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The expensive business of living in New York

Blog | By James Fletcher | Jun 13, 2020

Hotel bills

The presentation of hotel bill is usually the start of the conversation as opposed to the end. By which I mean - the attractive hotel room rate of $300 will now have all the hidden charges added, which will include local taxes that vary per state and city. The latest chiz is a compulsory Resort Tax of approximately $35 per night, which even applies in the middle of a city. It’s pure nonsense, but will be justified as the cost of amenities you may or may not be using such as wifi, gym, bikes etc. There is a class action suit underway to prevent this shoddy practise. Last year a hotel added a compulsory bellman charge of $35 - and my bags never took longer to arrive. This is done to lure you under false pretences, and so when booking, make sure to ask if $300 is what you’ll find as your total, and if not, what will it actually be. More like $400 - I bet you. And on a longer stay this really adds up.

Restaurant tipping

With the landing of a restaurant bill there is the business of leaving a whopping tip - often more than you’d spend on most people’s Christmas present. So goes the refrain “waiters are so badly paid”. Gratitude and its magnitude is solely measured by cold hard cash, in the order of 20%. Given that most items on a menu - food and drink - easily cost double that of an equivalent restaurant in London, you then have to add 8.875% sales tax, and then 20% on top of that. It’s punchy stuff. The service is often pretty good with one oddity: the so-called waiter only takes your order. The work of delivering and removing dishes is actually done by a bus boy that doesn’t know who ordered what. So waiters do half the work and expect double the reward. As a result, in good times, being a waiter is not an under-rewarded metier. The villain of the piece is usually the grabby landlord - with unprecedented numbers of restaurants closing down, and hard times ahead, there may be some long-needed rent reduction.