The Ultimate Guide to Tipping in Hotels: Combining Apps and Etiquette for Perfect Gratitude

The Ultimate Guide to Tipping in Hotels: Combining Apps and Etiquette for Perfect Gratitude
Lindsey Fine
July 1, 2024

Summer is here, and travel plans are in full swing. But along with all the excitement, there’s a common question that leaves many in a state of confusion. 

How much should we tip hotel staff? 

Picture this: You arrive at your hotel, greeted by a valet ready to whisk your car away. The concierge chimes in with local hotspots you can’t miss. Throughout your stay, housekeeping works their magic, keeping your room immaculate.

Knowing how to show your appreciation for their hard work can make all the difference.

Photo by Kate Townsend

In this guide, we'll cover all aspects of tipping in hotels. From the valet to the concierge, housekeeping to room service, we’ll cover:

  • The importance of tipping in hotels 
  • The appropriate amounts to tip
  • Common myths and misconceptions about hotel tipping

Keep reading to learn how to show gratitude for the team that makes your stay unforgettable. From a simple “thank you” to a generous tip, knowing how to show your appreciation can change your entire travel experience. 

Understanding the Importance of Tipping in Hotels

Think about the magic that happens when you’re away from your hotel room. Fresh towels appear, there are clean sheets, and yesterday's mess vanishes. Behind this daily miracle are the hotel heroes you rarely see. 

Tipping rewards the efforts of hotel employees and helps improve your stay. Here’s why it’s more important than you might think:

  1. Employee compensation: Many hotel staff members, including housekeepers and bellhops, earn low base wages and depend on tips to boost their income.

  2. Service quality: Tipping incentivizes staff to provide exceptional service, ensuring guests have a pleasant and memorable experience.

  3. Operational efficiency: When staff feel appreciated through tips, their morale and motivation increase, leading to smoother and more efficient service.

The Current Hospitality Landscape: Why Your Tips Matter More Than Ever

According to the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), 76% of surveyed hotels reported staffing shortages. That’s up from up from 67% in January.

What does that mean for you as a guest? 

The shortage of staff means that the employees on duty are working harder and longer hours to keep things running. Recognizing their hard work through tipping is essential for maintaining the high service standards we’ve come to expect.

How Much Should You Tip?

Not sure how much to tip? You’re not alone. Only 33% of U.S. adults feel confident in knowing how much to tip for different types of services.2 

We’ve got you covered with some helpful guidelines to help you show appreciation without breaking the bank:

  • Housekeeping: $5-8 per night at mid-range or business hotels. For luxury hotels, $10–$20 per night.

  • Valet: $5–$10, with higher tips for additional services like providing directions or snacks.

  • Concierge: $5–$10 for simple recommendations or reservations. For complex tasks like booking a spa day, $10–$50.

  • Room Service: 15–20% of the total bill.

  • Bellhop: $2 per bag, or up to $5 for larger or heavier items. Tip more for additional services like a room tour or bringing ice.

These amounts are general suggestions. Feel free to adjust based on the quality of service and your personal experience.

Tipping in a Cashless World: Using Apps Like Shiny 

With fewer people carrying cash, tipping can sometimes be a challenge. This is where Shiny comes in handy. The Shiny tipping app allows you to tip from your device ensuring you can always show your appreciation, even without cash. Whether you're tipping the valet, concierge, or housekeeping, Shiny makes it easy to manage and distribute your tips right from your device.

Common Misconceptions About Tipping in Hotels

Surveys show that only about a third of Americans feel confident in tipping etiquette. Several misconceptions add to the uncertainty. Let’s clear up some of the most common myths: 

  1. Tipping is always mandatory: Many believe tipping is required in all situations. It’s not — it’s a voluntary gesture of appreciation for good service.

  2. Fixed percentage tipping: Some think you should always tip a fixed percentage, but your tip should match the service quality. Exceptional service deserves a generous tip, while poor service may warrant less.

  3. Tipping as a transaction: Tipping shouldn’t feel like a transaction. It’s a genuine expression of gratitude and acknowledgment of the staff’s hard work. 

Understanding these nuances can help you tip with confidence and make sure the staff feels appreciated. 

Tipping on a Budget: Prioritizing Exceptional Service

Traveling on a tight budget? Here’s a good rule of thumb:  

  • Prioritize housekeeping: Housekeeping staff often rely on tips. If you can only afford to tip one service, make it this one. Their work is often the hardest being on their feet all day, and the least visible as it happens behind the scenes.

  • Focus on exceptional assistance: If you can't tip for every service, prioritize those who've provided exceptional assistance. Recognizing and rewarding those who go above and beyond can make a significant difference.

  • Show appreciation creatively: Consider writing a thank-you note —maybe even to the hotel manager or corporate office. Personalized recommendations or unexpected acts of kindness deserve special recognition, motivating the staff and showing your gratitude.

Mastering Hotel Tipping for a Better Travel Experience

Tipping in hotels is a simple yet powerful way to show your appreciation for the hardworking staff who enhance your stay. By understanding the importance of tipping and following the recommended guidelines, you can ensure your gratitude is communicated effectively.

At Shiny, we know that motivated employees lead to satisfied guests. Implementing digital tipping solutions like ours can simplify the tipping process, improve guest satisfaction, and support your dedicated hotel employees.

To learn more about Shiny, click here for a custom demo. 

Happy travels, and remember to show your appreciation for great service!


  1. AHLA: 76% of surveyed hotels report staffing shortages 
  2. Pew Research Center: How Americans feel about the basics of tipping