Dear Roxy: How Much Should I Tip the Hotel Staff?

Dear Roxy: How Much Should I Tip the Hotel Staff?

Dear Roxy is Sharing Travel Experience’s biweekly columnist answering your questions about getting the best value and best experiences during your next hotel stay.

Today, Roxy is talking the topic of tipping hotel staff. Got a hotel question?
Just ask Roxy.

Hi Roxy –

What’s appropriate when it comes to tipping at a hotel, and how to do so without the awkwardness (especially when you don’t have cash)? I’m also skeptical about tipping hotel cleaning staff – should we be leaving some bills for maid service?

Some guidance to feeling a little less awkward about all this would be really appreciated.

Dayna in Richmond

hotel tipping

As the gag goes, tipping is not a city in China! Yes, you need to tip if you want good service and products. It really is that simple. We’ve all seen the movies with the debonair man dressed to the nines who just nonchalantly slips the tip into the hand of the doorman, concierge, etc. For the rest of us, we fumble awkwardly with luggage, carry-ons, and purses while trying to find cash in our plastic-filled wallets. So what do we do?

Well, if you’re heading off to Europe, you’re probably going to want to do some research. A good rule of thumb is to round your Euros up, adding 5-10% to the bill. But wait, it’s not that simple! In some countries they add a service charge (which goes toward the tip) into your bill. In this instance, you may be seen as rude or bragging if you leave extra money on the table. And speaking of the table, some countries, like Germany, prefer that you hand the money to your server, rather than leave it behind. You want to make sure you reward those who provide your services, as their customs dictate.

Believe me, in the US, no matter how you give them money, it is not awkward to them! They expect it, and frankly, you should be prepared to give it up! The best advice would be to always carry a little “walking around money,” as we call it. Have it in denominations that you would use for tipping: ones, fives, and tens. Common expectations are about one to two dollars per bag for luggage, and you don’t have to be that suave—just smile and say thank you as you hand them the money. Don’t forget about your housekeepers. You should leave them a dollar or two a day, on the counter. Yes, you may never see them, but they see a lot, so don’t skimp—and you know what I’m talking about!

Many of the staff members in hotels and restaurants are dependent on tips—even if they are not front-of-line staff. In restaurants, it is easier to add a tip to the bill and put it all through at the end. But did you know that the server may not get the tip right away? Often times it has to run the course through processing before it can be paid out to the server, who then probably has to share it with the bus/dish staff. They would definitely appreciate cold cash, on the table, instead of waiting for processed amounts to trickle down. And trust me, you never want to mess with the people who handle your food. Enough said.

Got a hotel question? Just ask Roxy.

Dear Roxy: How Much Should I Tip the Hotel Staff?


Roxanne ("Roxy") is the easily distracted, multi-tasking right brain of Fresh Air Lodging. After twenty plus years on the front lines of the hotel industry, she is now in search of socially responsible hotels and other businesses.

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