Avoid These 8 Common Mistakes When Tipping Hotel Staff

Tipping rules during a hotel stay can be confusing. Take these lessons into account the next time you’re faced with tipping situations.
Updated May 8, 2024
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tipping hotel staff

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Adding a tip to a restaurant bill is pretty standard in the U.S., but what about when you stay at a hotel? 

Do you tip everyone who works there or just some people? And how much exactly should you be tipping? You want to give people what they deserve, but you also want to avoid wasting money on tips that aren't expected.

To help you better understand hotel tip etiquette, here are a few mistakes to avoid next time you’re traveling.

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Forgetting to tip housekeepers

hedgehog94/Adobe hotel housekeeping

Housekeepers make a median annual wage of $24,850, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. So, consider tipping them the next time you stay at a hotel. 

Experts suggest $5 per day as a good tip, but you should add a little more if you’re leaving behind a mess or have kids who cause you to leave dirty diapers in the trash.

A clean experience will definitely make you want to travel more, so reward those efforts accordingly.

Taking valet service for granted

Pixel-Shot/Adobe hotel valet opens a car door

If your hotel offers a valet service for your car, it might be a good idea to include a tip either when the valet parks the car or retrieves it from the hotel’s valet lot.

If you want extra care for your car, add a few more dollars to the tip and make the request to the valet. And like the shuttle driver, consider a bump up in the tip if the valet helps you load and unload bags.

Forgetting that a gratuity already is included

Africa Studio/Adobe hotel staff

Talk to your hotel staff when you check in to see if the hotel automatically includes a gratuity in your charges.

You may still want to add an additional tip here or there for extra service, but remember that a gratuity may be part of the bill at the end of your stay.

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Giving an ordinary tip during extraordinary times

Maridav/Adobe beautiful sunset

Because of COVID-19, hotels have changed policies to make sure they are meeting pandemic rules. These protocols can add time to the work hotel employees perform to serve you.

So, consider boosting your tip during these extraordinary times. The housekeeper who is more meticulous about cleaning your room or the front desk worker who does her job despite the risk of being exposed to the virus deserve an extra reward for all they do.

Tipping when it’s not necessary

Rawpixel.com/Adobe Guests checking in to a hotel

There are times when tipping is not necessary. If the water doesn’t work or the air conditioner is blowing hot air, you do not need to tip the person who performs the repair.

Other situations are less clear. For example, if a concierge’s local knowledge adds something special to your stay, a tip makes sense. But there is no need to tip when asking for directions to a local attraction.

Butler service is another gray area. Consider rewarding butlers with a tip if you use their services on a regular basis during your stay. Otherwise, you can skip the tip.

Not tipping shuttle drivers

corepics/Adobe shuttle driver says goodbye to guests

Some hotels may offer shuttle services to and from the airport. You may also be able to use these services to get to a restaurant or event without the need for a cab or Uber driver.

In these cases, give your shuttle driver a few dollars. You also might want to add a little more to the tip if the driver helps with your suitcases or other bags.

Failing to reward work that is above and beyond

fotofabrika/Adobe clean towels and flowers

Maybe the staff accommodated an unusual request, or gave you an upgrade at a reduced rate when you arrived, helping you to save money on travel costs. Any extra work that went above and beyond the usual standard should be rewarded with a tip.

Forgetting to bring extra cash

methaphum/Adobe hands of a man taking money out of a wallet

Tips can add up over the course of a stay, depending on how much you would like to tip hotel workers and how often you decide to use hotel services.

The easiest way to reward workers is with a cash tip, so try to pack some extra cash specifically for any tipping situations you encounter.

Bottom line

Kalim/Adobe Guests getting key card in hotel

Hotel tipping can be confusing for even the most seasoned traveler. But knowing the basic tipping rules allows you to have a good stay while appropriately tipping staff.

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Jenny Cohen Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.

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