There’s one little detail that often leaves London visitors scratching their heads: tipping etiquette.
Unlike some cultures where tipping is a clearly defined ritual, UK tipping culture (especially in London) can be a bit of a mystery.
Should I Tip In London?
In the UK, tipping is generally less regimented than in, say, the United States. Historically, a tip was a gratuity given for good service, and while this is still the case, it isn’t as ubiquitous.
London, as a cosmopolitan hub, has more prevalent tipping practices than some other parts of the UK, primarily influenced by the service charge often included in the bill at restaurants and hotels.
Tipping in Restaurants
Dining out in London presents the most common scenario where you’d consider tipping. In sit-down restaurants, it’s customary to leave a tip of around 10-15% of the bill. However, you’ll often find a ‘discretionary service charge’ of around 12.5% automatically added to your bill. If you see this, you don’t need to tip extra, but you can if you feel the service was exceptional.
Tipping in Pubs and Coffee Shops
Tipping in pubs and coffee shops is generally more relaxed. If you’re being served at your table in a pub, it’s nice to leave a pound or two. But if you’re ordering at the bar, tipping isn’t expected. In coffee shops, you might see a tip jar on the counter – it’s up to you whether you drop in your spare change, but it’s not an obligation.
Tipping Taxi Drivers
As for taxi drivers, Londoners often round up the fare to the nearest pound or tip about 10-15% for a longer journey. This applies whether you’re in a traditional black cab, minicab, or using a ride-share app. However, always feel free to tip more if the driver has been particularly helpful.
Tipping Hotel Staff
In hotels, the tipping culture is varied. You might offer a pound or two to a doorman if they help with your luggage, or to housekeeping at the end of your stay. Concierges who go above and beyond with their service might also deserve a tip. However, these are all discretionary and should be guided by your own satisfaction with the service received.
Tipping In Other Service Industries
In other service sectors, such as hairdressers and spas, a tip of around 10% is the norm if you’re happy with the service.
For tour guides, a tip is a nice way to show your appreciation for an enjoyable and informative tour, but what you give is entirely at your discretion.
Tipping Since The COVID-19 Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected many aspects of life, including tipping practices. Remember to prioritise contactless payments where possible to maintain safety measures.
Navigating London’s tipping culture can be tricky, but hopefully this guide has given you some clarity. The most important thing to remember is that tipping in London is usually discretionary and based on the quality of service. So, when in doubt, use your own judgement, and don’t be afraid to ask locals for their advice.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I tip when ordering takeaway or delivery?
While not compulsory, it’s a kind gesture to tip delivery drivers, especially in inclement weather or during peak times. A few pounds or around 10% of the bill is standard.
Do I need to tip my tour guide?
Tipping tour guides is not mandatory, but it’s appreciated if they provide an exceptional tour experience. The amount varies based on personal satisfaction, but a guideline could be £5-£10 per person for a full-day tour.
How should I tip if I’m at a high-end restaurant in London?
At high-end restaurants, a service charge of around 12.5% is typically included in the bill. If the service was particularly impressive, consider leaving an additional tip, which is discretionary.
What if I’m not satisfied with the service, should I still tip?
Tipping in London is primarily a response to good service. If you’re dissatisfied with the service, it’s completely acceptable not to tip. You can also provide feedback about your experience to the service provider.
How do I handle tipping during cashless transactions?
Many establishments in London now offer an option to tip electronically when paying by card. If this isn’t an option, and you want to tip, you could ask the server to add the tip to your total bill.
Are there any situations in London where tipping would be considered inappropriate?
In general, London does not have strong norms against tipping. However, professionals like doctors, solicitors, or public servants typically don’t accept tips due to the nature of their work.