So... whom should I tip, and how much?
“The general rule is that if someone is doing the simple function of their job, like cleaning the floor or checking you in, you don’t need to tip them," one luxury hotel manager told us. "But some guests like to tip everybody, and we can’t stop it. We still have to be there doing the same job with the same smile on our face, so nobody should get bent out of shape about [not getting a tip].”
Keeping that in mind, here are the consensus guidelines from the staff we interviewed:
Waiters: Tip as you normally would (15% to 20%, based on service) unless a service charge has already been added to the bill. You can tip extra if you like, but always, always, always look to see if it’s been included.
Bartenders: “When I used to work the bar,” one manager recounted, “somebody might sit there, have one drink, and pry me for information about the area. So he’d typically leave $10 for the info.” But if you’re keeping to yourself, the standard drink tip is appropriate ($1 per drink, or 20% if it’s a complicated cocktail). Again, service charges are often added, so always look out for those -- bartenders might not always tell you.
Bellmen: A few dollars (although $5 is what our former manager recommends) is fine if they help you with your luggage. If you’ve got a crazy amount of stuff, add another $1 per bag.
Concierge: $5-$10 for a standard request like a table reservation. If the restaurant is impossible to get into, or it’s last minute, $20 is appropriate. If it’s something outlandish, then you should probably make it worth their while.
Room service: Tip as you would a waiter (15% to 20%). Also note that the “room-service charge” is often the hotel’s version of a delivery charge -- a flat fee you pay for not wanting to get out of that plush terry-cloth bathrobe. If that’s the only extra charge included, you should tip on top of that. BUT some hotels include a SECOND service charge as well, which is essentially the tip. Yes, it’s confusing, so look at your receipt carefully. One service charge = you should tip. Two service charges = don't tip.