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Tipping for excellent service at hotel and in restaurant...so confused!

I've read many posts that tipping in western Europe is not expected, or just rounding up the bill is fine. But here in our lovely small family hotel in the Ardennes of Belgium, we have had such lovely service from the owner of the hotel himself (so helpful with advice, and he acted as the maitre d' over a sumptuous 5-course meal that was prepared by his father the chef...our wine glasses were never empty!) as well as a young waiter who tended us at dinner as well as providing room service after our long day sight seeing. The owner just charged our dinner to our room, and the waiter whisked in and out of our room so quickly, we haven't tipped a dime...and it just doesn't feel right! Please, how should we express our gratitude at the end of our stay when we pay up? Is it appropriate and non-offensive to give the owner cash and ask him to accept our tip for him and his family and staff when we pay our bill? And how much? Maybe if we offered it in a nice card with expression of thanks? Thank you for your advice, we check out Monday morning local time!

Posted by
10344 posts

Here's Rick's advice on that: "Tipping in Europe isn't as automatic and generous as it is in the United States, but in many countries, tips are appreciated, if not expected. As in the US, the proper amount depends on your resources, tipping philosophy, and the circumstance."

More advice from Rick:

click here

and also click here

Posted by
11507 posts

Gail,, it is not really expected or normal to tip owners of anything,no matter how they "host" you ,, that is their business , they are not employees. , but , the staff, well of course you could have given the young man a small tip each time he came to your room.

I do not think it is right to give it to the owner to split up at all.. staff should always be handed their tips directly.

One never tips a chef. They consider themselves professionals, and you would not tip a doctor or lawyer would you( oh heck, , maybe in the States you do?)

You could give the waiter a tip, the owner might think a card and some flowers on leaving a nice touch.. but remeber,, what they want most is you to express how much you enjoyed yourself, and to hear that you would love to return,, and will definately tell everyone all about them. Then do. Write a review and post it on tripadvisor.com forums,, people use those,, I do all my hotel research there.

Posted by
15726 posts

Was a service charge added to your bill at dinner and for room service? If yes, then you could leave a few euros for the waiter. If not, then you might want to give him a bit more. Leave it for him in an envelope when you check out or if he is there when you leave,hand it to him. (make sure you include your name and room number.) Figure about 10% of what you spent on the food he served if you were not charged a service fee. What you are thanking him for is service about and beyond his normal job. Don't go overboard here. It's not like the U.S. where they rely on tips to survive. The waiter is paid a decent wage and tips are just like icing on a cake.

For the owner, a thanks is all that is necessary. A nice touch would be to send him a letter with a copy of the review you are going to write in TripAdvisor or other forums you find. You can mention to him that you are going to write glorious reviews on the internet.

Posted by
9046 posts

It does seem to be a common misconception about the Service Charge listed on bills. This amount is a percentage of your bill and is automatically generated. It goes to the restaurant itself and is used to defray employee costs such as health insurance, pension payments, vacation, etc. It does not go to the employee.

Yes, wait staff in the EU are earning a better wage then in the US, but it isn't that high of a wage, and they do still expect to get a tip. It doesn't have to be the large 15-20 % as in the US, but 5-10% at least. In smaller towns, they do not expect large tips, but if you are in a big city, wait staff have the same high rent and costs as everyone else living in that city.

Also, please leave a small tip for housekeeping on a daily basis. This is truly a hard job and they are the lowest paid staff of all.

It is correct that one does not tip an owner of an establishment, nor a chef. A review on Trip Advisor is worth gold to them though.