Tuesday 17 February 2015
You get into a taxi in London to go on a journey that you have been told is about 4 kilometers long, but the driver takes you through a warren of streets on a journey that lasts 25 minutes. Do you leave a tip? What about at a restaurant in Paris where the food is delicious, but it is served by a waiter who is grumpy and curt. Do you tip? What about the porter who carries your bags to the hotel room, or a guide on a tour? To answer these questions and more, here is our guide to tipping in Europe.
There are two things to remember about tipping in Europe:
So the general advice is if you feel like the service has been good, leave a tip. If you were not happy with the service, it is okay not to tip.
Waiters, hotel staff and other workers in Europe are not like employees in other countries where their tips are an important part of their salaries. Instead their tips are regarded as a small bonus. So it is normal to tip, but not essential.
The question that most people ask me is how much should you tip. The answer depends on the country and what it is you are tipping for, but here is a general guide.
You should only tip at restaurants where you are served your food at the table. If you buy food over the counter, it is not necessary to tip.
The only ambiguity comes when you are pub in the UK or Ireland where you order at the bar, and a waiter or waitress then brings your food to your table. It is not necessary to tip in these situations, but if you feel the service was exceptional you can.
In a restaurant where a waiter or waitress takes your order and then brings your food to your table it is normal to leave a tip, wherever you are in Europe. The typical amount is about 10 percent of the total bill.
But look out for compulsory service charges. In some countries this is automatically added to the bill. If it is, do not pay extra for a tip. And remember that if there is an "Optional Service Charge" amount added to a bill, you are under no obligation to pay it, unlike the compulsory charges.
Also, when possible, pay any tips that you are giving in cash rather than by credit card.
The best advice regarding taxis in all European countries is to round up. So, if the charge is 12 euro, round it up to 13 euro. The amount you round it up by will depend on the length of the journey. For example, if the journey is long and the fare is 55 euro, you should round it up to 60 euro.
The normal tip for a hotel porter who brings your bags to your room is one euro per bag.
Many tour guides will ask for tips at the end of their tours. This is one of the greyest areas of tipping in Europe, with many people believing that you shouldn't have to pay anything extra on top of the price of the tour. The best advice is not to feel under any obligation to tip, but do it if you feel the tour was particularly exceptional. One or two Euro is all you need to give.
Finally, if you are in any doubt about tipping you should ask. And always remember that tips in European countries rarely exceed 10 percent of the total cost of the bill.