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WHEN SHOULD I TIP IN THE UK?

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  • Post last modified:February 18, 2024
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Tipping in London and the rest of the UK, like tipping in most other places, can be awkward and embarrassing if you get it wrong. And, in the UK, tipping when you don’t have to can add unnecessary costs to your travel spending.
In the interest of saving you money (especially if you are a traveler who is accustomed to tipping at 20 percent) and making sure everyone gets treated fairly, make sure you know when and who to tip on your trip to England. Also, ensure you have the correct currency: England uses the British pound rather than the euro.
Unlike in some countries, you do not have to tip in the UK. However, there are some unsaid social rules about leaving a tip. For example, it is normal to round up the fare to the nearest pound if you take a taxi. If the fare is £6.70, say to the driver, “here’s £7.” You might pay no tip if you take a pre-booked taxi to or from the airport. But if the driver helps you with your bags and goes the extra mile, you might give him a couple of pounds.
HOTELS
In the United Kingdom, most hotel workers don’t expect to be tipped unless they do something special for you or if you’re staying at a high-end hotel. However, some hotels have started instituting an optional service charge that will be added to your bill. You’ll notice this mostly at hotels with spa and gym facilities, where many staff members are required to keep things in tip-top shape. If you’d rather have more say in how much you tip, you can opt to have the charge removed from your bill.

Tipping in the UK
  • You can tip a bellhop 1 to 2 pounds for helping with your bags.
  • If the doorman hails you a cab, a tip of 1 to 5 pounds is appropriate, depending on how luxurious the hotel is.
  • Housekeepers are not usually tipped, but you can leave some pounds in the room before you check out.
  • Valet parking services are uncommon in the UK, and tipping is unnecessary since there’s usually a charge.
    Another difficulty you might have in London is whether to tip hotel staff such as housekeeping. Generally, the accepted position is to tip housekeeping in London. As mentioned, there are minimum wage laws in the UK, and so, ideally, housekeepers and cleaning staff should be paid fairly for their time. Should being the operative word. So, if you have some spare coins left in your wallet or have been impressed by the cleanliness of your room, feel free to leave some coins on the dresser. There’s no real guideline here; generally, £5 – £10 at the end of your stay will suffice, more if you’re in a high-end hotel. You could also let the reception staff know that you’ve been impressed with the service at check-out.
    A tip and a compliment are likely to brighten someone’s day. Like with restaurants, it has become increasingly common for a service charge to be whacked on top of your bill on check out. If you find an added charge, it should have been advertised upfront – and you can consider yourself relieved from any further tipping duties. While tipping housekeeping is discretionary, very much expected if a porter helps carry your bags. A tip of £1 or £2 per bag is customary in this situation.
    RESTAURANTS AND BARS
    A 12-15 percent service charge may be added to your bill when dining out, but the practice is not universal in UK restaurants. If you see the service charge on your bill, there’s no need to tip.
    Restaurant tipping differs from other countries, such as the USA and France, where a generous gratuity is expected. Also, tips make up a big part of a waiter’s income. Some British restaurants charge a 10 percent or 12.5 percent service charge, which should be noted on the menu. It will also be displayed on the bill. If you have paid a service charge, there’s no need to tip (unless you loved your waiter or waitress!). Oh, and if you had a terrible meal and the service was miserable, you could ask for the service charge to be removed. However, it would be very unusual.
  • If there’s no service charge, tipping at 10 percent is the standard.
  • At pubs, you’re not expected to tip. If the barman gives you outstanding service, you can offer a small sum (like the price of half a pint of beer), with the words, “and have one for yourself” or something similar. The bartender may pour themselves a drink on the spot or put the money aside to have a drink later.
  • You’re not expected to tip for food in pubs either, but gastropubs’ growth has become something of a gray area. If you feel the pub is more of a restaurant with a bar than a pub that serves food, you may want to leave a tip similar to what you would leave in a restaurant.
  • You might see a tip jar on the counter when getting takeaway. There’s no pressure to top it up, but people often leave the small change after paying.
    Don’t worry about offending your waiter if you don’t tip. They won’t assume you hated your visit. Return business is more important in the UK. So if you say, “thanks, that was great,” you’ve let them know you’ll probably be back!
    TRANSPORTATION
    In the UK, it’s typical to tip your cab driver. Usually, it’s customary to round up to the nearest pound, but tipping 10 percent of the total fare would be acceptable for a metered taxi ride. If you take a rural taxi or minicab, you might be charged a pre-agreed flat fare, which most people do not tip on.
    Catching an iconic London Black Cab is a bucket list experience for many, although the price might make you wince. It also raises the question of tipping taxi drivers in London. Do you do it? And how much is expected?
    In short, a modest tip is customary. London cabbies go through a lot of training, deal with the frustration of traffic gridlocks, and usually provide you with some witty banter (or salty grumblings) to boot.
    TOURS
    At the end of a guided tour, it’s customary to give your guide a small tip for a job well done.
  • If you’ve had a good time and been well looked after and well entertained, you can tip 10 to 15 percent of the cost of the tour. Consider a minimum of 2 to 4 pounds for a single traveler and 1 to 2 pounds per person for a family.
  • On a bus or coach trip, the driver will often have a receptacle near the exit where you can leave your tip. If you’ve been on tour for a few days, especially if the coach driver has also acted as a tour guide, tip the coach driver 2 to 4 pounds per person for every trip.