Tipping Etiquette in Spain, France, USA, Italy and Ireland
Who and how much to tip? This question causes bafflement to thousands of UK tourists every year.
For many of us, understanding tipping etiquette makes for a smoother holiday – and can be important if you find a restaurant or bar you like and you whose staff you want to keep happy.
Read our tipping guidelines for the five countries Britons love to visit the most...
Tipping in Spain
British holidaymakers have been heading down to Spain since the Sixties, attracted by the warm weather, beautiful beaches and affordable prices.
As such, most regular visitors will have some idea about tipping, but if you are new to the country you may be wondering, is tipping expected in Spain?
Do you tip in Spain?
Tipping in bars and restaurants in Spain
Locals tend not to tip in bars and restaurants, although they may do in more upmarket eateries or when part of a large group.
Waiters in tourist areas are aware of some nationalities' propensity to tip – especially Americans – and so may become accustomed to such gratuities, but they are not required.
How much to tip in Spain?
While a 5-10 per cent tip will be welcomed, there is little danger of offending waiting or hotel staff by not leaving a tip.
You may also wish to round up taxi cab fees, but again, taxi drivers don't expect a tip.
That said, tipping in hotels is more common than other scenarios in Spain. Spanish tourists will even often tip hotel staff during a hotel break.
So how much should you tip staff during your hotel stay?
Tipping in hotels in Spain
Generally speaking, if you are staying in a 3 or 4 star hotel in Spain, the following amounts are a good benchmark for tipping:
- Porters: 1 euro per bag
- Housekeeping: 2 and 5 euros per day
- Room service: 1 or 2 euros
Tipping tour guides in Spain
If you book any tours during your Spanish holiday, it’s good to know whether you should tip your tour guide or not.
In Spain, tour guides are generally not tipped as their pay is included in the tour price, although tips are appreciated and help to supplement the tour guides income.
If you felt that you tour guide was particularly helpful and friendly, exceeded expectations or provided extra value, you may wish to offer them a tip. Around 10% would be the norm.
Tipping in France
While many tipping guides written for American audiences recommend handsome tips for French taxi drivers, waiting staff and doormen, there are no rigid rules governing the practice.
Tipping in France: Restaurants and bars
European Value Added Tax is included in bar and restaurant prices, which by law must be passed on to staff.
Still, leaving one euro per 20 euros spent is common.
In a high-end restaurant where service is exemplary, leaving a 20 euro tip is normal.
Tipping in France: Taxi fares
As in Spain, it is common to round up taxi fares – and perhaps give a 5-10 per cent tip for exceptional service.
Tipping in France: Hotels
It’s not uncommon to tip when staying at hotels in France.
Tip should be at your discretion and based on the level of service that you receive, but generally speaking, the following amounts are seen as acceptable for tipping hotel staff in France:
- House-keeping: 5-10 euros
- Porters: 1 euro per bag
- Concierge/ Receptionist: 10 - 15 euros
- Valets: 5 - 10 euros each time
Tipping in France: Tour guides
It is etiquette to tip you tour guide when taking a day trip tour during your vacation in France; Somewhere between 2 and 5 euros per day.
If your tour has a driver, who is not also your guide, it would be appreciated for them to receive a tip also; 1 to 2 euros per person in your group is perfectly acceptable.
Tipping in the USA
Tipping is far more integral to US life than it is in much of Europe.
Many people – especially food servers – are reliant on tips to make up their wage.
Tipping in a restaurant in the USA
At a sit-down restaurant it is customary to tip 15-20 per cent and at a buffet 10 per cent – both before tax is taken into account.
Even if you are not entirely happy with the service level received, it is very unusual not to leave any tip at a sit-down restaurant in the US. Leaving just 10 per cent is a clear indication that the experience was not as expected.
To not tip at all, the service would have to be dreadful.
There are sometimes tip jars in take-out outlets too.
USA tipping: Tipping in a bar
Bar workers expect 1-2 dollars per drink, or 15-20 per cent of the tab.
Failure to pay this tip at a regular bar could well mean being ignored by the barman when further drinks are requested.
Tipping at hotels in the US
- Valet: $2-$5
- Room services: $2-$5 per night
- Housekeeping $1-5 per night
- Hotel porters $2-$3
If you utilise the spa or restaurant facilities at your hotel in the US, it is customary to tip the same at these facilities as you would at the same facilities outside of the hotel in USA;15% at a spa and waiters, 15-20%.
How much to tip a tour guide in the USA?
In the USA, it is generally standard to tip a tour guide around 10-20% of the entire tour cost, tipping more for a more personalized experience.
If your tour also has a separate driver, a tip of between $1 to $5 per day is recommended.
Tipping other service providers in the US
Tips are also expected from food home deliveries (10-15 per cent), valets ($3-5), restroom attendants (50c - $3), 'Skycap' airport porters ($2 per bag, $1 per additional) and taxi drivers (10-15 per cent).
New York cabs have back-seat displays that allow you to choose a default tipping amount, up to 30 per cent, but as explained above, the general accepted rate is between 10–15 per cent.
Tipping in Italy
Tipping in Italian restaurants: Is tipping expected?
A service charge (‘servizio') is automatically added to restaurant bills – usually ranging from 1 to 3 euros.
This means that tipping is by no means mandatory, although you may wish to round-up a bill or add a few extra euros for a big group.
Do Italians leave tips?
Generally, small items like coffees, taxi rides and pizzeria trips are not tipped by the majority of Italians.
Tipping in Italian tourist areas
Waiters and taxi drivers in tourist hotspots like Rome have come to expect tips from foreigners – but there is no reason to give such gratuities unless the service is exceptional.
Tipping in hotels in Italy
While you don’t need to tip for most services at Italian hotels, there are a couple of circumstances where leaving a euro or two is considered polite:
- Housekeeping: 1 euro per night
- Concierge: 5 to 10 euros, depending on service/ the difficulty of your request
- Porters: 1 euro per bag
- Doorman: 1 euro
Tipping in Italy: Tour guides
Whilst in most instance in Italy, tips are not deemed as being necessary, it is common practice to tip your tour guide.
How much you give them will depend on the size of the tour and its length.
If you’ve hired a guide for a small group or individual tour, a tip of 10 percent of the tour’s total cost is recommended.
If you’re part of a large tour group, consider tipping 5 euros for a half day tour or 10 euros for a full day, per person.
Tipping in Ireland
In common with the UK, there is not a huge tipping culture in the Republic of Ireland.
Tipping in restaurants in Ireland
In restaurants check to see if a service charge has been added to your bill – if it has, there is no need to tip. Otherwise, a tip of 10 per cent will suffice.
Should I tip a taxi driver in Ireland?
Tipping taxi drivers is not common; rounding up to the nearest euro is however customary.
Should I tip in Irish bars?
Bar tenders do not expect a tip, although floor serving staff expect 1-2 euros.
Should I tip my accommodation provider in Ireland?
Bed and breakfasts are usually family owned and therefore tips are not expected.
Other tips may be given at your discretion.
How much should I tip a tour guide in Ireland?
As with many other countries, the tour size and length dictate how much you should look to tip your tour guide:
- For a private tour it is recommended to tip your guide 10 percent of what you paid for the tour
- On a group tour it's appropriate to tip 1-2 euros or more, depending on how satisfied you were with the tour
- On multi-day tours, if there has been the same guide and driver for the duration, it is acceptable to tip at the end of the tour.