Guide to Tipping in London
Should you be tipping in London? One of the most interesting things about travelling throughout the world is visiting new countries and learning and experiencing their unique customs. Oftentimes, language isn’t the only barrier between a visitor and a local – many times social interaction between the two can lead to awkward and accidental faux pas so it’s always worth it to get some information ahead of time to see what will be expected of you when you are visiting a foreign country.
One of the most common social differences between many countries is tipping. Who to tip, where to tip, how much to tip, when not to tip! So with this in mind, we’ve drawn up a quick guide to tipping in London to give you the basics of tipping culture in the United Kingdom.
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How Much to Tip in London Restaurants
Tipping in London eateries is pretty straightforward. In restaurants or pubs where you place your food order at the bar and later it is brought to your table, it is not customary to tip. However, at restaurants with wait staff where orders, drinks, and food are taken at your table, a tip from around 10% – 15% is common. Many restaurants will automatically add this amount to your bill so make sure you check yours closely! If service is already included, you will not be expected to add anything extra. However, if your service was unacceptably poor, it is appropriate to ask for the service charge to be removed from your bill.
You may also find written on your bill or on the menu, ‘service not included’. This is a subtle hint that a tip will be appreciated and expected. It may also be a good idea to politely ask your wait-staff if the tip you leave will go directly to them or not. If you want to ensure the tip you leave goes to the exact staff who helped you, do not include the tip with any card payment but leave a cash tip (or even hand the cash tip directly the staff you wish to receive the amount). For a more in depth look at tipping in London restaurants, check out this article from the Guardian.
How Much to Tip at London Bars and Pubs
Tipping in London watering holes is not common. Bartenders in bars and pubs in London do not expect to be tipped. If you have had exceptionally good service, or have built up a rapport with the person behind the bar it is appropriate to offer a small amount of money, along with the phrase, “and one for yourself.” The bar staff may then make themselves a drink or they will put the money aside to be used later. You could also say ‘keep the change’ once you have paid. Both of these scenarios, however, are entirely at your discretion.
How Much to Tip a London Taxi
It’s not a requirement to tip in taxis but it is customary simply to round up to the nearest pound or so with a, “keep the change.” If you have a lot of luggage and the cab driver has assisted with the bags or been particularly helpful a 10% tip or an extra £5.00 for longer journeys is appropriate and generous.
How Much to Tip at London Hotels
Staff at high end hotels in the United Kingdom will be used to receiving tips of between £1.00-£2.00 per bag, or around £5.00 overall. Staff working in hotels below 5-star will not expect to receive tips, aside from the porter who brings your bags to your room, in which case around £2.00 is acceptable. Chambermaids are not usually tipped in London, however if you left money for cleaning staff on a bedside table after your last night, it would not be inappropriate.
Many hotels now have begun adding an included service charge of around 10% – 12% on your total bill so make sure to keep an eye out for this when you are checking out.
Spas (massages, manicures, etc.) – Tipping in spas is not customary.
Hair salons – Tipping around 10% is common but not required.
Delivery and Takeaway – When taking food away or “out” no tip is expected. This is true also of any food that has been delivered to you from a local restaurant or pizza chain. A bill for food delivered in a hotel may have a service charge included, so make sure to check this as a tip in this instance is accepted and you will want to avoid inadvertently paying twice.
Cafe – A small tip is appreciated when table service is available. £1-£2 is acceptable, or a “keep the change.” In cafes where you have retrieved your own drink, you may find a small tipping tray on the counter which you can donate to if you wish, but tipping in this instance is not expected.
How Much to Tip London Tour Guides
Guides here at Free Tours By Foot receive no salary or payment from the company and their earnings are based entirely on a pay-what-you-like basis, which means the public decide what the tour was worth.
However, most other tour guides in London earn a fee for leading a tour. Many times at the end of the tour it would be customary to hand the guide something extra, £2.00-£5.00 for an excellent tour, or around £1 per person if you are part of a larger group travelling together.
On coach tours (particularly long ones) a tip to both the tour guide and the coach driver are expected an appreciated. A good guideline would be between £1.00-£2.00 per day traveled.
We hope this guide to tipping in London was helpful. For more tips on saving money during your visit to London, please check out our London blog.