We just arrived in Scotland after 2 weeks in France. It was easy not to tip in France - but last night at the airport hotel the bill for dinner came with a big blank space to add a tip, just like in the US. So I added 10% but am now wondering if that was too much - or too little. What is tipping etiquette in the UK? Thanks in advance!
Ignore the tip box on the bill, it won't necessarily go to the waiter or waitress.
I always leave it blank and just leave a few pounds on the table when I leave. Not many, £1 to £5 is my general rule depending on the party, and the bill, but certainly less than 10%.
The hospitality industry has a voluntary code where they are expected to disclose their policy for distribution of tips, gratuities, and service charges. The big chains do follow this in general but you have to search for it sometimes. Although usually the case, it is not a firm rule that servers receive all of their individual cash tips.
Marco, of course even the cash doesn't always go to the server, but personally I feel it is more likely.
One other tipping bit i find is if you get food delivered to your door and it is already paid for, ie a pizza etc, they often are half way back to the car before you can give them a tip. The point in that is the tip is not always expected.
Well, it certainly wasn't too little. 10% is about what I normally give, assuming the service has been friendly and helpful, which it invariably is. There is no fixed tipping etiquette, in that some people never tip, others leave a fairly nominal amount, not related to the size of the bill, while some leave a regular percentage. It also all depends on the type of place you are in, whether it is table service or service at the bar, and other factors.
The only real rule is that it doesn't much matter in the vast majority of places. Base it on your mood and how good a meal you have had. No-one will chase you down the street or treat you badly, whatever you do.
Yes rereading what I wrote earlier it wasn't firm enough regarding cash so I have amended it.
My husband and I just returned from 2 plus weeks in the UK, and when we had table service we usually tipped 10% of the bill by leaving cash on the table. No, it is not expected, but our servers were always friendly and helpful. I guess I should add that this is what we have done on all previous trips to the UK over the past 10 years.
Always check the bill to make sure that optional gratuity has not already been added to the total. It has become pretty common for London restaurants to add a 12.5% optional tip to the total on the bill, but I don't know how prevalent the practice is outside of the capital. Perhaps some of the U.K. residents can comment. When I was in Scotland in August, I didn't eat at any restaurants with this practice.
When I go to a place with 12.5% on the bill, and you are right there are some, I get it taken off, give the waiter what I want to, and don't return. Exception, if it is a place I really want to go to and they have publicised the added figure in their advertising or it is prominent in newspaper reviews.
Thank you all for the helpful responses. I feel better, and better prepared for the next time. We are mostly staying with friends, but I'm sure there will be a few more restaurant meals.
The 12.5 is something I have heard about but not seen except in the 'groups of X plus subject to a service charge', but I think my reaction would be similar to Nigel's, score it out.
The view of tipping from most people here is it is a reward for good service, I do not employ the waiter or waitress, the restaurant owner does and should pay them appropriately. Anything I give should be a reward for good service.
The 12% service charge on bills is increasingly common, especially in chain restaurants. It is often added if there are 6 or more in a group, and it that case it will be stated on the menu.
I always check for it and then don't leave any extra unless it is a case of rounding up, for example if 8 of us are out for dinner and the bill is £196.50 I am not going to hang around to split £3.50 change.
I had a friend who insisted on having the service charge removed and then leaving a tip and I'm afraid I found it totally mortifying for all concerned! Discussions with what was "wrong" with service, hanging around whilst the bill is recalculate, whispered discussions amongst the waiters...........for me life is too short.....if the service is good just pay the service charge, it is the same we would pay as a tip anyway.
If we received full service and were waited on we generally tipped around 10%. But there was one meal where the check was 39 and we paid with a 50 note. We received 11 in change- a 10 note and a 1 pound coin. This tells me they were not expecting a tip as 10 would have been way too much, leaving us only the option of 1 pound. Most of the time we had change, but in this instant, we had been trying to rid ourselves of change before heading home.