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Do You Ask for the Check in London? A Guide to Tipping

When you’ve finished your meal at a restaurant, how do you ask for the check in London? In London, we ask for the bill and not the check. However, if you did ask your waiter for the check they would understand.

I’ve seen some forum saying that some people ask for the ticket. I’ve never heard anyone in London ask for the ticket unless you are picking up items in the cloak room or at an event.

A quick note, while tipping is customary in the UK it’s not expected in the same way other countries do. All staff by law must be paid the minimum wage and the employer is not allowed to use tips to top up the employees pay. The expectations on tipping varies from place to place.

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Examples for Asking for the Check/Bill

The polite way for asking for the bill in the UK would be:

  • May we have the check/bill, please?
  • Could we have the check/bill, please?
  • Could we get the check/bill, please?

Or if the waiter comes by and asks you if you would like anything else, then just say “no thank you, just the bill, please”.

In a fancier restaurant, you would say something like “no thanks, I think that’s all for tonight” and then you’ll be presented with the bill.

The person that asks for the bill is normally the one presented with the bill. It’s not gender specific, if you ask for it you will you’ll get it.

A Guide to Tipping in London

Every type of establishment has its own rules for tipping so here’s a quick guide for each type.


Tipping can be awkward and confusing and the UK doesn’t make it easy with having two ways that tips can work in a restaurant.

Some restaurants add a 12.5% to 15% surcharge to the bill and some leave it up to you how much you want to pay. If the tip is discretionary a safe bet is to leave between 10% and 15% as a tip.

For tips that are my choice, I don’t tend to leave more than 10%. Normally my tips are just the coins I have left in my wallet which will be a few pounds or I will round the bill up. For example, if it was £27 I would round up to £30.

For service charge the restaurants are required to state on the menu if a service charge is included on your bill. If it’s unclear just ask the waiter to confirm.

If you don’t get the level of service you are expecting you can refuse to pay the service charge. The service should match the type of establishment you are in so comparing a takeaway store against Michelin restaurant isn’t a fair comparison.

Which? have written a guide on what to do when you want to refuse service charge.

Bars and Pub

Tipping in London bars and pubs is appreciated.

A fancy bar will have similar rules to a restaurant especially if they have table service. There will be a high chance that your bill will have a service charge in this scenario.

For pubs, it’s not necessary to tip but if you wish to the bar staff will be happy! At the counter there will be a tip jar that you put your tip into. The pub will normally share this between all the staff.

Alternatively you can offer to buy them a drinks by saying ‘and one for yourself’. Although this may not be permitted depending on the pub or bar so a cash tip is always easiest.

Takeaway Food

With the likes of Deliveroo, UberEats, Just Eat and Hungry House it’s really easy to get food delivered to your hotel or apartment. Tipping isn’t required for takeaway but some people do like to tip. Some sites will prompt you at check-out to provide a tip or you can give the delivery driver some change as appropriate.

When picking up your food from the takeaway restaurant tipping isn’t appropriate, simply just collect your food and pay.

Fast Food Shops

There is no need to tip in fast food restaurants.

Cafes and Coffee Shops

Coffee in a London cafe, should you tip?
Coffee in a London cafe.

In a cafe or coffee shop, when you have table service then tipping is usual. Like restaurants, you do have a mix of service charge and customary tips.

If there is no table service then there is generally a tipping jar available. In places like Starbucks you may find that they don’t get many tips, you will find independents get a few more tips or places that regulars go and build a rapport with the person serving them.

Paying with Cash or Card?

In London you will get a mix of payment options, some will be cash or card only and some will accept both as a payment. Normally you will find a sign somewhere stating if it is cash or card only.

When presented with a bill in a place that takes both payments then you need to state to the waiter you would like to pay with card. The waiter will bring the card machine over to you for payment. Some machines will allow you to pay the tip on the card machine but this is hit and miss as an option.

Paying tips by the card machine could mean that a portion of the tip is taken as a transaction fee and potentially some could be deducted for income tax. Therefor (therefore) tips are normally preferred in cash.

Cash is really simple! Leave the cash with the bill and the waiter will collect the money. If you state “don’t worry about the change” or something along those lines then the staff will usually assume this is meant as a tip. Otherwise the waiter will bring you back your change. Depending on whether service charge is included you can then leave an appropriate tip.

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