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Gratuity Etiquette at Hotels

Updated: Jan 25, 2023

Many are aware of gratuity etiquette when dining at a restaurant, but many aren't aware of gratuity etiquette at hotels. Most, especially those that don’t frequent resorts and hotels, aren't even aware that there is a gratuity etiquette for hotels.

So, when is it appropriate to give a gratuity to hotel and resort staff, if at all? This is a complicated and multi-answer question. Some believe that it is not required to give a gratuity to the staff, and some establishments even discourage gratuities—this is substituted by higher wages. However, if it's allowed by the business, giving gratuities at hotels and resorts can be a great way to show appreciation to the staff for exceptional service.

On a global scale gratuity may not always be customary. However, in the United States it is considered proper etiquette to provide a gratuity to those serving. The list of people can include drivers, massage therapists, bartenders, housekeepers, and many more. Gratuity is discretionary and dependent on the service performed. Here is a guide to help you next time you stay at a hotel or resort and receive exceptional service.

Is there already a gratuity added to the bill?

Some establishments will automatically add a gratuity to certain bills like restaurant/bar tabs and massage costs. In this case, adding an additional gratuity is an option if you feel that you received fantastic service and would like to show the employee gratitude for it. If you see that a gratuity hasn't been added, traditionally 20-30% is considered normal for restaurant service, room service, spa treatments, and other like experiences. If you are considering a nightcap, $3-5 per drink is appropriate. This is all based on the service you receive and can be adjusted each time.

Are you receiving daily housekeeping service?

Housekeeping service is an important amenity when staying at a hotel. If you receive housekeeping services, consider starting the practice of leaving a tip every day you receive cleaning. There is no guarantee that you will have the same housekeeper everyday so leaving a large tip on the last day may not reach all the staff it is intended for. Dividing the larger gratuity and leaving it daily would ensure that the staff member that cleans your room receives the gratuity. $5 is customary for daily service and you may even consider increasing the gratuity based on the state of your accommodation.

Has the staff provided a service?

There is a large number of staff, including valet, bell staff, concierge, and butlers, awaiting your arrival and to provide services. Depending on the service they provide, gratuities may be proper. Consider providing a gratuity if a bell person carries your luggage to your room for you. The amount is dependent on the size and number of bags you have; typically, $3-4 for a small bag and $5-7 for larger bags. Also, if the concierge goes above and beyond to arrange a fabulous experience it would be appropriate to show appreciation by giving a gratuity. In this case the amount will vary depending on what the experience is and the difficulty of arranging it. If the staff, regardless of if they are in valet or at the front desk, has performed a service that has made your stay an exceptional experience, consider giving a gratuity to show appreciation.

Of course, giving any gratuity is at the discretion of the guest, so there is no pressure to provide gratuities. Hotel and resort staff should never expect a gratuity, but receiving one is always greatly appreciated. It shows staff that you appreciated their service and the hard work did not go unnoticed.

Whether you decide to give gratuities or not, always remembering proper manners and giving a smile is a good practice to have when staying at a hotel or resort. Gratuities are intended to show appreciation to the staff for going above and beyond, for making your stay exceptional.


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