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tipping... yes another

I just read the tipping thread on the Czech forum and did a search for information re Hungary and can't find anything so I'm hoping for help (not a long discussion on what one does in other countries or Europe in general :-))

This will be our 5th visit to Europe but first to central Europe. We generally don't tip. But I'm confused by Hungary as I've been looking at menus online and most say something such as this : "All prices are in HUF. 13,5% service charge will be added to the
bill." or "12% service charge will be added to all food and beverage items"

I've see menus in other countries that state service charges are included but I don't understand those that state they are extra. And they vary.

Is this "service charge" a tip?
Do locals tip in Hungary if this is not on the menu? If so, what is the norm?

(In case it matters, the restaurants are Balthasar and Hungarikum Bisztro but I've seen it on many others as well.)

Posted by
2526 posts

It's a bit early for popcorn, but I'll make an exception and sit back for the show.

Posted by
671 posts

@Bruce: Hold my beer. I have been beaten up on the Italy site of this Forum for providing an honest answer to this very controversial topic based on my personal experience encompassing over 30 years of travel in Europe. To answer the OP, I did tip in a restaurant in Budapest last year, but there was no included service charge that I was aware of.

Posted by
1330 posts

I did a Google search and this is what I came up with:

"At sit-down eateries in Hungary, it is standard to tip about 10% of the total for decent service, or up to 15% for an outstandingly helpful server. Nowadays many restaurants include a 12.5% “service charge” (“szervízdíj” in Hungarian) in the total, so make sure to check for this either on the bill itself or on the menu; there is no need to leave any extra tip in addition to this amount. At more casual eateries, a tip jar will often be next to the cash register, or guests can round up to the next highest forint-bill denomination when paying the server. However, no matter what type of restaurant it is, tips should never be left on the table when you leave – all tips should be given directly to the server or into the tip jar.
One local caveat – some traditional Hungarian restaurants hire a house band to play live Gypsy music and other evergreen tunes, and the musicians may begin traveling from table to table to entertain individual dining parties. When the band is at your table, if you request a particular song and they can play it, you will be expected to provide a tip for the musicians; a 500-forint bill should suffice. However, if you do not request a song, there is no need to tip the musicians… even though you may experience mild pressure to do so."

Posted by
4717 posts

When the band is at your table, if you request a particular song and they can play it, you will be expected to provide a tip for the musicians

In such a scenario I would request Donna Summer's 'I Feel Love'........the 12" version.

Posted by
2526 posts

@Robert: Rather than wait until happy hour, I'll crack a beer and join you.

Posted by
16883 posts

Bob's Google results yielded similar advice to what you'll find on p. 454 of Rick Steves Budapest.