Tipping at hotels

We left Budapest earlier this week and were asked if we wanted to add a tip to our bill. The guy behind us, also an American, told us it was not necessary. However, as he continued to talk he was interrupted by someone who said yes you do add tips to your hotel bill. What is the right answer, and if you do add a tip, how much? 10% of a hotel bill would be too much if you ask me.

Posted by Laura
Rick Steves' Europe
6518 posts

Rick doesn't advocate tipping hotel staff/maids unless that's already your personal philosophy. In 20 years of European travel, I have never tipped at a hotel. But Budapest and other cities of Eastern Europe are places where I've encountered more porters trying to "help me" (even though I could easily handle my bag on the elevator) and you would tip 50 cents/bag to a porter. There is never a porter around when I have to carry my bag up five flights of stairs.

Posted by Barbara
Maricopa, AZ
10 posts

Okay thanks. We were asked to add a tip to our actual hotel bill when checking out. We did not do it and were told after that it is considered rude not to.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
10882 posts

In all the hotel nights I have had over the decades I have NEVER been asked for a tip at checkout. I personally tip little in Europe and if I had ever been asked to in that circumstance not only would I in no uncertain words not pay that but I would be all over the review sites with quite loud shouting. And I would never ever return.

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
5250 posts

I always leave a small tip every morning on my pillow for the housekeepers, but that is the only tip I would ever leave at a hotel. That the front desk clerk asked you to add a tip to the bill was rude. I would post a review on Trip Advisor about this.

Posted by Marco
Oxford, United Kingdom
1512 posts

Hungary sits at the higher end for local tipping customs in Europe, both in terms of the types of people that receive them, and the typical amount (and some that are fairly unusual such as tipping a doctor). However, adding a percentage to a hotel bill is not usual - it is something you do through your stay directly to the people who have served you.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
10882 posts

Much like George, I have read your glowing review of the Hotel Victoria elsewhere on this site. How does that review square with this question? If that had happened to me I surely wouldn't praise them to the skies.

Or was it a different hotel?

Posted by Roy
Auburn, AL
931 posts

From the sound of things, tips are the norm for hotels in Budapest. It would be good to warn others about the tipping in the review, but if that is standard for hotels in the city, how could it sour a person on that one hotel? The city, maybe, but not a hotel that the OP liked enough to praise in the review. There's nothing in this post to lead someone to challenge the OP regarding the hotel review. I have written several reviews on TA based on my thoughts at the time and later thought of things, good and bad, that I wished I had included. A good thing about the Rick Steves site, as opposed to TA, is that larrick can add a response to his hotel review, based on the feedback here.

Posted by Barbara
Maricopa, AZ
10 posts

Thanks for the input. We are fairly positive folks and this experience does not sour our opinion of the city or the hotel. I will add the tipping issue to our review to alert other ppl. We enjoyed the hotel and our stay in the city.

Posted by Philip
London, United Kingdom
2189 posts

I personally leave ten or twenty euros in the room for the housekeeping staff if I've been staying for a week or two, knowing how crap and ill-paid their job probably is.

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
5250 posts

For housekeeping staff, it is better to leave a small amount each day, as they change rooms all the time. The same housekeeper may not be cleaning your room when you leave, that had been cleaning it the other days.

Posted by Marco
Oxford, United Kingdom
1512 posts

The Rick Steves article referred to above doesn't mention specific tipping customs and practice in Hungary at all. Restaurants follow the German practice mentioned though.

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
4799 posts

Frim what I have been told by friends in the hospitality industry in Europe, housekeeping staff are not poorly paid (neither are waiters), but of course tips are appreciated.

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
5250 posts

Depends on what you mean by poorly paid. Do they get vacation? Yes. Do they get health insurance? Yes. How hard do they have to work for their 7-8 euro per hour, gross pay?
I don't imagine you can read German, but this link shows what Hotel and Restaurant employees earn per hour, in Rhineland Pfalz, depending on how many years they have with the company. If they are a supervisor, this will of course increase.
http://www.dehoga-mainz.de/Texte/Manteltarifvertrag.pdf

7 euro per hour is NOT what I consider to be well paid work.

Having worked as a manager in both the restaurant industry and hotel industry in Germany, I think it is wrong that this fallacy is passed around by RS and other travel guides that employees in these industries are well paid. Yes, they earn more than American staff, but it still isn't well paid. The same thing goes for Service Charges in restaurants here. Wait staff does NOT get this money, it goes to the firm. Another fallacy is that tip money put on your credit card will not get to the server. Yes, your server will get this money when they cash out at the end of the night. Also, your server will probably tip out to the kitchen and bar staff, and your housekeeper may tip out to the laundry workers, if laundry is being done in-house.

Please understand that each country is different and will have different tariffs and laws, and I am only speaking for German laws.

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
4799 posts

Thanks, Jo, for clarifying that each country has different pay scales. And yes, I can read the chart (but not the whole document).

Posted by Susan
Marin County/San Francisco
3620 posts

I'm in absolute agreement with Jo on this. I always leave a generous tip for the maid on the bed each day that I stay. It is a hard, grueling, thankless job. I leave it each day so the person who did the work cleaning the room that day gets the tip I leave. To not leave a tip for a maid is unconscionable imo.

Posted by stan
Kansas City
605 posts

Ms Jo thanks for that information. I am curious that if this is common knowledge among Germans, what is their tipping custom at hotels? Or do they consider those to be fair wages, rightly or wrongly?

BTW, I too like to leave something each day for the cleaing staff, but do not add gratuity to the bill.

Posted by Edgar
Medford, OR, USA
1053 posts

I too appreciate Ms Jo's insights. While I can't read the referenced article, I did find this news on a new German national minimum wage:
http://www.euronews.com/2014/04/02/germany-set-to-introduce-new-minimum-wage-from-2015/
The article does not name the 7 EU countries that do not have minimum wage rates.

That above said, getting by in any country when paid the minimum rate is just getting by. Leaving an extra for servers and housekeepers helps me enjoy being a traveler.

Posted by Wray
Boston, ma, usa
218 posts

Unless the maid owns the hotel, she/he should be tipped, IMO. I'm surprised so many people do not do this. It's a disgusting job and not well paid. If you can afford to travel, you can afford to tip.

Posted by Susan
Marin County/San Francisco
3620 posts

"Leaving an extra for servers and housekeepers helps me enjoy being a traveler."

and

"If you can afford to travel, you can afford to tip."

Exactly right!!

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
4799 posts

I agree with tipping housekeeping and waitstaff. My European friends often criticize my American tipping habit, buy as others have said, it helps me enjoy traveling. A little story from my college waitressing years: a regular customer came into the diner and ran up a sizeable bill (not that easy to do in a diner). When he paid, he told the waitress, "Sorry, Del, I don't have enough for a tip.". She replied, "That's okay, honey, next time eat less."

Posted by Diane
Westford, MA
103 posts

I leave a small tip next to a folded piece of paper that says 'thank you' in the country's language.
On the last day at breakfast I give the wait staff a small tip, too. I've been there and done that in my life time. Yes, they get health insurance and paid vacations which isn't the norm in the U.S. restaurant and hospitaly industry. Hourly pay of 7-8 euros in Europe doesn't put cheese on their bread!

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
8552 posts

I try to tip as the locals do...not importing my countries habits. In France I try to tip as is expected.. round up change for coffees etc.. and at most 5%-10% for full meals .. and that is more then many locals would do even!
I tip hotel maids however.. but I always tip EACH day ..not at end of stay.. Phil.. leaving 10-20 euros on last day may mean only the person cleaning your room THAT day will receive that tip. .its not going to be up to her to figure out who cleaned room last week and tip them out. Always better to tip daily.
I also never just leave the money out.. some maids are afraid to take loose money..I always leave it on a note that says
" thank you " in whatever the local language is.

The problem with importing your ideals/customs ( cause it makes you feel good) is that it does change how other tourists and locals get treated and trust me.. the locals do not appreciate it .. but hey.. remember it about what makes you feel good. I thought travel was about enjoyed different places.. not changing them to your ways?