Each country has its own unique customs and social norms, besides having a different language. It is therefore important for visitors to get proper information ahead of their visit regarding these aspects so that they make the right social interaction and avoid any awkward situation. One of these norms is tipping and it is important to be aware of how much to tip, who to tip, where to tip and most importantly, when not to tip. If you do not follow the norm, you might have to face an embarrassing situation and you may not be welcome at that venue if you come back another day. UK does not have the same standard of tipping culture as is prevalent in USA or Canada and as such you can use your discretion depending on the level of service that you have received. For poor service, you might skip tipping completely and for good service, you can leave a generous tip. Given below are some helpful suggestions.
Tipping at London Restaurants
A straightforward rule of the thumb regarding tipping at restaurants and pubs is that if you have placed your order at the counter and the food is brought to your table, it is not essential to tip. However, if you are served by wait staff who have taken your order and brought the food and drinks to your table, you are expected to leave a tip of around 10 to 15% of the bill. This amount is often added to your bill at many restaurants and as such it is important to check your bill carefully. You need not leave any extra tip if the bill includes this service charge. You have the option of not paying this charge if the service was unacceptably poor. You can also pay an extra tip if you were impressed by the level of service. In case the bill or menu indicates that service is not included, you are expected to leave a cash tip. If you wish to make sure that you tip goes to the exact person who served you, you should not include the tip to your card payment but give it directly to the staff. In larger restaurants, particularly in luxury hotels and other higher-end establishments, it is customary to tip and it would be considered rude if you do not leave a tip. However, it is not necessary to tip at smaller fast food restaurants or cafes but if you find good service, you can leave some change at the tip jar on the counter.
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Tipping at Bars and Pubs
At London’s bars and pubs, it is not customary to tip nor do the bartenders expect to get tips. However, for exceptionally good service, you can show your appreciation by offering a small amount to the person behind the bar and say “and one for yourself”. It is up to him to keep the money or use it for a drink. You may be expected to leave a tip at high-end bars.
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Tipping a London Taxi
Tipping etiquette for taxis varies as some people do not leave any tip, which in any case is not a requirement. However, most people simply round up to the nearest pound and say “keep the change”. It would however be appropriate and generous to give a tip of 10% or add five pounds if the cab driver has helped you with the bags in case you had lots of luggage or if he has been extremely pleasant and considerate.
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Tipping at London Hotels
At 5 star and other luxury hotels in the UK, it is customary to tip between £1.00-£2.00 per bag or a total of around £5.00. At other hotels, you are not expected to tip the staff except the porters who can be given two pounds for bringing the bags to your room. You are not expected to tip the chambermaids but you can leave some money on a bedside table for them after your last night. You need not tip for room service or for cleaning. You should check your bill which might include service charge of around 10 to 12% on your total bill.
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Tipping London Tour Guides
Some tour companies do not pay any salary to their tour guides as they are expected to earn from what they get from the public. However, you are only expected to pay on the basis of how much service you got from the guide. There are other tour companies that pay their guides a fee for leading a tour. It is also customary to pay something extra to the tour guide which is around two to five pounds if you are extremely satisfied with the service and if you are part of a larger group travelling together, each person is expected to pay one pound. You are also expected to pay between one and two pounds per day to both the tour guide and the coach driver if you are on a long coach tour.
Tipping for Miscellaneous Services
It is not necessary to tip for massages or other treatments at spas but at hair salons it is common to tip 10% although it is not essential. Similarly no tip is expected for taking food away or for food delivered to you from a local restaurant or pizza chain. Your bill for food delivered in a hotel might include a service charge, which should be checked.