Tipping in the UK: Etiquette Rules for 2021

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Going to the UK? Looking for some tipping tips? Some tips on tipping? Some tipping top tips? We’ve got your back, with our complete guide to tipping in the UK.

Forget the rest and read the best – we’ve brought you everything you need to know about tipping in the UK. Born and raised in the UK, I’ve lived in different parts of the region, so I’m your local expert. Follow me as I take you into the murky world of UK tips…

Tipping Etiquette in the UK

Is Tipping Common in the UK?

Tipping is pretty common in the UK, but there isn’t a huge tipping culture like you’ll find in many countries. Though tipping is normal in the UK, it’s not necessarily expected.

In some countries, workers top up their small official earnings with tips, and therefore rely on these tips to live. That’s never the case in the UK, as all staff have to be paid at least the national minimum wage by law.

Like it is in all countries, tipping in the UK is massively dependent on context.

Is Tipping Offensive in the UK?

No, not at all. Tipping usually isn’t necessary, but it certainly isn’t offensive. I don’t know who told you that, but they were definitely lying.

How Much Should I Tip in the UK?

How much you tip depends upon who you’re tipping, and why and when you’re tipping them.

Let’s take a look at the different people you might tip, if you should tip them and how much you should tip them:

1- Tipping Tour Guides in the UK

Should You Tip Tour Guides in the UK?

Yes, you should. If you’ve been on a walking tour, a bus trip or a coach trip, you should definitely leave a small tip.

How Much Should You Tip Tour Guides in the UK?

On a free walking tour, around £5 per person is acceptable. If you’ve been on a paid tour and you’ve enjoyed it, you should consider tipping around 10-15% of the tour cost, or around £2 per person.

If you’ve been on a bus trip or coach trip and enjoyed it, tip around £3 per person for each day of the trip.

How Do I Give Tips to Tour Guides in the UK?

If it’s on a walking tour, you can simply hand your money to your guide at the end of the tour. They might sometimes carry a small hat or bag which you can place the money into surreptitiously. If they don’t have a small hat or bag, handing the money to them is absolutely fine.

If you’ve been on a bus trip or coach trip, there’s normally some sort of bag, tin or bowl near the exit of the bus or coach. Put your money in there.

2- Tipping in Restaurants in the UK

Should You Tip in Restaurants in the UK?

Yes, you’re normally expected to tip in restaurants in the UK.

That said, if you don’t want to, no-one’s gonna chase you out of the door and demand a tip, like they might in some other parts of the world.

Although you normally should tip in restaurants, this is sort of a gray area. Sometimes, people in England eat in pubs. Other times, they eat in restaurants. If you eat in a proper restaurant, tipping is normal. But if you’re eating at a pub, you don’t need to.

It can be a bit confusing, even for locals, as some places are half-pub-half-restaurant. But if you’re ever in doubt, just tip anyway. Or don’t, depending on how nice you like to be.

If you’re in a very casual restaurant, such as a burger chain or a sandwich shop or whatever, you don’t need to tip.

How Much Should You Tip in Restaurants in the UK?

You should tip at around 10%.

That said, you’ll sometimes find that a service charge has been added to your bill. If that’s the case, you don’t have to tip any extra.

How Do I Give Tips in Restaurants in the UK?

When you pay your bill, just hand over whatever extra money you want to tip.

You can either leave this money on the table with the rest of your payment, or you can hand it directly to your waiter. If you want to ensure that your particular waiter gets your tip, the second approach is the better option.

You can tip by card, but if you do that, there’s no guarantee that the tip you’re handing over is actually going to be paid to the person you’re trying to tip – so it’s better to tip in cash.

If you’re in any doubt, just ask your waiter what the tipping policy is. That way, you can tip properly, and you can ensure that your chosen waiter is actually receiving their tip.

3- Tipping in Coffee Shops and Bars in the UK

Should You Tip in Coffee Shops and Bars in the UK?

You can if you like, but there’s absolutely no expectation to do so. It’s pretty unusual to tip in coffee shops and bars in the UK.

How Much Should You Tip in Coffee Shops and Bars in the UK?

Most people don’t tip at all in coffee shops or bars in the UK, so even the smallest of gestures are appreciated.

How Do I Give Tips in Coffee Shops and Bars in the UK?

In coffee shops, there’s usually a tip jar on the counter. In bars, there’s sometimes something similar.

It’s also pretty normal in a bar to just hand a small amount of money to whoever you’re tipping. Or you can offer to buy them a drink.

4- Tipping Taxi Drivers in the UK

Should You Tip Taxi Drivers in the UK?

Yes, it’s normal to leave a small tip, but you don’t have to tip excessively.

How Much Should You Tip Taxi Drivers in the UK?

People typically round to up to the nearest £1.

But if your fare is close to the nearest £5 or £10, you can round up more generously instead. If, for example, your fare is £13.60 or whatever, it’s very normal to just pay £15 (with the remaining £1.40 being your tip).

How Do I Give Tips to Taxi Drivers in the UK?

Hand it to the driver before you leave the car.

Pay an amount which includes the fare plus your chosen tip. Or if you don’t have the correct change to do that, tell the taxi driver how much change you want (as long as it’s over the fare – you can’t start reducing your own fares like a maniac).

5- Tipping in Hotels in the UK

Should You Tip in Hotels in the UK?

You can, but it isn’t normal. In lots of other countries, tipping hotel workers is expected. In the UK, that’s not the case, unless you’re in a very expensive hotel, or a member of staff has done something particularly helpful or special for you.

You might find an optional service charge added onto your bill when you check out. If you feel you’ve had very good service, agree to pay it. If you don’t feel that way, you can choose not to pay it.

How Much Should You Tip Hotel Staff in the UK?

If you want to tip bellhops, porters, room service or doormen, £2 or £3 is usually enough.

Tipping cleaners is rare, but you can leave a small amount of money (around £5 or £10) in your room after you depart. Leave a small note to make it clear that you’ve left the money as a tip, and not by accident.

It’s not normal or commonplace to tip anyone else in a hotel, though if you want to leave a general tip upon departure, you can ask for it to be added to your bill. Or you can leave some change in a tip jar, which you can usually find on the check-in desk.

How Do I Give Tips to Hotel Staff in the UK?

That depends on who you’re tipping! But you usually just give it to them directly, as soon as you want to give it.

Again, if you want to leave a general tip for all staff, add it to your bill at checkout or put it in a tip jar at checkout (if there is one).

6- Tipping in Hairdressers in the UK

Should You Tip Hairdressers in the UK?

It’s not necessary, but it’s absolutely welcome. Most people in the UK tip hairdressers. It’s more common to tip hairdressers in classier establishments.

How Much Should You Tip Hairdressers in the UK?

About 10% is normal, if you decide to leave a tip.

How Do I Give Tips to Hairdressers in the UK?

You can tip your hairdresser by giving the money directly to them. If you’d prefer to contribute a small amount to the general establishment, you’ll sometimes find a tip jar at the counter.

Other Tipping Tips

  • Ensure you’re familiar with the currency, so you don’t accidentally hand over too much money.
  • Don’t be afraid of coins. There’s a big coin currency in the UK, with the highest value coin at £2, so you can hand over coins as tips.
  • In the vast majority of UK establishments, you can pay by card. You can leave a tip both by cash and by card.
  • The most important tip is this – follow your instincts. If someone has been very nice and very helpful, no matter the context, be a good person and tip them. Give your money when and where you think you should, and you’ll usually be doing the right thing.

Tip Your Hat and Leave

There you have it – the complete guide to tipping in the UK.

Now you can go around the UK without worrying you’re gonna offend everyone – and without needlessly throwing your money around.

Looking for more information on the UK? We’ve got everything you need to know on our site. We’ve got articles about Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow, The Pennine Way, the Coast to Coast, the North Coast 500 and much more. We also have guides on the Scottish currency, accents, and some of the weirdest things the region has to offer.

Whatever you need to know about the UK, we’ve got your back.

Paul McDougal

Paul McDougal

Paul is a handsome and hilarious travel writer and travel journalist from the UK. He’s hiked, hitchhiked and laughed his way through more than fifty countries, and he’s always looking for a new place to call home. Originally from Newcastle, he’s lived all over the UK, spent more than three years in Asia, and most recently lived in Vietnam. Here’s his website.