What you need to know!
Did a full day walking tour of LA. Our tour guide Damien was very knowledgeable and passionate about giving us all information in a clear and concise way. The tour was very well planned and organised and was not tiring.
We did the Hollywood tour and loved it! The tour was at a great pace and the guide (Vicky) was very knowledgeable and made the tour fun. Thank you
Booked the Wild Wild West To Now tour, our guide Terry was great! (He) was very knowledgeable and the tour brought us to some really cool DTLA areas we've never been to which was so much fun! Definitely worth the reasonable price. THANK YOU TERRY!
We had an Amazing Murder, Mystery & Ghost tour with Damien and Dante... thank you very much from Italian Girls... very interesting and funny… absolutely recommended!
My boyfriend and I took the Heart of Hollywood Tour and had a wonderful experience with Stuart. Really helpful for personal questions, funny, full of knowledge and a passion for Hollywood. Can't recommend this enough!
Angela took us inside some beautiful Broadway theaters, told us about LA history and was very enthusiastic about her city. The great thing was that she actually took us inside the buildings. Plus after the tour we went for the 35cent cocktails! Great tour and great guide!
I did the Historic Core Tour!!! It was an awesome walking tour and very informative even for this Angeleno!! I am downtown daily and drive past this area and never knew the history of various locations of the city!! This provides that!!
My son and I booked and completely enjoyed a private tour. We had a wonderful evening! Damien took us on a fun, informative tour. My son loves photography, and Damien did not disappoint, as he took over 300 photos!
Tipping in the U.S.
One of the most confusing things about traveling stateside is tipping in the U.S. As Winston Churchill (might have) said it’s a riddle wrapped in an enigma inside a mystery. When should you tip? How much should you tip? Is it ever appropriate not to tip? If it’s such a big deal why don’t businesses that accept gratuities include it in the bill? Why, for that matter, aren’t workers in the hospitality industry in the U.S. not paid sufficiently, so that they don’t need gratuities?
Tipping in the U.S. is a social minefield. An ethical dilemma from which there’s no escape while you’re here. Bars, restaurants, hotels, taxis – at any moment it can strike. Is this waiter really expecting me to leave 25%? What if I leave 15%? Will they jeer me out of the restaurant? Or will they just look at me with cold disdain? Even Americans can find it confusing, not to mention downright annoying.
Intimidated? You should be! But don’t worry – we at The Real Los Angeles Tours have written this handy guide to tipping etiquette, that will help you find your way through the minefield and resolve the existential paradox that will hit you when you get back to your hotel room and find some nice chocolates sitting on top of your freshly made bed. To tip the chambermaid or not to tip the chambermaid? That is the question. To find the answer read on.
To address the whole issue of tipping in the U.S. we have to first understand where this custom came from and why it is so prevalent in the U.S. (because it’s without question more common to tip here than anywhere else). To do that we have to consider the type of culture the U.S. has and modern U.S. culture is overwhelmingly an immigrant culture. People from all different parts of the world moved here (some willingly and some of course not). These people had different languages, cultures and customs. You need something to unite them.
Of course students of American history will tell you that this is where the Constitution comes in, the Bill of Rights and the Pledge of Allegiance. Devices that all Americans agree to respect and believe in, which have the effect of binding the people together as one. And of course this is true – to a point. You do need all of these ceremonial, governmental and even mystical elements to make a country such as the U.S. function. But you also need something else.
You need a language – that everyone, no matter what their background, religion or culture etc can understand. As we all know English is America’s lingua franca (although Spanish is now making significant inroads), but a language comes with it’s own cultural background, embedded in its DNA. You need something more neutral, more a-cultural if you like. And that something is money.
Money really is the universal language. It’s math. One and one equals two, two and two equals four. Everyone can understand that. So really money became the U.S.’s official language – which is the main reason why it’s the most capitalist country on earth. In other countries people’s place in society is decided based on complicated factors to do with class, profession, education and, of course, money too. But in the U.S. that’s the major factor. Why? Because it’s the only element on which everyone can agree. There are other countries, which have immigrant cultures to one extent or another, Australia for example, but in those countries there was always a dominant culture – a British, or Anglo, one in Australia’s case. For the U.S., after the Revolution, that wasn’t the case anymore. That doesn’t mean Americans are horrible people, interested only in money and lacking any other cultural expression. Americans are always friendly, polite and nearly always generous to a fault. It’s just that they use money as a way of communicating. U.S. culture is very deep, rich and varied.
What does that mean to you, as you reluctantly ponder whether to leave a gratuity for the chambermaid? Just this. At The Real Los Angeles Tours we promote travel that is respectful of the cultures that we come across. That’s the whole point of the kind of traveling that we enjoy. It’s about accepting and learning from different customs – not imposing our customs on the countries that we visit. When in Rome do as the Romans do. Perhaps where you come from it’s not customary to tip. Here it is. So do it.
Really it’s no different to leaving your shoes at the door if you’re visiting someone from Japan. Or when a German says “danke” – you must say “bitte”. Or when a Russian offers you a glass of vodka. You can’t say it’s eight o’clock in the morning and you haven’t had breakfast. You have to drink it. At the end of the day you can pay people based on an hourly rate, or you can incentivize them by making their pay dependant on customer satisfaction (which is what a tip does). Either way is equally morally okay. It’s just different ways of doing things.
And of course we get it – tipping in the U.S. can get expensive. But that’s just the deal. The U.S. isn’t really a budget travel destination. It can be expensive. But it’s also expensive for your waiter, or bartender, or chambermaid. Even more so, because they can’t leave. They’re always here – unlike you. Remember in the U.S. your tip is sending a message to the worker, the right amount means that you’re grateful and he/she did a good job, the wrong amount means you weren’t happy and he/she didn’t do a good job.
So, how much should you give? What is the “right” amount? What is the “wrong” amount? Since The Real Los Angeles Tours is based in L.A. our guide to tipping in the U.S. will give you an Angeleno’s estimation.
Restaurants: 15-20%. If you give less you’re being mean. If you give more you’re being generous. A common methodology to arrive at the correct amount is to double the tax (which is 9%). That makes 18%, which is very respectable.
Bars: $1-2 per drink.
Chambermaid: $5-10 whenever they change the sheets.
Hotel Porter: $3-5 per bag.
Valet: $3-5 when you pick up the car. It’s also not okay to throw your keys at them… Unless you’re driving a Ferrari…
Taxi: 10%. Previously you couldn’t tip ride-sharing taxi drivers. Now you can.
Car Wash: $3-5. This is given to the guy who does the detailing on your car.
Hotel Concierge: Nothing. If you’re booking a tour with them they’re undoubtedly getting a very healthy commission already (we don’t use them).
Tour Guide: 15-20%. Come on! What did you think we’d say? Tour guides work hard.
Is it ever okay to not tip? Occasionally it happens. You get really terrible service. If that is the case we recommend that you try to resolve the issue with your server/bartender etc first. If that doesn’t work talk to management. If there’s still no improvement, and you’re sure the server/bartender is definitely at fault (because if they aren’t why victimize them?) then you’re free to leave nothing. But be sure you’re right and be prepared to back it up. Either way this kind of situation is very rare. Because the culture of tipping in the U.S. is so strong service is almost always good.