A Guide to Everyday Tipping Etiquette

I was recently asked to contribute to a CTV report on tipping etiquette. One of the questions that came up was around self-service restaurants or coffee shops—such as Starbucks Tim Hortons—and whether to tip or not to tip. In my opinion, if you have to wait in line to place an order, vs. sitting down at a restaurant and being served, there should not be an expectation to pay the same gratuity. It’s an entirely different business model.

If, however, you are a frequent customer and you consistently receive extraordinary service—such as remembering your regular order and getting it started before you get to the front of the line—then it’s appropriate (and appreciated) to tip at least 10% to show your gratitude for the extra effort (and to continue to receive that level of service.)

Here is a basic tipping etiquette guide to help you determine the what, where and how much to tip:


Host or maitre d’: $10 – $20 for special service.
Coatroom attendant: $1 – $2 per item
Wait staff: 15 – 20% of the bill, before tax
Wine steward: 15 % of your wine bill
Bartender: 15 – 20% of tab or $1 to $2 per drink

If you are not happy with the level of service you’re getting while dining at a restaurant, do not forego leaving a tip—thinking the waiter will “get the message—speak to the manager.


Taxi driver  ): 20% of the fare or at least $1 if it’s a low fare
Limo driver )
Skycap: $1 per bag
Shuttle bus driver: $1 per bag
Hotel doorman: $1 to $4, depending on the hotel
Hotel bellhop: $1 – $2 per bag
Room service: 15 to 20% of the bill (if not already included in the charge)
Chambermaid: $3 to $5 per person, per day
Concierge: $5 – $10; $15 in big cities
Tour guide: $2 to $5, if pleased with your tour

When traveling, remember that the tipping from one country to the next can vary as much as the culture and the customs. In Switzerland, in the service industry, you don’t need to tip, and if you’re visiting Italy, leaving a tip of no more than 10% is customary. Before traveling to a new country, do your research to avoid offending local service workers. For more, print out this informative visual guide to tipping around the world, and keep it with you when you’re traveling!

Salons and Spas

Stylist / barber: 15 to 20%
Shampooer: $5
Coat check: $2 per coat
Manicurist / pedicurist: 15 – 20%
Esthetician: 15 – 20%
Waxer: 15 – 20%
Masseur / masseuse: 15 – 20%


Food: 10- 15%
Newspaper: $10 – $30 during the holiday season
Groceries: At least $2
Flowers / gifts: Tip at least $2
Valet: $2 to $5 when your car is returned to you
Washroom attendant: $1 – $2
Golf instructor: A tip is always appreciated, but is not customary.
Caddie: $30 to $50, or 50% of the golf fee
Grocery store bagger: If he takes your groceries to your car, offer a $1 – $2 tip. But be aware of no tipping policies.
Shoe shiner: $1 – $2 per pair
Pet groomer: 15% of the bill

One last note: Tip jars are showing up everywhere these days, and here’s my advice on that: If you’re at Starbucks and you have change and would like to leave it, I’m sure it will be greatly appreciated by the staff.

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