Insider Secrets of Luxury Travel


With Gratitude

Everything you ever wanted to know about tipping, but hesitate to ask.

One of the gifts of travel is making connections with the kind and gracious people who go the extra mile to make your trip comfortable, memorable and joyful. One of the most confounding issues — especially on a long trip — is when and what to tip. Like the multitude of customs and cultures you might encounter, etiquette around gratuities varies from country to country. Learning the ins-and-outs of tipping ahead of your journey is an important part of pre-travel prep. Thankfully, Ker & Downey clients receive a personalized tipping sheet, outlining each included service and the suggested tip for that service.

It’s important to note that tipping is a very personal decision. America has some of the highest tipping standards in the world, and our guidelines are only a suggestion for your convenience. Always ask your Ker & Downey designer for their insights and tipping advice, so you know what to expect.

Here’s a handy guide to some of our most popular destinations. 


In Kenya, tipping in USD is acceptable. Most lodges do not convert cash, so be sure to bring enough to cover any gratuity. We suggest tipping $10-$15 per day for game drivers, guides and lodge staff. Most safari properties will distribute tips through a pooled tipping box, usually located in the common area, but personal delivery for exceptional service is also kindly received.

South Africa

With a mix of sophisticated urban centers, wine country idylls and some of the world’s most upscale safari lodges, be prepared to match what you’d pay at home for world-class service, usually between 10% and 20%. Tips are preferred in ZAR, the South African Rand.

Morocco and Egypt

After days spent shopping Morocco’s colorful bazaars or adventuring in the desert, you’ll be spoiled with the most exquisite service, including lavish multicourse meals capped by lavish tea service. In Egypt, you’ll get equally amazing treatment as well as total immersion into the country’s history and customs by knowledgeable docents, whether you’re sailing the Nile in a traditional Dahabiya boat or touring the great pyramids. In Egypt, giving a $10-$15 gratuity is the appropriate way thank your guides, servers, porters and butlers. Moroccans prefer Dihrams, converting to 100-200 MAD per day.

Australia and New Zealand

Gratuities are not customary. In a fine dining establishment or luxury lodge, you can tip 10% for exceptional service, but it isn’t expected.


While USD is accepted, it’s a good idea to have some Indian Rupees (INR) on hand for gratuities. Depending on the service, plan on 500-2,000 INR per day.


Tipping is simply not a part of Japanese culture. An effusive thank you will suffice. Here are three ways to say it: Arigatou = Thanks (very casual). Doumo arigatou = Thanks a lot (also casual). Arigatou gozaimasu = Thank you (recommended usage, more polite).

China and Hong Kong

Tipping is expected and customary in China and should be done in Chinese yuan (CNY, ¥). Service charges are generally added on to high quality restaurant bills so be sure to check your bill. In global hub Hong Kong, tipping is not customary and may in fact be refused.

South Korea

As a rule, tipping is not expected whether you’re in Seoul, Jeju Province or bustling Busan. Showing appreciation for exceptional service is often well-received, $5-10 USD per day.

United Kingdom and Ireland

If a service charge appears on your bill in a restaurant or hotel, you needn’t tip. If it doesn’t, 10% to 15% is appropriate for good service. The range is the same (10% to 15% of the fare) for drivers of black taxis and licensed mini cabs. Locals simply round up the nearest £1, telling the driver to keep the change. This is acceptable for you, too.

Croatia, France, Germany, Greece

Provide a 5% to 10% gratuity for good service, as is customary. 


Things get a bit confusing in the land of flamenco and mighty fortresses. Spain boasts being one of Europe’s oldest and most diverse cultures, but cultural norms around tipping boil down to one rule—always tip, between 7% and 10%, even when there is a service charge. (Yes, in addition to the service charge.) Gratuities are preferred in Euros.

Iceland, Finland and Scandinavia

A fee for service is usually included in these lands of the great Viking sagas. Tip 10% if there is no service charge.


Tipping on Safari or Trekking Expedition

Going into the wild in style is one of travel’s most gratifying experiences. Often, you’ll bond with guides and staff, making the journey richer with these treasured human connections. When preparing for your bucket list adventure, expect to spend 10% of your overall costs in tips. Here’s a rough guide in US dollars.

Guide: $15–$20 per day 

Cooks: $10 per day

Porters, butlers: $3-$8 per day

Trackers, drivers: $3-$10 per day

Photo courtesy of D.O.M. Hotel Roma

Photo courtesy of D.O.M. Hotel Roma


Find the best of the best in the Eternal City.

A high point of any Roman holiday is strolling cobblestone streets in search of treasures, ranging from incredible antiques and artworks to artisan-run boutiques, where you’ll often see makers handcrafting their wares through storefront windows late into the night. Just off-the-grid from heavily-touristed piazzas, D.O.M. Hotel Roma — built by the Gonfalone Fraternity in 15th-century papal Rome — on Via Giulia makes it easy to discover the neighborhood’s most exclusive retail addresses via private shopping, whether you’re looking for the perfect bauble at the Chopard boutique in Via del Babuino or a colorful, bespoke leather handbag at by-appointment-only Maison Halaby on hidden gem Via Monseratto (lined with charming shops like beautifully-curated, must-visit Chez Dede and Poltrone Couture). The boutique’s proprietor, Lebanese designer Gilbert Halaby, offers a warm welcome with tea, coffee or an apertivo, and regales you with stories as he gets to know your taste in the cozy salon decorated with his paintings, textiles and collections. Then he custom-makes the perfect purse. That elevated style of personalized service extends to the hotel, where your retail finds are hand-delivered, so you have ample time to enjoy the on-property resto and bar, Achilli al D.O.M., serving classic Roman dishes as an outpost of Michelin-starred restaurant Achilli al Parlamento. As a rite of summer, the restaurant moves up to the rooftop terrace for the warm season, offering views of the Tiber River and Gianicolo hill, as well as fun cocktails and fresh, farm-to-fork meals. 


Travel accessories and multitasking take-alongs have gotten sleeker and stronger, without sacrificing a single ounce of chic. In an Instagram world, the new status symbols are logo-less wonders that work hard and keep you looking sharp. 


Foodies are flocking to Mexico, where one of the most beloved global cuisines is reaching new heights with celebrated chefs and bold, local flavors. These are the dining experiences we’re craving right now.


Manta, The Cape Hotel

Cabo San Lucas

When Mexico City–born chef Enrique Olvera opened Pujol in his hometown in 2000, he immediately garnered acclaim for his innovative contemporary takes on his country’s traditional fare, making it one of the top restaurants in the world. Now with restaurants throughout the city as well as New York, his first foray into resorts has been at The Cape Hotel in Los Cabos. He has handled all of the property’s food and beverage offerings since its opening in 2015, including its signature restaurant, Manta. 

The 114-seat space was designed by architect Javier Sánchez and interior designer Marisabel Gómez Vázquez to provide a modern, view-focused backdrop for Olvera’s ever-changing menu based mostly around the local seafood. Expect traditional regional fare with flourishes inspired by Peru and Japan, such as sashimi with aji Amarillo, sesame, and wasabi and mushroom ramen with epazote, beans, and pasilla mixe. 

Whether seated inside next to the floor-to-ceiling glass windows or outside on the patio, each seat takes advantage of the stunning coastal backdrop and ocean views. Since the property is centrally located among the region’s other fine resorts, it’s an easy jaunt from any of the area’s other properties for dinner or casual cocktails and tapas.


Centena Cuatro, Hotel Cartesiano 


Founded in 1531, Puebla has roots as the first “perfect” colonial city in the Americas. Located at the center of the country and surrounded by three volcanoes and 365 churches, it’s the ideal spot to take in a combination of art, history, culture and the renowned Poblano cuisine, some of which is best discovered at the Hotel Cartesiano’s signature restaurant Centena Cuatro. Chef Antonio Trillo oversees the international menu, which considers the culinary traditions of the four centuries since the city was founded. The space serves meals throughout the day, starting with breakfast items like Hidden Eggs, featuring baked tortillas stuffed with eggs and covered with beans, chorizo, and local cheese, and dinner items like Rib Jack barbecue and mole-wrapped stuffed chicken with toasted sesame.  

The hotel is one of the latest properties from the Hamak Hotel group, known for their bespoke properties that merge luxury with culture, such as the Chablé Resort and Spa in the Yucatán and Casa San Augustine in Cartagena.  


Restaurant at Careyes Club and Residences, Pueblo 25, and Casa de Nada


Ever since the El Careyes Club and Residences debuted in 2017 after an extensive renovation that saw a total redevelopment of its accommodations, common areas, and grounds, Careyes — celebrating its 50th year — has been attracting a new slew of bohemian-minded visitors flocking to its coast. They're coming for the stunning beaches, pristine rainforests, the community’s remarkable signature architecture and music and spiritual festivals like Ondalinda, happening each November. With the new attention, the region’s best restaurants are also making names for themselves. The private Restaurant at the El Careyes Club features a broad mix of Mexican-influenced dishes in the quiet, beachfront setting of the hotel. Just outside the gates of the community, Pueblo 25, with its bright pink façade, offers global cuisine using local ingredients from the nearby farms and fresh catches of the day. Hosting just 24 guests, the intimate venue also boasts a boutique wine cellar and tasting room. Finally, further away from the town, in a setting all its own, Casa de Nada offers a rustic experience in a secluded beachfront setting to dine on a range of options, from Mexican to Mediterranean to vegetarian. Go at sunset, dine by torchlight and mingle with chic Careyes locals.