Tipping in 3 tourist hotspots: London, New York and Barcelona

London, New York and Barcelona are cities which welcome millions of tourists each year, but tipping in each city isn’t necessarily the same.

Let’s take a look at how the three cities compare:

Tipping in restaurants in London, New York and Barcelona

In London, it is customary to leave between 10 and 15% tip on top of the total bill. However, some restaurants will have already added a service charge (normally 12.5%). If this has been added then additional tipping is not necessary. If you want to ensure the staff member gets the tip though, it’s best to leave an additional gratuity in cash.

It is not customary to tip for takeaway, self-service or fast food in London, although giving the takeaway driver £1-2 is appreciated, especially if the food is on time.

In New York, tipping is customary in restaurants and its expected. The only time it wouldn’t be required is if It has already been added to you bill (which might be the case if eating in a large group). If the tip hasn’t already been added then you should tip between 15-25% depending on how good the service is.

If you’re going out for a meal in a high-end restaurant you might even want to consider tipping between 20-30% depending on the level of service received.

Tipping in Barcelona restaurants is very different to London and New York establishments. It is not commonplace and often leaving a tip of between €10-20 at the end, regardless of the expense of the meal, will suffice. However, tipping between 5-10% of the total bill is satisfactory, if you are insistent to tip.

You can tip pizza delivery persons in Barcelona €1-2 if you wish. In a café, you can leave some loose change or tip up to €1 at the end of your stay

Leaving a gratuity in London, New York and Barcelona when staying at hotels

At the end of your stay in a London hotel, you are likely to notice that there is a service charge that has been added (normally 10-12%). If it hasn’t been added then adding 10-15% of the bill total is acceptable. In addition, tipping a porter is normal in London. Tip them £1 per bag they assist you with. Other hotel staff should be tipped at your discretion. If you wish to leave a tip for housekeeping, concierge or other hotel staff, it will be gratefully accepted, but it is not expected.

In New York it is more common to tip hotel staff and It’s expected. Doormen should be tipped $2-5 for hailing a cab or bringing your car for you. Porters and bellhops should be tipped $1-2 per bag they help you with. Housekeeping should be tipped $2-5 per day for cleaning your room. A concierge should be tipped based on the level of service they required and this is more discretionary (for example, if they got you tickets to an in-demand show). A room service waiter should be tipped 20% on top of the final bill.

Tips in Barcelona’s hotels are not really expected, but will be gratefully received. Leaving the concierge, bellboy, porter €1 per bag they help you with and housekeeping €1 per day is sufficient.

Leaving a tip for taxi drivers in London, New York and Barcelona

In London, it is considered polite to leave a taxi driver and licensed minicab driver a tip of 10-15% at the end of the journey. It is not necessary to tip Uber drivers.

New York’s famous cab drivers normally expect a tip of 10-20%. Check if this has been included in the final fare or not as it often is. Contrastingly to London, tipping Uber drivers is more common in New York. This is discretionary and there is no fixed percentage.   

In Barcelona, tipping a taxi driver is not compulsory. You are welcomed to round up the bill to the nearest Euro, but no more is required.

Tipping in bars in London, New York and Barcelona.

Tipping in bars and pubs in London is not customary or normally done. Occasionally you will leave some money in a tip-jar on the bar, or you can show your gratitude by buying the bar staff a drink which is normally welcomed.

In New York tipping is more customary at bars than in London. You should tip $1-2 per drink ordered or, if paying on card, 15-25% at the end of your stay.

It is not necessary to leave a tip in bars in Barcelona and it is not expected.