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Should You Be Expected to Tip in a Hotel Club Lounge?

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Hotel club lounges often have tip jars for guests to thank lounge employees for their service, but TPG Contributor Cindy Gossett recently discovered a more overt request for tips in the Club Lounge at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers.

As a long-time Starwood Platinum, I’ve stayed in a lot of SPG hotels. Recently, I had an overall great stay at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers, but found something new to me in the hotel’s Club Lounge — as my family finished our breakfast each day, a lounge employee dropped off a card and pen at our table.

The card as presented in the club lounge.
The card as presented in the Club Lounge.

At first, it looked like a comment card, but on closer inspection, I realized the staff wasn’t as much interested in my comments on their service so much as the tip on the bottom line.

A closer view of the card indicated its true purpose.
A closer view of the card indicated its true purpose.

I wasn’t the only one to notice. I overheard a few comments from other people, including a gentleman at the table behind me who said to his traveling companion, “Did you fill out this… oh, wait — they only want a tip.”

I was especially interested in the concept of the comment card because my next stay was at a Sheraton in Europe where I visited the lounge and couldn’t even find a tip jar to thank the lounge employees there, which made the distinction all the more apparent. And it brought up in my mind the larger question about when lounge staff should be tipped. Should it always be expected, or just when the staff goes out of their way to be helpful?

The evening spread at the Sheraton on the Park in Sydney.
The evening spread at the Sheraton on the Park in Sydney.

I should say that I’m a good tipper at hotels and elsewhere. I get free or discounted breakfasts with most of my hotel stays, and of course, I always tip on the value of the breakfast rather than what it actually costs me. And since I don’t always carry cash, being able to add the tip to my room is convenient. At the Dolphin Hotel in Disney World, for example, on the days that I chose the continental-only option for my family, the servers charged me a penny for breakfast, which was enough to print a bill and allow me to leave the tip on our final folio. Likewise, I was just at a Four Points that was able to zero out the bill entirely, but still allow me to leave the tip for breakfast on my bill. I find this system helpful, as I’d rather have charges added to my final folio and put on my Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express.

Still, I was surprised at how overt the tip request was in the case of the Club Lounge at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers, especially considering how often I have to go out of my way to find a way to tip lounge staff. I wonder if this experience was an outlier… or a harbinger of what hotel guests should increasingly expect in the future.

Do you tip the lounge staff at hotels? If so, do you prefer a tip jar or a way to leave a tip on your folio rather than using cash?

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