HOW TO TIP IN IRELAND

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, there is no obligation to do so, however leaving a little something extra is customary. The Irish Hospitality is famous the world over, and you may find some pushback when leaving a tip, as many delivering service do it for the sake of making your stay all the better! Tipping in Ireland is an art mastered by few, and the remainder are left fumbling with questions like `when?` and `how much?` There are no hard and fast rules, but there are a few surprises - like restaurants which refuse tips in lieu of a donation box, or a bartender who chases you down to give you your change back!

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.

Currency: Can I pay in U.S. dollars, or should I use Euros?

The currency of Ireland 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 Europe you will find it useful to always keep a little cash on hand. 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?

In most restaurants in Ireland you are likely to encounter one of three situations: First, a service charge (whether a set amount or percentage) may be added to your final bill, the second is that service is included in the prices already, or lastly no service charge is applied in any form to the prices or the final bill. Also, some larger parties (often 6 or more people) are likely to see an additional charge. The situations in which a charge is added or included in the prices indicates that a gratuity has been included, so do not feel obligated to leave anything more, unless you wish.

In larger and more frequently visited cities tipping is more and more common; Americans are accustomed to leaving 20%, however the most common practice in Ireland is to leave between 10 and 12%. In nicer restaurants up to 15% (provided that the service charge is not included) is a good rule of thumb. It is worth note that in Ireland servers must be paid the national minimum wage. If there is no service charge, then likely the server is only earning that minimum wage and will be appreciative of any additional tip. If you are unsure if you have incurred any service charges, kindly ask your server.

If you are truly disappointed by the service or the food, forgo a tip altogether. Don`t worry, here they won`t chase you into the street demanding a tip or bad mouth you to the other customers. It just doesn`t work that way.

In cafes or bistros there are usually change bins or donation bins close to the register, most with notes attached that make it clear tips are appreciated. Here it is easiest to simply round up slightly to the next half or whole Euro, no more. Nobody is expected to tip for self-service food (for example: if you order at a counter, pay at a register, and then pick your food up at a window or if you pick up a `grab and go` sandwich from a deli case).

Pubs are a different beast entirely. No visit to Ireland would be complete without visiting a pub, and this is where tourists are most anxious about tips. Play it cool. Say `have one for yourself` when leaving the change behind, to which the barkeep will likely answer `Don`t mind if I`ll be having it later, do you?`, and then pocket the money (instead of getting plastered). In Ireland barkeeps are frequently required to perform a four year apprenticeship and during that time it is considered bad manners to tip them. You will know by whether or not the barkeep is working alongside another, or if already employed by a hotel you can assume he has completed his training. Also, some pubs have table service which is equivalent to bus staff. It is ok to leave some change for them, considering that they often end up running your drinks to your table and taking additional orders.

Hotel Staff: Who should I tip?

Tipping in hotels, guesthouses, and B&B`s in Ireland is a kind gesture. Tips are not expected but are greatly appreciated. The famous Irish hospitality is a source of pride, and though some will refuse your tip initially, be polite and stern in insisting they take it if you are truly bent on rewarding their service. The most commonly tipped employees are the Porters and Chambermaids. 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. For Chambermaids a 1-3 Euro tip, daily, is adequate. Leave these tips on the bed or the bedside table. 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 a few Euros for their helpful service, if so desired. Some hotels (and upscale restaurants) will have Restroom Attendants, tip them with small change and bless them, since without them, there would be no toilet paper or soap there.

Taxi Drivers: Should I tip?

Tipping cab drivers is unusual, but appreciated, especially if they help you with your luggage or provide you with useful info about getting around. Again tips are not really expected but no taxi driver, especially in the cities, will object if you ask him to round the bill up a bit. While some may find this surprising, remember that multiple surcharges for a fare are already built into the metered price in Irish taxis. Some of these surcharges include operating during `unsociable` hours (8pm to 8am), items of luggage, being hired by phone or being hired at the airport, and so on. These are part of the fare you pay at the end of the journey. Needless to say, if your driver was rude or took you on an out of the way route to hike up the fare (highly unlikely in Ireland of all places), do not leave a tip. If you`ve hired a private driver leave around 20 Euros per day. If they went above and beyond you can always tip more. Always remember when travelling abroad that it is good practice to agree to 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 is in the range of 5 Euros per person for half a day, or 10 Euros per person for a full day. Although most tour operators include a `tip` in quoted prices bear in mind that 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! The guide may refuse at first, as part of the Irish custom, but politely insist if you have really enjoyed your experience.

Miscellaneous: Is there anyone I should tip that I would not normally?

Other Services: In the event that you are in Ireland 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 in the 10% range.

`Luck Money:` You may run into the tradition of `luck money,` mostly with tradesmen; they`ll charge you the agreed upon price, say fifty Euros, and when you hand over the cash they`ll press a Euro coin back into your hand. This, in theory, will ensure good fortune, follow-on business, and keep the relationship ever so slightly above the purely mercenary.

Final Thoughts:

Remember that it is perfectly okay to abstain, especially if you are not happy with the service provided. This is quite unheard of in Ireland, as the people here often seem just a little too friendly to be true! This is also true for hotel staff, however if you should encounter a problem with the service within the hotel, we highly recommend speaking with the manager.

When paying for services in cash (which we generally recommend for services other than your hotel) remember to take your 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.