stay different. stay real.

How much should you tip?

picture of a doorman


Confession: I don’t tip doormen.

True, I don’t often stay in places that have doormen, but when I do, I bristle at the fact that people give them neatly folded bills just for opening the door.  And yet I enjoy overtipping when the service dictates it, such as my hairdresser coming in on her day off to hide my grossly grey roots before I head off to an important conference.

One essential service that I feel is drastically under tipped is the housekeeping department in hotels.  We’ll tip the waiter who plunks a coke and cheeseburger in front of us, the cabbie who took us 4 blocks without uttering a word, the concierge for picking up the phone and making us a dinner reservation… but the housekeeper who busts her butt meticulously cleaning our room most often gets only her wages.

And yet we are entrusting all of our belongings to them, including important papers and documents like passports and visas, as well as expensive gadgetry.  Housekeepers adeptly clean around these items and would never dream of touching them.

But think of what they do indeed touch!  These troopers clean our toilets after we have used them!  They pick up our mis-shot dental floss from beside the garbage can, that stray pair of panties hidden under the bed, our hairs out of the tub, and will clean our children’s cheerio crumbs scattered around the room.  They’ll even carefully weed out a recyclable from the garbage bin.

Mandy Farmer & Joan making a bed at the Accent Inn Victoria Hotel

Mandy Farmer making a bed under the watchful eye of supervisor Joan.

And they’ll do this with such efficiency, pride, and a smile. They will fetch you things you didn’t even know you needed like extra towels, glasses, more coffee.  They will be the first person to greet your groggy mug with a Good Morning.

Housekeepers are the hardest workers in the hotel and arguably the most important part of a good hotel experience.  And yet most of us will tip the valet for fetching our car, but we won’t leave a cent in the room.  I think the reason for this is that housekeepers often perform their service invisibly while we are out and about enjoying ourselves.

I recently stayed in a room with an envelope marked “Maid’s Tip” on it.  I thought it was brilliant but could see how some people might find it too forward.  What do you think?