Have you ever been in a quandary over how much to tip at a hotel when traveling? If so, you’re not alone. We tend to not discuss hotel tipping in the U.S. because tipping has this shroud of privacy around it. Since it’s regarded as such a personal thing, it’s hard for people who do not receive tips for their services to know how much gratuity is appropriate. Not to worry. If you use these guidelines for hotel tipping in the U.S. as you travel, you’ll never be accused of breaching etiquette.
Guidelines for Hotel Tipping in the U.S.
If you arrive at a hotel by driving a car and use the services of valet parking, you should tip the attendant – but who and when? The person that parks your car may not be the same person who returns it. The American Hotel& Lodging Association suggests tipping $1-5 when your car is delivered. Tipping when you turn over the keys is optional, although if you want to ensure some extra TLC for your car, it’s always a good idea.
If you use a hotel shuttle to and from the airport or other local points, tipping $1-2 per person or $5 per party is appropriate. If the driver also handles your luggage, you might add $1 per bag or round up to the next $5.
Nicer hotels have Doormen stationed at the entrance. Should you tip them every time they hold a door open for you? No, but if they take your luggage inside tip them according to the number and weight of your bags. If the Doorman calls a taxi for you, $1-2 is enough.
After you check-in, a Bellman may deliver your bags to your room. You should tip $1-5 per bag, again depending on the amount of labor moving your luggage requires. You might want to default to the higher end if they escort you to your room, set up your bags or show you around upon arrival.
During your stay, if you get a hankering for a late-night snack or need an early breakfast delivered to your room while you’re prepping for a full day, Room Service can save you time and effort. Many times, the bill already includes a room service charge, so verify before you tip. If not, the recommended amount to tip the steward is 15-20 percent, just as in a restaurant.
Housekeeping is one of the most strenuous jobs in the hotel, and one that earns some of the lowest wages. It’s also the position that is most overlooked in hotel tipping in the U.S. It’s estimated that only about thirty percent of guests tip the staff who clean our rooms, even though we routinely tip nearly every other service industry worker. The recommended amount for housekeeping tips in U.S. hotels is $1-5 per night. If you’re in a luxury hotel or you have more than two people in the room – meaning more used towels and more mess – tip at the upper end of that range. Gratuities should be left on the pillow or nightstand, preferably with a note, so it’s clear that it’s for housekeeping. Gratuities should always be in cash – would you eat food or drink someone left behind? And if you stay multiple nights, the tip should be left daily because a different person might be on duty the next day. Try to plan ahead to have the proper bill denominations on hand so you don’t have to stiff them and feel guilty.
Some luxury suites or all-inclusive resorts include Butler Service. Often these same properties include gratuities in their rates; however, you still need to tip your butler, depending on how you use them. If they run errands, unpack and repack or serve meals, five percent of the nightly rate, per day is appropriate.
Many upscale hotels have a Concierge on duty as a resource to guests. If you simply ask for directions or for a restaurant recommendation, you don’t need to tip. If he arranges a day tour or gets easy to obtain show tickets, $5-20 is fine. However, your concierge is often the most well-connected person on staff, so if you ask him to move mountains – arrange an engagement venue or get orchestra seats to a sold-out show – you should pay accordingly, up to $100.
If you enjoy Spa and Salon Services at your hotel, tip about 15 percent (even at all-inclusive resorts), just as you would outside the hotel.
At hotel restaurants and bars, tip Servers 15-20 percent, as you would at any full-service restaurant in the U.S. You may exclude tax and expensive wine. If a Wine Steward helps you choose a bottle of wine, tip 10-20 percent of the cost of the wine, capped at $20. If you dine at a buffet with drink service, you should leave $1-2 per person. Tip Bartenders 10-15 percent or $1-2 per round.
Finally, one of the very best ways we can show our appreciation for the services we receive while traveling is with words. Calling people by name, saying “Thank you” for a job well done, or writing a short note of thanks is absolutely free. You might just make someone’s day.
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