About using the house car at a luxury hotel...

Top luxury hotels striving to achieve or maintain 5 diamond status in the United States offer complimentary house car service to their guests.

The house car at a luxury hotel will be something really nice.

The house car at a luxury hotel will be something really nice.

It's likely there is only one house car though, and if this amenity were loudly promoted to guests, many would be disappointed. So you have to be in-the-know. Here's how it works...

First of all, you have to be a customer of the hotel.

Second, though it's free, the driver will expect to be tipped. Nearly everybody at a luxury hotel expects to be tipped: The valet, doorman, bellman, concierge, room attendant, etc. This includes the house car driver.

Usually the house car covers a tight geographic area. That radius from the hotel can be expanded sometimes by special prior arrangement, or with generous tipping.

Ordinarily the house car cannot be reserved. It's first-come, first served. If it is available, and if you cast the right vibe, you will be taken anywhere within the standard service area.

See, not just anyone can get it. If you're a jerk, it probably won't be available.

If you stiffed the driver last time, it probably won't be available.

However, money can change things.

Sometimes the gatekeeper to using the service is the doorman. For example, if you have an important date and would like to go to a location a little outside the house car's range, say to the doorman: "I would like to use the house car. I need to go to XYZ location. Here's $20 for you. I've got $20 for the driver. Can you make it happen?"

Damn right it's going to happen. You will be an immediate priority. The doorman will call the driver and tell him to get back to home base ASAP.

Not only that, you just boosted your ranking among the help. They are going to remember your name. Smiles, handshakes and warm greetings will happen each time they see you. People who are known to be good tippers are definite priority guests.

If you are coming to the city for surgery, this might be an occasion where they will reserve the house car for you, where at a set time the driver will be waiting just for you to take you to the hospital.

Or if you are a regular guest, or staying in one of the fancier suites, it might be possible to reserve the house car in advance.

Sometimes you don't need to be an overnight guest to use the house car. Merely buying a drink at the bar can be enough. Just be sure to tip the driver nothing less than $5. And tip more depending upon the time the driver spends with you.

And for those of you who scoff at tipping, this is how it works. This is the expectation. If you stiff the house car driver, it will probably be your last free ride at the hotel.