Is it rude to tell a hotel porter I can carry my own luggage?
November 30, 2012 8:35 AM   Subscribe

Do I have to let a hotel porter carry my luggage? I'm staying at a semi-fancy hotel tonight (purchased cheaply via Priceline), and I can easily carry my own tiny suitcase. I'm on a budget. Is it rude for me to say I can get my own bag? Will the porter (bellman? I don't even know the right terms here) come up with me anyway? How much am I expected to tip? Thanks!
posted by three_red_balloons to Travel & Transportation (18 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Where are you located? Some countries have a tipping culture and others do not.

My experience at very fancy hotels in a number of major cities around the world has been that the front desk asks me if I need help with my luggage, rather than assumes that I do. That gives me an opportunity to either ask for help or decline. I've never had it forced upon me.
posted by dfriedman at 8:36 AM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Nope. I stayed at the Drake Hotel in Chicago for work, which is full-fancy, and just had a small duffel bag type thing, they asked if I needed help with my bags, I said no thanks, and went on my merry way!
posted by Grither at 8:36 AM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I travel routinely for business, often overnight trips with my laptop bag and a small duffel bag, and I always politely decline their assistance, and don't think twice about it.

When I do travel with a lot of luggage (family vacation), I usually tip $2/bag or so.
posted by scblackman at 8:37 AM on November 30, 2012 [4 favorites]

We were in DC* in much the same situation, even down to the fact that we got the room for cheap on priceline or some such.

We walked in with our hiking backpacks and, if I recall correctly, a rolling luggage bag. We checked in, said "No, we're used to carrying our bags, but thanks" when the offer was made, and went up the elevator to our room. I didn't feel pressured or odd at all.

* Here is where we stayed, near Dupont circle, if that matters in your figuring.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:41 AM on November 30, 2012

You can say "no thanks," they're not going to wrestle the bag out of your hand and put it on a trolley.
posted by elizardbits at 8:47 AM on November 30, 2012 [3 favorites]

I think that porters expecting to carry your luggage has really decreased with the advent of rolling luggage. I don't think it will be awkward at all for you to politely decline, if asked directly, which you may not be.

However, sometimes things get weird and they unexpectedly want to bring up your bags later or something. I find that keeping singles in my pockets in anticipation of this perhaps happening keeps me from worrying about the awkwardness of not having a couple of dollars handy should the need arise.
posted by Morrigan at 8:47 AM on November 30, 2012

I travel frequently and stay at a variety of hotels--while I have never felt a pressure to tip I do frequently enlist the bellman's help--if only because we all need to make a living. I just assume that tipping--whether restaurant, shuttle driver, taxi, porter etc-- is part of the cost of traveling and being entertained. Particularly in countries where tips are part of the persons living wage (including the US).
posted by rmhsinc at 8:51 AM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

No, not at all. Unless you have an excessive amount of luggage, to the point where you'd be taking several trips on the elevator or otherwise inconveniencing other guests, it's not rude to decline the porter's offer. It is rude for them to not offer, which is why they will ask you.
posted by acidic at 8:52 AM on November 30, 2012

In my experience hotel staff always asks if you would like help with your bags, either at the valet stand or at the front desk and you can always say, "no thanks." I've never been in a situation where they assumed they would carry my bags up.

If I do get their help, I usually do like $2 a bag.
posted by magnetsphere at 8:56 AM on November 30, 2012

Just nthing what others have said -- staff in semi-fancy hotels will ask you if you need help with your bags, but they generally will not assume you need help with your bags. For the most part, the desk clerk or doorman/parking attendant ask, and only signal the bell desk if you say yes, so you're not even saying no to the person whose service you're turning down.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:05 AM on November 30, 2012

I stay at the Ritz-Carlton a few times year for work. They always take the bag out of the car for me without asking, but then ask if I need help getting to my room. I think pulling the bag out of the car is their may of keeping traffic moving in the porte-cochère. It would create a huge traffic jam at the hotel doorway if they waited for everyone to get out of the car, stretch, pay the driver and then grab their suitcases. If it's tacky to handle your own bag, then I'm tacky almost every week.

The only note, is that it does vary culturally. I wouldn't try to carry my own bag in India where the porter is absolutely expected to do it.
posted by 26.2 at 9:31 AM on November 30, 2012

Heavens. I would hate to think we're at a point where you don't have the right to keep your own stuff in your own hands if you so choose, or where you have to pay people for services not rendered because it's impolite not to allow them to be rendered.

In other words, carry your own bags and don't feel bad at all, is my advice. I agree with everyone.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 9:41 AM on November 30, 2012

If for some reason they get weird about that decision, it's because they're a lunatic, not because you behaved inappropriately.

As someone who, like you, often worries about such things, I think this particular piece of advice is true for, at least, 95% of the decisions you make. If it's your decision and they get weird, it's THEIR fault. (Easier said than to believe sometimes, trust me I know -- in fact, I'm thinking about writing it on my hand every morning.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:46 AM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you are staying in a VERY fancy hotel (or yacht, country house, castle, etc) then you might expect your bags to be taken from you, transported to your room and unpacked. If that were the case then I would expect this to be made clear to me at the time - and that would be the sort of place where one would leave a tip at the end of your stay. Otherwise - as others have said - carry your own bags if you wish.
posted by rongorongo at 11:30 AM on November 30, 2012

sometimes things get weird and they unexpectedly want to bring up your bags later or something

Morrigan, how does this happen, where your worry about being separated from your luggage unexpectedly is that it would be awkward not to have a few dollar bills?
posted by yohko at 12:10 PM on November 30, 2012

No, this is not a problem in at least the US, Canada, and Europe. I regularly stay at fancy hotels in all of those places and I never get assistance with my luggage because I only carry a small rolling bag and a handbag. Not a problem at all.
posted by bedhead at 1:48 PM on November 30, 2012

You have the right to refuse any service you do not require. Just do it nicely and there should be no problem. I've certainly never had one.
posted by Decani at 12:59 AM on December 1, 2012

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