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The art of checking in

Tips for your next hotel stay from a long-time hotelier.

Image of Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality
Author: Jacob Tomsky
Publisher: Doubleday (2012)
Binding: Hardcover, 256 pages

In his new book, "Heads In Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality," long-time hotel employee Jacob Tomsky details the highs and lows of making your stay comfortable...or nightmarish.

"I’ve worked in hotels for more than a decade," writes Tomsky. "I’ve checked you in, checked you out, oriented you to the property, served you a beverage, separated your white panties from the white bed sheets, parked your car, tasted your room service (before and, sadly, after), cleaned your toilet, denied you a late check-out, given you a wake-up call, eaten M&Ms out of your minibar, laughed at your jokes and taken your money. I have been on the front lines, and by that I mean the front desk, of upscale hotels for years and I’ve seen it all firsthand."

Tomsky says the person at the front desk of the hotel holds the key to the success of your stay, and that a $10 or $20 tip can be the difference between a great stay and a disaster. Upgrades, late check-outs, early check-ins, amenities, free room service -- all of these are under the control of the person checking you in.

"The bellmen are tipped, the doormen are tipped, concierge are tipped, maids are tipped, room service is tipped," laments Tomsky. "The front desk is the only position that is non-tipped, so a little gratuity can go a long way."

Tomsky's Tipping Recommendations:

  • Valet: $1-2
  • Bellmen: $2 per bag
  • Frontdesk Agent: $10-20
  • Housekeeping: $5-10 (tip upfront, put it in an envelope with a note of appreciation)

About the author

Sarah Gardner is a reporter on the Marketplace sustainability desk covering sustainability news spots and features.
Image of Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality
Author: Jacob Tomsky
Publisher: Doubleday (2012)
Binding: Hardcover, 256 pages
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And you wonder why AirB&B is so big? Tip the check-in desk for doing their job? Are you kidding me? Card bombs? Well Dear Marriott and Choice, I'll be risking the bedbugs at AirB&B and paying more for real B&Bs instead of going to your chains for my next trip to the big apple and any other wonderful place I want to visit.

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