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No tipping in pubs?

I read in my Let's Go Europe book in "Rules of the Pub" that: "Don't tip as you leave. If you're impressed by the service, offer to buy the bartender a drink." Is this true? And is it true in just England, or also for Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland? I don't want to look weird or cheap!

Posted by
1014 posts

Tip if you got exceptional service or just like the waiter or bartender. They make a livable wage doing this.

Posted by
15 posts

Its true. Do not tip in pubs. It's not necessary and it would look weird. The buying a drink thing is really for regulars. That is if you went to the same pub and were served by the same bar person for a week then you might offer to buy them a drink. If a pub has a seperate restaurant with wait staff then maybe a tip is appropriate if the service is good. You will not look cheap if you do not tip. No one else does.

Posted by
9363 posts

On our first trip to Ireland we ate in several pubs along the way. At our first pub dinner, we left a tip as we would here in the States. Before we could get out the door, though, the woman who had been our waitress rushed up to return the change that we had "forgotten". It feels weird not to tip, but that's the way it is.

Posted by
356 posts

I never tip in pubs. It's just not done here. I would also not offer to buy the bartender a drink unless it was my local and I knew him or her well.

Posted by
307 posts

A couple of years ago during a visit to a pub( my first trip to UK in a long time) I left a tip at the bar, only to have the bartender bring it to my table a few minutes later. Tipping is not expected or necessary...

Posted by
1829 posts

The way to tip bar staff is to say when you hand over payment for your drinks "have one for yourself". What usually happens then is that they will deduct the price of a drink from your change and drop the money in a glass by the till. We would usually only do this if there was a big crowd of us ordering large rounds of drinks and as a result making them work hard.

Posted by
932 posts

Okay, thanks for the clarification. But one more small question. When I worked at a pub in Germany, and when I was a customer in pubs/restaurants/bars/clubs, etc, you customarily rounded up to the nearest Euro, i.e., if the bill was 24,50, you gave 25,00. Is THIS what I should do or in the UK do I take the .50 Euro/Pound change? Thanks!

Posted by
1829 posts

If you wanted you could say "keep the change". But if it is a very small amount it might be taken as an insult. These social niceties, so difficult! The easiest way is not to tip in a pub unless you receive service you consider above and beyond.

Posted by
932 posts

Okay, I've got it now! Thanks everyone! :)

Posted by
11973 posts

Not to add confusion but there are pubs and there are "lounges" (often the other side of the same establishment). I don't use lounges. I order my food at the pub bar and don't tip. If you sit in the lounge, you are served at your table and tipping (probably significantly less than US tipping) may be expected.

Maybe someone can weigh in who knows a little more about lounges.

Posted by
51 posts

Nope, no tipping in pubs - sometimes it can be considered rude to try to do so. As for buying the barman or barmaid a drink, its more for locals who've been going there for years.

Posted by
1829 posts

Brad - if we are in a pub restaurant with full table service, as opposed to having the food ordered at the bar brought to our table, restaurant rules apply. If we are satisfied with the service, and there is no service charge on the bill, we would tip.
About 10% rounded up or down to the nearest pound.

Posted by
92 posts

It's been my experience that you tip about 10% of your bill when there is table service, but if you pick up your drink at the bar (regardless of if you drink it at the bar or at a table) then don't tip.

Posted by
147 posts

Don't tip, but buy a local patron his or her favorite beverage.

Posted by
652 posts

This is great! I think it's the first time I've seen so many Brits answer a "British" question. Thanks all!

Posted by
11441 posts

For one meal...I'd go to a pub for pub grub. I just love the stuff. I'm not a fan of curry but you can usually find a curry restaurant every couple of blocks. It's the most popular food, I believe, in London.

Talk about tipping...a number of years ago, I ran a conference for 250 British cellphone dealers in Los Angeles. They were staying in a 5 star hotel. Every day, about 5 PM, they would fill the hotel bar. The bartenders and waitresses worked their you know what's off but never got tipped. They complained to us and we would remind out guests about the tipping policy in the U.S. But still they refused to tip. (These were not poor people especially since all of their expenses were being picked up by a cellphone manufacturer.) I guess old habits are hard to break. Fortunately, my client felt bad and authorized us to give the servers some money to make for it.

Posted by
63 posts

Hi All,

as a Brit who goes to the pub a lot (:-) I have never tipped the barstaff when buying drinks at the bar. Actually it would be wierd and they would stand there confused, trying to give you your money back!

Similarly for eating at pubs, as you tend to pay at the bar before getting your food. If you pay afterwards due to waier service then you could consider adding a pound or two but it is certainly NOT expected by the wait staff. (This is where first time UK visitors to the USA get it wrong as they don't understand that tipping is almost compulsory!)

If you go to a restaurant (as opposed to a pub) then just tip as you would in the US.

Hope that makes things clear?

Cheers
Steve.

Posted by
2349 posts

Years ago in Scotland I had several spirited discussions about tipping. As a waitress, I would tend to tip heavily, but was told not to. It was better to stand the barman a drink, etc. They especially thought it was horrible that I relied on tips and was paid a very small hourly wage of about $1.87 at the time. They all insisted that I should be paid a decent wage. Since I had financed my trip by waiting tables, I disagreed. I was making almost twice as a waitress than I had been at a "real" office job with a "decent" wage. Interesting cultural differences.

Posted by
3580 posts

So, I order a meal in a pub at the counter then go sit down. When the meal is delivered to me, I don't tip, right? As I recall, the last time I had a pub meal I ordered at the counter, paid, then went back to pick up my food. We've got this tipping thing so pounded into our heads in the US that it feels odd not to tip people in the food-service industry. I'm happy to hear that they are adequately paid. When (some) Europeans visit the US they neglect to tip, which makes them unpopular with restaurant workers.

Posted by
1829 posts

In some pubs they will give you a number thingy (sorry don't know what it is called!) which you place on your table so the server knows where to deliver your food. Others, as you have found, will call out your number when your food is ready for collection from the bar. In either case no tipping required or expected.

Just a thought, maybe that is one of the reasons that headline meal prices are cheaper in the US ie lower wage costs?

Posted by
932 posts

"If you go to a restaurant (as opposed to a pub) then just tip as you would in the US."
Okay, so this is new and different from mainland Europe. So you're supposed to tip 15-20% at a restaurant? Does this go for Ireland, too? Yikes. So now not only does the exchange rate suck, and meals are super expensive, but they're going to be almost 20% higher after tip! I guess we'll stick to mostly fast food/fish n chips/pub grub or we're going to spend most of our budget on FOOD!

Posted by
356 posts

Amy - I would say 10% is seen as the standard amount to tip in the UK. Always check your receipt/menu as some restaurants now add the service charge to the bill (often at 12.5%).

Don't tip if the service is terrible. The one thing I couldn't get used to in the USA is the fact that I was expected to tip even when the staff were incompetent/surly and the food was dreadful!

Posted by
495 posts

Breathe... and then calm down.

First, tipping in the UK is no where near as big an issue as in the US. Unlike the US no-one will get angry if you get it wrong.

We do tip in restaurants but 10-15% is more the range. Also it is not "compulsory" like it is in the US. Tip for good service, don't think you must tip for mediocre or poor service. Also bear in mind that meals, while more expensive than most of the US, are not "super expensive" at all. Another good thing is that we're nowhere near as sneaky as you guys and include the tax in the price, no ambush at the till. Restaurants all post their menus outside and the price they show is the price you pay plus small tip if the service is good.

Posted by
932 posts

Okay, I'm calm again. ;)
Laura, although tipping is absolutely expected in the US, there have been a few occasions where my tip clearly reflected the service. Only several times in my life, when service was so horrific, I didn't tip anything. (But it's rare that service is that terrible.) So if you have awful service here, you could tip less than 15%. Even if you're in a large group where the tip was automatically added, if you didn't think the service warranted that amount of a tip, you can ask a manager to change it.
And it's so true about taxes. I love how in Europe, the price IS what is SAYS. I always wondered why we didn't do that in the US...

Posted by
356 posts

Amy - Thanks for the US tipping advice.

Eating in the UK does not have to be super expensive, especially if you are flexible. Lots of restaurants offer set-meals. E.g. last Sunday I ate in a perfectly nice restaurant that had a set lunch menu which cost £8-10 for 2 or 3 courses and a dinner menu which cost £10-12 for 2 or 3 courses. I was very full-up afterwards!

Posted by
932 posts

That's not bad at all. Let me ask you this. I will be in London, but just for ONE day. So if you had to pick one place to eat, what would it be? What if we want to have curry?

Posted by
356 posts

Time Out recently published an updated Cheap Eats article on their website: http://www.timeout.com/london/restaurants/features/5617/London-s_best_cheap_eats.html

Try and opt for an Indian restaurant that has some Indians in it! The ones aimed at a white clientele are never as good in my opinion. I notice the legendary Veerasmamy and Chutney Mary have some set meal offers on their website, but they are £22 so may be out of your budget. http://www.realindianfood.com/events.htm

Posted by
1316 posts

Amy

There are a number of reasonably priced, authentic, Indian restaurants in Drummond Street which is close to Euston Station. (Euston Square tube is actually the closest tube station.)

My favourite is the Diwana Bel Poori, which may not suit you as it is vegetarian. The Ravi Shankar is also good. Details and map here

http://www.allinlondon.co.uk/tube-euston-square-restaurants.php

The Crown and Anchor on the corner of Drummond Street is a nice place for a drink before eating, if that's your thing.

Brick Lane also has a vast number to choose from, but has begun to cater for a lot of tourists in recent years.

Alan

Posted by
932 posts

Thanks, Alan! So now that I've got the names of a few recommended Indian restaurants, step 2 will be convincing my husband to go, too! We've never eaten at an Indian restaurant. Maybe if I pull up some menus online so he can get an idea of what they have......

Posted by
356 posts

A lot of restaurants will have a thali or a set meal with a number of small dishes along with some naan bread or poppadoms. These are great if you want to try things.

Posted by
1316 posts

Amy

I don't know of any online menus for the Drummond Street restaurants, but there's a review with nice photos here

http://foodfun.blog.co.uk/2008/10/26/restaurant1c67665285fb6a7d761414e12578e574-ravi-shankarlondonnw1-4935873/

If you can't persuade your recalcitrant other half to go for an Indian how about Turkish, which is less spicy?

I'd recommend the Tas. They have several branches but this one is right next door to Shakespeare's Globe on the river and so can be combined with a pleasant walk. This site also does have an on-line menu so he can see what he is getting into!

http://www.tasrestaurant.com/tas_pide/index.htm

Alan