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Jul 17, 2009 02:00 PM

Room Service Tips

This is a dilemma, at least for me.For you it may be more clear-cut.Recently had a hotel breakfast ordered through room service.Included in the bill was an 18% gratuity and a $3.50 room delivery charge.I still gave the guy who delivered the food a few bucks.Not a lot of money and certainly not enough to agonize over.I just felt funny not giving the guy anything, but at the same time felt like a dope given that I had already paid a more than adequate amount for the room service with the hotel's mandatory charges.How do you handle tipping on room service? Thanks.

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  1. I have the same dilemma. Here's my recent hotel example: Ordered a hot fudge sundae via room service at $12 (yes, it was ridiculously overpriced!) The room delivery charge was $5 and there was an included gratuity of 18% or 20%, I can't remember exactly. Had it charged to the room but did give the delivery guy a couple dollars. So all in all about $20 for a sundae.

    But I am a generous tipper in general and you're right, a couple of dollars does not break the bank, esp when people in the service industry make their living off our generosity. However, I don't consider it necessary, but I think its a nice gesture to give a couple of dollar bills. And besides, being generous is a great feeling and I want to feel great esp when I'm on vacation! Or you know in a hotel where I don't have to clean up at least for the night!

    1. Just curious - what do you think the 18% gratuity is for? Doesn't the person who delivers the food get the autograt (maybe sharing with other room service deliverers like waiters who share tips)?

      I guess maybe if I just ordered one inexpensive thing I might feel like throwing in an extra tip because the 18% on a pot of coffee might not seem like enough.

      11 Replies
      1. re: akq

        "what do you think the 18% gratuity is for? Doesn't the person who delivers the food get the autograt (maybe sharing with other room service deliverers like waiters who share tips)?"

        One would hope so. If the service was worth 20%, and that was the amount charged, then I might let it go.


        1. re: Bill Hunt

          Well I guess that is part of my question.I imagine that the 18% gratuity is split somehow.Possibly with other delivery people and some of the kitchen staff since there is more prep involved in a room service order.Of course there was also a $3.50 charge specifically for food delivery.So that's where the part about me being a sap comes in.The bill was about $45 and I gave the delivery person an extra $4.As I said,nothing to agonize over.But my thinking in these situations is that it's not much money but for the service person it might add up over the course of the day.The food was delivered and set up for my wife and I.In spite of the automatic charges I felt like some extra money was in order.But I have really enjoyed reading all the responses.
          I can see where people would think that only a fool would tip some more on food that is overpriced to begin with and where the gratuity has already been added to the bill.Although I don't consider myself a numbskull.A sap possibly but not a numbskull.jfood's response was great,as his usually are.Thanks for the feedback and keep the responses coming.I do draw the line at using the minibar.Now that's over-the-top.

          1. re: TooLooseLaTrek

            There is no way to know if a particular hotel is pooling tips or not and really it's a moot point IMO. I think we would all agree 15- 20% is a normal gratuity. If you received average service in an average up-scale hotel then I would not add any thing if there is 18% and a delivery charge already added. Typically the "delivery" charge covers items for room service like the small jars of condiments that can not be re-used and have become very expensive. Your server does not get that money and it's just the cost of room service.
            Depending on the hotel and the level of service I add 2-4%.
            Room service isn't cheao. If I'm worried about the few extra bucks I won't be ordering room service but some times it really is worth the expense.

            1. re: Fritter

              I've been watching this thread b/c this has always been a mystery to me. I've always been suspicious that somehow the 18% does not actually make it to the server's pocket, so I've always tipped extra. Your response, and especially the explanation for why there is an additional service charge, has definitely clarified a lot for me.
              I agree - it's expensive, but sometimes so worth it (I especially like it when I have a very long day ahead of me and no time for a good sitdown breakfast - I'll have breakfast delivered and eat while I prep work for conferences). And I'll probably keep adding a few extra bucks, especially for good service.

              1. re: Cachetes

                My 18 year old just starting working at a high end hotel in a ski resort doing room service (she is getting a hospitality degree in college). She worked New Years Eve and found out she gets none of that 18% gratuity. Delivered $450 to one room and they left the standard 18%, zero went to my daughter. She only gets amounts left above the 18%, something is wrong with that. I had no idea.

                1. re: Skimaus

                  Your daughter should have a conversation with the wage and labor authorities in the state where the resort is located. In many states, if an auto gratuity is added to the bill, the server must receive it. If the resort lists it as a service charge then the server does not have to receive it.

                  This varies by juurisdiction. BTW, I am an attorney and worked as a holiday season server in large resorts when going through college eons ago. One resort in NY tried to stiff us on the room service auto gratuities and the state labor dept investigated, levied a fine and we collected eventually.

                  1. re: bagelman01

                    Thank you for the advice. I'll have her follow up once she is paid for this week and is sure there wasn't a miscommunication. It's a new job for her. Sad how little of these luxuries trickle down to the staff. These posts have been an education for me and I will certainly leave an extra buck or two whenever I travel.

              2. re: Fritter

                Gee, I thought the condiments were paid for by the overinflated food price. Did you use to work in a hotel kitchen? Why do they still charge the fee on stuff that doesn't require condimentization?

                1. re: Scrapironchef

                  Yes I was an Exec. Chef for a Hotel. I have no idea what you mean by
                  "stuff that doesn't require condimentization". Single use S&P shakers go out on every tray. If you think prices are "overinflated" the cure is simple. Opt for a more cost effective hotel or skip room service.
                  There really are a lot of extra costs involved with room service including dedicated staff in many cases that serve a much smaller volume than the main dining room not to mention disappearing dishes etc.
                  Any hotel I know of that offers room service has a dining room so the choice is yours.

                  1. re: Fritter

                    Salt and pepper with a chocolate sundae?

                    1. re: Scrapironchef

                      "I agree - it's expensive, but sometimes so worth it"

                      I agree. After traveling 24 hours and arriving in Maui at 12pm I'm more than happy that I can get a hot meal delivered to my room and eat in my robe with the lanai door open and nothing but the sound of the ocean.

        2. If everything was as I ordered it, with the proper accoutrements and delivered on time, I will tip a few extra dollars. If not, I leave them with the 18%.

          1. I never tip about the gratuity included unless they do something out of the ordinary to deserve it. I feel strongly that the delivery charge and included percentage are sufficient.

            1. That is about how I often handle it. I've tipped more, when there was setup for the meal, as is often the case. I try to bring the total gratuity up to what I would normally tip on that amount, with the service. I round up, and do not quibble over the exact amount.

              To give you a frame of reference, I'll tip $2.00 for a couple of foam pillows from housekeeping, and also leave about $5/day for general housekeeping, provided that the cleaning was good. If great, I've been known to bump it up a bit per day.

              Just me,