Worldwide Guide to Restaurant Tipping
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guidelines on how much to tip in restaurants and bars around the globe.
better than Americans. In fact, so many of us tip so much—no matter where we
are and what the local custom dictates—that our “overtipping” has actually
changed the way that many countries view gratuities.
much of North America is an automatic gesture, so much so that we don’t think
twice about doing the same abroad. But leaving the waiter a generous wad of bills
in one country may be unheard of (and even insulting) in another. How do dining
patrons fairly compensate service in a culturally appropriate manner?
The answer, of
course, varies region by region, even country by country. For example, tipping
standards have been on the rise in the U.S., especially in major cities like New York, where
diners commonly double the 8.875 percent tax then round up. The new norm of
17–20 percent takes into account the quality of service (courtesy and
attentiveness will merit more) and the fact that gratuities make up a hefty
portion of a restaurant staff’s income.
But head to
Europe (where tips typically supplement full salaries), and you’ll find that
tipping is on a discretionary basis, with some countries like France already
factoring a service compris into the check (though it’s customary to
leave a few more euros—around 5 percent). In Japan, the case is
even more extreme. Gratuities are a rarity, even flat out refused: waiters
will run after you to return your money if you try to leave a token of
appreciation on the table.
So much have
regional differences shaped etiquette that outlets serving a high number of
international guests have had to adjust policies to accommodate a diverse
clientele. Case in point: cruise ships. “Tipping used to be voluntary, with the
cruise lines providing guidelines for how much to tip your waiter, busboy,
and room steward,” says Monty Mathisen of the trade publication Cruise
Industry News. “Now many lines have introduced an automatic service charge,
a per-day, per-person fee charged to shipboard accounts designed not only for
convenience, but also to ensure gratuities from passengers from non-tipping
And just as
tipping practices differ, so do service standards. Expect less intrusive
waiters in Argentina and Mexico; a more
leisurely paced meal in Jamaica;
and no special orders (doggie bags, butter with your bread) in France.
for more tipping points? Read on for our around-the-world guide. —Lisa