Bruce Claver, 25+ years in Luxury Hospitality, Motivational Trainer on Client Experience, on Quora
Leaving a tip for housekeeping is a thoughtful expression that you not only appreciated the hard work a room attendant did in cleaning your room everyday, but an acknowledgement that the ladies and gentlemen who clean the rooms are typically near the bottom of the economic wage earners and could use the small bonus.
So how much gratuity should you leave? Generally, I leave $2.00 per day as a starting point. Some people are more generous and leave a little more. If you leave the room excessively messed up, consider leaving a bit more. Housekeeping is the toughest job in a hotel with one of the lowest salaries. For eight or more hours, the attendants are bending, reaching, wiping and touching the used sheets and towels of strangers. They clean at least twelve toilets, showers, and bathroom floors per day, five days a week. They are assigned anywhere from twelve to sixteen rooms a day and are required to be in and out of a room within twenty to thirty minutes no matter how dirty, depending on the hotel and room size. They are on their feet all day with only a thirty minute lunch break and perhaps one or two fifteen minute breaks.
Before managing a housekeeping department, I didn’t give much thought about tipping room attendants but then I was assigned as Assistant Manager of a housekeeping department at a five diamond property. My first week I was assigned to shadow a seasoned room attendant (over twenty years at the property). At the end of the first day (eight hours), I could not move my body because it ached so much and all I really did was strip the beds and vacuum. It never occurred to me how much pushing, pulling, reaching, stooping, and walking they do, plus, they never stop moving or standing. It’s a full eight hour workout.
I am sitting in a hotel room writing this as a consultant for a hospitality consulting group and our rule of thumb for expenses is $2 per day and I stay for two to four nights. My role as a luxury mystery auditor is to completely tear apart (mess up) a two bedroom suite with kitchen and living room (each and every towel is used, kitchen used, and beds striped). However, feel free to leave more if the attendant was especially nice/good/attentive to you. They really appreciate it and can use the bonus. $2 a day should be considered the minimum although they will appreciate anything except loose coins under a $1.
Lastly, if you see the room attendant on your way out (and it was the room attendant who cleaned your room, not a random room attendant), hand her the gratuity rather than leaving it in the room. I’ve run across situations where a housekeeping supervisor went around to all the checked out rooms before the room attendant had a chance to enter the room and upon finding a gratuity, took it for her/himself. One option to avoid this is to ask the front desk agent for an envelope upon checkout and place it inside with the note and addressing the envelope to the Executive Housekeeper (ask the desk agent for his/her name) and give the envelope to the front desk. I stay at properties with refrigerators and I leave a thank you note with gratuity inside the fridge where no one but the room attendant will end up looking. Nothing like finding a thank you note with cold cash during a hard day’s work!