While failing to leave a tip in some other countries (most notably the United States) can come across as rude and even offensive, that's not the case in Spain. In fact, many Spanish service industry professionals are puzzled by the generous quantities of money American tourists tip them. While there are situations where tipping is welcomed in Spain, it's far and away a much less common practice than in other countries.
Why is tipping fairly uncommon in Spain? Because while many service industry professionals earn lower wages and depend on tips for living in countries like the United States, their Spanish counterparts often earn comparatively higher salaries. At the end of the day, tips are little more than pocket change to many of these highly paid professionals. You might even see some restaurant servers tossing the tip their table left for them into the cash register—the extra coins will probably just take up space in their wallet.
Bars and Cafes
In general, the more informal a place is, the less common tipping will be. When ordering a coffee or beer in Spain, virtually nobody will leave a tip—especially if that's all you order. Some locals may simply leave the coins they're given as change if they also order food, such as a pastry or a tapa, but many will simply pocket the change without a second thought.
Tipping is also not expected in the majority of sit-down restaurants. Just like at smaller establishments, many Spaniards—if anything—will just leave the change the wait staff returns to them after paying the bill.
For example, if the bill for your meal comes out to, say, 19 euros and you pay with a twenty, go ahead and leave that extra coin as a tip—or don't. It's completely up to you, and wait staff won't feel offended if they see you pocketing your change.
When it comes to larger group meals at more elegant restaurants, tipping is more common. However, most Spaniards in this situation still only leave about 5 percent of the total bill as a tip—a fraction of the 20 percent expected in the United States.
Taxis and Cabs
Generally speaking, most cab drivers in Spain appreciate but do not expect tips.
If anything, many Spaniards will simply round up to the nearest euro and give the driver that amount. However, there are still plenty of people who pay their cab drivers the exact amount shown on the meter, which is perfectly acceptable as well.
Some Spaniards will tip their cab drivers more if he or she performed a special service, such as helping carry luggage from the cab itself into a hotel. Even in this case, though, the total tip never usually exceeds one euro.
Tipping hotel staff in Spain is more common than the other instances listed above. You'll even see travelers from other parts of Spain leaving tips at hotels when visiting a new city.
- Porters: Around 1 euro per bag
- Housekeeping: Between 2 and 5 euros per day, left in the room after your stay or paid up front
- Concierge: 5-10 euros for exceptional service
- Room service: 1 or 2 euros to the person who delivers your meal
- Doorman: 1-2 euros if they help you with luggage or hail a cab
Spa and Resort Staff
As is the case with many of the above-listed service-industry professionals, spa staff are often highly trained and well-paid. Tipping is not expected, but you can leave around 10 percent of your total bill if you wish.
Your tour guide is most likely a freelancer with a varying monthly income, so they will almost certainly welcome any tip you choose to leave them. As a general rule, the smaller your group is, the more you should tip.
For example, if you and your partner are taking a private guided tour and your guide provided excellent service, most people would tip them anywhere from 10 to 20 euros. If you're taking one of the ubiquitous free tours that make their way through the streets of Spain's largest cities every day, a 5 euro tip per person is fine.