Traveling in Europe is a challenge not only because you’re navigating different languages, cultures, and currencies, but also because you’re navigating different gratuity structures. You can take the Chunnel a mere 31 miles to get from France to England—and yet somewhere under the English Channel, you cross a time zone and the currency shifts, as does the gratuity culture.
The model for tipping in England is closer to the American standard than many other European countries. However, there is less initial expectation to tip in England. Tracy Halliwell, the Director of Tourism at London and Partners, which runs Visit London, confirmed that “tipping is appreciated but not always expected in London.” And the standard of how much to tip in London is followed throughout England, for the most part.
Tipping a Restaurant Server or Bartender in England
“Generally, fast food restaurants, takeaways, or pubs and clubs do not require a tip,” said Halliwell. Indeed, if you’re having a couple of pints and a bite at the corner pub, gratuity is not expected. However, if you get on famously with your server or bartender, you can leave your change—enough for him or her to have a round on you when they get off work.
At fine dining establishments, servers in England usually earn 10% to 15% gratuity on each table. “It is customary to leave a 10% to 12.5% tip at a restaurant,” said Halliwell. “Though many restaurants add the service charge directly to the bill, so make sure to check before paying.”
If a service charge is added to the check, additional gratuity is discretionary and rarely given, except in the case of outstanding service.
How to Tip the Hotel Staff in England
Wondering how much to tip at the hotel bar or restaurant? The rule of thumb is the same one you’d follow at nice bars and restaurants in the U.K. Beyond the food and beverage arm of a hotel, five-star properties may charge a service fee, which goes toward the staff maintaining the amenities like the spa, gym, and common areas. That service charge, if applicable, does not go to housekeeping, valets, concierges, or luggage handlers.
“Similarly to restaurants, many hotel bills include a service charge, but tips for concierges and door staff are discretionary,” confirmed Halliwell.
Bellpersons can be tipped £1 to £2 for each piece of luggage they assist with, and door staff hailing cabs can be given £1 to £5 each time they do so. Leaving gratuity for housekeeping is actually uncommon in the U.K., but you can still leave £5 to £15 at the end of your stay to show your appreciation.
In terms of beauty services, tipping is customary. If you visit your hotel spa for a manicure, blow-out, or massage, plan to leave at least 10% gratuity.
How to Tip on Transport Services in England
You’re unlikely to be driving yourself around in England. While driving to the countryside is not uncommon, driving in Londontown is a rarity among tourists. Parking in London is a challenge, to say nothing of the fact that riding the tube with your Oyster card is a quintessential part of the London experience. Chances are, you’ll maneuver around London via taxi, Uber, or public transit, and perhaps rent a Zipcar when leaving the city for a weekend trip.
“For black cab and licensed minicabs, many Londoners round up to the nearest £1, but you may wish to tip more if the driver has assisted you,” said Halliwell.
If you’re taking a bus tour in England, you’ll want to leave gratuity, especially if your bus driver also served as a tour guide or was particularly helpful making recommendations and pointing out must-see landmarks. Tip £2 to £5 per person for each day you tour with a driver.
Finally, when parking in a hotel, tipping the valet is not customary. Because valet parking is likely to come with a service charge, additional gratuity isn’t expected.