Hotel Rate Calculator and Gratuity Index
for New York City
[ NEW YORK, NY - NYC - updated 6/1/2011 - www.Littleviews.com ]
>> Tax calculations on the tables that follow are rounded to the nearest cent.
Everyone is on a budget these days, especially travelers who want to make the most of the city during their great stay. At the same time, many who work in the hospitality industry are also on budgets and depend on tips for the majority of their paychecks.
This article, then, is written to alert you to New York hotel-related costs so that you're prepared to meet them as well as issues related to gratuities so you're as generous as possible in response to good service.
Room rates are currently very competitive, especially during non-holiday, non-summer weeks. During the week, you'll find numerous rates from $100 to $235 a night, with many around $150ish. Over the weekend, the spread is $200ish, with some lower and many much higher. Check for yourself at www.Travelocity.com because rates change all the time.
As of June 2009, the taxes and other fees added to the daily hotel rate are:
- New York State Sales Tax = 4%
- New York City Sales Tax (4.5%) and Transportation District Surcharge (.375%) = 4.875%
- Hotel Room Occupancy Tax = $2 + 5.875%
- Additional Daily Fee = $1.50
The calculator below will help you figure out the total cost of a room, without including room service or minibar snacks.
Tips and Gratuities
So, how much to tip? With reference to local media, sources on the web and common sense, I recommend the following minimums. If I appear cheap, I trust someone will correct me right away.
I've received numerous emails from readers on the subject of tipping, but the most surprising was from England.
As this Littleviews' reader was unaware of American tipping habits, she asked whether her experience at Frankie and Johnnies' Steakhouse (269 W. 45th Street) for a party of two was normal. The restaurant put 20% on her bill ($22) without asking. When she questioned it, a restaurant manager told her that the charge was because she was from out-of-town and out-of-towner's don't know how much to leave.
Folks, if this ever happens to you, have the charge removed from the bill and complain loudly as such a practice is fraud. The only time a tip is automatically included is when a policy related to tipping is stated clearly on a menu and is discussed with your party (usually of six or more people) before dining.
The minimum tip of $2 for all services $10 and under should be the standard. Note that when I'm alone, most of my cab rides and meals fall under $10, so I feel that $2 is reasonable. Exceptionally good service nets $3 or $4, with $5+ if I "rent" the table for a long period over coffee and The Village Voice.
If my cab driver spends an enormous amount of time in congestion, I tip more, up to $5 for a $10 ride. If my driver figures out a way to avoid congestion and gets me somewhere on time against all odds, I also tip $5. Maybe more. Note that if congestion is awful, no matter how good the driver, it's best to get out a few blocks short of your destination and just walk the rest of the way. Tip no matter what.
OK. Here are more minimum tipping recommendations for services and meals:
- Restaurants: 15% to 20%. In the case of team service, with a wait captain and several assistants, make that 25%.
Restaurant bills are tricky, as anyone can tell you who has collected money from a table of acquaintances and come up short. Even though everyone put in tip money, they probably forgot about the 8.25% New York City Tax.
As a rule of thumb, just add 30% to base costs for each of your friends' portions and you'll come out OK. That's cheaper than being stuck with the remainder of the bill.
- Sommelier: Generally, the sommelier (wine captain) receives gratuities from the tip pool. You'd cover him or her in the 25% group tip mentioned above. If, however, the sommelier provides you with extra special services, such as finding out your needs, explaining choices and writing down information, $10 is thoughtful.
- Bars: Tip $1 to $2 per drink, with many people leaning toward $2 if the drink is around $10. For fast service on a busy night, tip $3 to $4. For extremely attentive service despite all around you, tip $5 or more (you should be so lucky).
- Tour Groups and Hop On and Off Buses: (Added 4/3/2005) Tipping the tour guide is a good practice, with $3 to $5+ a nice range if you feel that the guide provided an entertaining experience. Tip more for personal attention.
That said, a reader told me that guides on all-day, Hop-On-and-Off Tour Buses constantly have their hands out, greatly increasing the cost of the service. Hummmm. How annoying! That seems contrary to the advertised value. If this is annoying to you, satisfy your transportation needs by taking New York City buses, subways, and cabs.
- Bellhop: $5 to $10 for taking your luggage to your room. Possibly an extra $5 for introducing you to its amenities. Tip $2 for convenience items, like an iron, brought to your room.
(Added 4/3/2005) Bellhopping is growing increasingly rare given that most travelers use roll-about luggage. In my opinion, a really useful bellhop spends up to 10 minutes with you discussing your stay and giving you tips on how to get about. At one time, bellhops also helped travelers unpack, hanging suits and dresses and offering to have things pressed. I am not sure today's travelers need (or even feel comfortable with) these services, so how you interact with a bellhop and what you think is a service well-performed will be based on your particular needs and not on historical reference.
- Concierge: $5 to $10 for average favors and recommendations and more for getting you evening tickets or squeezing you into hard-to-access places. If you think he or she will have an exceptionally hard time making you happy, suggest that you'll pay $25+ for success.
- Doorman (Doorperson): $2 for attracting a cab. $5 for an extra special effort (like calling a cousin to pick you up because there are no cabs around). (This happens.) (It's good.) (Especially when you're late.)
- Room Service Meal: 15% is standard if the attendant assists in setting up your table and your meal is actually warm, otherwise 10%. Check to see if tips are included in room service bills. If so, $2 to $5 will do it for that personal touch, or else remind the server that the tip will be covered automatically at check-out.
- Housekeeping: $5 to $10 per bed per day. If you are in a $400+ a day room, with no problems meeting expenses, be as generous as possible.
- Taxis: If the trip is under $10, tip at least $2. Over $10, tip 15% to 20%. New York City Cabs charge $30 from New York air ports to anywhere in Manhattan, plus tolls. A standard tip is $5, making your whole bill a little over $40. If you are stuck in traffic, up that tip to $10. Also make it $10 if the driver is exceptionally helpful with good suggestions on what to do around town.
- Garage Attendants: It is assumed that garage attendants, unlike restaurant servers or cab drivers, earn minimum wage and are not dependent on your tips. Still, minimum wage is not a treasure-chest salary, so it is up to you to ponder the issue of who (if anyone) should be rewarded. Why? Because in a big, impersonal, city garage, several people might be involved, not just the person who retrieves your vehicle. If you want top protection for your Audi or Lexus, give everyone in sight a wad of money, along with a lecture about the care you expect. If you're known to garage attendants and want them to be extra careful with your door panels, always slip whoever helps you $2. If your hotel doorman calls the garage to have your car delivered to the hotel's front door, give the doorman $2 to $5 and the driver the same. The bottom line is that tipping is for service rendered that is above and beyond the price of the parking.
- Convenience Store Clerk: To my knowledge, clerks earn at least minimum wage and are not under the same negative-wage pressure as restaurant servers. If clerks don't earn at least minimum wage, shame on their employer and you should consider boycotting the establishment. If a tip cup is sitting out on a convenience counter of, say, a large hotel, ask the hotel manager about whether staff gets paid legally as prescribed by US law. I mean, does anyone you know of tip grocery store clerks?
- Food Service Counter Clerk: Should you pay a clerk for pouring your coffee or getting you a bagel? Again, the key is whether the staff is paid a guaranteed minimum wage. If you are a regular, however, and love being greeted warmly, tip generously. Often, however, tips amount to leaving your change in a tip cup, rather than any set percentage.
- Cab Coordinators at the NY NJ Port Authority and at train terminals: Talk about a thankless job! Travelers emerging from terminals always expect to have empty cabs lined up neatly by a cabbie house. Unfortunately, traffic patterns, congestion, and cab pilferers (people who catch cabs just outside of the designated areas) make a mess of everything. Cabbie areas are notoriously lawless, so if you happen to be served by an official cab coordinator who successfully corrals renegade cabs and people during rush hour, the $1 or $2 you slip this person is very, very well deserved!
Questions or comments?
Article and photos by Karen Little. All rights reserved by www.Littleviews.com.