Hotel Tipping: A Change is Gonna Come

Travel Blog  •  Alexander Basek  •  04.01.09 | 10:30 AM ET

I’m pretty good about tipping in hotels. I don’t mind dropping the bucks for bellmen—especially after I spent two days as one at the Hotel Giraffe for the New York Post—and I agree that some money for the maid in an envelope is usually the way to go. However, I had an interesting situation in Buenos Aires that made me wonder whether I made a cultural faux pas.

At the moment, BA is in the throes of a change shortage. There simply aren’t enough coins—you see signs everywhere that say “NO HAY MONEDAS” or demand exact change if you’re buying a pack of cigs. The buses in Buenos Aires only take coins, so the commute for a lot of working people in the city is rather difficult. I accumulated a fair amount of change over the course of my stay, and on the recommendation of a friend who lived in the city, I gave it to one of the front desk fellows at my hotel who had been helpful. He seemed a little ... surprised, though he said “Great! For the bus!” after an awkward pause. Still, I felt weird just giving someone a handful of change as a thank you.

Have you guys ever given unorthodox tips in hotels? Cookies? A hat? Tell me I’m not the only one.

Alexander Basek is a food and travel writer based in New York City. He is the Best Deals reporter for Travel + Leisure. His writing has also appeared in the New York Post, Time Out New York, and Fodor's.

6 Comments for Hotel Tipping: A Change is Gonna Come

Michael Yessis 04.01.09 | 11:56 AM ET

You are not the only one.

I once gave a strip of metro tickets to the bellmen at a Montreal hotel. They’d given us tips on navigating the metro and they talked about how they used the metro often. They seemed a bit surprised but happy with the gesture.

Sophia Dembling 04.01.09 | 12:41 PM ET

When I traveled in Russia shortly after the Soviet Union broke up, I carried a bag full of toys, crayons, soap, toothbrushes and other toiletries and tipped with those. People seemed happy.

Robert Sandles 04.01.09 | 1:17 PM ET

Hi, I’ve been on the other end of unsual gifts!! Working as a Front Desk Agent at the Hilton National in Southampton, England I was given 2 gifts that have always stuck in my mind, one was bizarre and the other one was because I can see it everyday.

I was given a nice wrapped ( Birthday Wrapping Paper ) rather heavy box, on departure from a guest flying out of Southampton Airport with the simple comment, “Thank you I have enjoyed my stay and this is for you.” On unwrapping the box it was a set of Solid Brass Door Furniture. Wow thank you !!

And the second one was from an older Couple who were travelling around the Uk in a caravan, spending the odd few nights in hotels when they fancied a treat. Well on speaking to them in the foyer the lady explained that her husband was a retired artist and they were travelling around his old haunts reminicing & I explained that I was buying my first house.

We only spoke couple of times, a hello here and there but on departure he asked me to go to the room to help them bring their luggage down to the foyer. On arrival at the room they invited me in and her husband said how much they had enjoyed their time in Southampton and pesented me with a tiny watercolour of my house which he had done. How wonderful they had spoken to my collegues and found out where my new house was and taken the time to take a look & paint it.

I thought this was such anice and thoughtfull gesture that I still have that water colour framed in my extrance hall at my house as a reminder to me that although evryones home is his castle. Travelling over the drawbridge will allow you to meet some wonderfull people, and I thank them from the bottom of my heart.


Robert Sandles

Sophia Dembling 04.01.09 | 1:33 PM ET

Wow, I love that story! Did the door furniture make it into the painting?

Robert Sandles 04.01.09 | 1:35 PM ET

NO unfortunatly the door furniture only made it onto Ebay LOL

Scribetrotter 04.12.09 | 5:43 AM ET

In the 1980s during the war I traveled to East Beirut. The fighting made it difficult to cross the city but, in true Lebanese style, the casino and yacht club remained open for business.

One night a group of us went off to the casino… I played and I won about 10,000 Lebanese pounds (I have NO idea what that was in those days). Back at my hotel, I realized the money was inconvertible - so I gave it away to the front office manager and asked that it be split among the staff…

Easy come, easy go!

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