Many of us feel comfortable traveling again, and as we return to hotels, we find ourselves revisiting the protocols that relate to tipping during a hotel stay. The faces in a hotel are the same—bellmen, valets, housekeepers, concierges—yet so much has changed since the pandemic began.
For one, housekeeping service is no longer a standard amenity, particularly at non-luxury hotel properties. Many chain hotels will offer housekeeping on request, but labor shortages and stringent cleaning and safety guidelines have made it a challenge to offer room cleaning on a daily basis.
In the last two years, we've also become more of a cashless society, paying for goods and services with credit cards and mobile apps, like Apple Pay and Venmo. That's leaving hotel workers who rely on cash tips struggling to earn an income. A refresher on hotel tipping is required reading.
HOW MUCH TIP DO YOU LEAVE IN A HOTEL?
Beyond the front desk, you may interact with a variety of hotel workers during a stay, from the valet who parks your car to the bellman who delivers your bags to your room. Many positions earn an hourly wage that's reliant on tips from hotel guests to earn a living.
The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) suggests a tip of $1-$5 to valets when you receive your car and $1-$5 per bag to bellmen when luggage is delivered to your room or to your car. Tip a concierge $5-$10 if they secure restaurant reservations or show tickets.
For housekeeping, AHLA encourages $1-$5 per night, while Unite Here, a hospitality workers union, recommends a minimum of $5 per hotel stay. Tip more for suites and if you request a late check-out, which means housekeepers have less time to clean your room.
DO YOU TIP AT THE TIME OF SERVICE OR WHEN YOU CHECK OUT OF A HOTEL?
To ensure that the housekeeping team cleaning your room is rewarded for their service, leave a cash tip each day of your stay. Some hotels have envelopes meant for leaving tips, as well as a written thank-you if you choose to do so.
It's also acceptable to tip at the end of your stay, but leave a cash tip for the number of nights stayed, even if the housekeeping team was not able to clean your room due to hotel policy. The housekeepers should not be penalized because they are unable to provide service each day.
It is also sufficient to tip concierges when you check out for all services they were able to provide during your stay. For most other roles, like bellmen and valets, cash tips should be left at the time of service.
HOW DO YOU TIP WITHOUT CASH?
Not everyone carries cash anymore, and few of us have a wallet full of small bills. However, this is no excuse not to tip hotel workers. If you are short on cash, ask the front desk at the start of your stay if you can add a tip to the final bill when you pay by credit card.
If this is not an option, ask whether an ATM is in the hotel or if there is a nearby ATM in order to take out cash for tips. For changing large bills to small bills, like $1s and $5s, the front desk can typically assist with your request.
Cashless tipping is slowly coming on board, too. New technologies, like TipBrightly and TipYo, are enabling travelers to tip service staff at participating hotels using mobile apps and QR codes. This also allows for contactless tipping, which has become increasingly of interest to travelers.
HOW DOES TIPPING VARY WITH INTERNATIONAL STAYS?
As Americans, we have been trained to leave a tip for everything, but that's not typically the norm overseas. However, there is no one-size-fits-all policy on tipping as it relates to every other country in the world. Whether tipping is a thumbs up or a thumbs down even varies by continent.
In Europe, for example, a service charge may be included on a bill, making it unnecessary to leave extra euros. However, not all 44 countries in Europe have the same expectations when it comes to tipping. Your best bet is to inquire with a tourist office when you arrive for local customs.