Hotel tipping in Toronto – do you or don’t you?

September 11, 2016

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When you stay at Toronto hotels – or hotels anywhere in the world – do you tip the staff? It’s a question you might have to ponder because unlike at restaurants, tipping at hotels isn’t as clear cut.

Tracy Ford, director of public relations at the Chelsea Hotel, says tipping isn’t expected, but there are certain conventions guests tend to follow.

For bellmen, doormen and valets, patrons usually give anywhere between $3 and $5. Whereas for house-keeping staff, it varies. “There really isn’t one universal amount,” she says.

Etiquette consultant Lisa Orr notes there’s a difference between how hotel guests tip now and how they used to in the past. Years ago, in an Emily Post world, the conventions were rigid with specific tips for certain people.

Bellmen, for instance, would get $1 to $2 per bag. And depending on the length of your stay, housekeeping staff would get $2 to $5 per day. “It’s really not done very often,” says Orr of this type of tipping. “It’s much more of a historical practice.” Tipping etiquette is starting to change.

Back in 2014, Orr notes, the Marriott Hotel chain launched a campaign to encourage guests to tip their housekeepers. Though it didn’t go as planned. Many responded to the Marriott by asking why the multi-national chain wasn’t paying its employees enough.

Like some Toronto restaurants, in 2010, the Elysian hotel in Chicago (which is now the Waldorf Astoria) banned tipping altogether in favour of paying its staff members more competitively.

Orr says this summer, she began polling friends about whether or not they tipped their hotel housekeepers. No one responded with a yes. She hopes this is a sign the industry is changing for the better. “In my dream scenario, in ten years, we’re not talking about hotel tipping anymore because people are being paid a fair wage.”