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Oct 21, 2013 08:54 AM

Room Service Tipping Question

Seeing the tipping on delivery or take out thread made me think about an experience I had over this past weekend. We were away visiting my daughter in college and stayed in a Marriott Hotel. (I’m stating this because I’m not sure if this is a specific policy for this group of properties).

Saturday night we went out to dinner then back to our room to watch a movie, the mom and kids wanted to do a room service desert for enjoyment during the movie. We ordered, my desert consisted of 4 cordial’s (it was a long day then night don’t judge me), when the room service arrived I was calculating the proper the tip amount when I noticed a 20% service charge was already added into the room service total. On the receipt there was an additional line for “additional gratuity” listed as well.

It’s been awhile since I’ve ordered room service so is this something new? Also I was fairly surprised that the service charge was 20%, and not 15% or 18%, with the option of additional tip? Is this the new standard on room service?

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    1. As a chica that loves room service, this is standard.

      Did you see an additional 'Delivery charge' too?
      Usually, its about $3 to $5 per delivery..this is the one that pisses me off.
      That is why when ordering, I order off the kids menu and bring my own beer, wine, champagne, etc..

      Nothing like chicken tenders with fries(sometimes they will substitute tater tots), fruit and a sundae for about $6..

      2 Replies
      1. re: Beach Chick

        Agree with BeachChick, you are definitely paying for the convenience.

        20% does seem high for the auto-grat, but I guess Marriott is keeping up with the times. It also could be the location you were in is higher because it is either a big city or major tourist location.

        Also, the items on the room service menu are often a dollar or two more expensive than the same items on the menu in the hotel dining room. Ordering alcohol at a hotel is always exorbitant. However, when you've been traveling all day and you're exhausted and don't have a lot of other alternatives sometimes you have to do it.

        Having said that I will sometimes add a couple of dollars to the credit card folder if the service was friendly and prompt, and that includes when I call in the order and when it's delivered.

        1. re: Beach Chick

          Aloha BC,

          Most often, I see a "delivery charge," plus a "gratuity," but depending on all the factors of that service, I might add on something, in addition.


          PS - I have seen that many Hilton Inns have cut out any room service. Not sure how that is going for them?

        2. I do lot of room service dinners. Get off plane, find hotel, grab room service menu. Order burger (I know you wouldn't do that), fries, salad and two beers. I'm a creature of habit on the road. Always get that 18% service charge. As beach chick says, what's with the extra $5 in room dining charge? Its not like the burger is cheap to start with.

          1. Has anyone worked in room service management and know the mark up? The prices of the dishes are much higher than the same in the restaurant, there is the service charge (I usually see 18% and assume it goes to the person bringing the food) and then the room charge of up to $5. I don't begrudge them the profit since it's so convenient but do wonder if it's considerably more than the attached restaurant's, which is also often higher priced than other restaurants.

            I have had a server (is that what they're called) tell me that the service charge went to the dishes/trays and he got none of it. He had forgotten a couple of our dishes and when he left, I placed a call to room service and was told he did receive the service charge. I would have loved to take back some of that 18%.

            As for the additional line, I think it's for people who want to leave more than 18% which I have when the person goes up and beyond what he/she should.

            3 Replies
            1. re: chowser

              "I have had a server (is that what they're called) tell me that the service charge went to the dishes/trays and he got none of it.


              he was lying.

              1. re: hotoynoodle

                That's what they told me when I asked the main room service number. That's why I would have loved to get my 18% back, plus that he forgot a couple of dishes and seemed unconcerned.

                1. re: chowser

                  that's the trouble with auto-grats like that.

                  there is a hotel here that does it and the service in the bar is nonchalant at best.

            2. Enjoy your room service while its still available..
              Their getting rid of it at major hotel chains.. opting for pre-made sandwiches and cold drinks by the front desk.
              : (

              13 Replies
              1. re: Beach Chick

                What? That sounds fairly ridiculous to me? What could their possible motivation be for that?

                I really can't remember when last time prior to this I ordered room service of any it won't be missed by me, but I don't understand how that benefits the hotel chain at all.

                1. re: jrvedivici

                  I think the higher end hotels are keeping them..but more of the mid range hotels.


                  1. re: Beach Chick

                    I have been to two examples of this, the Hyatt Place chain and the Aloft chain (Starwood Hotel Group). They are business traveler hotels. They don't have a restaurant or banquet facilities, but the hotels are new and the rooms have every amenity one could expect.

                    Hyatt Place (at least the locations that I have been to), had a beer and wine bar in the lobby and a sort of "deli case" where you could pick up a sandwich, salad, dessert, etc.

                    Aloft (I have only been to the one in Plano, TX, suburb of Dallas) has a full bar and you can order hot food, but it's basically just microwaved stuff, like a small pizza. I believe they also have the cold items available. Aloft has very striking modern decor.

                    Since hotel room service food is not often that great, this compromise is not the worst that you could face. It's a lot better than trying to eke out a dinner from a vending machine.

                    1. re: pamf

                      We encountered this during last year's cross-country road trip--a mini 7-11 kind of deal in the lobby. There was a separate bar (prices were high, but after 10 hours of driving, we needed some wine), but no restaurant. We bought a few things at the little grocery-ette, but prices weren't listed, we didn't ask, and we had it added to our room. We had sticker shock the next day at checkout--purely our fault, but we were hungry, sick of being in the car all day so in no mood to go looking for a restaurant nearby during rush hour traffic. We called it the Idiot Tax.

                      1. re: pine time

                        I really dislike when stores don't post prices.

                        1. re: salsailsa

                          While we certainly coulda/shoulda asked, I don't think we coulda/shoulda have to ask about prices. So, we just paid and didn't grumble.

                          1. re: pine time

                            Agree-you shouldn't have to ask. A really cheap stunt on the hotel's behalf. I've been put in that situation too. Amsterdam was full of places like that which really turned me off.

                  2. re: jrvedivici

                    I think you just answered your own question:)

                    I too pretty much order room service only at starvation or gunpoint, visualizing the kvetching faces of my parents at how I'm being overcharged. But on a recent business trip to Snowmass, CO, we found ourselves hungry—and thirsty— late at night. There was a bar down the street, but it didn't serve any food. The hotel was kind enough to serve us room service in the lobby, so we could hang out, and have a beer down the street while waiting. Expensive, but decent turkey sandwiches. SInce there were no other options, was glad it was available.

                    1. re: jrvedivici

                      Normally, it is a reduction in the overhead of having a staff in the kitchen, to provide the "room service."


                    2. re: Beach Chick

                      I will say that if a hotel gets rid of room service, it will lose me as a customer. I will pick another place that provides it. Most of my trips involve leaving the office late afternoon and running to the airport. I catch a flight that may be 2 hours or inter-continental. I will typically arrive after dinner hours and I'm in no mood to find some place to eat after having avoided the crap in airports and the stuff they serve in planes. Heck, I get to travel in the front on the plane most times and other than on cross continent or overseas trips, the food isn't worth eating. I will have often have room service breakfast the next day, go to meetings and then get on the next plane. So if the hotel doesn't offer 24 hour room service, they will lose me and others like me as customers. Admittedly, I may not be the typical traveler but there are many others like me. Enough to justify a market for someone even if others decide to forgo it.

                      1. re: Beach Chick

                        As mentioned in a reply above, Hilton (at many properties) is dispensing will ALL room service.

                        I still see it offered at some, and also at a lot of boutique hotels. However, with a few of those, if they have a "late-night bistro," then they are curtailing such service too. It just depends on the inn.

                        As we too often are arriving at late hours, this has become something that I have concentrated on. We often will fly to Point A, so as to not have to fly at a horribly early hour, overnight, then fly out at a better time. Depending on where, and when we arrive, I check out the options closely, and note times and days carefully.

                        At most of our "Point A" hotels, there is an adequate bar, bistro, restaurant, and we just dine there - limited menus and wine list, and all.

                        Still, "room service" might have its days "numbered," at least in some corporations. Sort of like the in-flight meals (you get to buy a box of something, if you have a credit card), if one is not in FC. For such, we have searched out, and found airport options, where we fly often. Now, if we could ONLY find something good to eat at LAX, but that is fodder for another thread - like "airport food."


                        1. re: Beach Chick

                          I've done take-out a few times at hotels, so it will be interesting to see if local delivery places try to start picking up the business of delivering to customers in hotels that previously would have ordered room service.

                          1. re: Cachetes

                            There are services that already do this. Seamless is one of them in select cities.