SuitcaseTipping at hotels was a surprising thing to research for this series. I travel quite a bit both domestically and abroad and always thought I knew the ins and outs of the business. Obviously you tip the bellman if he takes the bags to your room and leave something for the room service if it isn’t included. But I learned that some people also consider it customary to tip the concierge, maids and doormen as well.

I don’t have any problem managing my luggage so I’ve never tipped for bellman service, but I always thought a couple bucks was standard. Well it turns out I may be way off base. lists a standard tip for the bellman around somewhere between $5 and $10. Much higher than I would have thought, but a dollar tip doesn’t go very far anymore apparently. Some other sites put the figure around a dollar per bag, but bump it up if he actually prepares your room and shows you amenities.

Concierges accept up to five bucks for making reservations. Though as always, extraordinary service might require a better tip. The rules are a little stranger for the taxi stand—you don’t need to tip there, but you do if someone hails a cab from the street. Maids are tipped depending on the quality of the hotel. Average hotels are worth one or two dollars per night while higher end ones are worth three to five. ( I don’t know what the rules for couch surfing are.)

As far as how you tip the maid? They don’t make it easy. In Europe where coinage is much more common I routinely left piles of Euros lying on the nightstand and table. It never got touched, even though many of those places might have accepted tips. To tip the maid you need to make use of the hotel stationary and write “Chambermaid” or “Maid” on the outside of a sealed envelope. It’s difficult for me to imagine anyone doing this, but that’s how it’s done.

I’ve spent at least a year of my life living in hotels and have never once tipped the maid or seen anyone do it. It’s entirely possible that everyone in my family and the people I travel with are all universally cheapskates. But I can’t really believe that all this time there’s been a common expectation of gratuity that I was completely unaware of. The importance of tipping maids and concierges certainly isn’t as vocally emphasized as it is for servers.

I probably won’t change my habits in light of this new information, but then I seldom handle the finances when I travel anyway. If the hotel industry wants to make tipping a draw for their employees then they need to step up and make the expectations clear and easy to follow.

What about you?

When not travelling to exotic destinations, Mike writes Broken Cupid, a dating blog for single gay guys.