Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Hotel Maids

In doing some research I read an alarming story about hotel maids-- how hard they work and little they get paid. With the new plush bedding, their work is truly back-breaking.

Tipping etiquette suggests that they should get tipped $1-2 a day per room. The best way of meeting this obligation is to bring a few envelopes along and put a dollar or two in one every day, labeling it "housekeeper," and leaving in a conspicuous place.

If it is unclear whether the money is meant for them, they can't take it. Only about 25% of hotel patrons tip maids.

Maybe you knew all this already. I did not. We always leave a tip on departing, but not enough. We tip restaurant waitstaff 20%, perhaps because my husband and I were both waitstaff for years.

Maybe in Baltimore, the housekeeping staff will remember that those crime writers at Bouchercon were a generous bunch even if a bit rowdy.

15 comments:

David Cranmer said...

This is something my wife and I also just discovered in the last couple of years since traveling more and staying at different hotels for extended lengths of time. Housekeepers do work quite hard. We usually wait to have the room taken care of every couple of days and try to leave a nice tip each time the room is cleaned. Only 25% is shocking.

Juri said...

Did you know that in Finland we don't know tipping? The waiters and others receive enough money from their actual salaries that there's no need to tip. (Of course their salary isn't very high, and there are people who still tip. I don't think myself I make enough money to make tips. Since it's not regarded being bad behaviour, I'm don't fee guilty about it.)

Juri said...

*Feel* guilty about it. (And other bad grammar along the way.)

Rick said...

The hotel maids are actually promoting a boycott of the hotel where Bouchercon will take place. Management is trying to screw them out of their union contract.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Whenever we've been in Europe, we've left a little extra money on the table but our European friends frowned on it, saying that the employers will only pay them less if that gets started. I'd prefer not to have tipping here because it's often a source of tension when you're out with another couple and disagree on the amount.
David-how to you delay them cleaning their room?

David Cranmer said...

We leave the 'do not disturb' tag on the door. Some places are eco-friendly (like the Hilton Garden Inn) and have notices in the room that they'll gladly change the sheets and towels every day if requested, but otherwise they'll change them every third day.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Oh, boy, Rick, This has happened to us several times. Once in Chicago where we had to change hotels at the last minute rather than cross lines.
What a great idea, David. I always rehang the towels but i never thought of that.

Melissa Marsh said...

We so rarely stay at hotels that the thought of tipping the maid completely escapes my mind. But I will definitely remember this in the future.

pattinase (abbott) said...

We travel a lot with my husband's profession and I used to love staying in hotels. But since I read---what was it Nickel and Dimed perhaps I look at every hotel room like the potential source of the plague. The first thing I do is strip the bedspread from the bed. They rarely get washed and the thought of a stream of occupants clutching them is pretty scary.

Bouchercon 2008 said...

The maids at both hotels are great. Both hotels also offer the eco-friendly options of hanging towels, and only third day sheet changing.
Universally, leaving your tip on the pillow of an unmade is the way to go. The standard for a "good tip" is five dollars with no linen switch out at ten dollars with. This is the same as it was 20 years ago... so I tend to go a little higher.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Thanks, Ruth. Good advice.

Andi said...

It never occurred to me to use an envelope. i do try to remember to tip because i appreciate hard jobs that i never have done and never will do. And I did once read "do it daily" because when you're, say, at a convention from, say thursday to Sunday, your weekend maid/housekeeper may not be the one who worked the weekdays.

Many US hotel chains have in recent years tried to do more "earth friendly" things like asking if you are willing to reuse towels, sleep on sheets a second night. i so appreciate that since, well, hotel laundries must suck up HUGE amounts of water and power and who needs new sheets every day? (I admit to needing lots of towels. The showers in many accessible hotel rooms are "roll-in" and every single one I have ever used (since there's no lip) causes me to flood the bathroom floor, no matter how careful I am.

There was a scandal some years back in SF when it was made public that one hotel expected the housekeeping staff to clean bathroom floors by getting on their knees and scrubbing with toothbrushes. No, i'm not making that up.

Anonymous said...

Leaving a tip is a thoughtful gesture but a lot of times the maid will never see it. Many hotels send a laundry person out to gather all the linen as early as possible and they will take the tips before the housekeeping staff even arrives at work.

pattinase (abbott) said...

So how do you make sure the maid gets the tip?

Anonymous said...

If you can't hand it to them in person I suppose you could put it in the tip envelope and then hide the envelope in the dresser or nightstand drawer.