03 Nov
Hotel, Motel, Holiday Inn: How Much Do You Tip?

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

OK, I know you all aren’t Miss Manners, and this question doesn’t involve relatives, sex or the Internet, or even blonde highlights, but since the ice has been broken on the tipping issue I need help and I know I can trust you. Some time after I reached adulthood, it became expected that anyone staying in a hotel tips the cleaning staff. I have no idea how to do this. Does it matter how long you stay? Whether it’s Days Inn or the Four Seasons? How messy you are? If the towels are made of Kleenex or turkish cotton? Do you tuck money under the pillow? Help!


Tipsy Tammy


Dear Tipsy Tammy,

What a timely question you ask! Why, just yesterday Marinka, Kelcey, Heather and I were sitting in the lobby of a very fancy midtown hotel when Marinka looked up from her Cat Fancy magazine and said, “Oh, my Gawd, you guys! Let’s hire a $12,000 hooker, lock her in the bathroom, then throw a pillow tantrum in our hotel room until hotel security comes and tazes us! Wouldn’t that be fab?”

To which Kelcey replied: “I’m in, home slice! But how much do we tip the maid after our rampage? I certainly don’t want to show bad hotel trashing etiquette again. That’s what got us kicked out of the Hoboken Ramada and now I can’t have my girls’ cotillion there.”

(Note: The above situation may not have actually taken place in real life and may have actually just taken place in my head after my nightly speedball of chardonnay and Allegra-D. Not sure.)

But all joking aside, this “tip the maid” phenomenon seems to be a relatively recent thing and something that’s not often discussed. However, when you think about all of the hard work the cleaning people do, how little they’re paid, and the responsibility they’re entrusted with, it makes perfect sense to let them know they’re appreciated. At least as much as the bellman who basically does something you could do yourself if you had any muscle tone.

The New York Times illuminated maid tipping a couple of years ago, as did Travel & Leisure. I’ve also read that if you plan on staying more than one night, or if you really do leave a mess, it’s a good idea to leave a $3-5 tip with a note specifically saying it’s for housekeeping so they don’t think twice about taking it. And since I imagine that maids at cheap hotels work just as hard as the ones at nice hotels (except the ones on Sheen Patrol), the amount shouldn’t vary in regards to where you stay. (At least in my opinion.)

I hope that helps, Tipsy, and I wish you safe travels wherever you may go. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go let this $12,000 hooker out of the locked bathroom before she gets even more upset.

She better not expect a tip.


Wendi, TMH

13 Responses to “Hotel, Motel, Holiday Inn: How Much Do You Tip?”


Comment by Sally.

Correction: It’s not such a new practice. My aunt and uncle worked in the motel industry in the 1970’s and they taught me to tip the maid way back then.

Cheryl Reply:

I agree, Sally. It’s not a new practice. Back in the early 80s, I first started traveling. I was based in NYC and traveled nationwide. Since we all know that New Yorkers are all that, you can bet they taught me to tip the housekeeping staff. They also showed me the error of my ways as I was overtipping the cabbies like a woman possessed.


Comment by JK.

Also agree the practice is not new and, let’s face it, those maids clean our bathrooms on a daily basis. What’s that worth to you? I think it’s fantastic. I do think nicer hotels provide more services so tipping should be commensurate. We usually leave $2-3 per day on a dresser at the end of our stay, but if you want them to know you’re generous, leave it during your stay with a note.


Comment by Bean.

And if you want a real eye-opener on how much maids/housekeepers make and what their days are like, read Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich. You’ll never look at cleaning services – home or hotel – the same.

Karin Reply:

love that book! Also would never hire a cleaning service for my house and expect to have my house actually cleaned well/sanitized after reading that book…


Comment by Erin I'm Gonna Kill Him.

I’m not gonna lie – I don’t even think about it unless the envelope for gratuity is there. And even then I sometimes only think about it. Mostly because that envelope doesn’t take Amex – I tried swiping. Maybe this bed bug phenomenon is staged by the cleaning mavens as backlash against poor tippers like me. Definitely a kind gesture that some (ahem) of us should consider.


Comment by Plano Mom.

I’ve tipped the cleaning staff since the 80s as well. But it didn’t get rabid about it until I traveled to the Philippines and was told that for some hotels, the cleaning staff might be working for free, just for the opportunity to get the next job available.

No one should have to clean up after my family without something special. Hell, I shouldn’t have to clean up after my family without something special.


Comment by tonya cinnamon.

Let me throw it out there as well .LOL
I work for a professional housekeeping service . been at the profession itself over 13 yrs. The things I have seen..Whew LOL
For now we clean the richies houses and then some.
First off most are loves and do tip.:)
Its the ones we clean 3-4 hours (per house) on their huge homes and get no tip.Those are the ones we remember…
We do get paid to clean yes, but its nice to remember us housekeepers too.(I use the tips for gas, extras, and so forth when my check does not cover it) 🙂


Comment by Jennifer June.

When I was in Barcelona I asked the consierge how much they tip housekeeping in Spain.
He asked me to explain.
I said
“I want to leave money for the maid”
He said

I left her all my Euro change, some chocolates and my left over European (postcard) stamps. She probably thought I was a dick.

Um.. yes, maids in crappy hotels work just as hard and often make much less than maids who work for snazzy hotels so PLEASE tip them at least equally.


Comment by JoanL.

Leaving something for housekeepers in hotels and motels has always been around as far as I know. I remember that on road trips in the 1950s that my Dad would always leave $1.00 per day for the maid in the roadside motels where my Mom, Dad and I stayed. So now I figure that $5.00 a day, plus leaving the room pretty cleaned up and not leaving a mess for housekeeping, ought to do it. I leave a note along with it to let housekeeping know it’s for her(more likely)/him.


Comment by vodka tonic.

When I was vacationing at an all-inclusive in Cozumel, I was leaving a few dollars, along with a note (“Por ti”) and a little gift each day (a little something extra – little bottles of lotion, a package of nice pens, hair clips, etc). Some days the housekeeper took the money and gifts…. and sometimes she left the gift behind!! LOL. Oh well.


Comment by Erin.

Wow, i am a housekeeper at a motel in a mining town, so everyday the rooms are filthy with coal dust , not to mention all those other lovely manly messes …lol…and not once have i been tipped.. You guys are so kind, this is the first time i have ever heard of anyone tipping a housekeeper… Good work guys


Comment by Aspley Motel.

How old do I need to be to rent a room at the Motel?

Consider Checking Out...