It's a crime many of us have been guilty of at one time or another: forgetting to tip the hotel maid. According to a TripAdvisor survey from 2014, 31% of Americans admit to not tipping the maid, compared to 29% for bartenders, 27% for room service, and 21% for porter service. (One guess why -- most hotel guests don't see or interact with the maid, which makes skipping the gratuity less awkward.) And since Americans tip more generously on vacation than other nationalities, according to the same survey, hotel maids are getting seriously stiffed.
A few incidents over the past year have sparked conversation about the working conditions of hotel maids, including the video of a hotel maid rifling a hotel room that went viral in November. Also in the news lately: hotel workers' successful fight for a minimum wage raise in Los Angeles.
So just how guilty should you feel about skipping the tip? To answer that, we've rounded up monthly salary information for hotel maids in countries around the world. We used data from http://www.wageindicator.org/ (for hotel maids with a year of experience) as well as other reliable sources, and converted the salaries into USD. To give some context for these wages, we've also listed the nightly cost of a four-star hotel in each destination. We don't know about you, but we'll probably remember to leave a few bucks on the nightstand next time we're in a hotel room.
Note: Much of this data is self-reported, rather than the result of scientific studies.
With a monthly salary under $400 a month, it’s unsurprising that 51% of hotel maids in Brazil are dissatisfied with their jobs (and that 52% are dissatisfied with their salary). To give some context to that pay, a McMeal at McDonalds is $7.55 and a liter of milk is $1.03. Oh, and a four-star hotel such as the Hotel Pullman Rio De Janeiro Sao Conrado, where such a maid might work? That’ll cost you somewhere between $200 and $300 a night this February.
United States: $1,816.67/month
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual wage for cleaners of traveler accommodations in the United States is $21,800, which works out to $1,817 a month. It’s slightly higher in states such as New York and California, and lower in Texas. A Quarter Pounder with Cheese meal in the U.S. will run you about $5.49, so with an hourly wage of $10.48, a U.S. hotel maid isn’t quite earning enough to buy two McMeals an hour. A four-star hotel like the Omni Austin Downtown will cost travelers between $200 and $300 a night next month.
The daily minimum wage in Thailand is 300 baht, or a little over $9, which works out to around $221 a month (given a six-day week). The two million Burmese migrant workers in Thailand — many employed at hotels — are working for half of that. A liter of milk in Thailand is 45.66 baht, or $1.40. A four-star hotel such as the Haad Tien Beach Resort on Koh Tao costs between $100 and $200 a night in February.
In Italy, 60% of hotel maids report being very dissatisfied with their salary and their job. Not surprising given the cost of living; in Rome, it’s $8.45 for a McMeal at McDonalds and $1,204.85 for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center, according to Numbeo.com. In April, a nightly stay at the Hotel Campo de’ Fiori in Rome will run you about $250/night.
Despite having the lowest wages on this list, Cambodian hotel maids were surprisingly not as dissatisfied as those in other countries, with 48% reporting their job satisfaction as neutral, and 43% dissatisfied with the wage. A one-bedroom apartment in the city center of Siem Reap costs around $237.50 a month — more than a hotel maid could afford. In February, most four-star hotels start at around $100 a night, and some, such as the Angkor Paradise Hotel, are significantly more than that.
Costa Rica: $643.60/month
Though some may find the hotel maid pay in Costa Rica meager, 49% of employees in the field report high satisfaction with their jobs, and a whopping 78% are satisfied or highly satisfied with their salary. A one-bedroom apartment in a city center is about $456.16, so we’ll have to attribute this satisfaction to ticos’ cheerful outlook on life (or, as they would describe it, “pura vida”). Of countries analyzed by the Happy Planet Index, Costa Rica ranked #1. A four-star hotel such as Arenas Del Mar Beach and Nature Resort often has prices for over $400 a night.
Even though Swedish hotel maids have the highest salary on this list, they’re not as satisfied with their wages as the Costa Ricans, with 42% reporting satisfaction or high satisfaction with their job. With this wage, the cost of living seems more manageable than in other countries — a one-bedroom apartment in the city center is around $803 — though in Stockholm, there’s a notoriously long waiting list for rentals. Four-star hotels such as the Hotel Rival are often over $200 a night.
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