Tag Archives: travel tips

Tips for Hotel Tipping and Then Some

Fran Berger's tips on tipping

Tips help make your trip more enjoyable – in more ways than one!

Fran Berger's travel tips on tippingI have done quite a bit of traveling in my lifetime and I’ve picked up tips and tricks along the way.

The big one for all international travel these days is to scan your passport, airline tickets, driver’s license, and itinerary and keep the images on iCloud or Dropbox (don’t forget to upload the app to your phone). That’s one of the nifty things about technology these days – full access to just about anything from just about anywhere. Take advantage of that convenience on your next trip.

Here’s another important one for international travel. I always use ATMs to get local currency (e.g., Euros) and always bring at least one credit card that doesn’t charge exchange fees. I don’t use the currency converters in airports and hotels anymore –  I save a small fortune by cutting out their very high exchange rates and fees. And, I always keep different currencies separate: I have separate sections in my travel wallet for my US Dollars and Euros or other foreign money.

There’s a burning question that I’m always asked: “Do I have to tip?” You never HAVE to tip anyone, but it’s a real faux pas if you don’t. Let me explain.

Starting at the airport – if you’re checking in curbside, $2 per bag is a very nice thing to do for those guys who are hefting bag after bag. They make sure your bags get to the plane.  But, they can do so much more than that sometimes.  My girlfriend travels with her small dog.  She makes sure she is at the airport really early for her flights but she always has extra paperwork for the dog that has to be checked.  So, when she gets to the curbside porter she makes sure he knows she will tip him very well if he helps her complete the paperwork for the dog.  It has been extremely helpful more than once.

Bellhops are on the same level as the curbside checkers. All they do is haul bags. I think it’s only fair to tip $1-2 per bag when they deliver your luggage straight to your room. Consider bumping that up if you have a lot of bags or you’re staying at a very nice hotel (like a five* – trust me, it comes back to you in more ways than you know).  Tip them after they’ve delivered your bags and explained your room.

Got a special request from housekeeping – maybe an extra pillow or the toothbrush you forgot to pack? Make sure you have at least $2 each time they deliver something. Another note on housekeeping, I tip $2-3 per every night I stay. If you’ve got extras in your room – kids, more than 1 of you, a mess, et cetera – then the tip is more like $4 to 5 per night.

Room service seems like a no-brainer. Of course, you’re going to tip the delivery steward. If gratuity is included in the bill, you can just add an extra $1-2 for the extra. If gratuity is not included, then don’t forget to tip as you would a restaurant: 15-20% of the check.

It used to be no question about tipping Doormen.  Maybe they’re just opening the door – but maybe they’re also helping you get a cab? Calling bellhops to help you? Giving you local travel tips? Unless they are only opening the door for you – you’ll want to give them $2 each time you pass. If you use Valet-Parking, then give the Attendant $2 to 3 each time they fetch your car.

I use the hotel Concierge all the time for restaurant reservations, theater and concert tickets, and questions about all sort of things. Generally, I tip $5 to $10 or more (for difficult to get reservations or tickets) per each time I come to the desk.

I know those tips add up but service staff live for their tips. Because the staff that serves you is not always the same each day – especially if you’re staying several days, then put all the accumulated tips into one envelope for each department at the end of your stay and mark the envelopes for every service you’re leaving tips: “Housekeeping, Room Service, Valet, Concierge, et cetera.” Drop off the envelopes at the front desk. The managers will make sure that the tips are shared appropriately with the staff that was on duty during your stay.

One last tip – if you are traveling overseas, check an online travel guide for the customs of the countries that you will be visiting.  For instance, in some countries, the gratuity is included in the bill. In other countries – like China and Japan for example – the staff will not take tips. According to my friend who has traveled to Japan many times, tipping is considered an offensive display of wealth and pity. But, on the other hand, in many places around South America, if you don’t tip you’re committing far more than just a mere faux pas!

But, let’s roll this back to the good ol’US of A. Here, in this country, tipping is a courtesy. It’s a mark of appreciation – that you received good service and you recognize the effort. And here’s another thing. Word gets around the “house” who tips and who does not. Need I say more?

4 Great Reasons Why Beverly Hills is a “Local Exotic” Travel Destination

Broiled Jumbo Nova Scotia Lobster - The Palm

Lucky you if you’re a LA Local: “Exotic” Beverly Hills’ is just a drive away!

I love to vacation in exotic places. But who says “exotic” has to be far faraway? I’ve been living in Beverly Hills for more than twenty years. I’ve owned restaurants here, raised a family, made all kinds of friends, and I’ve learned so many things. Like anywhere else though I suppose, it’s easy to take your own backyard for granted.

But I don’t like to take anything for granted. I’m constantly looking for places in my own neighborhood to eat and be entertained. So, I’ve taken it upon myself to do more exploring locally – even to places that are very well known to me and my friends. I’ve mapped out of a few favorite places around Beverly Hills that are so fun, I think they definitely qualify as part of the “local exotic” scene.

Let’s start at The Palm Beverly Hills. A fabulous landmark restaurant located on Canon Drive’s well-known “restaurant row.” This is the ‘rebuilt’ Palm – the old one was in West Hollywood for more than 40 years and had to move after their lease ran out. But what a rebuild – it’s beautiful!  I go with a girlfriend when either one of us gets the “urge” for lobster! Because I like my clams served without a lot of stuff to blur their sweet taste, I always call ahead to ask them to set aside at least a dozen to serve simply steamed with drawn butter to start. If I’m feeling a bit healthy we share a classic wedge salad with lettuce, crisp bacon, ranch dressing and the blue cheese on the side (blue cheese isn’t my favorite).  Then we get down to my favorite part of the meal – the”Broiled Jumbo Nova Scotia Lobster.” Always order a 4-pound female lobster to share. Female lobster tails are larger than the male’s, and really, isn’t the tail the best part? Be sure to order the best creamed spinach you’ve ever tasted to enjoy with your lobster and you have the perfect meal! They’re open for lunch and dinner and I always suggest reservations.

How about brunch on Saturday or Sunday? I highly recommend The Blvd restaurant at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills for their unlimited Champagne Bar.  They serve Perrier-Jouët Champagne – which is a really great bottle of bubbles – and also offer orange juice (for Mimosas) or peach (for Bellinis).  But I always say – why mess with a good thing- if the bubbles are that good you should enjoy them all by themselves. And, the great thing is that you really can’t go wrong with anything on the brunch menu. The dining room is a beautiful backdrop for a lazy afternoon – or request a table outside and do some serious people watching while enjoying your champagne.  Definitely make reservations if you want to go.

Want casual dining but with a flair for the refined? South Beverly Grill on South Beverly Drive fits the bill. It’s one of those places where you can really feel at home for lunch or dinner.  The food and service is consistently good!  They have one of the best cheeseburgers around, definitely order it with fries. If you’re over 21 sit at the bar and try to be in George’s section,  I think he’s one of the best bartender in Beverly Hills. No reservations for the bar, but if you want a table, I recommend reservations, especially for dinner.

Hopefully there’s a concert you want to see while on your vacation, and there’s no better venue than the world-famous Hollywood Bowl. My favorite thing to do during the summer is to make a plan with friends, get a box, bring a picnic for “al fresco” dining and listen to my favorite music.  They have something for everyone – special themed nights like “sing-a-longs” (this season one night was The Sound of Music) or the Los Angeles Philharmonic – Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets, classical music, jazz and so much more.  It’s absolutely magical – food, music, a warm summer night and the stars.  Not sure it gets any better.

And now you know some of my personal favorites!