The Fine Art of Being a Good Hotel Guest

Tipping is only part of it and yes, you can take the little shampoo bottles home — within reason.

Illustration of a hotel guest handing a ticket to a bellhop
Photo: Oscar Bolton Green

For most travelers, staying at a hotel is par for the course when it comes to planning a getaway. While hotels do their part to offer a host of perks, amenities, and accommodations, the guest plays just as important a role in fostering a pleasant experience — for themselves, for their fellow travelers, and for their hosts. Corinne Finn-Heyl, general manager of The Boca Raton Yacht Club, says having grace with hospitality professionals as they navigate the new travel norms can go a long way. "Now more than ever, appreciation, respect, and gratitude are important for our industry. There are staffing issues all over the world, and hospitality is still working, but with less. Good hotel etiquette will make their day," she says. Now that travel is once again on an upswing, here are some tips to navigate the new landscape and be a welcome guest.

Communicate ahead of time .

Make everyone's life easier — and your own stay stress-free — by letting the hotel know your needs before you arrive. "Reserve your dinner and spa appointments in advance so the team can better welcome you to the hotel," says Finn-Heyl. Take advantage of hotel websites and apps, many of which offer chat services that allow guests to make special requests for everything from activity bookings to in-room COVID-19 testing.

Be a daily tipper .

Many people forget that it's not only customary to tip housekeeping staff but also that they should be doing so daily. Tipping in hotels includes the cleaning staff, the doorman, parking valet, and concierge, as well as restaurant servers. The American Hotel & Lodging Association suggests tipping cleaning staff between $1 and $5 per day. "We recommend, when leaving a tip, to make sure to put it in an envelope or next to a note to signify it's for the housekeeping staff," says Ben Tutt, general manager of the Condado Vanderbilt Hotel in Puerto Rico.

Illustration of a person sleeping in a hotel bed
Oscar Bolton Green

Respect check-in and checkout times .

Although they may not always mesh well with our travel plans, hotels have check-in and checkout times for a reason. Hotel staff need adequate time to properly clean and restock rooms in between guests, especially with the added COVID safety protocols in place. Arriving early and demanding a room or sauntering to the lobby an hour or two past checkout is inconsiderate. Do your part to make the necessary arrangements in case the hotel cannot accommodate your check-in/checkout request.

Be a good neighbor .

You might be in the hotel for a good time, but others might be there for some peaceful R&R. Be thoughtful of your neighbors by adhering to any quiet hours and not inviting more than two outside guests. If you're planning to have visitors who aren't on your reservation in your room, let the front desk know so that in case of an emergency they have an accurate sense of how many people are in the hotel. It's the neighborly thing to do.

Illustration of hotel guests greeting each other
Oscar Bolton Green

Help yourself ... a little .

Believe it or not, hotels actually want you to use and take the toiletries — within reason, of course. "If a guest will use them, then they can absolutely take them home! I would say that a limit of two of each item seems fair. If a guest really does love a certain product, branded hotels often have larger sizes available for purchase," says Melissa Green, general manager of the Hyatt Regency Boston/Cambridge.

Room for flexibility?

If you're not staying in a popular room type (like a suite or ocean-view room, which turn over frequently), hotels may be more likely to accommodate late checkouts, especially when communicated in advance.

Did you know?

Some hotel soaps can be recycled. The Clean the World organization partners with hotels to recycle used soaps into new bars that are distributed around the world to help prevent hygiene-related illness and death. To support their work, visit

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