Should you tip on your holiday to Europe?
If you’re travelling abroad for a family holiday, you may expect to fork out a small fortune in tips, to acknowledge high standards of service in restaurants, hotels or taxis. In the United States, for example, tipping is commonplace, you’re expected to pay up to 20% in restaurants, 10% for taxi drivers, $9 for room service (each day) and even $2 for bartenders for each drink, every time you order. But in Europe, the rules on tipping are far less established and, according to research carried out by M&S Bank, holidaymakers could save themselves up to £135 by brushing up on the tipping etiquette for their destination country.
If you’re looking for money saving ideas for your holiday, here’s an outline of tipping customs in some of the most popular European destinations:
Service charges are included in the bill in France, so no tips are necessary. Locals often leave small change behind (a Euro or two) when leaving the table, if the service was of an acceptable standard. Taxi drivers are not usually tipped.
You won’t be castigated if you don’t leave a tip in a Spanish restaurant, as the custom is optional and also dependent on your financial status. In bars, only American visitors are expected to tip, to reflect tipping rules in the US. Taxi drivers may expect a tip in some upmarket locations, but it won’t be frowned upon if you don’t offer one. A Euro as a token recognition of good service will be appreciated.
Waiters do not expect tips in Italy, but you’ll often see a service charge (coperto) detailed on the bill, which you can choose to pay if you wish. Leaving some small change in bars, cafés and with taxi drivers is common, but shouldn’t burn a hole in your holiday budget. Tips cannot be added to the bill if paying by credit card, so tip jars are becoming more common at the pay point or till.
In some restaurants away from tourist areas, returning for another meal is considered to be the best way of showing your appreciation for good service. Elsewhere, one or two Euros will be sufficient but not necessarily expected. Taxi drivers rarely receive tips. With wages low in Greece following the financial collapse of the country, any tips you leave will be very gratefully received.
Service charges are almost always included in the bill in restaurants. Tipping is extremely unusual.
Tipping rules tend to reflect those of the UK, so be prepared to leave a small amount after a meal or at the end of a taxi ride. For ease, simply round up the bill to the next whole Euro, to save having to fiddle with loose coins or wait for change.
In general, tipping in European countries is welcomed, rather than expected as in the United States. Therefore, you can opt to leave a small amount as appreciation of good service, but you won’t be condemned for not doing so.