A Practical Guide to Tipping in New York City from a Local

Tipping on vacation can always be confusing. Every city has its own customs and determining the correct amount can sometimes seem like a daunting task. And it’s one of those things that I always seem to forget about until I have to tip someone and have no idea what the appropriate amount is. For many New Yorkers who work in the service industry, tips may be the majority of their earnings so it’s important to remember to be generous where it’s deserved. Here are a few tips about New York City tipping etiquette to get you through your upcoming visit.

First, you’ll want to keep in mind that the more luxurious of a restaurant or hotel that you’re staying at, the more you’ll want to tip. That’s generally the rule all over the world, I’d say.

What to Tip NYC

Tipping at Hotels in New York

So, let’s discuss tipping at hotels. The first person you’ll typically encounter at a hotel will be the bellhop who will help you with your bags. I’d say about $1-2 per bag should cover it. Although, if it’s a particularly heavy or fragile bag you may want to give an extra dollar or two. Next, you may work with the Concierge to help you with restaurant reservations or tickets to area attractions. Depending on the request and the amount of work involved, this can range anywhere from $5-$20. If for instance he gets you reservations somewhere particularly difficult or tickets to a sold out show or reservations at the city’s hottest table, this would warrant a larger tip.

Next up, you’ll want to tip the hotel’s doorman if he helps you hail a cab, bring your car around from valet or helps you with directions. $1-2 for him or her should suffice. Then finally, you’ll want to remember to tip your housekeeper. $2-5 per day, depending on services rendered should cover this. If you’re particularly messy I’d err on the side of $5/day or more if you are really a slob.

You may find that it’s easier to tip people at the end of your stay if you don’t have change on you all the time. Just be sure to remember people’s names in case they aren’t there when you leave.

Tipping in Restaurants or Bars in New York

Next, let’s discuss tipping in NYC restaurants and bars. Typically waiters and waitresses should get between 15-20% of the total bill before tax. However, these days in New York City 20% is more of the norm unless you receive bad service. Bartenders typically get $1/drink for drinks at the bar. However, if you are somewhere very fancy and getting a pricey cocktail upwards of $15, you may want to go with $2/drink.

And finally coat check attendants, bathroom attendants should get about a dollar too if you have one handy.

Tipping in Taxis in New York

Next, you’ll also likely be in a taxi at some point during your vacation. I would recommend 15-20% of your bill for longer rides. For shorter rides, I typically round up to the dollar and add an extra buck!

Tipping Tour Guides in New York

Next, you’ll want to remember to tip your tour guides. Again, while the typical rate is between 15-20% you’ll want to adjust this based on how many people are in your tour and how much personalized attention you’re given. If you’re on a large tour with over 25 people, I would say that $5/person should suffice. However, if you have a small tour with just a handful of people, $15-$20 per person may be more appropriate. And don’t forget to tip your bus driver a few dollars per person as well.

So, as you can see, you may feel like you’re just constantly handing out money to different people. However, this is their livelihood and part of the cost of traveling so remember to be generous when you receive good service. Remember to bring lots of singles on your trip as this will cut down on the stress of having to make change constantly. Sure, you might feel like a stripper for the first few days of your trip with a wad of dollar bills, but it will save you the hassle of having to constantly get change.

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