When it comes to tipping, how much is enough or too little? What is appropriate for outstanding service versus regular? Do you tip the gentleman holding the door, then the driver, then the other doorman? Should I carry a pocket full of singles on a daily basis? Goodness! Where do you draw the line? Here are some general guidelines surrounding the etiquette of tipping.
When dinning at a restaurant you consider standard and casual you should expect to leave tips around 15% of your bill. This goes for breakfast, lunch and dinner; whether you had a salad or a steak. If service was particularly good, take that into account and let the tip reflect it. When eating at a place that offers self-service options, you can leave less since you're doing the work.
At a fine dinning restaurant tips for your waiter should be at or surpassing 20%. Service tends to be more complex and the quality of your experience is higher. If you are covering the bill for a large party, the tip is often included, but if your stay was above and beyond the norm let your head waiter's tip reflect it.
When you do go out to an up-scale restaurant there will often be many other people besides your server involved. Doormen, a coat-check, Valet, Maitre d' and possibly a Sommelier all play their respective roles that garner tips. For doormen and coat-check positions a dollar or two is standard. If it's raining or a taxi is called adjust accordingly. If the valet parked your car in a good spot or was particularly timely exceeding five dollars is okay, otherwise that is sufficient. As far as the maitre d' is concerned their primary job is to welcome you, seat you and maybe check in later in your meal. Often a smile is all they receive. However, if it is your first time in a particular restaurant a tip after being seated will make you a remembered guest for future visits. If you are a regular at a favorite spot, a small tip and warm "thank you as always" is often exchanged on the way out. Five to ten dollars is customary, fifteen or more is generous. If you are a lover of wine conversing with a Sommelier is a must. Discussing what you plan to eat and requesting the proper pour will only enhance your night out. Sommeliers are incredibly knowledgeable and welcome assisting or answering your questions. A tip of 10% of the wine costs is standard, but consider 15% or more when ordering multiple bottles or receiving extraordinary suggestions/service. Always tip bartenders at least 15% of your bill. Other staff members such as bathroom attendants usually get a dollar or two depending on your interaction. If you stained your shirt or need aspirin for a headache, these people are life savers.
If you were drinking, or are out of town and traveling by taxi, leave your driver 15% of the total fee. If you are at an airport or hotel and the driver assists you with your bags go a little further. When you are late for work and a driver hustles through traffic, show your appreciation!
All of these people are working hard for you, trying to make your stay as smooth as possible. Nothing is better than be recognized for your work, so when you go out and have a great time, be sure to take care of the people that are making it happen.