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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,


              1. Major bugaboo for jfood. Hates the charges!!!

                jfood just had this conversation with little jfood. NO MORE ROOM SERVICE

                She ordered an entree and bread pudding for $32. The total charge with all the fees was $51.

                JFOOD HATES ROOM SERVICE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                Wow that felt good. :-))

                1 Reply
                1. re: jfood

                  jfood, my sympathies. just booked three vacations where my major criterea was kitchens in the rooms in order to avoid room service. i think it can be a good thing if ordered judicioucly. I however am a huge minibar fan, which I believe puts me in a minority of one.

                2. I have two rules the world over:

                  1. Never have room service
                  2. Never eat in the restaurant in the hotel in which I'm staying.

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                    Depending on the hotel, Sam, couldn't you be missing out on some phenomenal meals?

                    1. re: LindaWhit

                      In DC, I stay at what has to be the best suite hotel in the world - and I cook. There is no restaurant. In most field situations in Asia, Latin America, and parts of Africa, I'm in remote areas where the hotel is often the best in the area, but that is not saying much. Such hotels might get visitors from the capitol and often have insipid high priced offerings; while great food is usually found around the corner, in the market, or on the highway.

                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                        I figured when you're in the field, the accommodations and restaurants might not be what most would expect. I didn't realize that the hotel in DC was a suite hotel.

                        1. re: LindaWhit

                          I have had some great meals in the hotels I have stayed in. You make a great point. When we stay at The Fairmont Olympic in Seattle we always eat at the Georgian. I have lots of Ritz/Marriott Points - around the world they have quite a few spectacular restaurants: Paris, Chicago, NYC... Why even in DC there is The Lantham's Citronelle! -- or The Ritz at Tyson's Corner - the name of the restaurant escapes me, but it is very good. In Africa - sometimes, especially at night, the best place in town is merely an elevator ride away. Ditto that in SEA.

                          1. re: Sal Vanilla

                            I've had some great meals in hotel restaurants however they have all been in high end or boutique hotels. Even then the majority of time I would agree with Sam.
                            Mostly it's a matter of convenience but there are some areas (Vegas, Hawaii) where there are many very good restaurants in hotels.

                    2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                      I like the concept of your rules in that it means getting out and exploring the city....which works if the trip is of a leisurely nature. If on business, though, sometimes at the end of a day of meetings, room service is all I can handle.

                      1. re: KayceeK

                        I know what you mean. I almost never get to travel for pleasure. But when we're doing field surveys in some place like Tajikistan, I make it happen as much as possible. Even when passing through the US at an airport hotel, I prefer gas sation corn dogs with all the fixin's, some Jim Beam, and US TV to the hotel restaurant. The hotels around Heathrow are usually not that far from a shop with some cheeses, breads, fruit, and a pint or two. Last time I had a conference in Vientiane. Most of the participants stayed in the big new ugly high rise on the river. I stayed at the little and fairly new Beau Rivage (where their breakfast was simple and good) up the river. The great food shacks that have been there since forever (pre-tourists) are still there and serve some of the greatest food in the world - quickly, until reasonable late.

                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                          Sam, I think you and I would travel together just fine. I used to actually have to work in airports all over the US and I quickly sniffed out the places to stay that had hole in the walls in walking distance. After a day of sitting in an airport basement a little fresh air and a walk were exactly what I needed.

                      2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                        Oh, Sam: you have played it again! I have read this thread through from the beginning and I agree with you 100%...I just don't get hotel food in general...room service is so often unimaginative food at the wrong temperature from a mediocre kitchen...to then be forced to tip 20% on top? as long as my little legs will carry me to someplace better, its non-hotel food for this tummy.

                      3. If an 18% gratuity is included in the price and there is an additional room delivery charge plus the price of the item is already inflated due to it being on the room service menu........then only a numbskull would feel an additional tip is in order, jmho

                        1. I've always carried a stack of $1 bills with me...
                          Depending on how I feel about the server, how fast my food comes to me and my general mood for the day I'll tip accordingly.
                          I sign the check and give the server the added tip hand- to- hand.

                          1. Room service and mini-bars are for suckers and lazy people. Want something to eat in my room I'll bring it up.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: monku

                              "Room service and min-bars are for suckers and lazy people'"

                              You betcha.
                              I'll be lazy and a complete sucker at some of my favorite Rosewood hotels any day.

                              1. re: monku

                                hey wait a minute, you've never found yourself up in your room after an evening out and thought hey, I think i'd like a scotch ?

                                also, after said nightcap, waking the next day / afternoon.......that little can of Pringles starts to look mighty good.

                              2. The gratuity is the tip and that is all that is needed especially since the waiter is not "serving" you the meal. Unless the waiter does something extraordinary, I would not add to the bill.

                                1. Adding an additional gratuity is not an obligation. That being said, I have almost always tipped extra depending on the service I receive. You go with your gut (in more ways than one). When I am satisfied I bump it up accordingly, especially if I am on an extended stay. You will be amazed how much better the service gets. Granted you are supposed to receive good service anyway, but that is the way things work universally.

                                  On a recent trip to Mexico, the wife and I stayed at a really nice all inclusive resort and the gratuities were supposedly part of the fee. In fact, the management spelled out the fact that gratuities were not expected. Having two kids in the restaurant business, I have never skimped on a tip. And this being Mexico, I knew a lot of the staff depended on any extra cash they could generate. By the end of the week, we had two or three waiters hovering over our every need, and got the royal treatment from drivers and maids as well. All for a few extra bucks. So sometimes, it works the other way. The customer's attitude and generosity encourages the service and attention.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: fresnohotspot

                                    When I was twenty-one and living in Italy, I traveled by myself to a four-star all-inclusive resort in Sharm el Sheikh where gratuities were supposedly included. I was sexually harassed by almost every male employee in the hotel. It wasn't just a little joke or comment here or there- it was unwanted groping, visits to my room at 1:00 am, explicit phone calls, etc. At the end of the trip I took a hundred and fifty euros and divided it between the four male employees who had served me (three in the restaurant, one in the hotel) without harassing me. They were just kids. And there were only four of them. I really like the idea of tipping to say "thank you" for excellent service, rather than in hopes of buying future good service. I don't want to tip in advance to have waiters "hovering over my every need"- my needs are no more important than those of the people at the next table over.

                                    1. re: Jetgirly

                                      Sorry for your experience. I had a great time, so did every guest I spoke with. No reports of groping.