Your Complete Guide to Hotel Tipping Etiquette
Businesses and personal travelers alike are always looking for ways to reduce expenses on their trips and stretch their travel budgets further. However, some expenses simply can’t be cut out — and tipping is one of them.
Many workers in the hospitality industry depend on tips as an important part of their wage. Tips aren’t just nice to have, they’re needed. In other cases, they’re not expected, and are just a way to show appreciation for someone who went above and beyond.
However, it can be confusing for travelers, especially because tipping culture changes from country to country. Even American travelers can get mixed up about how much to tip for various services at hotels in the US.
Let’s break down whether to tip or not to tip — and how much — for hotels in the US.
The average hotel housekeeper makes just $25k a year. But that salary isn’t really representative of the hard work these guys do.
Hotel housekeepers are responsible for cleaning and vacuuming rooms, emptying trash cans, cleaning bathrooms, changing sheets, refreshing towels, and making beds. Their services are absolutely essential for guests to have a pleasant stay and feel comfortable in their rooms. In the era of COVID, their thorough cleaning efforts help keeps guests safe and healthy as well.
All of this must be completed as quickly as possible and done seamlessly, without disturbing guests. Sounds like a tough gig, right?
Show your appreciation by leaving a tip for housekeeping. You can leave cash in your room when you leave to cover the whole stay, or if you’re receiving daily housekeeping, you might consider leaving a tip out each day. Staff rotates, so that’s the best way to ensure that all of your housekeepers receive something.
Recommended tip for hotel housekeeping: At least $5 per day.
Many hotels provide a valet service.
Whether the hotel charges for this service or not, remember that a big part of a valet’s income is made up of tips, so always offer a little monetary thank you for their help.
It’s standard to offer gratuity when a valet retrieves your car — not when they park it.
Recommended tip for valet attendants: $2 to $5. You may want to tip a little extra if your valet has to brave bad weather conditions to park or retrieve your car.
When taking a shuttle service to or from the airport, it’s customary to tip your driver, particularly if they lend a hand with your luggage.
The amount will depend upon the number of people in your party. If they’re handling a large number of bags or particularly heavy luggage, give them a little extra.
Recommended tip for hotel shuttle drivers: $1 to $2 per person or $4 to $5 per party.
Luggage attendants take your bags from reception up to your room. Whether they carry bags themselves or use a luggage cart, a small tip per bag is the norm.
Recommended tip for luggage attendants: $1 per bag.
Concierges are the superheroes of hotel hospitality.
They can get you last-minute table reservations at the best restaurants — or procure a laptop charger 15 minutes before your big meeting.
Concierges tend to earn more than most other hotel staff, but they still definitely deserve your tips.
If you go to them with a request, like a local recommendation or help booking tickets to a sold-out show, tip them in the moment when their service to you is completed.
And tip according to the effort involved. For example, hailing a cab is fairly easy, but working their connections and calling around to accommodate a large group for a last-minute dinner reservation is a more involved ask.
Recommended tip for hotel concierge: $2 to $5 for routine requests, but up to $100 for standout service.
Ordered food and drink to your room? Standard restaurant tipping etiquette comes into play when you tip hotel room service staff for bringing your meal.
However, many hotels automatically add gratuity to your room service bill. If that’s the case, you don’t need to pay extra (although you certainly can, especially if the applied gratuity is on the lower end). Double check your bill to see whether you were charged or not.
You also don’t need to tip again when someone comes to collect your tray.
Recommended tip for room service: 15 to 20% of your total food bill.
If you’re heading to the hotel spa for a treatment, like a massage or a facial, be prepared to tip your spa therapist or technician.
Like room service, you can tip for these services at the same rate you would anywhere else.
Recommended tip for hotel spa service: 15% to 20% of the total cost.
A few extra hotel tipping tips
Factor in the cost
When figuring out how much you’ll spend on a hotel stay, don’t just consider the nightly rate and a few meals. Tips can add up, so factor them into the overall cost of your stay.
Contactless and card transactions are now the norm. But it’s not often possible to tip in this way. Even if it is, it takes longer for hotel team members to receive their tips when you pay electronically.
So take some cash out before you travel, and ensure you have lots of small bills so that you’re ready to tip when necessary.
Tip at the right time and place
When and how you give a gratuity depends on which member of the hotel team you’re giving it to.
For a housekeeper, you should leave it in the room somewhere obvious. Putting bills in an envelope or writing a short thank you note can help to make it clear that this is a tip and not just your loose change.
For other staff, simply hand them some neatly folded bills and say thank you immediately after they have completed their service.
Looking to save money on your next hotel stay?
We all want to save money on our travels. But as we’ve seen, cutting down on your tips just isn’t fair to the people providing great service at your chosen hotel.
So why not save some money on the nightly rate?
When business travelers book a stay at one of Hotel Engine’s 700,000 partner properties, they typically save around 60% on regular hotel prices.
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Audrey Fairbrother is the Content and SEO Manager at Hotel Engine. She spends her days writing about all things business travel, researching topics that are important to Hotel Engine’s audience and cultivating the company’s brand voice. When she’s not working, Audrey enjoys spending time with her family, and hiking in the nearby Rockies with her dog, Albie.