It's appropriate to tip the valet who retrieves your vehicle between $2 and $5, depending on the situation. Your exact tip can fluctuate within that range, or even fall above or below it, based on how the valet treats you and your car. There's a specific time to tip the valet, and paying heavily for valet parking doesn't excuse the necessity to tip.
Tip $2 to $5
You don't have to tip the valet during the first part of your interaction with him. Upon choosing valet parking, give your keys to a valet in exchange for a slip that you later redeem to have your vehicle returned. The Emily Post Institute stresses that you shouldn't tip the valet when you surrender your car. When you get your car back, hand the valet between $2 and $5 in cash when he gives you your keys. If you find yourself using the valet service several times during your stay and don't want the hassle of tipping each time, check with the concierge desk to see if you can leave a larger tip to divide among the valet staff at the end of your stay.
Tip Based on Your Interaction
The suggestion of $2 to $5 for a tip for the valet leaves you with some flexibility as you decide exactly how much to tip. Tip around $2 or below if the valet is unfriendly and demonstrates poor care of your vehicle, such as driving it erratically toward the valet stand or slamming the door. Tip closer to $5 or above if the valet is cordial and careful with your vehicle. In the winter, tip more if he's had to remove snow from the vehicle. Don't skimp on your tip because valet parking is expensive; valets still rely on tips for a large part of their income.
When Not to Tip
If you're new to the valet parking experience, you might feel awkward if you don't tip the valet who takes your car upon your arrival at the hotel. Don't be concerned -- it's the norm to tip the valet who returns your car to you, and the staff member to whom you hand your keys won't stand in front of you awkwardly as he awaits your tip. Not having to tip the person who takes your car isn't an excuse to exhibit poor manners; always give a smile to the valet and thank him for his help.
Tip Over the Holidays
Beyond hotel visits, you might encounter a valet at work, a health club or even your apartment. Emily Post recommends tipping valets $2 to $5 across the board, but also advocates giving garage attendants a larger tip around the holidays. The etiquette organization advises tipping the garage attendant $10 to $30 as a holiday thank you. If you're unsure about whether you should tip a valet or garage attendant at a location other than a hotel, inquire at the property management office.
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