Tipping customs can vary from one country to another. This can leave travellers wondering about the appropriate etiquette. London, a hectic and multicultural city, has its own unique culture on leaving a tip.
Figuring out the tipping culture can be extremely difficult when visiting London for the first time, but hopefully this post will help.
In this blog post, I’ll delve into all the details of tipping in London, including who to tip, when to tip, and how much to tip. Whether you’re dining at a restaurant, staying at a hotel, or using other services, understanding London’s tipping customs will help you be confident in knowing what to do and when.
How Do You Tip in London?
London has certainly moved on from the world of cash and coins. Many establishments and services now only accept cards, particularly after certain times at night.
However, in a bid to ensure that workers do not miss out on the opportunity of earning a bit of extra money you may now see an option on the screen of payment devices to add a tip. This is very common in coffee shops where you’ll often pay on huge tablet screens giving you many set tip options such as 5%, 10% or 20%, as well as an option to skip tipping.
If you’d prefer to tip with cash at one of these places then just ask if they have a tip jar anywhere, if they don’t then don’t feel too down, at least you offered!
There are also still plenty of places that accept cash so if you’re really set on tipping then choose somewhere that accepts cash and card!
Leaving Tips in Restaurants
In London, it’s customary to leave a tip in restaurants, but it isn’t expected as it is in many other countries.
Some restaurants include a “service charge” of 12.5% on the bill, especially if you have more than 6 people in your party. If the service charge is already added, it is not obligatory to leave an additional tip.
However, if your server takes extra care of you and you want to show your appreciation, leaving a small extra amount, such as rounding up the bill or adding 5-10% as a gratuity, is considered very kind. If no service charge is included, tipping around 10-15% is customary, depending on the quality of service.
Take note that waiters and waitresses across the UK will be on a set wage, above the government’s set National Minimum Wage and so unlike the USA, servers don’t rely as heavily on tips. That’s not to say it won’t be greatly appreciated though!
Tipping in Bars and Cafes
Again tipping is not expected in bars or cafes, but it’s still a very kind gesture. In most cases, locals round up their total to the nearest point or empty their pockets of some loose change as a token of thanks.
If you have enjoyed your meal or drinks and your bartender or server has taken great care of you then a larger tip would be appropriate. Perhaps around 10% of your bill on top of your total. But, don’t feel like you have to! Many servers in London are just very friendly and don’t feel obliged to receive tips so it may sometimes come as a shock that you’d like to reward them for their service.
Tipping in Hotels
If you’re thinking about who to tip in hotels then the kindness is usually reserved for the workers who complete a service for you. This could include a valet, hotel porter or perhaps the cleaner who services your room.
A suggestion of around £1-£2 per bag for the hotel porter would be a great tip and perhaps £5 for the valet or housekeeping staff. Of course, though, the amount that you decide to tip is completely up to you and will be warmly received by all staff.
Don’t try to tip any of the front desk staff, often hotels have policies which state that they cannot accept it. Keeping some spare cash for tipping other staff members is a better idea.
Tipping Taxi Drivers
Tipping after taxi rides is warmly appreciated by drivers. Typically, locals will allow their driver to keep the change from the notes that they have handed over, or perhaps only ask for full pounds back.
For example, if a trip costs £18.26, often Londoners will hand over a £20 note and tell the driver to either keep the change or say “just give me a pound back, please”.
You definitely want to consider rounding up or leaving a small tip if your driver has gotten you through lots of traffic or been helpful in giving directions to where you need to go after finishing your journey.
Tipping Other Services
There are many other people who provide services which you may want to tip. These could include hairdressers and tour guides. As I’ve already mentioned many times, it isn’t customary to tip these people but it will almost certainly never be refused.
For a haircut a tip of around 10% would be generous while offering a small tip at the end of a guided tour is a great way of expressing gratitude, particularly if they have been very knowledgeable or helpful.
Conclusion: Tipping in London
Getting to grips with London’s tipping culture will allow you to be confident in when it is appropriate to express your gratitude. While tipping is not as widespread or expected as in many other countries, it is still great to show your appreciation.
Remember, tipping is a personal choice, and it’s ultimately up to you to decide how much if at all, you want to tip during your time in London.