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How to Tip in a Hotel December 16, 2009

Posted by General Zod in Advice, Travel.
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About 2 decades ago (damn) when I was young and single; before I met my loving bride, I had a girlfriend who worked at her uncle’s hotel.  It wasn’t a big hotel, but it had it’s moments.  Since the hotel could not afford to employ an excessive number of people, she had a few different jobs that she handled.  Mostly, she worked the front desk, but when it was necessary she doubled as one of the chambermaids.  She used to tell me stories about the people who stayed there.  Some of the tales were quite entertaining… some were disturbing… and some were quite educational.

I don’t know if it was a common practice back then, but these days it’s becoming more common practice for hotels to include a daily gratuity fee into the cost of your room to cover the tipping of hotel services.  When you check into a hotel, it would be a good idea for you to ask the front desk staff if these fees are included in your bill.  If not, you should consider giving a few dollars here and there to the staff to make your stay more enjoyable.

I usually tip a few dollars when I’m traveling for a business trip, but I always tip heavier when I’m holiday traveling with my family.  I do this mainly because my family (meaning more than just 1 occupant) does create more work for the chambermaid.  However, I also do it because I want them to WANT to keep my family and I happy.  It’s human nature to want to be compensated for your efforts, and tipping will make the staff more inclined to deliver on your requests (firmer pillows, extra towels, etc.)

Sometimes it’s hard to know how much is appropriate.  Here are some guidelines:

Parking Attendants:  Don’t worry about tipping the attendant for parking your car.  For fetching your car, I find that $2 is appropriate.  If the attendant is quick on the job, has given you any kind of special treatment, or has to fetch your car in inclement weather; then you should probably add a little onto it.  Of course, slow attendants don’t deserve much.

Once I had a parking attendant keep me waiting for over 20 minutes, and when he arrived with my car it was immediately obvious that he had gone through some of my personal items.  Luckily, I had sat down in the seat before handing him any money and was able to note all of the changes rather quickly.  My seat had been moved into a reclined position, the radio station that was playing was definitely not the one I had tuned in, some of my CDs were out of order, and a few coins that were a cup holder were missing.  As he held his hand out, I gestured to the interior of the car, and gave him a simple… “You’re kidding, right?”  Yes, I know.  It might not have been him… but I had my suspicions.

hotel_doorman Doormen:  Keep in mind that these gentlemen do not expect to be tipped simply for opening a door.  However, if they are kind enough to hail a taxi for you or assist you with your luggage, then they deserve a little something.  I’ll throw them $1 for waving down a cab or $2 if they have to do it in the rain.  As for the bags, I find that $1 per bag is appropriate.  As always, base your tipping on how helpful this individual is to you.

Bellhop:  It is this attendant’s job to assist you to/from your room during check-in/out.  If they do not help you with your bags, then don’t bother tipping them at all.  Give them a $1 for each bag they carry for you.  You probably should add an additional dollar or two if they prep your room for you (such as turning on the lights, pulling the curtains, adjusting the temperature controls, or even giving you a small tour of your room’s amenities).

On one personal trip I took with my wife, our bellhop took us to our room to discover that someone was already sleeping there.  He helped us back to the front desk where we were upgraded to a nicer room for our inconvenience, and then the bellhop again assisted us to our room.  Upon arriving at the second room, it was discovered that the bathroom sink had a spraying leak and was in full fountain mode.  Once again, we returned to the front desk as the maintenance staff was dispatched.  Our room was upgraded yet again (to a very posh suite), and the bellhop assisted us with our bags for a third time.  He was very helpful, and tried to make light of the complications.  I kept an amused demeanor for his benefit as it was obvious that he was upset by the problems as well.  Anyway, I was very pleased with the final outcome.  I thanked him by tipping him $30 for his troubles.  He nearly fainted.  BTW… if you tip well, word does get around.  For the rest of our stay, the staff was very quick to assist with any of our requests, and the resulting experience was flawless.

hotel_concierge Concierge:  For those of you who have never had the pleasure of having a concierge to assist you, let me fill you in.  Nicer hotels make concierge service available to their patrons as a courtesy.  Sometimes this service is only available to the more expensive floors, but it really depends on the hotel.  It is the Concierge’s job to assist the guests with making restaurant reservations, arranging for their transportation needs, making recommendations on local places of interest to visit, and other such tasks.  If I make use of a Concierge, I typically like to drop $5 spot on them.  If they have to put forth an extra amount of effort to see that your needs are fulfilled, then increase their tip appropriately.

hotel_chambermaid Housekeeping:  The maids are the most overlooked member of the service staff in the hotel.  They do their best to clean and maintenance your room when you are not in it… and this transparency to the patrons usually makes them forgettable… so don’t forget.  I usually drop $5 per day on the chambermaid.  That’s usually enough to ensure that she’ll see to any special requests you might have.

Since these maids are rarely seen, then you have to know how to tip them.  Most hotels will make writing materials and envelopes available to their guests.  I usually seal the maid’s tip in one of these envelopes, and write the words “For Housekeeping” across the front of it.  Then, I leave it atop one of the bed pillows.  Keep in mind that you might have a different maid every day, so tip daily.

Room Service:  If the gratuity is included in the bill, then you don’t need to add anything.  Otherwise, I usually tip just like I would in a restaurant.  I start at a standard 15% , and adjust needed.

Special Trips:  If a member of the hotel service staff must make a special trip to your room for some reason (such as a late night pillow exchange), then I’ll generally drop $2 for the assist.  If it’s due to an inconvenient event (such as your child wetting the bed), then I can only suggest that you be generous with the staff.

 

You don’t need to tip heavily to get a good response and extra attention out of the hotel staff.  A little goes a long way.  Keep this in mind during your next hotel stay, and you may find that your experience is a little better than you had expected.

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