We all that we need to tip many people in the service industries. We tip our waiters after dinner, we tip the valet, the bellhop, the taxi (or “rideshare” such as Uber or Lift) drivers. Often forgotten (or neglected) is tipping room service.
Location, location, location
Different places have different expectations on tipping. In Europe, tipping is less important (but still greatly appreciated). In the United States and Canada, tipping is more ingrained into the culture. Latin America and the Caribbean is somewhere in between. Even then, the tier level of the hotel should also be considered.
There are naysayers who are very loud about not tipping in Europe. They claim it is culturally insensitive. They are making a large exaggeration though. Agreed, the American norm of 15-20% at a restaurant is too high, but a little tip is still appreciated. Something small, like 5%. Or a Euro or two per person on top of the bill. For room service, a good practice is to leave a Euro or two per day at the end of your trip. Rick Steves breaks down European tipping well.
United States and Canada
Here, tipping is much more ingrained. To the point where most places (in the US) have minimum wages for servers below minimum wage. In restaurants, 15-20% of the bill is expected. But what about tipping room service? That depends on hotel type.
Resort or 5-star hotels
Hotels that offer the epitome of luxury, such as resorts or 5-star hotels, you should most definitely tip. Often, tips for room service is already a part of the bill. Double check with the front desk. If it is already a part of the bill, then $1-2 per person for in-hotel meals and a $1-2 per day for housekeeping is best practice. If tipping is not a part of your bill, then 15-20% of your meal should go to the server who brought it to your room, and $5-10 per night should go to housekeeping.
When should you tip housekeeping? Either daily, when they clean your room so that day’s keeper gets the tip, or on the last day as you check out. Here at Rasmussen Travels, we encourage social responsibility, so decrease the times your room needs to be clean. This decreases water waste especially. For us, that means we tip at the end of our trips.
$1-2 per bag is a decent tip for the bellhop. $1-2 for the door man when he hails your cab, or helps unload your bag. ~$5 to the valet, especially on pick up, but maybe also $1-2 on drop off as well. More on drop off if they help you unload your bags. $5 for the concierge, or more if your request is more difficult and demanding.
More often than not, the hotels here do not have all the full services found like the luxury hotels do. And they do often do not include tips for these services. Again, it is best to ask the front desk. While this will save on who to tip, the amount of your tip should not decrease. Tipping room service in the specific field should follow the same guidelines as resorts.
Tipping room service is simply the best practice you should do whenever you travel and need a hotel, regardless of destination and level of luxury. Tipping keeps everyone happy, and (hopefully) well waged. It follows our advice of being socially responsible. From only $1 up to $5 or more, and you can make a memorable vacation a great memory for all involved, and makes you more welcome if you ever come back and stay at the same hotel.