Results tagged tip from David Lebovitz

8 Things About Hotels I’d Love to See Changed

breakfast in bed

I’ve worked in the service industry since I was sixteen years old and realize how hard the work is, and how much the people who work in it are undervalued and generally underpaid. On a recent trip I stayed in quite a few hotels, a different one every day for a week, and realized they could be doing a few things that would make things more pleasant for guests, as well as make life easier for the good people that work there:

1. Put amenities in large refillable bottles.

I’ve stopped taking home those tiny bottles of shampoo and body lotion. It’s not that I don’t like them, it’s just that I’m no longer that cheap and don’t mind spending a few dollars every couple of months to buy my own. I suspect most people that take them aren’t merely using them as travel-sized bottles for their carry-ons. I’ve always wondered what happens to those little bottles if I use them once. Do they get refilled, or tossed away? I assume they’re tossed, so I no longer bother to use them and bring my own. But for those who just have carry-ons, let’s all make the switch to using large refillable bottles.

2. Give me a checklist with checkboxes asking me what level of service I want.

I am sure there are people out there that like it when someone knocks on their door in the morning, asking if they’re in there so they can clean the room. And I am certain some people like it when they’re watching television and relaxing in the afternoon and someone stops by to see if they need the minibar filled, then thirty minutes later, another person comes by to lift the top of the sheet from the bed and fold it down, otherwise known as ‘turndown service.’

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Tipping In France and Paris

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One of the most confusing things for visitors to Paris is figuring out the tip system. Unlike the US where tips are expected (and considered part of the wages paid), in France by law a 15% service compris is always included in the price wherever you eat or drink. No matter what anyone says, a service charge is always included. Guidebooks often underscore this fact, reminding you that the service is included. But also they add that it’s okay to leave extra.

But Paris has many international visitors, and it’s pretty common to leave something after a bite to eat or drink (leaving a few coins, or some bills, is called the pourboire, which roughly means “for something to drink.”) But it’s never expected and is only given for good or attentive service, or at a place you habituate frequently.

Other circumstances where a tip is common: In restaurants if you have a baby or children that require special attention, if you don’t speak the language and the server is particularly patient and helpful, or if you stand up and spill red wine all over the place and broken a couple of glasses as well. (Not that I’ve ever done that…)

Although I have a few Parisian acquaintances that don’t leave anything on principal (reasoning that it is, after all, included), most I know do leave a little something. But if you go to a restaurant and they don’t return with your change when you leave money for the bill, that’s extremely bad form and I always say something. And in those cases, I don’t leave anything.

If you do want to leave something extra, don’t add it to your credit card slip since the waiter probably won’t get it. Instead, leave the coins in the tray where the check was presented or on the table.

Lastly: Don’t feel obligated to overtip. In all but the fanciest of restaurants, leaving more than 5-10% is generally not done, even though it may be customary and considered impolite to leave less than 15% in your country.

au boeuf couronne

So here’s a little guide based on my observations and experiences dining and getting around Paris:

Cafés

If you have a drink, although not necessary, often people leave the change. If the bill is 3.80€, you can leave 4€. 5€ (unless you’ve accidentally smashed the table in half or something) is excessive.

Simply round it up the nearest whole figure if you want. At the bar, if a coffee is 1.20€, you can leave an extra 10-20 centimes behind if you want.

Meals & Restaurants

In normal restaurants, including cafés, one can leave €1; for every €20. So if the check is €80, you can leave anywhere from €2-€4. Think of it as a gesture, not an obligation. Once again, it’s not necessary but is appreciated for good service. And I think this equation works out just about right.

In nicer restaurants, such as 3-start tables, where the service is exemplary, a tip of €20 is fine to leave. It’s not normal to tip the coat check person. When in doubt, look at French diners and see what they leave as a gratuity.

Coat Check

In simple restaurants, if the waiter grabs your coats and puts in on the hook, there’s no need to give anything. But in a nicer restaurant, especially if there’s a coat check, €1 per coat is expected.

Taxis

Like restaurants, tipping in a taxi isn’t necessary, although most of the time I give a little extra, roughly an extra 1-2€ in Paris no matter what the fare. If coming from the airport and the driver’s helped you with luggage and the like, 5% is fine to give him or her.

Conversely, if they take you on a tour of Paris, ie: the longest route possible, I don’t give them anything unless they were doing it to avoid traffic or a demonstration blocking the streets.

Concierges

If your concierge at the hotel goes out of their way to make you a host of restaurant reservations, especially at hard-to-get places, it’s a nice gesture to give them something for their efforts. While a box of chocolates or a bottle of good wine is welcome, a monetary gesture of gratitude is a good way to show your appreciation.

If they make a phone call or two to get you into a local bistro, it’s not necessary. If you give them a list of places that you’d like them to book you at, I do recommend a little something, especially if you plan to go back to that hotel. Trust me, they’ll remember you. And getting you into a nicer place that’s normally booked is quite a feat—depending on the level of hotel you’re staying at or restaurant you’ve requested, 5, 10, or 20€ is appreciated.

Hotel Porters

A tip of €1 per bag is appreciated, unless the bag is extra-heavy, in which case you can be more generous.

Theatres

And if you go to the theatre, it’s almost mandatory to tip the usher at least €1 per person for showing you to your seat.

Haircuts

A 10% gratuity is fine to give the person who cuts your hair.

Except for the woman who cut my hair when I first arrived in Paris years ago and I had to walk around the city looking like a sponge that got stuck in the garbage disposal for a couple of weeks until it grew out. She got a tip, but I didn’t go back.

(I hope she used the money to either improve her skills, or to head back to school to find another line of work. Boy, was that scary…)


Related Posts

Wikipedia‘s Guide To Tipping in France and elsewhere.

ParisMarais has a few tips

Magellin’s World Tipping Guide

Fodors’ Foodie Guide

About.com on Tipping in France

Heather’s notes at Secrets of Paris

Two Great Dining Guides to Paris