Tipping is a standard etiquette for the service industry around the world. Whether you’re a waiter or a barista, the service industry runs on tips. The fact of the matter is that there are certain rules when it comes to tipping, and they differ from country to country. For instance, in the USA, waiters and baristas pretty much survive off them, whilst in other countries, wages are heightened so as to make sure those working in the service industry make enough money before tips. In the UK, it’s less of a focus than in other countries, but there are still a few things to keep in mind when you’re tipping in London and the UK.
Cafes, like in many other countries have a general expectancy that now and again, the waiters and staff will be tipped. Unlike in fast food restaurants, café staff often get most of their money from being tipped. Whilst it is not compulsory, a tip of 10 percent is the usual amount which will be tipped in a standard café. In chain cafes such as a Starbucks, you may see a tip jar at the counter. At the end of the day, this is distributed evenly around the staff. Casual cafes in touristy areas are usually places where you wouldn’t tip. In part this is because these establishments are often so busy the focus is not on service.
In more formal restaurants you’ll often be expected to leave a tip as the waiter is serving and making sure your stay is great for the duration of your meal. The fact of the matter is that it is up to your discretion entirely as to whether you should tip the staff or not. If you weren’t happy with the service, then you should feel no need to tip the staff. Many of the more traditional restaurants, and by traditional we mean those where the waiters come to your table to serve, have service charges added to the bill at the end, sometimes optional in the form of gratuity and sometimes compulsory.
You’d assume that taxi drivers would be tipped due to the amount of hands on customer service which is required of them. The reality is that they do not expect to be tipped, their pay solely reliant on how far they have driven you. one thing to keep in mind with paying for a taxi fare though, is that they expect their fare to be rounded up to the next pound rather than down, this makes payment easier and it is up to you if you round to the nearest ten or not. Taxi payments differ from company to company, especially with the rise in companies like Uber whose services you pay for through the app and not with the drivers in the car themselves.
Although it’s up to you as to whether to tip food or drink service to your room, a porter would expect to be tipped for carrying your luggage to your room. The same goes for the cleaners who come to your room, who although not customary to tip do have a rather strenuous job which is as tip-worthy as any other vocation. You can find many types of accommodation in London city that will adhere to this. Smaller hotels and independent vendors do not expect to be tipped and instead would rather have positive feedback, a return to the establishment and recommendations either online or to friends looking for a room.
If you’re looking for spa treatment in London such as those available at the Montcalm at the Brewery London City, they you’d be forgiven for thinking that you should tip the dedicated and talented staff. The reality is that the packages you buy on spa retreats are completely all inclusive and therefore it is not custom in the UK to tip. However, if you’re getting your hair cut or nails done, it is up to the discretion of the customer as to whether to tip the staff responsible. It is not expected but it can be a sign of good will!
So now we’ve covered tipping, it might be a good idea to cover other forms of etiquette which may be useful to know about when visiting the city of London. With so much in the form of culture and rich history, it’s unsurprising that London has formed such a unique way of going about things. Below you can find a few of the tips we have gleaned from years of London and England travel.
Where to use Sir and Madam
The British are very polite. That means that in some places you may be surprised to be greeted rather formally. If you’re in a restaurant and your called sir or madam, that usually sets the standard for behaviour expected of the customer in the establishment. The code is therefore one of both mutual respect and understanding, meaning that if you understand what is expected of you, you will be treated with dignity by the staff.
Waiting for an ATM
Unless you want some one to think you’re about to rob them, then it’s a good idea to stand at least a metre behind the person using an ATM machine whilst waiting yourself to use it. This project’s a feeling of security and puts you in a non-threatening role, especially from the point of view of someone who your standing behind.
Moving with pedestrians
Rush hour can get very hectic. To cater to the slow speed and make sure you literally and metaphorically don’t tread on any toes then the best option is to make sure that you are moving at the same speed as the other pedestrians. Keeping with the flow will help to ensure a calm and organised journey, something the British are very good at indeed. What’s more, when using an escalator, make sure that if you are standing, that you stand on the right-hand side so that people can past on your left.