When you’re away from home visiting somewhere for work or pleasure, there’s a good chance you’ll dine or enjoy a drink or two out. Now, if you’re also in a foreign country as you do this, things can get complicated when it comes to following your natural desire to tip a staff member in a venue for their good service – or the overall good service in the establishment. In short then, you need to be aware of the appropriate local tipping etiquette.
So, taking London as an example, if you’re taking advantage of a Premier hotel loyalty program as you stay at a hotel in the heart of town like the Park Grand London Lancaster Gate (ensuring you’re more than happy to share around some shrapnel for decent service), you may well find you’re dumbfounded and have no idea where to begin when it comes to tipping – well, fear not; here’s our handy cut-out-and-keep guide…
To start with, there are four important principles it’s a good idea to try and memorise…
• 10-15% of a bill amounts to a customary tip when dining out, although some restaurants will likely just add on service charge in its place
• Hotel bills, more often than not, feature a service charge as standard; if not, 10-15% is again customary and many people like to tip their porters
• It’s nice – although not necessary – to add a 10-15% tip on top of a black taxi cab or licenced minicab’s fare
• In London, like the UK as a whole, tipping is looked upon as a discretionary activity in the main based on the level of service you feel you’ve received; in most situations (apart from the aforementioned occasions when service charges are included) you’re under no obligation to tip someone.
As noted, you may find a specific restaurant automatically adds on a service charge instead of ‘hoping for’ a tip (usually around 12-13% is expected), not least if you’re dining in a large group of people. Be sure you don’t tip twice! Fast food, self-service and takeaway establishments don’t tend to receive tips – and may not accept them. Also, if you do want to tip a particular waiter/ waitress in a restaurant (and you’re aware service charges here aren’t included), check with them if they’re allowed to accept the tip themselves; often the total sum of an afternoon or evening’s tips are divided up evenly between a restaurant’s waiting staff.
Bars and pubs
When it comes to pubs, tipping’s not the done thing; it’s up to you whether you fancy offering one to a bartender but you’re likely to receive a polite rebuttal.
The service charge on your hotel bill is likely to come in at around the 10-12% mark; tips for individual members of staff (concierges, door staff, porters and cleaning staff etc.) are always discretionary. For tipping in a hotel’s restaurant (whether you’re partaking in Premier Club Rewards or not), see above under ‘Restaurants’.
Taxi cabs and minicabs
While it’s a courtesy to tip a black taxi cab or minicab driver at the end of a journey at a rate of around 10-15%, the done thing (for simplicity’s sake) is to usually round up the overall fare to the nearest £1 (i.e. “Keep the change”). If the driver’s taken you on a long journey and as they may well have helped you load and unload your luggage, tipping up to the next £5 is a more than welcome gesture.