I’m always relieved when I go to a foreign country that hasn’t established a tipping standard like the US. I don’t have to carry around that anxiety of “Should I tip that person? How much? Is that enough? Too much?” Back here in America, though, I do have that anxiety. Respect is a big issue to me and I don’t want to knowingly disrespect anyone by not tipping, but at the same time I think we go way overboard in the tipping department. Case in point: this article on The Huffington Post (via Where — full disclosure: I’ve written for Where LA in the past) that gives you tips for tipping in high-end hotels in big cities from a concierge at a “top Chicago hotel” [they don’t name the hotel].
UPDATE! After you get done reading this post, click over here to find out what one of San Francisco’s top butlers (and a Fly&Dine reader!) thinks of tipping in hotels.
I have a major problem with this concierge’s suggestions. Let’s break it down point-by-point, shall we?
The Valet: The concierge suggests $2-$5 every time the car is brought around. I suppose that’s fine, but in addition to the $50+ per night some of these luxury urban hotels are charging for parking, I rarely even touch my car after I check-in. I go with $2, although now that everyone offers you bottled water and other little amenities, I’ll occasionally bump it up a few more bucks.
The Porter/Bellman/Bellhop: Citing the labor-intensive nature of the gig, the concierge suggest $5 and up for anyone carrying your bags. This is one situation that I truly hate. It’s so cliche at this point that movies have been lampooning it for years, but that awkward moment when the bellhop drops off your bags and stands there asking if you need anything else makes my skin crawl. My solution? I’ll carry my own bags, thank you very much. I rarely travel with more than one anyway. My least favorite bellhop situation is when they’re SO overeager to take your bags that they actually pick them up before asking if you’d like them to. I get it, pal, you want a tip, but you need to ask me first before touching my stuff.
Front Desk Agents: “If you feel the agent has intrinsically connected with you and delivered you shining and exceptional customer service, a cash tip is certainly not out of place.” Oh, come on. This is what I mean by going over the top. You can’t tip everyone! The only time I tip a front desk clerk is if I’m in Vegas and the “tip” is a “bribe” in the form of the $20 trick (Gary of View from the Wing covers it here).
The Maids: The article suggests $5 a day to make sure everyone gets their share. I don’t know about this one and I’m guessing my opinion is going to be unpopular. I didn’t grow up in a family that tipped maids at hotels so I didn’t even know it was a thing until I saw someone doing it. I don’t really get it. Isn’t this an hourly job like most others at the hotel? Unless you’re seriously messy, this seems overboard to me. If I’ve been there a week and they’ve done a really good job (and that means leaving chocolates for me or something), then I’ll leave a tip. Otherwise? I don’t tip the cleaning staff.
Room Service: This is crazy. The concierge acknowledges that gratuity is included in most room service orders and then suggests you should be extra generous and tip more. No way. If I’m already tipping, why tip on top of the tip? That’s crazy.
Hotel Bars: Of course. It’s a bar. We tip in bars, whether they’re at hotels or elsewhere. This is a given.
At the Pool: File this one under “give me a break.” Tip for your towel. Tip the lifeguard. Seriously? This is the line I don’t want to cross. If I order a drink or food poolside, you bet I’m going to tip. Towels, however, should be a standard part of the experience that doesn’t require an extra two dollars every time I want to dry off.
The Concierge: It’s no surprise that this one seems the craziest to me. The concierge in the story says:
People have many different ways of tipping the concierge, and they are all acceptable, and definitely appreciated. Some guests choose to tip the concierge upon arrival, others at the end of their stay upon departure. Another very popular style utilized by many hotel guests is tipping at the time of service. If a concierge prints your boarding pass, $2 to $5 is usually commonplace for a tip. Procuring that hard to obtain, last-minute Friday reservation at a hot restaurant can be worthy of a heftier tip; $5 to $20 is definitely not out of place.
$2 to $5 for printing a boarding pass? Why? For pressing the “print” button? I understand tipping for a hard-to-get reservation as that’s above and beyond the call of duty, but tipping for part of their everyday job just doesn’t work for me. I’m not tipping for directions. I’m not tipping for advice on choosing a restaurant. If you arrange a special romantic meal on the rooftop with roses and a string quartet, though, you better believe I’m tipping handsomely.
We in the United States seem to tip more than any other society, so much so that it’s appalling to people from other nations that come to visit here. Shouldn’t it be the responsibility of the employer to pay their employee? Putting the onus on the guest makes it feel like really slow extortion and, personally, sometimes I feel taken advantage of by the end of a visit. My rule of thumb is generally that I’ll tip you if you’ve gone out of your way to do something for me (or if you work in a restaurant/bar where tips are the bulk of your income). How do you feel about tipping?
If you didn’t check it out before, click over here to find out what one of San Francisco’s top butlers (and a Fly&Dine reader!) thinks of tipping in hotels.