Tipping in Spain: How and When Should You Tip?


Traveling to Spain is fun. The rich diversity of the country in terms of culture, food, music, history, etc. often becomes too much for an unassuming traveler. Tipping in Spain is one of the many facets of Spain that often leave travelers perplexed!

So, if you are new to Spain, it is always good to learn the tipping etiquette of that country. Doing so will not put you in an embarrassing position.

There are several countries in this world where, if you do not leave a tip, people will consider you to be rude. The United States, for example, is one such country where people leave behind a generous amount of tip, and it is quite normal.

It is a completely different story in Spain. If you leave a generous amount of money as a tip, people will be surprised. You will most likely leave the professional in Spanish service industries puzzled by your action!

It is not that tipping is completely absent in Spain, but yes, it is not as common as it is in the United States or several other countries.

Tipping in Spain – A Comprehensive Guide for Travelers

Why is Tipping in Spain Uncommon?

Is this the question puzzling you? You can wrap the answer to this question in just two simple words – ‘low wage!’
Yes, the professionals in the service industries in Spain usually have a higher wage compared to professionals in other countries like the United States.

For those countries where the professionals have comparatively lower wages, the tip you leave behind is often more than some extra cash in their pockets. The tip they earn helps them to pay their utility bills or keep up with their loans and more.

In Spain, on the other hand, things are different! You might see a person (server) tossing the tip you left for him or her, into the cash register!

A few extra coins may take up some space in his or her wallet or pocket, but any big amount goes into the cash register.

The thing is, these professionals in Spain earn enough salary to cover their expenses.

 Honky Tonk Piano Bar ( Bar in Spain )
via Flickr|Jorge Franganillo

Don’t be Generous in Bars and Cafes

Here is the golden rule of thumb that you must remember – the more informal the setting, the less common is the tipping practice.

Bars and cafes in Spain are perfect examples of informal settings where tipping is a rare sight. Many people will pick up the change they get back after paying for their order.

They will not even think twice. For instance, if you are in a cafe in Spain, you will notice that those who are ordering only coffee will not pay any tip at all!

Those who are ordering some extra food may leave behind the coins, but there will be others who will take back those coins.

Tipping in Spain
via Wikimedia Commons| Adeeto

What About Tipping in Sit-Down Restaurants?

Sit-down restaurants are a little less informal than bars and cafes. Still, the idea of tipping is not a widespread concept in such establishments either!

For instance, if your order costs you 49 Euros and you pay using a 50 Euro bill, the server or the wait staff will bring back that 1 Euro coin. It is totally up to you what you want to do with that coin! Pocket the coin or leave it – it doesn’t matter.

Don’t worry about the wait staff! Even if you are taking back that coin, the wait staff will never feel bad or offended.

However, if you are opting for a bigger and more established restaurant with your family or a group, tipping becomes slightly more common.

But, how much you are leaving behind as a tip is something that might surprise you.
In the United States, it is quite normal to leave up to 20% of the total bill amount as a tip. In Spanish restaurants, the tip will never exceed 5% of your total bill amount.

Tipping a Cab or a Taxi Driver in Spain

It will not be uncommon for you, or as such any international traveler in Spain, to hire a cab or a taxi.
Generally, in the USA, you would leave some tip for the taxi or the cab driver.

In Spain, it is perfectly fine if you don’t do that. You can walk away by paying the exact amount that shows on the meter. The cab or the taxi driver will not mind it at all.

However, in general, Spaniards will round off to the nearest Euro and pay the bill. So, for example, if a taxi ride costs 5.25 Euros, a Spaniard will most likely pay 6 Euros. You can follow the same rule.

However, do keep in mind that if your taxi driver or cab driver does provide some extra service like carrying your bag to the hotel door or gives you some insider suggestions that a travel agency won’t do, or rushed you to a location so that you are there on time, you can always tip the driver.

How much should you pay? In general, the total tip you give to your cab or taxi driver should not exceed 1 Euro but again, it is your choice.

Tipping the Tour Guide is Okay

Assuming that you are visiting Spain for pleasure and not a business, you are most likely going to have a tour guide.

In all likelihood, your tour guide will be a freelancer. This means that the person will not have any fixed salary. His or her income will be variable.

The person will appreciate any tips you give. The extent of generosity you display is all up to you. There is no hard and fast rule here. If you are happy with your tour guide’s service, pay what you think is suitable.

The Ritz-Carlton, Abama
via Flickr|Studio Sarah Lou

Tipping in Spanish Resorts and Spas is a Choice

Tipping in this particular industry is not at all a common practice. The employees in this industry are very well-trained, and they are well-paid as well.

No service provider in this industry will expect any tips from you. But, if you want to give a tip, you are always free to do so but restrict the total amount to 10% of the total bill they hand over to you.

Hotel Marques del Riscal, Elciego
via Wikimedia Commons|John M from Washington, DC, USA

Tipping the Hotel Staff is Quite Common

Tipping in Spain‘s hotel industry is a common practice. It is expected that you will give tips to the hotel staff.
It is true not only for international travelers but also for Spaniards, who are visiting a new city for the first time.

The problem you are going to face is that you will not know how much amount you should leave for different types of services you enjoy in a hotel.

The thing is that there is no concrete rule written anywhere. It is all based on the prevailing practice.
If you are to tip a porter, you are supposed to pay 1 Euro for every bag.

For a doorman, the tip usually never exceeds 1 to 2 Euros provided the doorman hails a cab for you or helps you with your bags.

For room service staff, the tip amount never exceeds 1 to 2 Euros.

Housekeeping staff is most likely the highest paid in terms of tips. The amount usually ranges between 2 Euros and 5 Euros a day. There are two ways you can give the tip.

You can pay the entire amount upfront for the total number of days you are going to stay in the hotel, or you can simply leave the amount in the room and leave the hotel.

The housekeeping staff will collect the money later. Finally, for the Concierge, you can give a tip amount ranging from anywhere between 5 Euros and 10 Euros if the person has provided excellent service.

Conclusion

Tipping in Spain is not going to make a big dent in your travel budget simply because the Spanish counterparts of the same service industry in other countries are well-paid.
So, focus on your traveling! Bon Voyage!

 

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