We all know tipping is the United States is the common thing. And it’s true that most servers live-off of their jobs based on the tips they received. But what about tipping in Spain? Do they follow the tipping etiquette as strongly as they do in the United States?
And the answer is, they don’t. Tipping in Spain is not mandatory. But it’s a welcoming gesture should you decide to give off something extra in the form of tips. So what exactly is the tipping culture in Spain? What’s the right etiquette to follow?
Read this tipping guide with a few of the basics that will come in handy whenever you’re in Spain.
Tipping Culture In Spain
We know how confusing it is to give out the correct amount of tips depending on the occasion. Some may know their way around such culture like the back of their hand while others struggles with a tipping calculator app just to get those tippings right.
The tipping culture in Spain is fairly lenient, straightforward and simple. If you don’t give tips, they won’t hold it against you. But if you do, they’ll be very thankful. It’s most certainly appreciated if you’d like to give out a tip in Spain for an excellent and proper service.
But why is tipping so important?
Depending on the compensation scheme, some employees depend on tips for extra income while some live-off with it. So even if you’re in Spain where they don’t take tipping quite seriously, it’s still very helpful. The problem you might come across though is how to properly tip them that won’t come off as offensive or inadequate. Worse if they think you’re totally going overboard.
If you’d like to avoid these mistakes, the first thing you should learn about tipping in Spain is the terms to use.
The Difference Between Tip and Service Charge in Spain
You’ve probably come across the words “tipping” and “service charge” and expect it to be used interchangeably. They seem to have the same meaning, truth is, they aren’t. In fact, these two terms are completely different.
A service charge comes as a total bill. This is usually during instances when you want to dine in rather than opt to take out and is most commonly found in pricier restaurants. For instance, when the bill arrives after your meal, a service charge is reflected at the bottom. A service charge may also be seen in the menu with the words “Servicio Incluido” in Spanish.
A tip is voluntary and it’s not included in the bill. It also goes directly to the server rather than a service charge which goes to the owners of the restaurant and is then distributed to the employees.
Tips are also money being handed out to the servers personally, while service charges can be charged via credit card or with the total bill. Hence, service charges are not received directly by the employees.
What does IVA mean in Spanish?
You might see the term IVA at the bottom of your bill. What IVA means in Spanish is Impuestos Sobre el Valor Añadido or Value Added Tax in English. This is a common tax added to products or food and it should not be confused as service charge.
Now that the terms are quite clear to you, let’s get to finally learning the basics of tipping in Spain.
Tipping In Hotels
When you stay at a hotel, the common services you experience are from housekeeping who clean your rooms daily, bellhops who carry your luggage, and waiters should you be ordering in room service when you decide to stay in.
Giving 2 euros to 5 euros each day as they keep your room clean is pretty good enough when you’re tipping in Spain. You can add in more if you’re feeling generous, or if they’ve left you with little things to delight you during your stay such as forming animal-shaped towels on the bed. Tipping house cleaners can also make their day.
Generally, house cleaning is included in the hotel bill. But leaving extra when tipping house cleaners is very much appreciated. You may leave your tip in the hotel room by the desk or bedside table. They’ll know who the money is for.
Not all hotels have bellboys or staff who carry your luggage the moment you step down from the car, to the lobby and up to the hotel room for you. It’s not common in Spain either. It actually depends on the ratings of the hotels. You can expect this from 4-5 star hotels. But boutique hotels and other smaller guesthouses don’t have bellhops.
It would be a kind act if you’d like to leave a tip. 1 euro per luggage is enough.
If you’re exhausted from going around Spain the whole day and would like to order in-room service, leaving a euro or 2 for the servers who bring your meal will suffice. Calling in order for a very large group or family? Tip them a bit more for bringing all your food over.
Tipping In Restaurants
Restaurant tipping in Spain is not common although it depends on the types of restaurants you go and the level of service they give.
Dine ins are usually when you want to give a tip. The tip can range from 5% to 10% depending on your likings. If the type of service given is exceptionally well, a little extra would be nice.
For larger groups, more tips could come a long way because of the extra service they’re giving to accommodate you and your group. You may hand this over directly to the servers or you may leave the tip inside the bill holder and give it to them.
Again, look for the term “Servicio Incluido” in some of the dining menus. So you know you’re also paying service charge aside from a tip.
Tipping In Cafes
In cafes, tipping is not exactly a thing. In fact, self-service is a common practice in Spain. One useful tip you may get around to practicing while you’re there is to leave your coins or change in the tipping jar. If you do pocket it, it’s still okay. But if you have a situation wherein the bill amounts to 18 euros and you give out 20, you may opt to leave the change for them.
Tip boxes are also found by the cashiers. When you do spot them, you can leave a few euro coins behind.
However, some cafes charge extra for outdoor seating (ask if a Terraza fee is required). So if you do decide to eat your snack or drink your coffee outside, see to it that the tip you leave for your server will be received by them personally. Otherwise, some other person might take your tip if you leave your table unattended.
Tipping Tour Guides
Here is where you should definitely leave a tip (although again, it’s still not demanded of you).
Some of the tour guides’ pay depends on the number of tourists they can tour around frequently. The peak seasons are fine. But in the offseason, tour guides have fewer customers to take around, hence a lesser income.
If you’ve booked with a private Spanish tour guide, a tip around 10 euros to 20 euros would be enough. That also depends on how many of you are on the tour. Tip more if you’re a smaller group. Planning a tour with a limited amount of people is actually quite difficult and expensive to do on the travel agency’s part.
If you’re taking those public tours on the hop on and hop off buses, you may tip the Spanish tour guide around 5 euros.
Tipping Taxi Drivers
A usual inquiry is do you tip taxi drivers in Spain? That’s one thing that is definitely not common. Taxi drivers don’t actually expect you to give them tips about whether the ride is short or long enough.
But in scenarios where you need to rush to the airport or because the taxi driver went down from their car to help you with your bags, then you may leave them with a tip. Just round off the fare so you can leave the change for them. Other than that, there’s no need to leave them tips.
So do you tip taxi drivers in Spain? Again, unless they provided extra service other than just drive you around, a small tip should be alright.
Other Forms of Service
Other than the services mentioned above, here are a few that might come in handy when you’re tipping in Spain:
How much to tip at the spa?
The staff at the spa doesn’t expect such large tips since they’re highly trained for what they do. They’re also well paid for the service that they provide. But should you want to give them something extra, you may consider to leave them 10% of your bill.
How much to tip hairdresser?
If you’re wondering just how much to tip a hairdresser or stylist, it’s the same as when you want to tip for the service at restaurants. You can give 5-10% of your total pay.
How much to tip for facial?
Facial treatments are extremely special as the ones doing this type of service are known to be very good and very professional at their job. Most facial services can be found in spas so this can be classified under spa tipping. If you’re wondering how much to tip for facial treatment then tipping 10% on top of your bill is considered generous.
How much to tip bartenders?
Bartenders in Spain are used to either getting tips or don’t. But if you decided to tip, you can leave them 1 to 2 euros.
How much to tip at a tapas bar?
Tapas tipping can be quite confusing as tapas are neither a meal nor a snack for some. It’s not classified under a restaurant or café. Tapas are considered something light. Sort of like an appetizer or food you eat to go with drinks. Tapas tipping is almost nonexistent and is not expected of you. But if you want to, you can also round off your bill and leave the extra change for the servers.
Tipping in Spain is so simple. You can either do so or not. But remember that tipping is a form of thanks. To show your gratitude, you can leave them with a little something for their service. They’ll appreciate it whether it’s a big amount or a small one.
Believe us, you don’t need a tipping calculator in hand. All you need is to go with your gut feeling. If you feel like the service is of superb quality, then just tip them with a little more than you usually give. But otherwise, tipping in Spain does not require you to tip so much at all.