How Much Should I Tip? Advice From a Hotel Expert

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Some luxury hotels, like the Willard Intercontinental Hotel in Washington DC, provide many unseen services. Be ready to tip staff when they do something special for you.

I always cringe when I reach into my wallet and only have large bills or spare change—nothing appropriate for a tip. What to do? It may feel awkward tipping hotel employees, but it’s such a great thing to do!! Most of us strive to be fair and considerate to people who serve us at hotels, but unfortunately, we often don’t carry small bills. Also, how much should you give and who do you tip? There’s also a question of expectations—if you’re staying at a modestly priced hotel, are you expected to tip at all?

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When the bellman carries your bags, or the guest service staff brings an extra pillow, have small bills ready so you can tip them.
  1. Advice: Before you go to your hotel, prepare by obtaining a stack of $20 in small bills. I’ve talked to some national park concessionaires who said their staff doesn’t expect to be tipped, but at upscale properties in metropolitan areas, it is customary to tip members of the staff. There are guidelines in the industry where tipping has become an expectation. But remember, tipping is a way of rewarding good service, and there’s no way to say what’s appropriate across the board. I recommend you tip based on how satisfied you are with the service you receive. But remember, many people make minimum wage. In addition to extra money, getting a tip means a lot! It’s paying a compliment to someone.
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The W Hotel in Washington has a fabulous bar called POV. Remember to tip your bartenders and even the reception staff if he or she can score a good table for you.

Advice: Luxury hotel services are extra hotel services. Reward people for good service! Today we can carry our own bags, make our own reservations, and find our way around the town without much help from hotel employees. But the American Hotel and Lodging Association guidelines recommend you tip the valet parker, shuttle driver, doorman, concierge and housekeeping. Those people are the ones providing a lot of services you take for granted or you are doing on your own when you’re not in a hotel. When tipping housekeeping, take into consideration whether you’re staying in a standard room versus a suite, and whether you’re very messy. Tips should be commensurate with the situation.

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Some hotels, like the Ivy in Baltimore, offer complimentary cocktails. But even when things are free, your server deserves a tip.

Advice: Concierge staff usually goes above and beyond, so tip accordingly. A concierge typically receives between $5-10 depending on the service provided, including making a dinner reservation or obtaining tickets to a theatre. At some upscale hotels, a concierge contacts the guest before arrival, and then makes arrangements for transportation, in room amenities, spa appointments or childcare. Often that same concierge welcomes the guest personally at the hotel entrance, addressing guests by name. When a concierge makes multiple arrangements, guests should tip an amount commensurate with the service—say between $10-$50—at the end of their stay. For more specifics, see the guidelines below. And bon voyage!

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Services provided in the spa, like here at the lovely Nemacolin Resort, should be rewarded with a tip of at least 20%.

Follow these tipping guidelines by the American Hotel & Lodging Association in partnership with Forbes Travel Guide:

Hotel Courtesy Shuttle Driver: $1-2 per person, $5 per party

Valet/Parking Attendant: $1-5 when car is delivered

Bellstaff/Porters: $1-5 per bag when escorted to your room. Tip the same if you request bell staff service while checking out.

Doorstaff: $1-2 for getting a taxi. If they unload your luggage, tip in proportion to amount and weight.

Concierge: $5-10 depending on how involved the service, or lump sum upon departure.

Housekeeping: $2-5 per night, and tip should be left daily in the morning. If possible, leave a note saying the money is for housekeeping.

Delivery of Special Items: $2 for one item, $5 for more. Tipping is not required for someone fixing something broken or bringing something missing.

Room Service: A gratuity of 15-20% should be added if hotel did not include a room service charge on the bill.

Bartender: Tip 15-20% of total beverage tab.

Server in Restaurant: Tip 15% of total bill or 20% for exceptional service.

 

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