Budget Travel

How Much Should You Tip Your Hotel Maid?

Does leaving a tip for the maid sometimes slip your mind as you race to check out of your hotel and catch your flight back home? A new campaign created by Maria Shriver's nonprofit organization A Woman's Nation might soon make tipping your room attendant harder to forget.

Starting this week, Marriott Hotels will give guests a not-so-subtle reminder to leave a voluntary tip for hotel room attendants by placing an envelope for tips in 160,000 rooms across the U.S. and Canada as part of an initiative called "The Envelope Please," created by AWN, which aims to recognize and empower women. The thinking goes that travelers are more likely to tip bellhops and concierges because they interact with them face-to-face. Hotel maids, on the other hand, perform unseen work and are less likely to get a tip.

The full text of the envelope reads as follows: "Thanks for staying at Marriott Hotels. Our caring room attendants enjoyed making your stay warm and comfortable. Please feel free to leave a gratuity to express your appreciation for their efforts."

However well-intentioned the program may be, some say it misses the mark. In an interview with the AP, Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickled and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, said, "It is not Marriott's responsibility to remind customers to tip; it's their responsibility to pay their workers enough so that tips aren't necessary." 

We at BT highly encourage tipping hotel maids—but how much is appropriate, and how do you go about it when there's no envelope available? The American Hotel and Lodging Association suggests $1 to $5 per night depending on whether you're bunking at a low-priced motel or living it up in the penthouse suite in a swanky high-rise.

Here are a few other rules for tipping hotel room attendants that we go by:

* Tip every day instead of in one lump sum at the end. This will net you the best service.

* If you don't see an envelope, leave cash tips under the pillow instead of on the desk or nightstand. Doing that will clear up confusion about whether the money is intended for them.

* If you can, track down your maid in the hallway, give her the cash in person, and thank her for her good work.

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