You’ve just enjoyed a glass of fine Spanish wine at a cafe in Madrid and hesitate when asking for the bill. You can cover the vino, but what are the unwritten rules on charges for service? You know America’s 15-20 percent
tipping standard is seen as excessive in Europe, but how much is enough? Is it offensive to tip? Just how much should you tip in Spain?
Here we provide a quick and dirty guide to tipping in Spain. If you have experiences or questions to share – leave a comment below.
Generally, tips are not expected. Really. Unlike in the USA, wait staff are paid a decent wage and tips are not required…for locals. Unfortunately for visitors, the expectations for foreigners can be quite different. Signs –
in English – often encourage tipping. The more common practice is simply rounding up to the nearest euro or so. For example, if your bill is €10.11, pay €11 or €12. You can do like the locals and only round up to the nearest
euro or tip as expected for people from abroad and give up to 10% for good service.
It is really not necessary to tip for a coffee at a bar, but may be appreciated if you are given complimentary small dishes. Also, tipping a bartender may be futile as tips are usually kept by the bar owner.
When looking at your bill, you may see the word pan which indicates a service or cover charge, but is not gratuity. IVA may also be marked and indicates VAT, not tip. Always tip in cash as tips added on to the credit/debit card might not make it to the server.
Another common tipping scenario is with taxis. For a short ride within the city, locals usually only round up to the nearest euro. For longer rides, like to the airport, consider giving two to five euros.
At hotels, there is rarely a porter except in 5-star environments. Here you may tip one euro per bag for the Porter and one to two euros for a housekeeper. You may also tip a euro for room service.
On a group tour, tip a euro per person or up to five for the “free” tours. For all-day or multiple-day private tours, you may tip up to 10% of the total price.
The best guide is to tip what you feel comfortable with.