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Do I need to leave a tip? – Your guide to Tipping in London

The tipping culture in London can seem tricky, which rules apply? Is it the same as your home country, or even other countries you have visited?

We’ll cover tipping etiquette in restaurants, pubs, taxis, hotels and tipping in general. So if you’re visiting London and want our tips, then read on.

Tipping in London Restaurants and Bars

How much should I tip in a London restaurant?
Source: Unsplash

So it’s been a busy day and you’ve stopped for a much-needed meal. The food was fantastic, your waiter or waitress was lovely, the bill arrives and immediately you start to worry about if you need to leave a tip, don’t Panic!

How much to tip at London restaurants?

Have a look at the bill and see if a service charge has been added. Many restaurants will even advertise, on the menu, and automatically add a service charge, it may change depending on the size of your group.

Service charge

If an added service charge is on your bill, there’s no need to add anything extra.

No Service Charge

If there is no service charge listed on the bill, then it’s up to you to decide if you want to leave a tip and if so how much. 10-15% is a good rule of thumb.

Optional Service Charge and Suggested tip

You may see an optional service charge or even a suggested tip at 10/15/20%. These are optional as the name suggests, they are just a handy guide to stop you from doing tricky maths in your head after eating too much dessert!

example of service charge on restaurant receipt
See above example of optional 10% Service Charge

It is customary that self-service restaurants and fast food restaurants, do not require a tip to be left. The same can be applied to takeaway meals unless it’s being delivered to you, then you may wish to reward the delivery driver.

Take Away food tipping
Source: Unsplash

What is a tip jar?

These aren’t common all over the world, but you might see them in cafes or smaller shops. A tip jar generally sits next to the till/cash register and you can drop a few coins in to show your appreciation for the service you’ve received, as a guide maybe round up to the nearest pound.

The money is then divided amongst the workers at the end of the day/week, it’s a great way of ensuring those behind the scenes also share tips, think of the people washing your plates that you never get to meet!

what is a tip jar?
Source: Unsplash

How much to tip bartenders in London?

Generally speaking, it’s not customary to tip bar staff in London pubs if you are just buying drinks at the bar. Many London bars also serve food, in that case, we would treat tipping the same as in a restaurant.

Table Service

If however, the bar has table service, you may choose to tip when you pay your bill at the end of the night.

Tipping on London transport

London is a big place and chances are that you’re going to use some form of transport during your visit. That might be a private taxi or licensed minicab or it could be public transport like a bus, tube or train.

Arguably this is the only time when leaving a tip in London can be confusing, fear not, we can explain what to expect.

Tipping taxi drivers

When locals use black cabs in London for short journeys, the common practice is to round the fare. This usually leaves the cab driver a few pounds for his service.

For longer journeys (like airport transfers) most taxi drivers and companies will offer a pre agreed flat fare. You might choose to leave a larger reward, especially if the taxi driver has helped you with your luggage or offered some advice for your stay.

Should I tip in a London taxi?
Source: Unsplash

Tipping for on busses and trains in London

Unlike a London taxi, the same rules don’t extend to public transport. No one will tip their bus or train driver. That doesn’t mean that you can’t show your appreciation though, a polite “thank-you” to the driver when you get off goes a long way!

Tipping at hotels in London

Tipping in London hotels can seem a little complicated, but we can help to break it down for you. Firstly, many London hotels will simply not offer the services which you might decide to leave a tip for. For example, you’d need to stay in a fairly high end hotel to have a porter, concierge or doorman.

If you’re staying somewhere like this and someone offers excellent service or goes out of their way to help you out then you can consider leaving a gratuity. As an example, if the concierge manages to get you tickets to see a show that aren’t openly available, then a small gratuity may be appropriate.

If you’re staying in a regular hotel, hostel or B&B you’re not likely to encounter services which would require any kind of tipping and it certainly wouldn’t be expected.

How Much To Tip Porters?

The Porters across London high-end hotels are usually the first hotel staff you meet, they assist you with your luggage, find you a taxi and offer you some inside local tips. When helping you with luggage and delivering it to your room any porter will appreciate a few pounds as a tip for their service. You can increase the amount slightly if you are travelling with a bigger group with multiple pieces of luggage.

How much to tip room service?

We are again discussing high-end London hotels, usually 5 stars, where you might wish to leave a small gratuity for cleaning staff members. Tipping Hotel staff is certainly not expected, however, if you are happy with the service they provide, it is greatly appreciated to leave a few pounds on the nightstand table

Spare change
Source: Unsplash

Tipping London tour guides

London has many wonderful tours each offering an exceptional view of London’s rich historical and cultural heritage. You might decide to take a group walking tour, hop on a sightseeing bus tour or take one of our excellent private tours.

Whichever you choose don’t worry about the tipping etiquette, just enjoy the tour and the experience. If you’d like to tip the tour guide it will always be appreciated but never expected. You may choose to use the 10% rule of thumb or offer £10/20.

Can I leave some other kind of tip?

Tips are traditionally thought of as just being cold hard cash.

However, increasingly you might be able to show your gratitude by leaving a complimentary review for a business or service you have used. No one is stopping you from leaving both a tip and a review, but your review could ultimately be worth much more and you’re helping your fellow travellers, that’s pretty cool, right?

Guide to tipping summary

Hopefully, you can see the that tipping culture in London is fairly simple. People tip according to the level of service they receive.

If you think your tour guide, London taxi driver or sightseeing tour coach driver has provided excellent service it’s fine to tip them appropriately.

If not and you’ve received bad service, most people would mention this to the buisness owner and leave nothing extra.

All employees in the UK receive at least the minimum wage, so don’t worry that you’re short-changing anyone.

A pair of hands containing money for a tip
Source: Unsplash


How much should you tip in London?

In brief summary, 10% is widely regarded as a reasonable tip in the UK service industry. If you feel like you’ve received exceptional service then feel free to tip more.

Is tip mandatory in London?

It’s never mandatory to tip in London, so you shouldn’t worry about the cost of your trip spiralling out of control. However, if you think you’ve received good service then a small tip is always appreciated but never expected, it really is left to your own discretion.

Can I tip in my own Currency?

Whilst it is customary to tip in the native currency of the country you’re visiting, no one will be offended if you offer your own currency as a substitute. However, it’s easier if you use major currencies like US Dollars or Euros.

How do I tip if I’m not carrying cash?

If you don’t have any cash or spare change in your pocket don’t worry. Most places that let you pay with credit/debit card will allow you to add a gratuity during the checkout process. Normally you’ll have the chance to add a tip before you hit enter and complete your transaction.

Leaving a tip with credit card
About the author

Denisa holds the highest UK qualification for tourist guiding, the Blue Badge. She also holds a Management in Tourism degree and a National Tour guiding certificate for the Czech Republic. Denisa’s employment history has covered many roles within the tourism sector, she couples this with the ability to speak several languages. Denisa runs our customer-facing business, she frequently enjoys days spent guiding clients and authors our blogs.

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