Unlike in the U.S., tipping is not always expected in Europe. Take these steps to avoid causing offense — or spending needlessly — during your stay.
When it comes to traveling abroad, there is one thing that typically has Americans scratching their heads—tipping. While adding an additional 20 percent to your bill is custom in the United States, there are many countries where a tip is not necessary. Make sure to research the destination before arrival or simply ask a local what’s appropriate. In some countries, a gratuity may get added to your bill automatically. Whether finishing up at a restaurant, catching a cab, or simply taking a tour of the local sites, follow these guidelines to ensure you’re paying the right amount.
Always check your bill: if a service charge has been included, no additional gratuity is necessary. Otherwise, a 10 percent tip is seen as generous in most European countries. Bring cash — some restaurants won’t allow a gratuity to be added to a credit card purchase.
If a porter helps with your luggage, it’s customary to offer one or two euros (or the local equivalent) per bag. Concierges who attend to special requests should also be recognized with 10 to 20 euros. Additionally, tipping housekeeping staff a few euros at the end of your stay is appreciated but not expected.
Universally, taxi drivers do not anticipate tips, though rounding up to the next euro is standard.
It is routine to tip tour guides a few euros for a job well done. Hairstylists and spa technicians in the U.K., France, and Germany are used to a gratuity of 5 to 10 percent, whereas those in most Scandinavian countries are not.
The bottom line
Ultimately, use discretion: if you are happy with a service, offer a few euros. And, when in doubt, simply ask a local. Your hotel manager or concierge can also be an indispensable resource.