Gratuity etiquette is something that’s hard to nail down. In general, everyone has a different tipping strategy, whether they use a certain percentage of the room rate to determine how much to tip housekeeping, or they prefer to put cash in an envelope rather than hand it directly to the staff member. When it comes to tipping the housekeeping staff at a luxury hotel, is there one rule of thumb to follow across the board? We discussed that very question with managers and CEOs of five-star hotels to find the best tipping practices. Here, the Departures guide to tipping the hotel housekeeping staff and showing your gratitude to those working to make your hotel stay exceptional.
How Much to Tip Hotel Housekeeping
If you’re going to tip members of the housekeeping staff individually, you can either settle on a cash amount or a percentage of the room rate. Marina Dutton, general manager at Newport Beach, California’s Balboa Bay Resort, said, for those interested in leaving a daily tip for housekeeping, a good rule of thumb “might be $5 to $7 a day, depending on room rates and length of stays.”
If you’re someone who prefers to tip once at the beginning or end of your stay in cash, simply multiply that $5 to $7 tip by the number of days you stayed at the hotel. Dutton generally likes to leave a tip solely for the housekeeping staff; “Tipping housekeepers is always a good idea as their jobs are often extremely physical,” she pointed out.
On the other hand, leaving gratuity on your card for the entire hospitality team ensures that your tips are distributed evenly among the hotel staff. When you’re relying heavily on luggage carriers and concierges, as well as benefiting from the efforts of the housekeeping and behind-the-scenes staff, leaving a tip for the entire team might be a practical solution.
Ira Bloom, CEO of ÀNI Private Resorts, said “we have always encouraged our guests to tip the team as a whole, in which case all members of the team involved in the guest experience, directly and indirectly, are rewarded for a great stay.”
Bloom suggested that leaving a tip for the staff as a whole allows guests to show appreciation for the staff they may not see or interact with on a daily basis. “I think that housekeepers, like kitchen support staff and laundry specialists, have always been tipped proportionally less than the more directly interactive roles of bartenders and concierge, but in many ways put in more hours toward the guest experience,” said Bloom. “[That’s why] we like this method [of tipping the team as a whole]. Our teams then share any tips equally.”
Leaving a Hotel Housekeeping Tip on Your Credit Card
Customarily, tips for housekeeping and support staff are not included on your hotel bill. However, some hotels will add an optional gratuity fee that goes directly to housekeeping, back-of-house kitchen workers, and other lesser-seen jobs. If you’re interested in leaving a tip for the support staff on your card, ask to do so at check out. Working with the front desk to leave a tip for hotel housekeeping and support staff on your card is ideal if you’re committed to having a distanced and contact-free hotel experience.
"We have added a discretionary 3.5% service charge of the daily room rate on guests’ invoices, and they have the option to pay it in full, or adjust it as they feel appropriate,” said Mishaal Eid, rooms manager at London’s Flemings Mayfair Hotel. “The service charge is distributed equally to the staff, as we feel that everyone’s contribution is valuable to making a guest’s stay great.”
Eid said that guests can, of course, leave additional tips for a specific person, but the discretionary fee allows them to leave a (contact-free) tip for the entire support staff. Most of the Flemings Mayfair guests (98%) opt to pay the 3.5% service charge, and some may even choose to leave a higher percentage to further benefit the service staff.
Where and When to Leave Gratuity
Opting to leave gratuity on your card for the entire support staff also takes the guesswork out of where and when to leave your tip. While handing your tip to a certain staff member is a kind gesture, the era of social distancing has somewhat discouraged that tradition. Even when COVID-19 cases dissipate, travelers and hotel staff may want to maintain reduced contact. Those who don’t want to hand cash to a housekeeper in the name of distancing, but still wish to leave additional gratuity, can put the cash in an envelope and leave it in the room.
Bloom also mentioned that, in this new era of travel, paying a group tip upfront has become more common. It keeps things cashless, but shows appreciation for the staff right upfront.
“Our guests at the end of September at ÀNI Dominican Republic prepaid a $4,000 tip for the staff,” said Bloom. When renting a private resort, offering the gratuity at the beginning of your stay ensures that every member of the support staff earns gratuity, encourages a sense of camaraderie between the guests and the staff, and simplifies life at check out.