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Tipping in London

Tipping in London - Should We or Shouldn't We?

Tipping in London is mandatory.... or obligatory, depending on who you talk to. Everyone seems to have their own opinion! Opinions aside, there are still some places where tipping is expected and others where it is frowned upon. Deciding what to leave as well as where and when it's appropriate can be confusing, especially for overseas visitors. That's why we've compiled our handy guide. Enjoy !

tipping hotels london

Is Tipping in Hotels Expected?

Tipping in London hotels may have been expected during the 1920s or 30s. Almost a century later, it's a different story. Most of the capital's hotels now automatically add a service charge of about 10-12% to the final bill. If a service charge doesn't appear on your bill, you can add 10-15% if you feel it's merited.
How about tipping staff?
Tipping in hotels is fairly common but who you choose to tip will depend on the establishment and the type of staff you encounter. In high-end hotels like The Ritz, Claridge's, or The Dorchester, many people choose to tip the porter for fetching their luggage. This is not expected, so use your discretion. Amounts vary according to the number of bags but around £2 per bag or up to £10 is acceptable. 
Is there anyone else I should include?
Although tipping the chambermaid isn't common, you can leave a token amount if you think the room cleaning service has been outstanding. You may wish to tip the concierge for various tasks or services. If the concierge hails you a taxi on a wet day, for example, £2 is sufficient. However, if they obtain tickets for a sell-out show, or get you a table at a top restaurant, you should tip accordingly. The 10% rule is useful; if tickets cost £50 each, £10 is about right.
Do I tip for room service in London hotels?
Unless the waiter or porter is laying the table and setting the dishes out for you, you don't have to tip for room service. In mid-range and chain hotels, you can simply take the tray and say thank you. In 5-star hotels, though, guests often hand over one or two pounds at the door. If the waiter does lay the table or serve, you may want to give slightly more. Finally, if you're eating in a hotel restaurant, you should follow our hints on tipping in restaurants.
tipping restaurants in london

Is Tipping in London Restaurants Essential?

Like hotels, many of the city's mid-range and upscale restaurants add a service charge of about 10-15% to the bill. If you don't see a service charge, you can leave a tip or add around 10-20% when paying if you think the food or service was exceptional. Tipping is not mandatory, and the rules vary from place to place.
What type of restaurants should I tip in?
Fast food restaurants and diners don't normally include a charge and it's not expected, since you're serving yourself. However, if you've stopped for lunch at a traditional-style cafe, you might like to leave a small amount for the waiter or waitress. How much is up to you. If it's someone who has been extra-helpful and struck up a rapport with you, you'll probably want to leave a little more. 
When should I be tipping?
If you're dining in one of the fine restaurants that the capital is known for, tipping is normally expected, although never required. If a service charge isn't included in the final bill, you can add 10-20% when you pay by card or with cash. However, if you feel that service was basic or bad, you shouldn't feel obliged to tip. Don't leave money on the table unless you are sure that it will be picked up by your waiter.
Do I have to pay the service charge in restaurants in London?
The service charge has almost replaced tipping today. But, are you legally required to pay it? Although most people are happy to part with an additional 10-15% for service, some diners aren't. One Londoner reports that during a birthday meal at a trendy London burger bar, the waiter was abrupt to the point of rudeness. The establishment still added a hefty 20% to the bill of over £300. Although you're likely to get good service almost everywhere in London, you should ask to speak to the manager in cases like this. You are not obliged by law to pay for bad service.  
tipping in pubs

Is Tipping in Pubs Acceptable?

In some countries, including the United States, a 10-15% service charge is normal in pubs and bars. Things in the UK are a little different in pubs. In American pubs, patrons tend to run a tab and settle at the end of the evening. Drinks are paid for immediately here, so tipping in pubs isn't necessary.
Are there any exceptions to the no tipping in pub rule?
It's not exactly a rule but, in general, tipping isn't common in London pubs, so most people don't bother. However, there are times when you may want to tip. In traditional pubs, if you've had a particularly friendly bartender, there are a couple of options. You can simply say "Keep the change" or "And one for you?" when you order or pay for your drinks. Some trendy bars pass you your change on a saucer. The idea is that you leave the coins for the person who served you. Unless they have been exceptionally helpful, you should pick it up.
What about nightclubs?
London nightclubs like Fabric, Ministry of Sound, Egg, Cargo, and Heaven are some of the best in the world. However, it can be busy when you hit the bar and often, you'll be passed your change on a saucer. In this case, it's worth leaving some or all of it as a tip for the bartender. You're much more likely to be served quickly next time you order and it's only necessary to tip once.
If I'm eating in a pub, do I need to tip?
London nightclubs like Fabric, Ministry of Sound, Egg, Cargo, and Heaven are some of the best in the world. However, it can be busy when you hit the bar and often, you'll be passed your change on a saucer. In this case, it's worth leaving some or all of it as a tip for the bartender. You're much more likely to be served quickly next time you order and it's only necessary to tip once.
tipping london taxi

How About Taxis?

Tipping in London taxis is considered something of a tradition. If you're taking one of the famous black cabs, it's customary to tip. If you're traveling by minicab or Uber, things are slightly different.
So, how much would I add to the fare in a London taxi?
The general consensus is that you add about 10% to the fare when using London's famous Hackney cabs. Once again, despite what you may have been led to believe, tipping in taxis isn't mandatory. You are paying a boarding charge before you set off and the meter records every inch of your journey. Tipping is discretionary. Most people do, but if you had a surly driver or were taken by an unusual route, you really don't have to. If you do want to tip, the change or 10% of the fare is enough. You may want to give more if your driver was friendly or entertaining.
Do I tip London minicab drivers?
If you're booking a minicab from a reputable firm, you'll probably be told what the journey charge is before you set off. There's no need to pay more. However, you'll often spend the trip chatting with the minicab driver and many people do tip. Since you have already agreed on the fare, your driver aims to get you from a to b quickly and efficiently. Give between £2 for a local trip to around £10 for longer trips or airport runs. 
Is tipping in Uber cars usual?
Companies like Uber and Flyte work on a different set of principles. Cheap and convenient, you don't pay the driver cash. In the past, many Londoners kept some loose change to hand for drivers they liked. Today, most of the apps give you the option to add £1, £2, or £5 afterwards. You don't have to, but you may like to reward good service.
tipping in london

Is There Anywhere Else I Should Tip in London?

Although it's never essential, there are a few other instances where tipping in London is acceptable. Hairdressers and barbers are among the places where patrons might feel inclined to add a little extra.
I'm having a new style: tipping hairdressers
If you're having a budget haircut in a high-street chain, you can give the barber a few pounds when you pay. Those having a full wash, cut, blow-dry, color, or treatment in a top salon tend to approach tipping a little differently. Lots of people tip the person who washes their hair. This can be anything from £2 to £5 depending on whether you had a conditioning treatment or a head massage. If you're completely in love with your new style, you can tip the stylist, too. £5 to £10 is acceptable, depending on the overall cost of your cut.
Should I tip after a facial or massage at a London spa?
Spa treatments are wonderful, but they can be expensive. As a result, tipping in London spas and beauty centers when you're having more costly therapies isn't common. Lots of people tip, however, for various treatments like manicures, pedicures, or facial massages that are given separately. A couple of pounds is more than enough.
One for the boys - tipping barbers
Women are more likely to tip for hair care in London than men. If you're having a basic cut at a traditional London barbershop, there is no need to tip. If you visit a trendy salon and decide to add different treatments like a classic beard trim or shave, you can add a tip when you pay. The standard rate is about £2 to £5, depending on the service. In general, you don't need to tip for your haircut. If you have your hair washed, though, you may like to give some change to the person who does it.
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to tipping in London. Tipping is never mandatory. A discretionary gratuity (tip) is a gift, a reward for good service. Still wondering whether you should tip? Here's a handy tip (sorry)! Ask yourself whether you're receiving care or enjoying a service. If you need to see a doctor or dentist in London, you don't tip for their care. But if someone provides you a service like driving, serving you a meal, or a pedicure or haircut, tipping is optional but welcome. 10% is usually a safe bet, so happy tipping !

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