Travel Tips: How I tip

Its always a daunting task to get tipping spot on, but here are my rules of thumb I tend to use when travelling…

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Restaurants: This is probably the hardest as it differs from country to country that I have come to terms with the fact I will probably always get it a little bit wrong. I tend to aim for 15% in most places. This is usually more than enough and very well appreciated in every country except the United States where they near bully you into handing over 18% minimum, 20% ‘standard’ on almost all bills. On all bills I take into account items such as for example a more expensive bottle of wine. This ups the total yet it costs the same amount to open a cheap bottle of wine as a more expensive bottle so… many times I deduct a little on the overall percentage of the tip to account for that. The exception here is if the sommelier helps you pick out the wine, and in this case tip on the complete total.

Bars: Again depends where you are as in the United States bartenders too like their waitstaff counterparts are expecting 18% minimum. It doesn’t matter whether they just uncap the bottle of beer or shake a cocktail. And if you expect them to comeback when you want another drink, or pay attention to you again on a night with a full bar, they will be wanting 20% from the first drink in order to make you worth their effort to get back to you for your second. Anywhere else in the Western world, 10% seems just fine. I tend to give more like 12-15% if it involves shaken cocktails, or say a repeat visit where the bartender remembers my favourite tipple. In all circumstances where the bartender buys a round or gives you something fun to try, give a little more then the original tip amount as a thank you.

Taxis: 10-12% on the total in Europe. Round up the amount for a Black Cab in London, so if the fare is 7.50, rounding up and giving 8 pounds is common. Here I give a little more as I think the Black Cabs are the best in the world, so I will be a bit more generous as they get you to your destination safely, quickly, and in many instances wait until you have entered the premises of your destination to assure you arrived safely.

Hotel Doorman: Around 5 Euro/dollars for taxi to room greet and luggage transfer for one bag. Obviously more generous if the bag is heavy and huge or there are multiple bags. I also tip 1 Euro/dollar for hailing me a taxi, or opening the door for the taxi outside the hotel and telling the driver my destination.

Housekeeping: Its easy to forget housekeeping as you rush out the door to check out but if anyone really deserves a tip at your hotel, especial a luxury hotel, it is housekeeping. In top hotels they keep your room fresh, fluff the pillows to perfection, bring in fresh towels, do turndown service with a chocolate on the pillow… They even might deal with seeing your wet washed knickers hanging up to dry over the shower. In European luxury hotels the amount I tend to give around 2 Euro a day minimum. I also leave something for the evening service as well as they tend to tidy up after the pre dinner shower besides turning down the bed. So in other words 2 sets of tips, around 2 Euro a day for the morning staff, and then again 1-2 Euro a day for the night staff and leave it separately, one for the day service right before departure and for the evening service the night before. If there are extras such as wine left in the room (which they will have to set up) or extra soaps given, things like that I am happy to throw in more. At chain hotels, I will leave around 1 Euro a day, or a couple of Euros if I have spent just one night. In the States I leave around $1-2 a day in upper market hotels, and a flat $2 for a 1-3 day stay in a large, chain type hotel. If you are staying at a resort with swimming pools and seaside, do tip a bit more if there has been excessive usage of towels, lots of need for room tidying up due to constant in and out to change, shower, etc.

Concierge: I really value the concierge and his/her knowledge. In a luxury hotel I will tip generously to a concierge who has essentially set up most things during my stay (car, restaurants, tickets, local information). Typically at a luxury hotel for 3 nights, if all that was done was a couple of restaurant reservations maybe I’ll leave 10- 20 Euro/dollars. The difference between 10 and 20 Euro are points such as did they recommend the restaurants and did you like them? Then tip maybe more on the 20 Euro side. Or if I knew the restaurant I wanted and just asked them to book for me, then perhaps closer to 10 Euro. If they have gotten me into an impossible to get table, and done more like arrange transport, well that will all go up to 30-40 Euro/dollars. If they have gotten me the impossible table, booked tickets, reserved not just a car and driver, but a driver who really knows the city to take me around during my stay… 50 Euro/dollars to the concierge for setting all that up to make my stay special. At the end if the day it comes down to the relationship you have with the concierge and how much you use them so really as much or as little as that might represent. Also take into account if the concierge helped you prior to your arrival and set up services and reservations for your stay that should be included. For me the Concierge is the heart and soul of a good hotel. They should know everything about the local hotspots and be excited to share it with you. And if they have made your stay an experience and not just routine, you definitely should thank them.

Please note: These amounts are just guidelines I use for myself, they are not the ‘standard’ or the ‘norm.’ I am also very happy to be more generous and give more than listed above in exceptional circumstances and have tipped less when service was not given. Also there are differences when staying in luxury hotels and top restaurants where more personalised attention is given, and less than listed above for standard service is absolutely fine as well. So bare all that in mind. At the end of the day the most important point is that you leave something to reward  good service and how much you enjoyed it.