I’m a serious budget traveler. On the road, my accommodations of choice typically involve shared bathrooms, views of brick walls and tube TV’s that get three to five channels. But on a recent trip business to Colorado, I had the good fortune of staying at the Ritz-Carlton, Denver — a far cry from the moldy basement apartments and bargain-priced B&B’s to which I am accustomed.
The hotel is wonderful, and it definitely lives up to that song “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” which plays on repeat in all the elevators. (Okay, it doesn’t, but I think it should.) At the beginning of my stay, I put great effort into finding something wrong with the Ritz, thus proving that luxury hotels are a big rip-off and that I am a genius for unearthing $60-a-night centrally located rooms while evading bed bug infestations and burglary.
But there was nothing wrong with the Ritz. Service was impeccable. Hotel staff smiled at me as if I were an adorable kitten. The sushi bar menu didn’t include anything vegetarian, but the chef insisted on creating a customized vegetable roll just for me, which he promptly served on the house. I even looked under the bathroom sink and on top of the shelves in the closet for dust; there was none. I was beginning to see the point of paying $300 per night for a hotel room. But there was one little problem (and it wasn’t the Ritz’s fault).
As a newbie luxury hotel guest, I couldn’t figure out whom to tip and whom not to tip. I had this nagging feeling that I should hand a folded bill to every person who said “Good evening,” held open the door or dispensed advice on what to see in Denver — and this would be a lot of people. I visited the ATM and stuffed my purse with one-dollar bills. I felt like I was on my way to a strip club.
In Hotel Tipping, we recommend tipping the valet $1 to $2. Good to know. But at the Ritz, at least three people were involved in getting us into our vehicle each time we needed it: one guy called for the car, another drove the vehicle to the front of the hotel and a third staff member opened the car doors for us. This process caused me much anxiety. I frantically stuffed bills into everyone’s hand, afraid I would neglect to tip someone, thus unleashing untold karmic retribution upon myself.
We asked, and it turns out valet staff members pool their tips at the end of the day, so there’s no need to go crazy throwing money at everyone in a uniform standing near the car. This piece of information was quite helpful, and now I’m on the hunt for even more tipping tips!
Share your best advice on tipping in the comments below, and you could win a swanky Ritz-Carlton travel spa pack (pictured above).The person who shares the most creative, practical tipping tip by March 22 will win the prize. Be sure to include a valid e-mail address when you comment.
–written by Caroline Costello