It’s just one of those things that people seem to know or more often than not, don’t. It can cause uncomfortable situations where you find yourself having inadvertently offended someone. Not as straightforward as it may seem, when it comes to tipping, there are lots of grey areas.
If you’ve been able to establish that it’s appropriate to tip, how much and to who? It gets more complicated than that. If you’ve booked table service in a club, do you tip your waiter and the hostess? And how do you proportion how much you give? When you are having your hair cut, how much should you tip the stylist? What about the person who washes your hair? What do you give to the taxi driver, who using traffic dodging skills, gets you to work on time? Fear not as we present you with our guide to tipping etiquette.
Pints and Piña Coladas
It’s generally expected that in the UK you wouldn’t tip at a bar in your local pub. Offering to buy a drink is normally the convention. If you’re out having cocktails, you might tip the barman. One of the bartenders at Apples and Pears in Shoreditch, London says it’s usually a “keep the change tip”, with the tip falling between 5-10%. Though this does not necessarily mean for every drink you order, it usually applies when you’re closing the bill.
Some restaurants have a service change, but the majority in the UK don’t. If you’re satisfied with the service, leave between 15-20% of the bill. Feel free to tip more but this is enough to show that you’re happy. An unfortunate incident happened to a friend when he wanted to tip a little more whilst at the same time didn’t want to appear to be showy. In a bid to conceal his move, grabbed the bill wallet and slid the extra cash in under the table. His date noticed and thought he was actually removing cash and then offered to put up the extra cash for a tip!
At the Club
Hitting the club at the weekend? When you book tables, you should be aware that you’re going to be expected to leave a tip. You would book a table with the hostess and would be served by your waiter. Who gets the tip and how much? In Las Vegas for example, a city built on service, you would tip the waiter who serves you 15% but if the hostess has looked after you well and has seen to it that your booking requests are fulfilled, leave 5% behind to show your appreciation.
A healthy tip jar
One of the hostesses at the Dorchester Hotel told me that guests tip her before she shows them to their table. A couple of months ago, a guest grossly overtipped her when he had come alone and stayed for one drink. She explained that this was the guest’s first night at the hotel and the huge tip he left her was to be taken as a sign that the next time he would book a reservation, she would make a fuss over him when he returned with guests, clients or a date. For him, tipping meant establishing a connection.
Tipping by profession is always tricky and there isn’t really a written set of rules. When you’re at the hairdressers, remember one thing: tipping signifies loyalty and when you leave your locks in someone else’s hands, they will definitely put more care into the job if you tip well. Haircuts and treatments like highlights are labour intensive and it’s appropriate to tip 10%. It’s also a good idea to leave a small amount to the person who washes your hair. These rules can also be applied to other beauty treatments, massages etc.
Even though cabbing your way around town isn’t necessarily the fastest way to get around, if your cabbie is organised and gets you through congestion on a Monday morning, it’s worth tipping him on top of the fare. Think between 5-10%. If you’re zipping around New York, the tip is already calculated for you, and it goes up to 20%. Bear in mind though, cabs in New York are much cheaper than they are in London and tipping is the norm.
Next time you’re entrusting your tresses in the hands of Edward Scissorhands, taking a date for afternoon tea at The Dorchester or having some beers at the pub with your mates, remember, good tipping etiquette goes a long way. When it comes to the tipping situation, let go of your loose change, as you never know what kind of point you might be making.