For years I never tipped housekeeping in the US hotels I stayed at. I can't remember when I first discovered that tipping housekeeping in America was a thing, but I remember being mortified that I hadn't done it up to that point.
Since then, I've made it a point to tip at least a few dollars everywhere I stay but have honestly never really perfected what the "right" amount is. Until now.
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According to an etiquette expert that spoke with Travel + Leisure, the right amount to tip is "a few dollars a day." The money should be left along with a note to the housekeeper, so they know the cash is for them and not something you just left out. So I've been sort of doing it right all along.
T&L actually spoke to a ton of different people about what the "right" amount is, but the general consensus was in the few dollar a day range. If you're particularly messy, or housekeeping went above and beyond for you for some reason, then dial that up a bit.
For instance, when I travel alone I'm exceptionally clean. With the exception of swapping out the sheets and towels, I'd venture to say my rooms are always ready for the next guest to come in. However, I've travelled with friends where our room is a sea of empty drink containers and take out trays from restaurants and miscellaneous other garbage, or where someone accidentally had a chip catastrophe in the middle of the room - not exactly a quick cleanup job. For those situations, I typically leave a bit more.
Much like US restaurants, I also scale what I tip based on the cost of my hotel stay. While I might leave a few dollars a day in my $US75/night hotel room, if I'm staying in a $US350 /night establishment I might dial that up to $6/night.
Unlike restaurants, there's no specific percentage that's the "right" amount to tip. As long as you're leaving something that you're comfortable with and reflects the amount of work someone has to put into cleaning up your room, then you're going it right.
Alternatively, don't tip anything and blame it on foreigner ignorance - just don't expect stellar service or a speedy remedy if something happens to go wrong.