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Tipping/Gratuities in Spain - What's the proper amount?

Dear fellow hounds,
Coming from a dining background in the US, tipping usually comes mandatory and probably in somewhat significant amount. So, what's the proper tipping percentage, procedure/manner, for Spanish restaurants, in both casual and fine dining setting?
If the city matters, I will be going to: Valencia, Madrid, and Barcelona.
Thanks in advance for your advice.

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  1. The last time I was in Spain, I think there was a service charge on our bills. No tipping.

    1. It's entirely optional. In a casual setting, it's usually nothing or a bit of leftover change. In a fine dining setting, 5-10% if the service was good.

      1. I usually visit Spain a couple of times a year. Generally, there isn't a service charge as we have the UK but tipping is very nominal. In most places, I'd leave the spare coins or perhaps a couple of Euros. A bit more would be regarded as the custom in higher end places, but I'd never tip more than 10%

        3 Replies
        1. re: Harters

          Here in Spain, there is always a service charge--it's almost always included in the price of the meal, not added separately.

          Incidentally, tipping for drinks--coffee, beer, wine, cocktails--isn't done.

          1. re: butterfly

            Exactly - unlike here in the UK, where we'd often see a separate service charge added to the bill.

            1. re: Harters

              We are in Madrid for the year, so not quite local. But my colleagues from Madrid tell me that perhaps 5% is right (from nothing to breakage at a bar). No one has ever seemed unhappy. This is on top of the approximately 1.5€ per person charge for bread.

        2. As in any European country, it depends if you intend to return or not, if the waitress was nice, if you feel you have already been overcharged , and if you feel rich and generous at that particular moment of the evening... Just follow your intuition, and remember the service charge is not given to the staff, but to the owners. In most places, the part of the service charge the owner choses to give the staff is then divided proportionally to the rank (i.e the Maitre d'Hotel gets the lion's share, and your waiter - the nice smiling guy- gets peanuts). So tipping hopefully will get to this chap. Never add tip to a credit card slip (as this will go straight to the owner again) but always use cash. Wherever I am, I tip anywhere between 0 to 10% depending how pleased I am. I intend to tip more (in proportion) in small places, but my upper limit for 4 people is a 20 Euros note whatever the bill , wherever the place.

          6 Replies
          1. re: monchique

            I don't think you can generalise about service charges going to the owner. In the UK, it does not usually happen and the staff get it as they would any tip (although it has recently come to light that a number of chain restaurants do keep some of it if it has been paid via credit card)

            1. re: monchique

              Monchique - the real difference between many European countries (not UK) is that hey have collectively bargained wage rates for hospitality workers and so these workers receive a realistic (I don't say great) wages. This compares to the US where a waiter often receives nearly no wages but makes 90% plus of their money from tips. Thus tipping in Spain, France etc is simply a "token" of appreciation rather than real earnings, and with most locals giving token tips there isn't a lot to divide up.

              1. re: PhilD

                My Spanish brother in law originates from a tourist area in the country. My understanding of the law there (Ballearic Islands) is that many hospitality jobs are recognised as a permanent but seasonal jobs, so when the season ends a waiter (or hotel worker) is immediately eligible for state unemployment benefits until the season starts again in spring. It's part of the recognition of the "esteem" of such jobs.

                1. re: PhilD

                  Reminds me of the waiter who, asked if the service was included, answered me: "Le service, oui Monsieur, mais pas le pourboire..." This was in my home country, France, of course. Being a creature of habits, I probably overtip, but am always welcome back to restaurants with a nice smile and service.

                  1. re: monchique

                    I always think the French system of service always being included is the sensible one and I wish we would adopt it in the UK. In what other commercial field is one expected to pay extra to have your order taken and your goods delivered? I am, of course, always happy to leave the pourboire.

                2. re: monchique

                  There is no way to add a tip to the credit card receipt in Spain. There's no space for it--it isn't done at all. Again, tipping here is 100% optional and always done in cash (unless you specifically request a separate credit card transaction to cover the tip).

                3. if its not included in the bill , your discretion , 5 T0 10 %

                  relax you are in Spain , its the life not the money ??