‘To Tip or Not Tip’ (and how much to tip?) is a perplexing juncture for a lot of people.
Reason being, tipping in India is largely neither a culture nor compulsion.
Tip or ‘bakhshih’ is a small amount of money you give to a service provider individually.
Even when given, tips in India are often much smaller (not more than 10 %) than United States and other countries where employees depend on ‘customer gratuity’ (tips) as a significant part of their salaries.
To cut short all your tipping confusions, here’s a comprehensive guideline on the tipping etiquette expected of you (purely from an Indian perspective).
Tipping in Restaurants
The standard expected tip in restaurants is 7-10%.
In most of the upscale, high-end fine dining restaurants, the ‘Service Charge’ or tip is usually included which will also be mentioned in the bill that you get. If it’s not, then you can leave a tip between 10-15%.
Say, if your total bill is Rs. 3200/- without added Service Charge, you are expected to leave anything between Rs. 300 to 350. But for Indian standards, that is pretty high! So, to be on the safe side, Rs. 200 as tip on Rs. 3200 bill will work just fine.
Do not confuse ‘Service Tax’ (which the government gets) with ‘Service Charges’ (that the restaurant gets). These two are separate heads.
In mid segment restaurants, leaving around 5-7% of the bill amount is a norm. If the bill is 800, you can leave 30-40 bucks as tip.
These days, we mostly place our credit/debit cards in the bill holder to pay. In that case, you can keep the cash ready for tipping and once you sign the customer’s copy, you can slide it in the folder.
Tipping in Hotels
In hotels, when your luggage is carried to your room by the hotel porter on checking-in, you are expected to pay him a small tip.
Now here, the tip amount would depend upon the number of luggage he helped you with and of’course the standard of hotel you are staying in.
If it is a mid-range hotel which costs you anything between 2000-3000 INR per night, you can pay the porter Rs. 20 per bag.
In 5-star hotels, you have to shell out little more and can give around Rs. 40-50 per bag or a lumpsum of Rs. 200 to 300.
If you don’t want to tip the porter, simply offer a polite ‘Thank You’ with a smile and walk/turn away.
It is a nice gesture to leave a couple of hundred rupees for the laundry and cleaning staff if you have stayed in the hotel for few days.
Once, while I was checking for some hotels in Goa online, I came across few properties which have mentioned clearly on their website – ‘No Tips Policy’. In such cases, you can be relaxed and enjoy your stay without shelling out extra money in form of tips.
Tipping for Valets
When it comes to valet parking staff, the tips can range from Rs. 20-50, again, depending on the type of establishment.
Tipping in Salons & Spas
Tipping at a salon or spa can be little tricky as most customers get multiple things done and cannot determine how much each staff member should be paid.
If you have taken assorted services, 10% of the bill should be divided among the staff serving you. Make sure to pay each individual separately. If you are getting only one service done, like hair or pedicure, then 10% of the bill for the respective provider is good.
PRO-TIP: You must slip the money discreetly into the palm of the person/therapist who has given you the service, or slip it into the pocket if he/she is busy with another client.
Remember, that the server is being tipped for the service. So, if the product (food, ambience or stay) failed to impress you, that was not the server’s fault.
To give away tips, what you need to consider is if she/he has served you willingly, were they polite and attentive and did they smile?
All service providers mentioned above appreciate a small tip at the end of a job well done. When in doubt, tip at least 5 percent and if it was a great service given to you, go up to 10 percent.