When (and when not) to tip in London and Britain

London and Britain like to do their own thing in Europe, and the same applies to their tipping rules. If you’ve got your head around when and when not to tip in Europe (say in Paris or Stockholm) in comparison to North America, you’ll need to readjust again when you think about tipping in London.

However, one thing the UK does share with Europe is that servers will be on at least a minimum wage, relaxing expectations on how much to tip.

More London tips:
• 8 travel myths about London
• Follow these 25 tips in London for a better trip
• Top budget hotels under $100 a night in London

Here are a few pointers on how to tip like a Brit — that should save you some money in the process.

Tipping in Pubs, Bars, Clubs & Cafes

If it’s counter service…

If you’re doing the standing, waiting and carrying for yourself, there’s no need to give your server a tip. Many such cafes or coffee shops will have a tip jar displayed on the counter — people will put spare change in them at most.

While there’s no tipping at a pub counter, there is a custom of offering to buy an exceptionally helpful bartender a drink — rather than pouring themselves something, they’ll simply add one pound or so to your total price.

If it’s seated service…

If you’re presented with a check at the end of your visit, leave a tip of around 10% of the bill. Otherwise, if you’ve had good service, just leave them some change on the table.

Related: How to visit a traditional pub in London

London Beer

No need to leave a tip if you pick up a beer at the bar. Photo: cmbellman P

Tipping in restaurants

Reckon on leaving from 10% to 15% of the total bill, depending on the quality of your service. However, do take a look at the check first. Some restaurants add on their own service charge as standard and you don’t want to pay twice.

You may also get the option to add on a tip if paying by credit card. Don’t feel pressured to do this — many people prefer to leave the tip in cash instead, feeling that it’s more likely to go to the serving staff than the owners.

Related: 10 Tips to save on dining in London

London Taxi

Just round up for the tip in a London taxi. Photo: technicolourcity

Tipping in taxis

Do tip if you ride in a London taxi, but simply by rounding it up to a nice round number, for example paying £30 for a £28 journey.

Don’t round up by more than a couple of pounds — if your journey cost you £29.60, you’d probably still only round it up to £30.

Tipping tour guides

Your guide will probably expect something but do feel free to modify your tip depending on the quality of the service they provided. A tip around £5 is probably about right for a half-day/day tour.

London Hotel

Only at fancier hotels in London do you need to worry about tipping. Photo: JR P

Tipping in hotels

Most of the hotels we’d recommend on EuroCheapo are smaller, family-run establishments where there is no need to tip (although it’s always a nice gesture to leave a little something in the room).

In larger, fancier places you may want to tip a porter who has carried your bags to your room a couple of pounds, and perhaps also some coins for your chambermaid (depending on how much work you’ve given them!).

Related: 5 London hotels in a central location under £100 per night

Tipping in public bathrooms

While you may need to pay to access public toilets, you should never have to tip beyond that. Some bars and clubs use bathroom attendants, who often provide users with an array of beauty products or sweets in the hope of earning a bit of extra cash. Of course, if you take advantages of their services, you should give them a tip. If you decide not to, it’s your chance to shuffle off awkwardly, avoiding eye contact like a true Brit.

Your experience

What are your tips for tipping in London? Tell us in the comments!