It's confusing. What's the difference between a tip and "service?" When, where and how much do you tip? Or is Europe getting away from tipping altogether?
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I was in Firenze and Rome - and Amsterdam - this past year and I LIKED it when the waitstaff recognized me for the "fool" that I might have been because I left large (greater than 20%) tips. Who cares? One is on vacation and the waitstaff work hard for the money, you know?
North Andover, MA USA 11/15/2012
We travel every summer in Austria and northern Italy and have never had anyone say anything other than thank you for a 10 percent tip. We also leave three euro a night in hotels and a more generous tip if we have stayed in a pension where the breakfast server and evening staff were taking care of us every day. People are grateful for the extra money and we feel happy knowing we've shown our European hosts we can be gracious, to.
Reston, VA USA 06/07/2012
During our May trip in Germany we rarely saw a printed receipt, since most restaurants asked for cash. So if there was any information about included service it was from the server, who entered our orders on the small note pad he used!! That was our receipt! Eventually, as we observed natives, we gave up on tips, except for leftover small change.
Mountain View, CA USA 06/05/2012
In France a service charge is always included in meals. Years ago I always used to add around 5% anyway. Then a former French resident told me that no one tips in France, except for adding a coin or 2 if there is change from cash. And I started to pay attention and saw that's in fact what locals did. So I've pretty much stopped tipping, although on a recent one-month trip I did leave a significant sum at one place because the service was so exceptional and friendly. But in situations other than restaurants (e.g., hotels, taxis) I tip as I would in America.
Portland, ME USA 05/05/2012
Tipping in Britain
I am employed by a company as a driver/guide taking small groups around parts of England for the day. Apart from driving, I also give a running commentary and guide my passengers on foot around sites of historical interest. What I have found is that quite a lot of Americans either don't tip at all, or give me an absurdly small tip. Recently I read a Rick Steve guide book in which you advise people not to tip tour guides, or if you really must, perhaps give a pound or two. I would like to point out that £1 will now buy about half a cup of coffee and it is almost insulting to give it. On occasions I have had visitors who have asked me to confirm their hotel reservations using my cell phone, and then paid me nothing at the end of the tour. Perhaps when this happens I ought to say someting, but quite frankly I am often speechless. Some nationalities are not used to tipping, but I find that an increasing number of Chinese, Japanese and Australians are giving me tips and this is very much appreciated. So just for the record, I would say that a tip of 10% of the cost of a tour is fair amount to give. I would like to make it clear that not all Americans are bad tippers - some are very generous.
London, UK 11/10/2011
10% everywhere in Europe, unless exceptionally good ( 10-15%). This is the norm ( I'm British and have extensively travelled in Europe - both holidays and work). Susan
Aberdeen / London, UK 10/29/2011
Tipping in Rome
Tipping IS expected in Rome in the historic center. I have been working as a waiter this summer and for 7 hours of HARD work in the blazing sun I am paid 50 euros! I am always very prompt and friendly with the customers and am really surprized and a bit hurt when friendly Americans chat with me for and hour, ask for tourist information, eat a nice meal and a bottle of wine and DON't tip! I think someone must have told them that tipping is not done, but it is not true!!
Richmond, BC USA 09/03/2011
Tipping in Germany
I'm an American who is married to a Dutchman who was raised in Germany, and my husband always tells me that I overtip. Though I am comfortable with a 12% tip for poor service and up to %20 for a job well done, he says the norm is to round up only 1 or 2 Euros. All of our German friends also think I am crazy that I would give so much money. BUT, I have found that if I do tip well and we return often to the establishment, we encounter better and better service each time. With thing such as taxi service, I tip up to €3 for a simple €8 ride if I know they took the most direct route, so as to reward my cab driver's honesty. In the end, I think it pays off to tip what you are comfortable with, so far as it is equal or higher than the country or region's norm.
Niedersachsen, DE 02/14/2011
I like knowing what the tipping etiquette is in each country I visit. Then I like tipping based on the service rendered. Using these 2 guidelines one can walk around with a free, easy going conscience about the exchange between patron and server. I also like knowing that servers already underestimate that women may tip less than men and are pleasently surprised to find if the service is good so is the tip.
CHICAGO, IL USA 07/25/2010
in slovenia, eu a tip is of your own choosing, i mean if your a generous you will tip a employee at a restourant/pub but even in local pubs they earn a lot more than minimum waiges and so tip really isnt necessery, what i mean to say you shouldnt feel sorry for not tipping even if he outdone himself.
A couple cents.
About tipping in Europe... I am a server in New York and more often than not most Europeans DO NOT tip me. Today I was left a $100 bill for a $99.60 check (gratuity obviously not included), so I think that's a pretty good indication of what one should leave for a server there.
New York, NY USA 04/17/2010
Tip not expected
During a lenghty lunch in Rome, we watched our young waiter speak English, Dutch,German, French,and his native Italian. We saw him being treated very rudely by another table of Americans...and engaged him to stand by our table and talk to us..to give him a break , and for us to apologize for our rude countrymen. When we left, we left him a generous tip for all the trouble he had encountered. He came after us, saying, "Is too much I think!". We assured him he works hard, and deserved it!
Chicago, IL USA 02/24/2010
Some have noted that they gave miniscule tips or merely rounded up to the next euro, and had a waitress call after them that they'd left something behind. As a former waitress, I would suggest that this is because the tip was so small it was insulting. A waitress is being 'polite' to assume that the pennies you left on her table must have been overlooked rather than what you intended to leave her as a reward for service.
Tipping in Germany
There is a lot of confusion about what wait staff earn and whether they receive the "service charge" that is added onto your bill. Staff does NOT receive this amount, it is used by the restaurant to help pay their salaries. This is not hearsay, but comes from experience working as a manager in the restaurant industry in Germany. There is no minimum wage in Germany, but there is sort of a standard, with nicer restaurants paying higher hourly wages than a small neighborhood pub. It is the law that all employees, everywhere, get health insurance and vacation, even McDonalds staff. That said, a 10 % tip is quite normal. Rounding off is also normal, but use common sense, if your bill is 79 € you would not round off to 80 €! That would be quite stingy. You also do not leave a tip on the table. Look at your bill and tell the server how much you want to pay. If they say the bill is 75 €, you would say 80 €, for an example. I have never seen a server refuse money from a tip that was too much. Wait staff in large cities are also expecting more money than in small villages, they also have higher rent to pay and usually more tables. It is common for one server to be taking care of 10 -15 tables.
Laws are different in each country and what is normal in Italy, may not be the same as in Germany or France. Rick Steves might want to speak to regular restaurant managers and not little B&B owners to find out what the "norm" is in a country. Having lunch in a pension in a small town along the Rhein, is not the same as a dinner in a fine restaurant in Munich and one should tip accordingly.
Frankfurt, Germany 02/22/2009
If you dont tip you will not get the same experience in the future
I work in the tourism industry in Europe. I am married, middle aged and have a university education. I get paid 30 cents an hour over the minimum wage. My boss expects my wages to be made up to an acceptable level through receiving tips. I expect my wage to be made up to an acceptable level through receiving tips. Because I am not a teenager, because I am educated, my customers expect me to be on a much higher wage than I am and not to be reliant on tips. Am I supposed to tell them I would get paid more flipping burgers in McDonalds? Because people are not tipping as they used to and as we expect, my income is down and I am now being forced to seek alternative employment, leaving the job I love, and my customers love me doing, because I can not afford to live on my salary alone. Maybe people should bear this in mind when they think whether or not to tip after a fantastic experience given to them by somebody in the tourism industry.
Tipping in Germany
At several restaurants in Germany with heavy numbers of American tourists, I asked if service was included, was told no, and so I handed the waiter/waitress about 15%. Huge smiles and "Danke, Danke, Danke!!!" Then in an Italian restaurant in Bremen, Delano's (great food, we went there twice), I tipped 4 Euro on a 40 Euro tab. The waiter politely told me that in Germany the wait staff is paid well and expected to perform their job, and he told me that 1 Euro, 2 Euro tops, is all a German tips and that is all that is expected,that many Germans do not tip at all, and that Americans way over tip. He told me he could not take all that money from me. He handed me back the 4 Euros and I then gave him a 2Euro coin and he told me I was being most generous. This restaurant, by the way, was not a tourist trap, but while the staff had people fluent in English, everyone dining was speaking German. It drove it home. Germany, at least, is not like the USA when it comes to restaurant tipping. So, a service charge`is not included in the bill as a 15 or 20% added tip might be in some US restaurants. So in Germany, "service is not included" just means they have not added an additional charge on the billas an add-on. It is priced into the cost of the meal, as German restaurants pay a livable wage, plus health insurance. And a 15-20% tip is not expected or customary. In the US, restaurants pay as low a wage as legally allowed, and expect you the customer to pay the wages with generous tips.
Federal Way, WA USA 09/30/2008
we always leave a tip
My husband, who is German, always tips in Europe. At nicer places we visit often, he tips at least 15 percent. At sidewalk cafes, he usually just rounds up. We find that we are always remembered and that we also get a nice table.
pacific grove, CA USA 06/04/2008
Its simple - don't complain about poor service if you refuse to pay the service charge. You gets what you pay for!
Paris, France USA 04/28/2008
Ricks guidebooks are very clear about tipping and what is appropriate. He knows the customs therfore I follow them.This takes the guess work out of it and is what is acceptable.
CA USA 04/23/2008
tipping in Italy
Italy does not have a minimum wage, so a waiter's salary cannot possibly be over it. The cost of living in Italy is quite high, and many people rely on two incomes to make ends meet.
Just because a waiter does not expect it, does not mean that a generous tip where it is deserved will not have a positive affect on a person's life.
London, UK 02/13/2008
Mark from Newport Beach
Mark, why are you so cheap? Of course locals tip in Europe - they invented the service charge! Come on guys, if you have great service, tip, if you dont, dont! Isnt that what its all about. Don't Americans have enough problems already being judged by an idiot President, lets not make it worse by being so cheap!
Not an ugly American
NY, NY USA 01/25/2008
My tip for tipping in Europe: don't! Rarely do locals tip. So resist that urge and magically the exchange rate improves. Round up if you wish - but only after a meal.
Newport Beach, CA USA 01/24/2008
Forced tipping in Italy?
In Italy in 2007, for the first time in years of Italian travels, I began to see a 10-15% "servizio" itemized and added to restaurant bills, and that is in addition to the expected "coperto". This happened in 5 or 6 restaurants, and none of them were overtly tourist traps. In one case, I was seated close enough to the next table to see that the Italian couple was NOT charged this fee! I did not want to spend my vacation arguing, so I just paid. The food was good...
Atlanta, GA USA 01/24/2008
Don't be cheap !!!
I have fun as an ADDITIONAL tip give away a lottery ticket. I seem to get a much bigger smile then just another dollar or equivillent would be; In Vietnam they are less then 25cent so I gave out very freely
Bellevue Wa, USA 12/15/2007
Tipping in Europe
I’ve traveled extensively in Europe over the past ten years, visiting every country in Western Europe and most of Scandinavia/Iceland. I generally follow the tipping guideline of rounding up to the next Euro (or local currency) unless service is awful (which is very, very seldom) but I would like to mention that at least once in Denmark and once in Sweden, I had the server refuse the tip. In Denmark, I was almost out the door when the server called to me in perfect English, “Madame, you forgot this” as she held out to me the money I’d left on the table! I didn’t know what to do (I was afraid forcing the tip on her would embarrass her, so I merely said ‘thank you’ and walked out.
Little Rock, ARK USA 10/20/2007
'Conforming' to local practice? IT IS local practice in almost all of Europe to tip; maybe you are just being tight?
Napa, CA USA 10/02/2007
Tipping: USA and Europe
In a California mecca for tourists the waiters hate to see Europeans at their tables because they tip little if at all. I think we are applying to ourselves, as tourists in Europe, a standard that the Europeans themselves don't observe there (or elsewhere). I think Europeans in tourist areas are used to Americans being generous tippers and then are disappointed or feel "stiffed" when we conform to local practice.
Napa, CA USA 10/01/2007
Don't be cheap!!
While we are it, I want to tell you as a Tour Guide in Greece, we work for your tips and appreciate you showing us by more than just a a faint clap at the end of the presentation and guide. In Greece, we school for no less than 3 years in order to be a LICENSED Guide as well as most of us hold 4 or 6 year degrees in our specialized field of study and work. It wont break your budget to remember to tip your Tour Guides 2-3 euros, per person if we have been guiding you for more than an hour. You would'nt hesitate to tip any other customer service person such as a waiter, taxi driver, bell boy, etc...don't forget the ones who work for you in order to make sure you get the most of your visit!
Oia - Santorini, Greece 08/20/2007
Added Service Charge
I have to say, I almost always tip throughout Europe unless the service was TERRIBLE!
I've been living in London for a while and I always make sure to tell friends when they are visiting to read menus VERY carefully (regarding tipping). In most restaurants in the UK a service charge (anywhere from 8% to 20%) will be added to the bill. It usually states this on the menu but not always on the bill. A few times I have caught servers trying to get me to double tip (if paid through interac machines). So just be aware.
The added service charge to your bill does not always go to server(s) anyway. So if you are paying by card and you want to give your server something extra (if s/he was amazing) hand them cash at the end of the night, don't add it to the bill.
If you are using either black cabs or mini cabs tipping is always appreciated. If I don't have any parcels or luggage with me I will usually tip 1 pound (or round up to the nearest whole number). If I have lots of bags and the driver helped me with them (in and out) I will tip up to 5 pounds. Some might see this as excessive, but they probably put up with a lot over a day working!
Round up the bill tipping
My tipping philosopy in Germany and Switzerland is to round up to the nearest Euro as practical for the current situation. For instance if a meal or a taxi ride costs EUR 14,00 and I pay EUR 15,00, I just say "stimmt so" and do not expect any change. Otherwise I give an explicit amount, somewhere between the actual amount of the bill, and the amount of money I give. Learning the numbers in German from 1 to 100 is very important in order to do this properly. Always state the unit digit before the tens digit, for numbers 21 to 99, except 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80 and 90. The numbers in Dutch/Flemish are pretty much the same, format wise.
Frisco, TX USA 05/12/2007
Tipping in Europe
I suppose the best advice you can get about tipping is asking the locals. I am very surprised that anyone would actually return a tip in a European Restaurant as I have always believed it is customery to leave a tip around 10% equivalent of what you have paid, be it for a meal, a taxi ride, a guided tour or any other service industry.
I have lived throughout Europe since childhood and this has always been the case in so much as what the locals do in England, France, Italy and Spain where I have lived and worked for 40+ years.
Currently living in Madrid, Spain 05/08/2007
England tip refund!
When traveling in England I left a tip after dinner in a neighborhood restaurant. I returned for breakfast the next morning and the same waiter was there - he recognized me and refunded my tip - it was included in the price of the meal. Still, I was a tourist who never would have known and would have been unlikely to return - getting my money back was amazing.
London, TX USA 05/06/2007
In many places (such as France where I work) service charge is now included in the cost. However do remember that just about every waiter / waitress / bell boy / concierge / tour guide in Europe will be on the minimum wage. My tip would be, if they have looked after you, if you have received a quality service then do what the local custom is, in France that would be to leave a tip comparable to 8 - 10 per cent of the cost of your meal / tour or whatever service thay have provided for you. Conversely, dont feel compelled to leave a tip for a poor service!
Bayeux, N'dy France 04/25/2007
Tipping in Italy
I have been living in Italy for the last several months, and 90% of the time the tip is included in the meal called a "Coperto". It should always be printed at the bottom of the menu and will usualy be 2 or 3 euro. I go out with italians to dinner a lot, and I have only seen a tip left once, and it was for exceptional service. Otherwise don't bother, because they do not expect it.
Torino, Piemon Italy 03/15/2007
Tipping as recommended by Rick guidebooks
RS guidebooks are very clear about tipping. Read it and remember it for each country you visit. It will save you lots of euros and wondering about what is right. Tipping like we do in USA is way over from any other counrty in the world.
CA USA 02/11/2007
Don't leave 20%!
While in Italy we met some Spaniards who were also on holiday at an agriturismo. They were such wonderful people and we ended up spending quite a bit of time with them. I asked them about tipping etiquette and they all resoundingly said that we should not tip as we do here in the States. They said that wait staff receive a salary, which is far more than minimum wage. They said that if we wanted to, and if we received outstanding service, then we should leave one or two euros. Not the 20% we had been leaving!