Tipping in London


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Even savvy travelers need information on tipping etiquette.

“To tip or not to tip, that is the question”. To paraphrase Shakespeare’s Hamlet, modern-day tipping etiquette is quite the dilemma. We’re sure the troubled prince would be just as confused as we are by the ins and outs of tipping. When to tip – and more crucially how much to tip – is a challenge for every traveler. It differs from country to country, and city to city, but for a guide to tipping in London read on.

How much to tip

If you get great service, tip 10 percent.

Tipping in London is a fairly relaxed affair and is largely based on goodwill. The rule of thumb is if you have received good service, then feel free to tip 10 percent. It’s not obligatory, so there’s no pressure to tip, as might be the case in the United States. You can also tip more or less, but generally, if you’re happy with the service provided, then 10 percent is a typical reward. You can tip in cash or add it to your card payment, although in more casual venues like cafes or bars, cash may be preferable so it goes directly to the person who served you or the staff team. You can also just round up the amount to the nearest pound or leave the change from your bill as thanks.

Loved the service you received? If you’re super-happy with above-and-beyond, personal service then you can always tip more than 10 percent. You may also want to tip more if you’re part of a large group, like a big dinner gathering, when service has been more extensive or demanding. For smaller services, like someone checking your coat, you can tip less. Tips may be expected in restaurants, but they should always be earned not assumed, so are at your discretion.

Who to tip

Make sure to tip excellent waiters, hairdressers or spa staff. Credit: Polpo restaurant, London

It’s up to the individual when it comes to who to tip, but Londoners will usually tip waiters in restaurants and cafes. If you’ve just had a coffee and pastry in a café, then perhaps just round up the bill to the nearest pound, or pop a pound coin on the table, rather than adding a full 10 percent. If you’ve had a three-course meal in a restaurant with drinks and all the trimmings, then give a more generous 10 percent. You may also want to tip bartenders (there’s often a tips glass on the bar for the team), especially if you’ve had good banter or they’ve mixed you a stellar cocktail.

Tip after an excellent spa treatment.

Londoners often tip taxi drivers too, although again you can just round up your ride fee by a few pounds or just to the nearest pound because there’s no need to go the full 10 percent. If a personal chauffeur or tour guide has taken you and your family around town all day, then 10 percent may seem an appropriate thanks. Anyone providing a good service – from a hairdresser to a spa masseur – may also be tip-worthy. Feel free to give a little or be more liberal if you’re really pleased with their work. If the service is fairly short and simple – you’ve had a pizza or parcel delivered – then the delivery guy or courier will usually be happy with a pound or two, as a nice touch. If service is actually bad, then don’t tip. You’re unlikely to encounter any negative feedback, even if you decide not to leave one.

Money matters

For more practical information on traveling to London, from travel insurance to what to pack, getting around, and currency and exchange rates, see London Perfect’s handy advice. We’ve also got tips on using ATMs and claiming VAT refunds.

Finally, bills in the UK usually list tax charges separately and then include them in the total amount, but won’t automatically add a tip. Occasionally, a restaurant may suggest a tip on a bill or give you a tip option during a card transaction, but always remember it’s up to you to choose the amount.

Where to stay in London

Unwind on the gorgeous patio at Cornwall.

London Perfect can also arrange your dream London holiday rental at discounted rates – such as four-person getaway Cornwall in Kensington with a pretty patio – taking the stress out of any trip. Relax outside with a good read and a pot of tea, or treat friends to a glass of fizz before dinner. Contact us today to make a booking and you can get up to 30% off. Happy travels!

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