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Another Question About Tipping
This one's about tipping the maid in hotels. I'll tell you what I said after you tell me what you think. Here's the question from a reader:

This is about the folks who service the rooms in Motels. I usually leave a tip when the room has been serviced for me -- when I stay more than one night. But what about the times that I arrive in the evening -- fully expecting the room to be clean and made up, and leave the following morning. At that point I have had no contact with the service staff. I know they are overworked and underpaid, but is it really my job to pay their wages?

Posted by aalkon at April 2, 2007 8:02 AM


Contact with them, no, but if you hadn't stayed there, they wouldn't have had to make up the room again. I say, if you do tip the service staff in hotels, this shouldn't be an exception, though I'd tip less for a stay of one night than for a stay of multiple nights.

Posted by: marion at April 2, 2007 12:46 AM

Given that essentially you're paying their wages anyway (where does the correspondent think the money comes from -- the payday fairy?) it's a bit much to get indignant over tip expectations.

Which people get tipped and which don't is a matter of social expectations, and these are priced into their base wages. Most people do have some component of variable wages -- for service workers, it's tips, and for white-collar workers (like me), it's bonuses. Some delivery guys get tipped and some don't -- depends on the policy and expectations.

I don't know what the tip expectations for cleaning staff at a hotel are, but it seems to me that "get one clean for free" isn't \a defensible tipping custom. It shouldn't matter if you ever see the maid as to whether you tip them.

Posted by: meep at April 2, 2007 2:29 AM

You know what? I always forget to tip the housecleaning service. Isn't that awful? I know better, my mom always left money in an envelope for them, but lucky for them, I don't stay in hotels very often. If I were there only one night, and remembered, I'd definitely tip, though, even though the reader has a point that he expects the room to be clean when he arrives. But if you are supposed to tip, then it doesn't matter--the blanket etiquette says tip. I feel bad for the people who have to clean up after me, in restaurants and in hotels.

I'll remember next time, I promise!

Posted by: Brenda at April 2, 2007 6:13 AM

My first job was housekeeping at a Holiday Inn. Min wage was 4.25 an hour and I was paid 7.50 an hour. Not too bad, for the experience (none) and education (none, still in highschool) that I had. Remember that they are paid a full wage and they do not base thier income on tips. I rarely received tips from customers.

Posted by: amber at April 2, 2007 8:13 AM

I think it's a classy gesture to leave a few bucks for the people who clean hotel rooms. My mom said that's how it should be done, and she's usually right about these things.

Posted by: justin case at April 2, 2007 9:48 AM

I usally leave $5 a night. If you calculate 15% of a decent hotel, it comes out closer to $20-30 a night. Is there a defined social custom?

I tip the maid because I am not the type who wants to tidy up my room every morning before the service shows up. So there's the usual towel on floor, untucked sheets, pile of unread USA Todays, small coffee spill, melted ice bucket to empty.

I would leave a 20 if I pucked and used all the towels cleaning it up.

Posted by: smurfy at April 2, 2007 1:10 PM

My friend Ulrika worked at a very upscale hotel in Stockholm through college. The stories she told me were beyond belief, mostly to do with blood, semen and feces. To this day when I check in I turn the heat way up and lose any bedding that is not changed daily, and I am not phobic in that way.

$5.00 a night is my standard, a bit more if they are generous with the goodies.

Posted by: eric at April 2, 2007 2:07 PM

Thanks, Eric. Now you have made me want to bring a Saran-wrapped sleeping bag on my next trip out of town.

Seriously, I don't know how many rooms each maid is responsible for, but they do a pretty bang up job straightneing & cleaning things up. Well worth a fiver per night -- at least at the 2-to-3 star digs I can afford.

Posted by: ReasearchGuy® at April 3, 2007 1:08 PM

I worked as a chambermaid when I was a college freshman. I discovered that the manager canvassed all of the checkout rooms in the morning: we cleaned all of the rooms after she cleaned out all of the tips! ...I always leave at least a few dollars in the envelope for the maids, not enough to pad a disreputable manager's pockets but enough so that the maid(s) know that I appreciate their hard work. If I happen to run into a maid in person, I hand them a larger tip than I leave in the envelope. The room must be spotless however, and if I discover hair in the sink or shower or other signs of lack of attention to cleaning detail, I don't tip anything. I also strip the beds, and throw the sheets and towels in a pile on the floor, because I remember how much I appreciated customers doing that for me.(try cleaning 20 rooms in just a few hours--it's very tough) I leave behind other things that a maid might appreciate (cigarettes when I smoked, a few full unopened beverage cans/bottles, empty bottles and cans that are returnable for spare change, untouched/unopened food like chips, cheese, etc., magazines, subway/bus tokens etc).....maids work really hard for their money, and it's barely enough to pay the bills. Don't forget to tip service workers: they deserve it!

Posted by: Rene at April 3, 2007 2:46 PM

I usually leave the "No stayover Service" sign on the door and tip $5 when I leave.

But I also empty the trash, take the sheets and towels to the laundry bin in the hall, and give the furniture, windows and bathroom a once-over before I leave.

I used to ask for a vacuum, but that sometimes makes housekeeping think something's in the carpet, so I stopped. It's my intention to minimize the work of the maids and housemen, not to make them shampoo the carpet to get rid of invisible stains.

Posted by: Steve W at April 4, 2007 12:43 PM

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