Have you ever paused and thought, “hmmm…..what do other travelers do?” as you’re about to reach for your wallet or put those luxurious amenities in your luggage? I have, and it’s been on my to-do list to look into what is “normal” for some time. Or is there a “normal?”

Do You Take The Hotel Amenities?

I admit it. I was so in love with the above Bvlgari amenities at Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills that I took them, used each bottle to the last drop and then recycled the bottles. I actually bought a full-sized bottle of the Bvlgari shower gel after the fact. I don’t always take amenities, because I feel funny about it. Do you?

So, what happens to the leftovers? It depends.

I read accounts of former hotel workers admitting that unnamed chains top off the shampoo bottles and re-use them. I also read that some just throw them away. Or, there are travelers like me who occasionally take the ones we’ll use .

A company called Clean The World safely recycles used hotel soaps and distributes them to impoverished people in order to prevent hygiene-related diseases. Clean the World has recycled over 9.5 million soap bars and 200,000 pounds of shampoo and conditioner back into human use, simultaneously eliminating over 600 tons of waste. This is a very cool concept.

I have also read that some churches and shelters will take hotel amenities if you have drawers full at home.

Do You Tip Hotel Housekeeping?

And,  if so, how much is appropriate? I found a very interesting CNN article with quotes from Lizzie Post of the Emily Post Institute. Ms. Post says:

  • Tip every day to ensure your tip gets to the person who actually cleaned your room.
  • Leave a note in your room with the money indicating it is for housekeeping.
  • Tip $1 or $2 per person, per night in most hotels. In higher end hotels, $3 to $5 per person per night is typical.
  • In a motel, tips are generally not necessary for a one-night stay. The $1 or $2 standard is appropriate for multiday stays. – Lizzie Post via CNN

Most travelers don’t tip hotel housekeeping. In fact, according to this article, only 30% of travelers do. Hotel housekeeping is out-of-site so it could be that people forget or it’s just not an obvious gratuity to leave even though they are providing a service for you. I had been tipping at the end of my stay, but a daily gratuity makes perfect sense.

Room Service Tip Dilemma

You bite the bullet and order room service. Depending on where you are staying there’s a percentage service charge (usually 15-20%) and perhaps an addition flat fee or delivery charge. The receipts still have a tip line. Do you still tip?

According to an article in USA Today, the reporter ordered an $18 hamburger. Here is how his bill broke down:

$18 hamburger
$3 room service delivery fee
$3.78 for room service charge
$1.80 tax

Not paying attention, he tipped another $3 on top of that to make the total for his hamburger almost $30. This is what he said:

Here’s where it can get tricky: A “service charge” includes the tip. But a tip is not included in a “room service charge” or the more commonly used “delivery fee” or “delivery charge.” So in the case of my burger, the $3.00 delivery charge was not a tip but the $3.78 service charge was (calculated as 18% of $21.00). Then the tax was added. Throw in my additional $3.00 tip, and this server was well compensated for the ten minutes spent carrying that tray to my room. – Bill McGee, USA Today

I always wondered if tip was included in one of those charges. Now I know. And, I can still tip extra for excellent service.

So, what do YOU do in these instances? Spill in the comments.

Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide, like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai, that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

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  1. So, I tip housekeeping and leave a note indicating just that. Last time we stayed at a high-end hotel in Chicago and I tipped $20 for a 3 night/4day stay. I don’t tip room service. Sorry, but I feel like the delivery fee and room service charge is enough!

    1. I only tip room service extra if they’ve done something outside the box (which happens when traveling with LJ Girl). On a few occasions I’ve just been killed with kindness so I impulse tipped. #gullible

  2. What about if maintenance needs to come to your room to fix something or bring a DVD player or something like that? Do you tip them too? And how much for bell staff? $1 per bag is what I usually do. Glad you cleared up the room service fee b/c I always add tip, but maybe don’t need to add as much any more.

  3. Since we’ve only stayed at a hotel for more than one night on our honeymoon (we usually rent condos when we travel) I haven’t run into any tipping dilemmas however I do know that the little travel bottles are meant for us to use and take with us if we’d like.

    I’ve read that the brands behind the travel soaps want you to take them because you might end up purchasing the full size product (as you did). I know I’ve done that before with the Aveda products I used at the Outrigger on Kauai. Maybe I’m wrong but I never feel guilty for using up the rest of the soaps at home.

  4. I often take the shampoo & conditioner if I like them- they come in handy when traveling to see family or other places where I might need to bring my own. I’m actually a bit embarrassed- I don’t think I’ve ever left a tip for housekeeping at a hotel. I guess it just never crossed my mind, or I assumed that it’s included as part of my room rate for staying there in the first place. We are also on a tight budget, so it’s rare that we stay somewhere swanky. We do tip when someone brings our bags up. Thanks for the info- I will bookmark this for our next trip!

  5. Hi tipping is a necessary part of our etiquettes and I always gather information about the basic tipping habits of the place I visit. Leaving the tip with a note for house keeping is again a great idea.