When do you tip in London?
Knowing how and when to tip in London can be a little confusing, as tipping culture varies across the world, but this guide will help you figure out what you need to do when tipping in London. We’ll talk about tipping in restaurants, at bars and pubs, when taking taxis, and at London hotels.
Tipping in London Restaurants
You do need to tip at London restaurants.
Some restaurants will automatically add a service charge onto your bill, usually around 12.5% (shown above.) A service change is always optional, no matter what. So if you had satisfactory service, you just pay the full bill, which will already include the service charge in the final amount owed, and you’re sorted. If you had bad service, just pay the total without service charge, or what’s usually labeled as the “subtotal.”
Tipping when a service charge is added
If you have bad service and choose not to pay the added service charge, here’s how you approach it. If you’re paying by card, you’ll have to verbally tell the server that you won’t be paying for the added service charge when they arrive to your table with the credit card machine. Otherwise, they will assume you will be paying the total with the service charge, and type that into the card machine.
When paying your bill with cash and choosing not to pay the service charge, just give over the subtotal to the server. If you need change, you’ll have to explain that you’re not paying the service charge. And yes, it’s a little awkward!
Tipping when no service charge is added
If no service charge is added, paying 10%-15% tip is customary, although you can give more for exceptional service. I typically choose to pay around 10% unless I had extra fabulous service. If you’re American, remember that service in London isn’t as good as back home, so make sure you lower your expectations 🙂
Also, it’s important to know that in many restaurants and bars in London, tips are pooled together and therefore shared with other staff members.
Tipping in London Pubs
There’s no need to tip when getting drinks at a pub or bar in London. The only time you’ll pay a tip is when you get table service, which means your order is taken while you’re seated at a table, and then the drinks and/or food are brought to you. You might see an optional service charge on your bill in that type of situation.
In my video Important Things to Know Before Visiting London Pubs, I had quite a few people comment that they sometimes give a bit of cash to the bartender at the end of the night and say something along the lines of “and buy one for yourself”, and this acts as a tip. I personally have never seen or heard of anyone doing that, but you’re welcome to give it a go if you want to show some appreciation to your bartender.
Tipping London Taxi Drivers
It’s not necessary to tip London taxi drivers, but feel free to round up to the nearest pound, as many people will do here. You can choose to give a little more if you had a lot of bags that they helped with, or it was a particularly long journey, say, from one of London’s airports.
Tipping in London Hotels
At high-end London hotels, it’s suggested to tip around £1-£2 per bag to the baggage porter. Lower-end hotels won’t expect a tip, although you can give one if you’d like. Leaving a tip for housekeeping would be accepted, but it’s definitely not necessary, especially as some hotels in London are now starting to add a service charge onto your bill at check out, which would cover the housekeeping staff as well as others.
Tipping London Tour Guides
If you’ve paid for your tour, you don’t have to give a tip, however if you feel like you want to show your appreciation to your tour guide, a tip will always be welcomed, even if just a couple of pounds.
If you’ve done one of London’s free tours, I would highly suggest tipping, as those tour guides only make money when tipped by tour guests, and you should definitely show your appreciation for getting a tour for zero cost. Honestly, you’ll look like a major cheapskate if you don’t tip the tour guide at least a few pounds per person in your party!
More helpful tips to make your visit to London the best it can be:
Want more London visitor tips? Get my free London 101 Guide. It has everything a first-time visitor needs before visiting London. You’ll learn about what kind of power adapter to pack, how to get from the airport to your hotel, what you need to use public transportation, and more.