Tipping etiquette has a tendency to vary from country to country, and London has its own distinctive approach which is well worth becoming familiar with. While the tipping culture is not as rampant as it is in some other nations, it is still a great way to show your appreciation and help support staff who made an experience memorable.
In some locations, tipping is considered an essential, whereas in other areas of London the rules are significantly less stringent. We’ve compiled this quick guide to tipping in London, to help you get to grips with when and where to tip, and how much…
Tipping at hotels
Smaller hotels or those at the lower end of the market are unlikely to provide you with some of the key services which might require tips, but it is customary to sometimes tip maids or porters if you feel they’ve done a particularly good job.
This same etiquette may apply to more unconventional London accommodation such as hostels and B&Bs, too – though it will rarely (if ever) be expected for you to leave a tip. More lavish, upmarket hotels do have a distinctive tipping etiquette to follow, so this is where you should be distributing tips.
From the person who brings your luggage to your room to anyone who delivers room service, expect to give each person a tip. At hotel restaurants, similar rules often apply.
Tipping at London restaurants
Tipping culture in London restaurants can vary radically from venue to venue, and is largely dependent upon the type of venue you are visiting. If you are dining somewhere with table service, it is generally considered good practice to tip waiters between 10-15% of the overall bill.
In some instances, you will find this percentage has already been added to your bill, which helps to keep things simple and transparent. However, in other cases the rules may be a little more hazy and dependent upon your own choice and perception of the meal and service you received.
When visiting a fast food restaurant, there is no particular need to tip, but there may be a tip jar for coins. The same rules apply at cheaper restaurants, and at street food vendors. However, if you’ve had a particularly great time, you may wish to show your appreciation with a tip during your stay at Montcalm at The Brewery.
Tipping at London bars
While locals rarely tip at locations like bars, pubs and clubs, you might find a tip jar which provides a space for spare change. However, this is not often an expectation. A notable exception to the rule is when you and your group receive table service. While staying at luxury hotels for families, you may find yourself heading to a more upmarket venue, where tipping could form part of the venue etiquette.
At expensive spaces there may automatically be an extra 10-15% added to the bill, or the option to leave this amount if you received particularly impressive service during your visit.
Tipping taxi drivers
This is not a compulsory part of London’s tipping etiquette, but drivers often appreciate a small tip for their service. Locals almost always tend to round up their fare, often resulting in around £1-2 extra for the taxi driver. It’s a convenient sum, and doesn’t cost too much for the passenger using the service.
Be aware that private taxis can often prove expensive, so be sure to agree the fare before you begin your journey. This is particularly important late at night when fares can be excessive. Overall, simply tip the sum you feel is necessary, particularly if you feel the original price quoted was fair and accurate.
Tipping London tour guides
London is filled with fantastic tour opportunities, each offering you a unique look at the city’s rich history and culture. However, this presents a new challenge for tippers, as the established rules for tipping a tour guide often differ from many other areas of London life.
As a rough guide, it is best to consider this as an individual choice, as there are really no solid rules as to how tip someone on a paid tour or a bus tour, for instance. Calculate your tip (if applicable) in accordance with the length and quality of the tour itself, but be aware that this is not considered a requirement in the UK.
Tour guides are generally paid a living wage and do not depend on their tips to help provide additional income. This should not stop avid tippers from showing their appreciation, particularly if you have particularly enjoyed a tour while staying at Montcalm at The Brewery.
Tipping at Hair Salons and Barbers
This is one area where tipping is often considered a commonplace occurrence in Britain. The reason for such an active tipping culture is because many hairdressers and barbers earn a relatively low salary, particularly during training. They will be grateful for an additional 5 – 10% tip in addition to the bill, though as with many areas, this calculation should be dependent in part on the service you received.
You should also keep in mind the nature of the establishment. In smaller, cheaper barbers and hair salons, a smaller tip is perfectly acceptance. In high-end salons, you may find that a tip is simply a natural part of the client/hairdresser exchange.
General tips for effective tipping
There are a few key guidelines to stick to when organising your tipping plans in London, including:
- Typically, people tip around 10-15% in London, except for when using taxis or public transport, where a smaller tip is frequently accepted.
- Tour guides do not need to be tipped, but this is up to the customer to decide.
- Some restaurants add an automatic tip to your bill. This is commonly known as the service charge.
- Tipping is not necessary at street food vendors and smaller restaurants, but is commonplace in luxurious hotels and restaurants.