Know the rule of thumb when it comes to these invisible services.

Unlike with some service staff—the waiter at a restaurant, for example, or a caddy on a golf course—whether and what to tip hotel housekeeping staff is not always explicitly clear. But Bonnie Tsai, founder and director of Beyond Etiquette, says you should always tip hotel housekeeping staff—unless the hotel or resort you're staying at specifically informs you not to do so, of course.

Information tag on the door of a hotel bedroom left for the cleaner to clean up
Credit: Katarzyna Bialasiewicz / Getty Images

"You should always tip the housekeeping staff as they're providing invisible services for you," Tsai explains. "Housekeepers make our beds and clean up our messes we leave in our rooms. They are usually the hardest working staff in the hotel—but they are often the least recognized."

But how much should you tip? Paul Bagdan, professor at Johnson and Wales University College of Hospitality Management and author of Guest Service in the Hospitality Industry, says it's not the standard 18 to 20 percent you might tip restaurant staff. "There are several ways to determine a suitable amount," he explains, suggesting that you ask questions such as, "How was your stay? How much can you afford? How much do you care? How much cash do you have on you?"

That may end up coming out to $2 to $5 per day, says Tsai, but no less. And be sure to leave that money each day—not in a lump sum at the end of your trip. "You may not have the same people cleaning your room every day," she says, and you want to make sure everyone is equally tipped. If your room requires extra effort on the housekeeping staff's part—if you have a large party, for example, or make a significant mess—you should increase the amount you leave, Tsai explains.

You may also want to tip more if the "housekeeping staff goes above and beyond in their service, bringing you extra soaps, towels, and so on," she recommends. "You can leave an additional $2 to $3—$4 to $6 total—when they go above-and-beyond for you to make your stay enjoyable."

Comments (2)

Martha Stewart Member
February 2, 2020
I thought all that was what they were paid to do.
Martha Stewart Member
January 30, 2020
I don't use their services as long as they have clean towels for the two of us. I do not trust these persons. We can stand ourselves for the few days when we are there. What I do not like is there no longer a service at the front door to help with the luggage to the room. Encountered this at a Best Western in Dallas. Older residents should not have to do this service. I would tip them. I just leave the cart in the area of the elevator for the hotel to return to the lobby.