Hotel Tips – Do’s & Don’ts

Tipping can be a minefield even when you are traveling around your own country. When you venture overseas, cultural differences, variances in expectations and a multitude of (sometimes inexplicable) unwritten rules complicate the concept even further. And if you thought, “Well, when in doubt, just tip,” your well-intentioned choice can come across as a horrible faux pas in the wrong circumstances and locations. What you need is an international guide. Hey, that happens to be what we have compiled right here – read on! (All figures in U.S. dollars unless otherwise specified)

The United States – It is customary to always tip for meals (apart from fast food). Employers are allowed to pay below the minimum wage in anticipation of tips.

  • DO
    • $2-$3 per bag for assistance with luggage
    • $10-$20 when you leave to the concierge if they helped with bookings
    • $2-$5 daily on your pillow for housekeeping
    • 15-20% of the bill total before taxes for both in-room and restaurant dining
  • DON’T
    • Doormen if you didn’t need assistance with luggage or cabs
    • The concierge if you didn’t make bookings through them

Central/South America – Bellboys and housekeeping should always be tipped whereas tipping the concierge is optional.

  • Costa Rica
    • Porters – 20c – 50c per bag
    • Housekeeping – $1 daily
  • Mexico
    • Porters – 10-20 pesos per bag
    • Housekeeping – 20-50 pesos daily
    • Concierge – 100 pesos or more
    • Don’t be obvious with tips – envelopes and palmed handshakes work well.
  • Nicaragua
    • Porters – 50c per bag
    • Doormen – $1-2 for hailing cabs
    • Housekeeping – $1/day at the end of your trip
    • Don’t expect to tip for the same standards as you would at home- the tourism sector is in its infancy.
  • Ecuador
    • Porters – $1 per bag
    • Doormen – $1 for hailing cabs
    • Housekeeping – $1/day – leave an envelope at front desk when you leave

Caribbean –  Throw a rock randomly and you will hit an all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean. Ok, maybe just half the time. Most Caribbean all-inclusives allow you to switch off by including a service fee.

  • Do include a tip for especially good service, though.
  • Don’t forget that the French Caribbean uses Euros as opposed to U.S dollars elsewhere in the region.

Europe – European tourism can be broadly divided into two regions for tipping purposes – western Europe which includes the U.K., Germany, Italy, France and Spain; and Eastern Europe which would include the Baltic states and other newcomers to international tourism. Tipping at hotels in Scandinavian countries is considered highly unusual.

  • Western Europe
    • Porters – Between 1 and 3 Euros per bag
    • Housekeeping – 5 Euros per day in Germany, 3 Euros per day elsewhere
    • Don’t tip in U.S. dollars if you can avoid it. Apart from the U.K. where the British pound is still used, tip in Euros.
  • Eastern Europe
    • Porters – $1 or $2 per bag
    • Housekeeping – $3 to $5 per night of stay

Asia – Being the massive continent that it is, Asia makes for a very diverse tipping etiquette.

  • China
    • Porters – 3RMB per bag
    • Do have local currency for tips – hotel employees will get a bad deal in changing low denomination foreign notes.
    • Don’t offer tips in front of management – the recipient might get into trouble.
  • India
    • Porters – 50c a bag
    • Housekeeping – Rs.150 per night
    • Don’t forget to tip in India from the start – it will ensure especially speedy and personalized service for the duration of your stay.
  • Japan, Singapore and South Korea
    • These nations have an established no-tipping culture, and one that may be officially discouraged.
    • Do use an envelope left on a bed or palmed into a hand if you have to tip, and refrain from calling any attention to it.

Please remember that these are just guidelines. Whenever you can, try to tip in the local currency – it makes life simpler for the locals.