing.

Version 1.0 of 2017-03-08.