Tips on tipping: how to top up what you pay in London


Tipping can get a bit confusing for every traveller; simply because it varies a good deal from country to country. While in the United States a relatively copious tip is considered de rigeur, in Japan you may be given the eagle eye should you attempt to top up a bill – and in the UK, it’s common to tip, sure; but often between 10 percent and 20 percent, but not in all instances. So, should you be planning to visit the UK in the near future (not least London – and planning to stay somewhere like, say, the Park Grand London Lancaster Gate hotel), how to tip-toe through the tipping minefield? Here’s our guide…

Service charges

The 21st Century addition to the tipping conundrum is the ‘service charge’. If you’re not familiar with it, this tipping method sees a ‘pre-included’ top-up on a bill (often around the 12.5-percent-mark of the total). Note: a service charge retains the spirit of a tip, in that it’s a suggestion, not a pre-requisite; so, depending on the quality of the service you’ve received, be it in a restaurant, a bar, a café, a hotel or anywhere, you can opt out of adding paying the additional service charge without fear of appearing to be, well, an ungrateful skin-flint.

Tipping in hotels

Tipping etiquette in London accommodation – like, say, a Lancaster Gate hotel London – is, you’ll perhaps be relieved to hear, similar to how it is in accommodation to be found elsewhere in the world. For that member of staff who carries your luggage to your room (commonly referred to as bellhops in the United States, of course), a tip of between £1 and £5 is perfectly adequate, while room service/ housekeeping doesn’t tend to go in for tipping – but you may find some hotels subtly leave an envelope in the room for the purpose; so, if the mood takes you, £5-10 is common here. Concierge services, though, definitely welcome tipping; for instance, for booking a table at a restaurant or the rustling up of excellent tickets for a show or event something in the region of £10 would be fine, if not generous.

Taxicab tipping

With Uber absent from London for the foreseeable future, it may be that (should you be able to afford you it) you’ll want to spoil yourself by enjoying a journey or two during your stay in the capital in one of those iconic black taxicabs. And why not? Londoners are perhaps far more used to slumming it down on the Tube or via one of the ‘Boris bikes’, but hopping into a black cab is right up there on the must-do tourist experience scale with having an afternoon tea London.
You’ll find that fares in black cabs are calculated via an electronic ‘meter’ and, on top of the fare, you’ll be expected to contribute a tip of around 10 percent the total fare, should you wish to do so. When it comes to minicabs (be sure to book one via a phone or app for safety reasons; don’t try hailing one on the side of the pavement), tips aren’t expected on top of a fare at all, but one’ll doubtless be more than welcomed by your driver.