It never dawned on me to write a post about tipping hotel housekeepers until I received a tweet from a reader asking: “@JohnnyJet Johnny, do you leave a cash gratuity for room service at the end of your stay? My dad taught me that back in the day & I’ve never stopped. Is that old fashioned? Or still correct? Thanks.” Instead of just replying to Terrell I retweeted: “I tip every day because there’s different housekeepers” to all. RELATED: Should You Tip on Takeout?

What caught me off guard was that I had a number of people reply, including Sree Sreenivasan who is a big-time journalism professor in New York City. He commented: “@JohnnyJet Thanks for this tip, Johnny. I never thought about the different folks on different days, so I leave a single tip at the end of the stay.”

Then someone asked me: “@JohnnyJet Hi Johnny, what is the recommended rate or amount of gratuity per day?”

I replied that it all depends on the room, country and services. I don’t always get my room serviced but when I do, I tip about $5 a day and leave it under the pillow so minibar people don’t snag it.

How Much To Tip
If you’re traveling around the US, then I would leave between $3 and $10 a day, depending on the hotel category and the size of the room. I sometimes leave Starbucks gift cards, which I keep in my carry-on, usually to thank gate agents or flight attendants but when I run out of cash, I will leave them for housekeeping.

Tip Every Day, Not One Lump Sum
I tip every single day instead of one big lump sum at the end of my stay because there could be different housekeepers each day, depending on their shifts and schedules. For instance, you may have the same housekeeper working all week but the a different one on the weekend. It’s not right that they get rewarded for their colleague’s hard work. Also, housekeepers could be assigned different floors each day. At a hotel, it’s not like a cruise ship where you tend to have the same person for the duration of the cruise.

Why I Decline Housekeeping
I actually rarely have housekeeping come in to my room for a few reasons:
1. I don’t want people snooping around my things or risk having stuff stolen.
2. I try to be eco-friendly by not having my towels and sheets washed daily.
3. Some hotels will give guests credit or points if they decline housekeeping.
4. I’m not a messy person.

Don’t Be A Slob
My mom taught me a long time ago to always pick up after myself. I remember when I was kid and we were in a hotel, I thought my mom was crazy because each morning, she would clean up our hotel room, including picking my tissues up from the floor after I missed the “basket.” I now realize she was just being courteous so if I do have housekeeping service my room, I tidy up before we leave for the day. I say ‘we’ because when I travel with my kids, we usually get the room cleaned because they are like two little Tasmanian Devils.

I Use The Same Towel and Sheets
For the most part, I don’t need or even want my sheets and towels changed daily. I don’t do it at home so I’m not going to do it on the road. Unless, of course, one of my kids throws up, which has happened once or twice.

Where I Leave The Tip
I once shared a room with a friend and I left a $5 bill on the counter. We left the room to check out and I remembered that I’d forgotten my toothbrush in the shower. So I went back to the room and noticed that the $5 bill was gone. It turns out my no-good. now ex-friend, had taken the cash. Ever since then, I leave it under the pillow, mainly because I don’t want the mini-bar attendant or a supervisor to come in and grab it. Because if my friend did it, you know others will.

Otherwise, I try to give the tip directly to the housekeeper when they enter the room and then I leave. If I don’t see them, I will sometimes write a thank you note.

Make Friends
I almost always try to make friends with the housekeepers not only so that they will treat my stuff with care but also because I feel bad that they have to clean up other people’s messes. I see the way many guests treat housekeeping. I try to treat them like they’re my mother.

Do Your Research
If you’re heading out of the country, then do your research about what the tipping customs are. In some countries like Japan, it’s rude to leave a tip.

These are my general tipping guidelines but everyone has different thoughts on what’s acceptable and the entire topic of tipping can be divisive. This video below, created using information from CNN Money, which sourced their information from the Emily Post Institute, offers a breakdown of what you should actually be tipping all the different people you encounter during a hotel stay:

@attn Are you secretly a bad tipper? #ettiquette #serviceindustry #tiktoktaughtme #tiktokpartner ♬ original sound – attn:

What do you think? Do you agree with these suggestions?


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27 Comments On "How Much I Tip Hotel Housekeepers and My Trick to Make Sure They Get It"
  1. John Conroy|

    I always tip the check in person. More than once, a room next to the ice machine or elevator becomes a nice room away from the hallway noise. A few time I got upgraded to a suite or a more superior room. A few times meal vouchers came my way. This works especially well in Vegas. $20 at the desk is the best spent money of the trip.

  2. Joanna Janssen|

    I agree Johnny with tipping Housekeepers by the day. Also cleaning the room before they come. I always make sure to wipe any strands of hair on sink and bath because that just seems gross! I don’t agree with skipping housecleaning for a mere reward. I feel like I would be affecting someone’s job With less demand for cleaning there is less job demand. It’s not worth 500 frequent traveler points for me to skip housekeeping and I am helping someone keeping their job! Also I use valet service when I can because often it’s only a few dollars more than self parking and I help someone keep their job!

  3. TheaterFan|

    Johnny – I agree with everything in the article EXCEPT the Starbuck’s cards. I’m a coffee drinker but Starbucks is waaaay too strong for me and I wouldn’t stand in line for one of their (IMHO) overpriced muffins or brownies. So, a Starbucks card is of no appeal to me. Maybe Subway or Chick-Fil-A.
    This comment is thoroughly confusing: “@JohnnyJet Thanks for this tip, Johnny. I never thought about the different folks on different days, so I leave a single tip at the end of the stay.” Seems like never having thought about the different folks on different days would be the exact reason NOT to leave a single tip.
    I have thought about the quandary in the past and plan to try the pillow method.

  4. Richard Strauss|

    I often leave the tip with the front desk in an envelope with my room number. That avoids someone else taking it (assuming of course honest front desk employees which I assume is the case) and I ask them to distribute it if there is more than one person who cleaned my room.

  5. Joyce Fielder|

    Question for John Conroy, how do you tip the check in person before they have finished the check in? Great sometimes you may get better room but it seems the room is assigned, I can see the other comps but not necessarily upgrade of room.


    Bottom line: I do not tip the housekeepers. John, note above, mentioned ‘Vegas. If the housekeeper wants a tip, they can take it out of the mandatory “Resort Fee”, or “Destination Fee” or whatever other fee name they dream up. When I have to pay almost 1/2 the room rate for their garbage fee system when I do not use their spa, nor the pool, nor the business center, nor any additional stuff which should be calculated into the cost of doing business — all I do is get irritated. The only reason the parking fee, in ‘Vegas, is gradually being eliminated is that the customers are patronizing the off-strip hotels, then taking the shuttle bus to the Strip. The Big Five operators were losing more revenue than their parking fees were bringing in. Besides, nobody gives me a tip for doing my job. No tips.

  7. TheaterFan|

    Joyce Felder, I wondered the same thing.

  8. Michael|

    Wait, you brush your teeth in the shower?

    1. Johnny Jet|

      LOL. Doesn’t everyone?

    2. Natalie|

      Johnny’s wife here: A) I love that you picked up on that detail and B) Yeah – that took some getting used to. I’m curious: DO people actually brush their teeth in the shower? Besides Johnny, of course! lol

  9. Lynne Ranney|

    @Scott Goff, MD: One would like to think someone like you, who earned a doctorate of medicine, has some compassion or empathy, and lives in the real world. Sir, you fail on both counts. Housekeeping staff never sees one dime of the excessive fees the hotels charge. It all goes to the hotel itself. Most housekeeping employees earn minimum wage; the federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. This is fact even in the few hotels where housekeeping staff is represented by a union. The work is exhausting, physically harmful as the hotels so often increase the number of rooms staff must clean per shift, and demeaning. But here you are, licensed to practice in one of the most lucrative professions anywhere, and with enough free time and resources to travel. Will an additional $35 per week change your life? At all? Now imagine if that $35 were almost 1/8 of your weekly income, which is the case for many, perhaps most, hotel housekeepers. You may not like our American practice of tipping; I sure don’t. It makes more sense to pay employees a reasonable wage. But until that happens, I will continue to tip the staff that works to make my hotel stay the luxury it is. And you would be a better human being if you paid attention to real life. Paying attention would probably help you be a better physician, too.

  10. Rich|

    Here’s a tip from a friend who used to work at hotels. He actually strips the bed when he is checking out. Two reasons – one, it helps the housekeeper because it’s one less thing to do, and two, it insures that the next guest in the room gets fresh sheets! A number of hotel housekeepers have been caught not changing sheets between guests, and my friend’s technique insures that won’t happen. Paying it forward!

    1. Johnny Jet|

      I like it! I know someone leaves a note under the cover “the sheets haven’t been changed if you’re reading this”

  11. Fuad Yousif|

    This is a great tip! I will now strip the beds and put the towels in a pile too. I may even try brushing my teeth in the shower :)

  12. Kathy Millard|

    I always tip the housekeeper generously, but hiding money inside the bed is a very bad idea. Housekeepers have clipboards that tells how long ( which days) the guest is staying ( and leaving). So if you hide money in your bed on day 3 of your 5 day stay, the housekeeper should believe that that is your money that you left in your bed. Why would they have the right to take it?

    I understand that the wrong housekeeper might take the tip on the last day of your stay, ( the one that cleans that day, not your favourite from before) but somehow it evens out, I like to think.

    1. Johnny Jet|

      They have always taken it but once and I’ve done it hundreds of times. You can also leave a thank you note which I do when I’m not in a hurry

  13. MaryBeth Verge|

    Generally it’s just me staying, but even if 2 of us I only use 1 trash basket and not all of them.

  14. PR|

    If you don’t get your room serviced AT ALL during your stay (whether it’s 1 day or 5), do you still need to leave a tip (understanding that there’s never any “need” but it’s a courtesy)? Because you pay for an already made up room when you pay for a hotel room, and the next guest does the same. There was nothing that the housekeeper did WHILE you were there so what do you need to tip them for since it’s their job to make up a room for the next guest? Before anyone goes “yelling” at me, I do usually leave a tip, usually a days’ worth, and I’m not a slob: like Johnny, I use the same towels, sheets, my own toiletries, clean up after myself, put all the towels on the floor in the bathroom in a pile, make sure all the garbage is in the trash, etc. (I like the tip about stripping the bed of its sheets).

  15. Clyn6|

    LYNNE RANNEY Thank you for your comment, you said everything I wanted to say to this person. Often people who earn a good living have no clue what it is like to struggle to survive on a low wage. I always make a point to look at support staff in the eye when I walk by them and say hello, thank you, etc. I also agree with daily tipping to keep things more fair. I would think a note might be needed if leaving the tip by your pillow so they know it is for them and not a mistake.

  16. Bruce Johnston|

    Having traveled on business over 4 decades, I have seen many supervisors going into rooms before the housekeeping staff. I always put my gratuity under the pillow and a handwritten note on the bed thanking the person who cleaned my room. I also do not check in online as requested for a pre assigned room. I call mid morning and request the room I want and ask for an upgrade if possible, hopefully getting the room I want. I remember the name of the person that helped me and tip that person if my request comes through.
    Johnny, I LOVE your podcasts. Still learning after 47 years of travel!

    1. Johnny Jet|

      That’s AWESOME! Thank you

  17. Neil G.|

    Some of these commentators need to get real. A towel once it has been used is a used item and needs to be replaced after use , this is done at home . Why sheets should not be changed is beyond me, if I am paying minimum these days of $500 plus a night plus resort fees of $50 to $125 for my room in Waikiki at the Royal Hawaiian or the Waldorf Astoria in New York. I in all sincerity expect my room to be kept in pristine condition during my stay by housekeeping , would you accumulate rubbish in a waste bin at home, ours gets put out in the garbage, perhaps some of your readers have low expectations

  18. Mel Miller|

    Neil, you apparently live in a world most human beings never experience…

  19. Lynn|

    I clean houses.most guest don’t leave tips.most leave trash all over . They don’t start dishes.they also leave soap bars in shower now u and I both know where that’s been. Piling sheets in one pile .towels in another and starting dishes taking trash out is a wonderful thing to do.also gives us more time to clean other stuff.

  20. the crazee woman|

    I worked the front desk in a new resort of vacation homes in Washington State. In today’s world, it’s so hard to find a GOOD housekeeping staff let alone ones that show up to work. Most people that stayed with us didn’t even think of our housekeepers, and the fact that in an 8 hour day they were required to clean 6 to 9 complete (anywhere from 2 to 5 bedroom) houses. (yes, they did work in teams of 2 or 3) but that didn’t make the demand any less. Our team didn’t get rewarded for their efforts very often since our company charged a cleaning fee. That cleaning fee went to supplies to replenish the houses and DID NOT go directly to the housekeeping like most thought. I always suggested our guest tip our housekeeping staff when they left. When our HK staff received a tip they felt APPRECIATED. To some it meant they could pick up their childs’ prescription, or diapers, or something to make dinner with. It’s hard work what they do, everyone should have to spend a day in HK so they understand what these gals (and guys) do to ensure YOUR stay is a relaxing CLEAN one… What’s a $20 bill in the long run? Most of you that get paid high wages and salaries won’t even miss it… and isn’t it worth it to make someone feel appreciated?

  21. Diane|

    This article was thoughtful and useful. I leave a note daily near the TV to ask the housekeeper for coffee refills, toilet paper or other needs, and also to thank them. I put the actual tip in the coffee service area so that they can pick it up while restocking the coffee supplies after having read the aforementioned note.

    If the hotel is not doing housekeeping except on request, due to Covid, then I tip the housekeeper who brings supplies to the room.

    I also find that if you provide a tip to the person stocking the continental breakfast, it makes them happy. They often do not get much appreciation.

  22. Fran Wadle|

    I appreciate the tips offered by everyone. Some were new to me. I tip daily, since you may not have the same housekeeper for your entire stay.

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