Like most of Europe, Germany does not have a very prominent culture of tipping and the practice is generally considered optional. A tip, or trinkgeld in German, is something that is given when the service has been exceptionally good. However, Americans and Germans are likely to disagree on what constitutes good service.
While Americans are used to overly-friendly and attentive service, Germans are accustomed to a more straightforward style of service without the put-on smiles. For Americans, this may seem rude, but in turn, Germans tend to see the American style as superficial.
With that in mind, when deciding whether or not to leave a tip in Germany, you should take the local culture into account. If the hotel concierge didn't smile at you, but did his job well and secured you reservations to the best restaurant in town, you should consider giving him a few Euros as a thank-you.
Before you travel to Germany, be aware that tipping customs vary based on the situation you're in and you may have to tip a little more depending on the services you receive.
At hotels in Germany, tipping is not mandatory, but it is generally expected, especially if you are staying somewhere upscale.
- If the doorman helps you with your bags or hails you a cab, you can tip €1.
- Porters and bellhops should receive between €1 and €3 per bag.
- Housekeepers should get between €3 and €5 for every night of your stay.
- If you use the concierge and they go above and beyond to save the day or make your trip better, you should tip between €10 and €20 to show your appreciation. You don't need to tip if they simply provide directions or restaurant recommendations.
The cost of service is usually included in either the price of the food or as an extra service charge tacked onto the end of your bill. For this reason, tips are generally not expected when dining out in Germany. If you want to tip anyway, it's best not to make a big show of it and simply leave the money on the table when you leave.
- At the average restaurant, you can round up to the nearest Euro and leave some change. If paying by credit card, you can write in a tip between 5 percent and 10 percent.
- At an upscale restaurant, there are higher expectations for customers to tip, but you can keep it on the low side at 10 percent to 15 percent. Anything over 15 percent is considered extraordinarily generous.
Bars and Pubs
When you drink at a bar or pub or bar in Germany, you'll find that it's almost always table service so the same tipping rules for restaurants apply. If you do happen to order directly from the bar, you can round up to the nearest Euro and leave the bartender your change, but it won't be expected.
You don't need to tip your taxi driver, but it's a nice gesture to round up your fare to the nearest Euro. If they help you with your bags, you can tip more, but anything over 10 percent of your fare is overboard.
Tour guides in Germany are used to receiving tips from tourists and as a general rule, you should tip 10 percent the cost of the tour, whether it be a multi-day tour or just a short excursion. Free tours are also very popular in Germany, especially in the larger cities and because the tour is free, you should always tip. Anything between €1 and €5 is fine, but remember, your tip should be based quality of the experience, the knowledgeability of your tour guide, and the size of your group. If you're the only one who shows up for a tour at that time, you should consider giving as much as €10.
There's no need to tip at the spa in Germany, but if you are happy with your treatment, you can give 5 percent to your attendant.