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Jun 6, 2010 11:26 AM

Attire and Tipping

What is the appropriate dress for dinner at Akelare? Jacket required? Would nice dark jeans and a button up shirt be okay? Also what is the appropriate tip? I know Europe tipping standards are quite different from the U.S. but what would be a appropriate for Akelare? Same as Europe (round up)? or more like U.S. standards of 15 to 20%? Thanks.

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  1. Nice casual is fine, jacket not required but it wouldn't hurt. 10% is fine for a tip.

    1. Tip, also known as service, will always be included in the final bill. Most menu prices will include the tip; other times, there will be a percentage (usually 12 to 15%) added on to the prices on the menu. Somewhere printed on the menu will state one of the above. In either case, how much additional really depends on who one ask and what is one comfortable with. In high-end places, most of my Barcelona friends do not leave any tip at all unless they received some form of extra service, ie. making special effort to please a finicky diner, sending out extra courses. private tour of the kitchen. In lesser places, they will round up. The rest say to leave 5% extra. Like the rest of my travel eating in Europe, I rarely leave any tip at high-end places. For me, rounding up (meaning a few euros) at Akelare doesn't make much sense.

      1. We travel to Spain once or twice a year and would rarely tip - apart from bottom end places where we might leave a few coins. Most high-end places either have service included in the menu price or will state that a discretionary service charge will be added to the bill. As in most European countries, Spanish serving staff are quite well paid and a tip is not expected in the same way as in America.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Harters

          I have friends who are natives of Spain and they leave an additional ten percent in high-end restaurants, regardless of the service charge being included, so I follow the same practice.

          1. re: rrems

            The brother-in-law is Mallorcan. He never tips.

        2. thanks for the information, this is very helpful. One more question about the attire. Basically this is the only high end restaurant on our 2 week trip through spain and france and just need to know if I should pack my suit for this one meal.

          1 Reply
          1. re: kynrenee

            No need to pack a suit. Spaniards are smart dressers but rarely formal. If one can look "casual chic" with dark jeans and button up shirt, it is appropriate for evening at Akelare. If not, a pair of khaki/chino, shirt and sweater will be fine.

          2. Service charge isn´t included in Spain and I´ve never seen it included in high-end restaurants either.
            Spanish people as a rule are very small tippers. It wouldn´t be unknown for a couple to spend 50€ on a meal and leave 10 centimos as a tip! However, that´s not quite the norm. The service culture is very diferent from the States and waiters don´t necessarily like to say their pleases and thank yous and they are not "compensated" at the end. It´s a cultural thing. However, this is slowly changing. More and more Spaniards will commonly leave 5-10%.

            6 Replies
            1. re: bettybop

              I agree with bettybop; while I have never eaten at El Bulli, I have never seen the tip added on to the bill. I have seen "cubierto" which is money which goes into the cash register not the waiter's pocket. This includes any special tapa or beverage normally served at the start of the meal as though it were something free. It is not free but if you don't want it, you can choose another place to eat. It is something which the house serves and charges for. You may also sometimes see "IVA" added to the bill; that's the sales tax and again does not go to the waiter. Wait staff appreciate tips and the general policy is that tips are shared among all the workers at the restaurant including the dishwasher. Waiters and other restaurant staff receive salaries like any other workers in the country; the minimum wage is probably about 800 a month and a really good waiter will make 1200 a month. So, as Betty says 5-10% is greatly appreciated.

              1. re: kathinmadrid

                "Wait staff appreciate tips "


                The question is whether it's expected. I'd suggest generally not (at least in Andalucia, Balearics and Canaries, which are the areas I regularly visit).

                National minimum monthly wage in Spain is, I understand, €633. However, European serving staff generally have salaries somewhat above this, so €800 would be regarded as pretty reasonable. It reflects the relatively good esteem in which such jobs are held in Spain.

                1. re: Harters

                  Harters, 800 euros a month is "una miseria"; it's true, waiters do earn around this sum, usually for working the lunch and dinner service for 6 days a week. Are you suggesting being a waiter is an esteemed job in Spain? Even "mil euristas" are pitied - it's almost impossible to live on 1,000 euros a month in Spain, which used to be cheap but is now expensive.
                  I worked part-time in a bar in Madrid for some years, and we would take home maybe 6 euros tips on a good night. All tips were shared, and most people left nothing; however, when an American would leave 5 or 10 euros, we did REALLY appreciate it!

                  1. re: arobmadrid

                    "Are you suggesting being a waiter is an esteemed job in Spain?"

                    Indeed, yes. And on two counts.

                    Firstly - by way of comparision with attitudes in a number of other countries (including my own, where serving staff are not at all well thought of).

                    And, second, because in many parts of the country (particularly the tourist areas which, of course, are those I'm most familiar with), work in the hospitality industry often is the only opportunity for secure and regular employment. In itself, that carries esteem.

                    Bringing those points together, I see that when I visit restaurants in Spain, serving staff are almost invariably Spanish. When I visit restaurants at home, serving staff are regularly immigrants from other EU countries.

                    1. re: Harters

                      I live in Madrid, where the second and closing points you made are not true.

                      1. re: arobmadrid

                        I'm sure my second point doesnt relate to Madrid or, indeed, other major urban centres where industry and commerce offer other opportunities. Not the case in many parts of the country, such as those I mentioned earlier, where seasonal tourism is the signifciant employing industry. The problem has become more significant in, say, the Balearics, where the recession has badly hit the second major industry (construction).

                        No doubt, I'm misunderstanding your reference to my "closing point", which was that, at home, many serving staff are from other EU countries. Are you saying that this is also the same in Madrid (that serving staff are foreigners), which would tend to support the view that there is alternative employment in the cities that is not available elsewhere (such as the areas I referred to, where servers are usually Spanish)