At hotels and resorts in the United States, tipping is very much expected from just about everyone who provides you a service. Although it is not required, you should always tip at hotels and resorts, unless the service was severely lacking in some way.
During your stay, make sure to keep several one dollar bills handy in an accessible pocket. If you don't have your tip ready, it's in very poor taste to ask for change. In this situation, it's better to skip the tip in the moment and return with your tip in exact change at some point in the future.
If you would like to ensure special service throughout your stay, a larger tip up front is a good idea. However, higher-end hotels are increasingly instituting "no tipping policies" that include gratuities in the price of the room. At resorts, in particular, daily fees that cover all gratuities are quite common. If you ever have any doubts about who to tip and when, you can ask the front desk for advice.
These tipping guidelines are for the United States only. Expectations (and tipping amounts) can vary quite a bit from country to country. Check a travel guide for the particular country you will be visiting for the proper international tipping etiquette.
Remember, tipping more or less is at your discretion and should be guided by the quality of service you receive.
Hotels and resorts might have drivers that shuttle guests from the airport or to-and-from the nearest town.
- Courtesy shuttle drivers should be tipped $1-2 per person, or $4-5 per party.
- Taxi or limousine drivers should be tipped 15-20 percent of the total fare.
The lobby staff is there to help you throughout your stay from checking in, to hailing a cab, and making reservations. A good rule of thumb is to tip anyone who helps you with your bag when you arrive. If you take advantage of the hotel concierge, tipping will vary depending on the level of service provided. For simple requests like directions or restaurant recommendations, no tipping is required.
- Doormen don't need to be tipped every time they hold the door open for you, but if they call you a cab, you should tip $1-2.
- For valet parking, tip $1-2 to the attendant retrieving your car. Tipping when they park the car is optional.
- Bellhops or porters should be tipped $1-2 per bag they bring up to your room. If they prepare your room and show you around, tipping $5-$10 should cover everything including the bags.
- If the concierge arranges show tickets, tours, or spa appointments, tip $2-5. If they go above and beyond, like getting you a table at the hottest restaurant in town, tip $10-20.
- You can tip the staff at the front desk if they help set up something special for you, such as supplying complimentary champagne for your anniversary.
In Your Room
During your stay, you'll be expected to leave a tip for the housekeeper, as well as for any room service or special requests you order. Room service tips are generally pooled, or shared between everyone. For housekeeping, it's better to tip daily than leaving one large amount at the end of your stay, since you might have different people cleaning your room every day.
- When ordering room service, know that most hotels will automatically include a 12-15 percent gratuity charge, but you can tip extra on the bill if you like.
- For the housekeeping staff, tipping $1-5 per night is appropriate, but you should leave more if you leave the room particularly messy.
- Repairmen, who might come to your room to fix something that was broken or bring something that was missing, will not expect a tip.
- Special requests, like extra blankets or pillows, should be tipped upon delivery; $2 for one item or $1 each for more than one item.
Restaurants and Bars
Standard tipping rules apply at hotel restaurants as bars, just as they do for establishments outside the hotel.
- Waitstaff should be tipped on 15-20 percent of the bill excluding tax and expensive wine.
- Wine stewards and sommeliers, who will help you choose the best bottle of wine to go with your meal, should be tipped 10-20 percent on the wine bill only. If the wine is very expensive, it's generally acceptable to cap your tip at about $20.
- At a buffet, you should tip $1-2 per person dining, especially if there is drink service.
- Bartenders and cocktail servers should be tipped 10-15 percent of the total tab. If the drinks are complimentary, as they sometimes are in Las Vegas, you should still tip $1-2 per round.
Spas and Salons
Some hotels and resorts might have a salon or spa on the property. Tipping practices are the same here, as they are outside the hotel, even if your resort is all-inclusive.
- Hair stylists should be tipped on 15 percent of the total bill. If someone else washed your hair, leave them $2-5.
- Manicurists should be tipped on 10-15 percent of the total bill.
- Massage therapists should be tipped on 15 percent of the total bill, but first check to see if gratuity has been included.
Upscale hotels and resorts, especially the luxury ones, sometimes have unique amenities, in which it may not be immediately clear that you need to leave a tip.
- If you are staying at an upscale hotel, you might be assigned a hotel butler who will run errands for you from unpacking your luggage to making restaurant reservations. Butlers should tipped 5% of your nightly rate multiplied by the number of nights you'll be staying at the hotel.
- After a resort-organized excursion, like kayaking or snorkeling, guides should be tipped $5-10 each at the end of each tour.
- Hotel-supplied babysitters should be tipped 10-20 percent on top of the bill.
- Swimming pool attendants do not require a tip, unless you request special services, such as setting up a pool float. In that case, you should tip $1-2 for the service.
Bed and Breakfasts
In general, tipping etiquette dictates that business owners are not given tips. Most B&Bs fall under that category, and indeed, most have "no tipping" policies in place. If the housekeeping staff is not part of the family, you should tip them as you would in a regular hotel.