Spain is probably one of the most common tourist destinations in the world. With its beautiful architecture, scenic spots, well-known language, and wineries, many people would definitely put this European country in their bucket lists. But while they are enjoying their stay here, in one way or another, they’d come across tipping their waiter or waitress, guides, and other service providers. But before going into the details of tipping in Spain, let us first understand how differently they view this practice compared to other countries.
Spaniards do not usually tip because many believe that owners should pay their staff proper salary. Some even go to waiting schools to learn the proper way of setting the table and serving food and drinks, so once employed, they are usually hired as full time employees, and as such, receive proper compensation. But with the influx of tourists from all over the world, tipping has most certainly found its way to Spain albeit a little different from how it is conducted in other nations.
In general, small change is given as tip for bars and taxis, and €1 for restaurants and cafés. However, around 5%-10% tip is customarily given for more elaborate meals.
If you ordered coffee at a bar, you don’t need to tip. However, if you fully utilized their facilities—stayed a while reading a book or the newspaper, or made a few trips to the restroom with your kids—or received helpful service, small change could be given as tip.
Wine, Beer, and Tapa
Small change is usually left as gratuity especially if your order was served with olives or cheese, or if you needed help in choosing wine. The same goes for when you get seated and decide to dine in for your tapa.
Simple Meals/Menu del Dia
If you received good service for a simple meal, €1 or €2 is usually enough. More than €1 per person is quite unusual, except for some cases:
If you are eating alone in a busy place, €1 or €2 gratuity is recommended. This is because many restaurants do not usually have a 1:1 ratio between waiters or waitresses and tables. So accommodating a single customer during peak hours may be a little more challenging. Gratuity is also often given if the restaurant gave free drinks or coffee. If the waiter or waitress helped translating the menu or assisted you with your kid, you might want to give a bit more as well.
On the other hand, if you needed special accommodation for your meals, such as special preparation because of food allergies, other health restrictions, or situations like needing kosher-style food preparation, a small percentage is usually given as gratuity. If dining as a large group, however, 5% to 10% tip is usually given. This also tends to be the case for dining during the evening, as meals are more elaborate.
High-end restaurants and Michelin-star restaurants, however, tend to follow international standards in tipping. About 10% tip is usually given, or more, if service was exceptional.
When dining at a restaurant, you might also notice pan (bread) in your bill. While this isn’t considered tip, it is used to ensure a certain amount per diner since many dishes are shared. It usually ranges around €2.50 per person.
Bars and Late Night Drinking
If you ordered beer or wine and received no other service, there isn’t any need to tip. However, if you ordered something more expensive and elaborate like cocktails and spirits, small change can be given as tip. Small neighborhood bars with good wine and service also usually receive a few euro coins gratuity from satisfied customers.
Hotels in Spain do not usually have porters, except for 5-star ones. If someone helps you with your luggage, you could give €1 per bag, up to €5. €1 is enough for simple room service, or €2 for more elaborate orders. You can also tip the hotel concierge €5 to €10 if they’ve been very helpful to you. You may also leave €1 or €2 for the housekeeping staff at the end of your stay.
Taxis and Station Porters
You might want to let taxi drivers keep the loose change of your fare for convenience and if you had a pleasant ride with them. On the other hand, you wouldn’t find porters at train and bus stations and airports, unless requested. Be sure to request this beforehand and even if you do, tipping isn’t necessary anymore.
Private Guides and Drivers
An interesting feature of traveling around Spain is the option to hire private guides and drivers. They are often self-employed workers who could arrange trips, restaurant recommendations, transportation, and guided tour around the place. Private guides usually receive from €10 to €15 tip for a half day trip and €15 to €25 for the whole day. Private drivers, on the other hand, usually receive €15 to €20. He would help you with your luggage, translation, and might even take you to a good winery or restaurant on the way to a far destination. Gratuity is often given at the end of the trip, day, or period of contract. Private guides and drivers offer more than guidance and transport, they may also show you places that simple online research wouldn’t be able to provide. Since they know the place more than the tourists, tipping them could also count as gratuity for their knowledge.
Hairstylists and beauticians usually receive €1 to €2 tip for good service. Therapists, however, usually get around 10% through gratuity envelopes that you can get upon request. Delivery service usually receives €1 or €2 especially if you are living somewhere out-of-the-way, and about €5 tip if someone called the plumber or locksmith for you.
Despite the cultural differences between Spain and other countries where tipping is a little more expected, it all boils down to how good the service was, and the customer’s satisfaction. So when staying in Spain, do not feel pressured to tip—only do so if you want to. Tipping is only considered a bonus, and no one would bat an eye if you choose not to, under usual conditions.