You probably tip the waiters and waitresses in restaurants, bar staff and the porter that carries your bag to your hotel room, but what about the housekeeping staff?
These are the hotel staff that you probably never see. You leave your hotel in the morning and go out for a day of sightseeing or business meetings, come back at the end of the day and your room has been cleaned, fresh towels in the bathroom, fresh sheets on the bed.
The housekeeping staff are the lowest paid in the hotel industry. To give you an idea, in Bali, housekeeping staff can be paid as low as 5000 Rupiah per hour. That is around $0.50 per hour. Most are casual staff and may only work 4 – 5 hours in the morning when the rooms need cleaning. That’s only 20,000Rp or 25,000Rp per day ($2 – $2.50).
I had never considered tipping the housekeepers as I just never saw them apart from maybe passing them in the hallway of the hotel. I went out for dinner with a friend who said that she always leaves a dollar or 2 in the bathroom next to the sink to tip the housekeeping staff. She said they would always take the tip and leave an extra bottle of body lotion or bottle of shampoo to show their appreciation.
I first left a tip at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Bali. I generally wanted to leave a tip to show my appreciation rather than get extra bottle of body lotion. Though rather than leaving the tip in the bathroom, I left the tip (around 10,000Rp) next to the coffee machine where they supplied 2 coffee capsules per day. When I returned from my day out, the tip had been taken and 6 coffee capsules and 2 extra bottles of drinking water was sitting there next to the coffee machine.
I tried the same in the K C Grand Hotel on Koh Chang in Thailand. I left a thank you note with 20 Baht and some loose change next to the sink in the bathroom. When I returned the tip had been left but no extra body lotion which was fine. When I went to grab a drink from the fridge I discovered instead of 2 bottles of drinking water, there were 4 bottles of water waiting for me.
I left around the same amount on the sink the next day with another thank you note. I did wonder if the small tip was appreciated (I am sure it was cause it was probably equal to an hour to the housekeeper. When I returned from my day out I found out that it really was appreciated. There were the extra 2 bottles of water in the fridge but also on the bed was this lovely gesture of appreciation with my thank note in the middle of the towel and flower display (picture below). This really put a smile on my face and made me feel good and knew the staff appreciated the gesture.
So next time you are staying at a hotel for business or holiday, leave a little tip of appreciation for the hard working housekeeping staff who you probably never see. I am sure they will appreciate it. If everyone left just a small tip it would probably make a huge difference to their take home pay, especially in the poorer countries like Indonesia, Thailand and India.