HOW TO TIP IN AUSTRIA
In the U.S. tipping is customary and expected for everything from lackluster to outstanding service. It is an etiquette which is ingrained in all trades, from wait staff at restaurants to our baristas, valets, cab drivers, porters, and many more trades. In Europe tipping is not as habitual.
This guide attempts to cover most situations that you, as a tourist, will encounter. Hopefully using these `tips` will provide a smooth experience when interacting with locals in restaurants, bars, hotels, tour operators, and taxis.
The currency of Austria is the Euro. US dollars are not accepted. Please be sure to have the correct currency on hand or be prepared to exchange your dollars for Euros upon arrival. In our culture we can put everything on credit and debit cards, however in Austria you will find cash is still king! Currency exchange desks can be found at the airport and many locations throughout the city.Restaurants, Cafes, and Bars: When should I tip? How much is customary?
First thing is first: Most restaurants in Austria include a VAT or service charge in their bills (usually around 12.5%). This is common throughout Europe, and is most often already included in the menu prices. If you see it on your bill and are unsure, do not be afraid to ask for an explanation! With that being said, when you are ready to leave, you will likely need to ask for your bill. They do not rush people out the doors as we do in America. Ask for the bill (not check: a check is only referred to in banking) by saying `Zahlen, bitte` or `Die Rechnung, bitte.`
Now, as far as the actual tip - it is generally expected but the expectation is much lower than you may be accustomed to. A `normal` tip is only in the range of about 5 percent, of course if the service was poor, you don`t have to tip at all. Simply round the bill up to the next whole Euro, add an additional Euro or two if the service was exemplary. The aim here is to eliminate the need to get into petty change and speeds up the process. If you are feeling bold, try a little Austrian and say `Danke` (thank you), and your server knows that gratuity is included. If you do not say it then your server will assume you are looking to get change back.
Please remember: DO NOT leave your tip on the table! It is considered very rude. ALWAYS tell your server the amount you wish to pay (including any tip) when handing over your payment!
In cafes and bars tipping is at the customer`s discretion, although it will likely win you favor with the person taking your order. One or two Euro per round of drinks, or 1 Euro for a coffee order will generally expedite service and result in a more friendly and enthusiastic server.
Here are a few things to take into account before heading out to your meal in Austria. Austria is not built around a customer service culture. Social etiquette is very influential and paramount to good service, and while the Austrians are very friendly they may come across as `stiff.` Additionally, the American fascination with having a glass of water automatically handed to you after being seated does not translate in Austria. If water is desired, it is almost always bottled `Mineralwasser` (sparkling mineral water), or if you don`t want the fizzy stuff, ask for `stillesWasser` (shtil-es vahs-ser) - and be prepared to pay for it!
The practice of tipping is not very common in Austrian hotels, at least not those whose star rating falls below a 4 Star. In most hotels a service charge is included in the bill for staff, however, Porters, Concierge staff, Chambermaids, Valets, and Restroom Attendants all appreciate the generosity of guests.
If a Porter helps to carry your bag(s) to your room the customary tip is 1 or 2 Euros per bag, usually no more than 5 Euros total. Hotel Concierge staff can be very helpful for first time travelers; they are a wealth of information from directions to restaurant suggestions and reservations. Tip them 2 to 5 Euros accordingly for their helpful service (or up to 20 Euros if they score you tickets for an event or show). For Chambermaids in moderate hotels a 1 Euro tip, daily, is adequate; while in deluxe hotels 2-3 Euros daily is more suitable. Always leave these tips on the bed or bed-side table. Try to leave them daily as the same person may not be taking care of your room each day, and leaving a lump sum at the end of the stay may result in uneven or unfair distribution. Follow the same rules for tipping Room Service staff as you would a server in a restaurant, round up the bill to the next whole Euro and let them keep the change; alternately, if you charge your room service order to your hotel bill, give the Room Service carrier no more than 2 Euros. In very upscale hotels (and some nicer restaurants) there are Restroom Attendants, and it is polite to leave them maybe 1 Euro.
Tipping cab drivers is unusual, but appreciated, especially if they help you with your luggage or provide you with useful info about getting around in that particular place. In Austria just round the fare to the next whole Euro. Feel free to tip up to an additional 10% if they are extra helpful, they will appreciate it. Always remember when travelling abroad that it is good practice to agree on a final fare before the cab driver begins driving.Tour Guides: Is a tip required?
Tipping tour guides is very much appreciated but not expected. Common practice in Austria is about 2 Euros per person, per day. The guides are often paid a low wage, so if one is particularly enthusiastic or informative do not hesitate to slip them a little extra if you wish!Miscellaneous: Is there anyone I should tip that I would not normally?
Other Services: In the event that you are in Austria for a special occasion (wedding, honeymoon, graduation gift, birthday, etc..) and employ the services of a hairdresser, make-up artist, party planner, personal shopper, tailor or spa services and the like, use your best judgment in tipping. Factor in the cost and quality of service and, as a general rule, stay well within the 5 or 10% range.
Remember that it is perfectly okay to abstain, especially if you are not happy with the service provided. Unlike in the U.S., waiters are paid a living wage, and the expectations for tipping are lower in Austria than in America. This is also true for hotel staff, though if you encounter a problem with the service within the hotel, we highly recommend speaking with the manager.
Try to pay for all services in cash (other than your hotel) and if you feel uncomfortable with that thought, be sure to ask for a receipt. This is important for two reasons; If you leave a tip on a credit card, the person providing the service may not always get it, and if there is a discrepancy it is important to have your receipt to settle it with the manager of the establishment and to prove that you paid for the service.