My family growing up was poor and it was extremely rare for us to stay at a hotel. My mom used to say that you have to either tip housekeeping or clean your own room. Before we left she would make us clean everything, strip the beds, take out the garbage, things like that. Clearly a part of this was due to not being able to afford the extra cost and she was trying to not be an asshole, but as an adult I’m left not really knowing what is appropriate for tipping housekeeping or what state you should leave the room in.
I’ve overheard people say such delightful things, in relation to the horrible state of their hotel room, as “whatever, that’s what they get paid to do.” Those people are assholes. You, however, are not. Thank you for asking this question.
Go with $2 or $3 dollars per night, and leave it out each day before you depart on the day’s adventures. You could tip at the very end (I have when I’ve forgotten to have small bills on me), but I always feel a little odd about that because I’m not sure if the tips end up being pooled together or what. If you are traveling with a larger party – say, more than just a couple of people in the room – you should tip more, as there will inevitably be more tidying up, more garbage, more used towels, etc. the more people in your room. To make sure the housekeeping staffer knows it is for him or her, grab a sheet from that tiny hotel-branded pad that is usually in the room and write “Thank you!” on it and leave the tip on that.
Do you have to tip? I mean, not really. But when you’re putting together your budget for the trip, consider factoring in an extra $3/night for lodging. And even if you don’t get your room serviced each day, consider leaving a modest tip when you leave, as a thank you for the condition your room was in when you arrived.
The thing to keep in mind here is that this is not your house. Yes, this is your home away from home for a few days, but you are a guest, which means that you should be mindful of how you treat the room and, by extension, the person who is going to have to tidy up after you.
Basically, don’t leave your shit everywhere and don’t actively dirty the place up.
Before you leave for the morning, you can do some simple things to make things easier on the housekeeping staff:
- Put any garbage and recycling in the correct bins.
- Pile any clothes that aren’t in a drawer or a suitcase in one place. Don’t leave all your clothing all over the place.
- Hang your towels back up if you’re going to reuse them; pile them all in one place if you’d like new ones.
If you make a serious mess – like you spill the contents of a bottle of red wine on the beige carpet – alert housekeeping as soon as possible so they aren’t facing a surprise stain the next day.
When you leave for good, do the same things you did on the days you were there, and also be sure to put anything you’ve moved back where you found it.
If you’re interested in taking an extra step to make sure that the staff members at the hotel you’re staying at are fairly compensated, you can check out hotels you’re considering at Fair Hotel.