It never dawned on me to write a post about tipping hotel housekeepers until I received a tweet from a reader asking: “@JohnnyJet Johnny, do you leave a cash gratuity for room service at the end of your stay? My dad taught me that back in the day & I’ve never stopped. Is that old fashioned? Or still correct? Thanks.”

Instead of just replying to Terrell I retweeted: “I tip every day because there’s different housekeepers” to all.

What caught me off guard was that I had a number of people reply, including Sree Sreenivasan who is a big-time journalism professor in New York City. He commented: “@JohnnyJet Thanks for this tip, Johnny. I never thought about the different folks on different days, so I leave a single tip at the end of the stay.”

Then someone asked me: “@JohnnyJet Hi Johnny, what is the recommended rate or amount of gratuity per day?”

I replied, “I’ll write a post on this but it all depends on room, country and services. I don’t always get my room serviced but when I do I tip about $5 a day and leave it under the pillow so minibar people don’t snag it.”

How Much To Tip
So here’s my post! If you’re traveling around the US, then I would leave between $3 and $10 a day, depending on the hotel category and the size of the room. I sometimes use Starbucks gift cards, which I keep in my carry-on, usually to thank gate agents or flight attendants but when I run out of cash, I will leave them for housekeeping.

Tip Every Day, Not One Lump Sum
I tip every single day instead of one big lump sum at the end of my stay because there could be different housekeepers each day, depending on their shifts and schedules. For instance, you may have the same housekeeper working all week but the a different one on the weekend. It’s not right that they get rewarded for their colleague’s hard work. Also, housekeepers could be assigned different floors each day. At a hotel, it’s not like a cruise ship where you tend to have the same person for the duration of the cruise.

Why I Decline Housekeeping
I actually rarely have housekeeping come in to my room for a few reasons:
1. I don’t want people snooping around my things or risk having stuff stolen.
2. I try to be eco-friendly by not having my towels and sheets washed daily.
3. Some hotels will give guests credit or points if they decline housekeeping.
4. I’m not a messy person.

Don’t Be A Slob
My mom taught me a long time ago to always pick up after myself. I remember when I was kid and we were in a hotel, I thought my mom was crazy because each morning ,she would clean up our hotel room, including picking my tissues up from the floor after I missed the “basket.” I now realize she was just being courteous so if I do have housekeeping service my room, I tidy up before we leave for the day. I say ‘we’ because when I travel with my kids, we usually get the room cleaned because they are like two little Tasmanian Devils.

I Use The Same Towel and Sheets
For the most part, I don’t need or even want my sheets and towels changed daily. I don’t do it at home so I’m not going to do it on the road. Unless, of course, one of my kids throws up, which has happened once or twice.

COVID-19 Germs
And those reasons were all before COVID-19. Now I can add that I don’t want someone breathing in my room unnecessarily, especially if I can’t open the windows.

Where I Leave The Tip
I once shared a room with a friend and I left a $5 bill on the counter. We left the room to check out and I remembered that I’d forgotten my toothbrush in the shower. So I went back to the room and noticed that the $5 bill was gone. It turns out my no-good. now ex-friend, had taken the cash. Ever since then, I leave it under the pillow, mainly because I don’t want the mini-bar attendant or a supervisor to come in and grab it. Because if my friend did it, you know others will.

Otherwise, I try to give the tip directly to the housekeeper when they enter the room and then I leave. If I don’t see them, I will sometimes write a thank you note.

Make Friends
I almost always try to make friends with the housekeepers not only so that they will treat my stuff with care but also because I feel bad that they have to clean up other people’s messes. I see the way many guests treat housekeeping. I try to treat them like they’re my mother.

Do Your Research
If you’re heading out of the country, then do your research about what the tipping customs are. In some countries like Japan, it’s rude to leave a tip.

How about you? What are your tipping habits? Did I miss anything?

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13 Comments On "How Much I Tip Hotel Housekeepers and My Trick To Make Sure They Get It"
  1. John Conroy|

    I always tip the check in person. More than once, a room next to the ice machine or elevator becomes a nice room away from the hallway noise. A few time I got upgraded to a suite or a more superior room. A few times meal vouchers came my way. This works especially well in Vegas. $20 at the desk is the best spent money of the trip.

  2. Joanna Janssen|

    I agree Johnny with tipping Housekeepers by the day. Also cleaning the room before they come. I always make sure to wipe any strands of hair on sink and bath because that just seems gross! I don’t agree with skipping housecleaning for a mere reward. I feel like I would be affecting someone’s job With less demand for cleaning there is less job demand. It’s not worth 500 frequent traveler points for me to skip housekeeping and I am helping someone keeping their job! Also I use valet service when I can because often it’s only a few dollars more than self parking and I help someone keep their job!

  3. TheaterFan|

    Johnny – I agree with everything in the article EXCEPT the Starbuck’s cards. I’m a coffee drinker but Starbucks is waaaay too strong for me and I wouldn’t stand in line for one of their (IMHO) overpriced muffins or brownies. So, a Starbucks card is of no appeal to me. Maybe Subway or Chick-Fil-A.
    This comment is thoroughly confusing: “@JohnnyJet Thanks for this tip, Johnny. I never thought about the different folks on different days, so I leave a single tip at the end of the stay.” Seems like never having thought about the different folks on different days would be the exact reason NOT to leave a single tip.
    I have thought about the quandary in the past and plan to try the pillow method.

  4. Richard Strauss|

    I often leave the tip with the front desk in an envelope with my room number. That avoids someone else taking it (assuming of course honest front desk employees which I assume is the case) and I ask them to distribute it if there is more than one person who cleaned my room.

  5. Joyce Fielder|

    Question for John Conroy, how do you tip the check in person before they have finished the check in? Great sometimes you may get better room but it seems the room is assigned, I can see the other comps but not necessarily upgrade of room.

  6. SCOTT GOFF, MD|

    Bottom line: I do not tip the housekeepers. John, note above, mentioned ‘Vegas. If the housekeeper wants a tip, they can take it out of the mandatory “Resort Fee”, or “Destination Fee” or whatever other fee name they dream up. When I have to pay almost 1/2 the room rate for their garbage fee system when I do not use their spa, nor the pool, nor the business center, nor any additional stuff which should be calculated into the cost of doing business — all I do is get irritated. The only reason the parking fee, in ‘Vegas, is gradually being eliminated is that the customers are patronizing the off-strip hotels, then taking the shuttle bus to the Strip. The Big Five operators were losing more revenue than their parking fees were bringing in. Besides, nobody gives me a tip for doing my job. No tips.

  7. TheaterFan|

    Joyce Felder, I wondered the same thing.

  8. Michael|

    Wait, you brush your teeth in the shower?

    1. Johnny Jet|

      LOL. Doesn’t everyone?

    2. Natalie|

      Johnny’s wife here: A) I love that you picked up on that detail and B) Yeah – that took some getting used to. I’m curious: DO people actually brush their teeth in the shower? Besides Johnny, of course! lol

  9. Lynne Ranney|

    @Scott Goff, MD: One would like to think someone like you, who earned a doctorate of medicine, has some compassion or empathy, and lives in the real world. Sir, you fail on both counts. Housekeeping staff never sees one dime of the excessive fees the hotels charge. It all goes to the hotel itself. Most housekeeping employees earn minimum wage; the federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. This is fact even in the few hotels where housekeeping staff is represented by a union. The work is exhausting, physically harmful as the hotels so often increase the number of rooms staff must clean per shift, and demeaning. But here you are, licensed to practice in one of the most lucrative professions anywhere, and with enough free time and resources to travel. Will an additional $35 per week change your life? At all? Now imagine if that $35 were almost 1/8 of your weekly income, which is the case for many, perhaps most, hotel housekeepers. You may not like our American practice of tipping; I sure don’t. It makes more sense to pay employees a reasonable wage. But until that happens, I will continue to tip the staff that works to make my hotel stay the luxury it is. And you would be a better human being if you paid attention to real life. Paying attention would probably help you be a better physician, too.

  10. Rich|

    Here’s a tip from a friend who used to work at hotels. He actually strips the bed when he is checking out. Two reasons – one, it helps the housekeeper because it’s one less thing to do, and two, it insures that the next guest in the room gets fresh sheets! A number of hotel housekeepers have been caught not changing sheets between guests, and my friend’s technique insures that won’t happen. Paying it forward!

    1. Johnny Jet|

      I like it! I know someone leaves a note under the cover “the sheets haven’t been changed if you’re reading this”

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