Tipping Customs in Europe and the United Kingdom
It seems like here in the United States, tipping has become a bit of an area of contention. I have to agree somewhat that it has gotten out of hand. Even when you are doing take-out at a restaurant, a tip request is now included.
Tipping customs in Europe and the UK have always differed from the United States. From the amount of literature I see addressing it and the number of questions I get about it, tipping confuses many people.
From my experience, I would bet that many people are confused about tipping customs in Europe and the UK because they are less than we would normally tip here. And most people are unsure when they should offer a tip.
So, in this post, I will organize the discussion first around when tipping is customary and then how much is customary. I will point out any differences I am aware of where possible.
Restaurants and Bars
Restaurants and bars are a pretty easy place to start. A service charge is already added to the bill throughout Europe and the UK. There are some subtle differences to consider. First, it will typically be listed as a separate line item on the bill in the UK. If it is not listed, it may not already be included. In that situation, In Austria, the amount added is typically around 10%, so an additional 5% tip is advisable. You would only round up to the next Euro or Swiss Franc in Germany and Switzerland. In other cases, an additional tip is only discretionary for exceptional service.
Taxis and Drivers
This one is all over the place. In some countries, taxi drivers don’t expect a tip. But the general consensus is that a maximum of 10% is the norm, especially for private car service.
You should expect to pay not more than 2 Euro’s or British Pounds per bag.
You should expect not more than 2 Euro’s or Pounds per night.
This will depend on whether it is a private guide or if you are on a group tour. For a group tour, it should not be more than 5 – 10 Euro per person per day. For a private guide, it can go up to 25 – 30 Euros per day. And that would be a full-day tour.
In researching this, I found that opinions vary widely, and the way it is handled among different companies are different. Tauck, builds it into the cost of the Cruise. AmaWaterways leaves it to the discretion of the guest. I would recommend between 20 and 30 Euros per guest per day. My advice here is that we determine this up front when we select a cruise for you.
This situation is similar to river cruises, but normally you are only considering 2-3 people instead of the entire ship’s crew. It seems to me that when I took an escorted tour last year, it averaged 5 Euro per day for the driver and 10 Euro per day for the Tour Director. Again, this would be something to clarify before you go.
So, while there is no “one rule” when it comes to tipping, there is one general rule I would follow: A tip over the amount of the bill in Europe is not necessarily expected. It is more a show of your appreciation for the service you received, and not as a primary form of compensation.