Tipping is always a bit of a controversial topic. No one likes to be embarrassed by not giving a generous enough tip, but there are also times when you feel like everyone has their hand out expecting a little something. We've put together a this Guide to NYC Tipping Etiquette to help make things a little easier.
For New Yorkers who work in the service industry, including hotels, restaurants and drivers, tips are an essential part of their earnings. Take into consideration the level of luxury at a place, as well as the quality of service when determining a tip. At an upscale hotel or restaurant with good service, tips should be at the higher end, while at more modest places, the lower end is acceptable. Aside from at restaurants/bars where tips can be put your bill, most tips are expected in cash.
Tipping at New York City Hotels
It can often feel like everyone needs at tip when you're staying at an upscale hotel. Here are some suggested tipping guidelines:
- Hotel Doorman - hailing cab, bringing car from valet - $1-2
- Porters and Bellhops - $1-2 per bag
- Housekeeping - $2-5 per day, depending on services
- Concierge - $5-20, depending on request. More for particularly difficult requests
- Room Service Waiter - 15-20%, though this is often included in your bill
Tipping at NYC Restaurants & Bars
Most waitstaff and bartenders are paid very little and rely heavily on tips for their income. Check your bill to be sure that a restaurant (or bar) didn't automatically add a gratuity to your bill (this is particularly common when traveling with a group) -- there's no need to double-tip.
- Waitstaff - 15-20% of the total bill
- Bartender - $1-2/drink for drinks served at the bar; 15-20% of the total bill otherwise
- Maitre d' - $20-50, depending on circumstances and restaurant
- Coat check - $1/item
- Bathroom attendant - $1
Tipping Tour Guides in New York City
Like most other service providers, tour guides depend on tips. Generally, a 15-20% guideline applies, though I think that tipping in these situations should also reflect the size of the tour group, as well as the length of the tour. If the tour guide provides you a lot of personalized attention or gives you additional advice/assistance, your tip should reflect it.
- Small Group Tour (less than 15 participants) - $15-25/person
- Medium Group Tour (15-30 participants) - $10/person
- Large Group Tour (30+ participants) - $5/person
- Tour Bus Driver - $5-10/person, depending on size of group
Tipping Drivers in New York City
- Taxi Drivers - 15-20% of fare; for short rides, I normally add a dollar and round up
- Limousine and Livery drivers - 15-20% of fare; if you pre-pay, be sure this isn't already included
- Shuttle Drivers - $2/person
Tipping at Spas & Salons in New York City
At many spas and salons, even if they accept credit cards, they expect you to tip in cash, so keep this in mind.
- Hairdressers - 15-20%; $2-5 to the assistant who washes your hair, if applicable
- Manicurist - 15-20%
- Masseuse - 15-20%
- Aesthetician - $15-20%