When, where and how much to tip is a common question. Here are some suggestions for a few European countries.
At Restaurants: The words service compris on your bill mean no tip is required, but most locals leave up to 10 percent in coins. Tipping at bars is not expected.
At Hotels: One euro per bag; 1–2 euros for a housekeeper; 10–15 euros per restaurant reservation made by a concierge—half on arrival at the hotel, half at the end.
Guides and Drivers: About 25 euros per person per day for guides, and up to 50 euros for one who’s nationally certified; a separate driver should get about half of that. Give 10–20 euros for private airport transfers, depending on the driver’s wait time and the in-car amenities, and a euro or two for taxi drivers, depending on how helpful they are.
At Restaurants: Ten to 15 percent to the waiter or bartender—just add it to the bill.
At Hotels: Three euros per bag for the porter; 5 euros per night for the housekeeper; 20 euros for a helpful concierge.
Dollars Accepted?: Yes, but euros are recommended.
P.S. Despite its reputation for precision, Germany has no hang-ups about generous tipping.
At Restaurants: Leave as close to 10 percent as is convenient, but no more.
At Hotels: Porters, 5 euros; housekeepers, 1–2 euros per night, more for extra service.
(or 15–20 percent of the tab).
Who Else?: Despite the old-world romance of a ride on the canal, tipping gondoliers and vaporettos isn’t customary.
Dollars Accepted?: Yes, but euros are much preferred.
At Restaurants: If the service is good, round up the bill to anywhere from 7 to 13 percent and leave it in cash, not on a credit card, says Virginia Irurita of Madrid’s Made for Spain travel agency. If the service isn’t good, she says, “you can leave the table without giving a tip and nobody will say a word. Americans are coming here and leaving 20 percent, so some waiters are getting spoiled.”
At Hotels: Tip concierges who do you a special favor 5 to 10 euros, cleaning staff about 5 euros a day (up front if you want them to treat you extra nice), and bellboys about one euro per bag.
Guides and Drivers: Leave guides 30 euros per person per day (up to 40 if they’re really good), drivers half that. With taxi drivers, round up the fare.
Dollars Accepted? Euros are strongly preferred.
At Restaurants: Service is often included; if not, tip 10–15 percent. Sometimes you’ll see an “optional” charge added to the bill; make sure you’re not just blindly paying it but adjusting to the level you feel comfortable with. And feel free to round to the nearest pound—up or down. Tipping in pubs is not customary.
At Hotels: Porters, 1–2 pounds per bag; housekeepers, 1–2 pounds. Go up to 5 pounds apiece at the five-star hotels.
Guides and Drivers: Taxis, 10 percent or less; tipping optional for a narrated boat tour through the Thames—they’ll certainly ask. A few pounds, up to 10 percent, for a guide or driver at the end of the day, or maybe take him to lunch. Not much more is expected, as Brits don’t always expect to tip when they’re abroad.
Dollars Accepted?: Pounds much preferred.
P.S. Tipping is said to have originated in sixteenth-century England, and though it has since spread across the globe, England has by and large gone the way of most of Europe: Tips are included in many bills, especially in formal settings, and discretion is key in handing them over.
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