HOW TO TIP IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC
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, however due to the amount of tourists in popular cities in the Czech Republic you will find tipping here is still expected!
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 Czech Republic is part of the European Union, however you will find that a great many places here (especially smaller shops and restaurants) still balk at accepting the Euro. Where it is accepted you will often find unfavorable exchange rates. The Czech Koruna (CZK) is still widely used. Our best recommendation is to keep Korunas for your stay in the Czech Republic, and use an ATM to take out Euros if you find that you need them. US dollars may be accepted in some places, but we do not recommend travelling with US currency. Please be sure to have the correct currency on hand or be prepared to exchange your dollars for CZK/Euros upon arrival. In our culture we can put everything on credit and debit cards, however in the Czech Republic you will find cash is more popular. Currency exchange desks can be found at the airport, at major train stations in larger cities, and many locations throughout the cities you will be visiting.Restaurants, Cafes, and Bars: When should I tip? How much is customary?
Tipping in the Czech Republic is commonly expected. This practice holds true mainly in Prague and leading tourist `meccas` such as Cesky Krumlov, not in the countryside, where foreigners are not expected to do anything more than locals. As in many other European countries there is a Service Charge included in the menu prices, but some restaurants print `Service Not Included` on their bills. This is deceptive as by law, service IS included, but the tip is not. It is a practice to elicit more money from patrons who may not be familiar with the regulations.
Now, as far as the actual tip - it is generally expected but the expectation is much lower than you may be accustomed to. Foreign visitors are often expected to tip at around 10%. If you thought that the service was exceptional nothing is stopping you from leaving more! Servers in the Czech Republic have a salary independent from tips but it is lower than many other European countries and tips can easily outweigh their salary.
In cafes and bars tipping is at the customer`s discretion, although it will likely win you favor with the person taking your order. The easiest rule of thumb here is to simply round up your bill to the next denomination Koruna - whether that be 10 CZK, 20 CZK, 50 CZK or 100 CZK (keep in mind that one Koruna is approximately 4 U.S. cents).
Here are a few things to take into account before heading out to your meal in the Czech Republic. The Czech Republic is not built around a customer service culture. Service here is often not up to the same standard as in many other places in the world but it is getting better. It is more common to judge the service not by smile-quotients (Czech people don`t smile at you at you at all times as American servers do), but by whether the order was taken promptly, the correct food was delivered, the bill was added up correctly and the food was good. Czech waiters do not routinely ask whether you enjoyed your meal or if everything was to your liking, however it is becoming quite usual in average-to-good restaurants, especially the ones in the tourist areas. Do remember, however, that you should not reward bad service.
The practice of tipping is not very common in hotels in the Czech Republic. In most hotels a service charge is included in the bill for staff, however Porters, Concierge staff, and Chambermaids all appreciate the generosity of guests.
If a Porter helps to carry your bag(s) to your room the customary tip is about 50 Korunas. 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 around 250 Korunas for their helpful service, and as much as 500 if you feel that they were exceptional. For Chambermaids leave your tip at the front desk at the end of the stay, and aim for about 50 Korunas per day.
Taxi drivers in the Czech Republic have a pretty awful reputation, and unfortunately, they largely deserve it. To combat this (after years of tourist complaints) the city of Prague listened and did a few things to ratify the problem. When you step out of the airport you will notice a special place for official Prague taxis. These taxis have a fixed price for specific destinations in the city center. No haggling or surprises - just check the sign for the destination where you want to go and it will tell you how much the taxi ride costs. All around the city are designated taxi stops with a sign describing how much you should pay from one destination to another. For example, if you want to go from the Main Train Station to the Airport, simply check the sign and it will tell you how much you should pay. When the taxi arrives confirm the price with the driver before getting into the taxi. Of course, if you hail your own taxi from some random street at 3 am you are at the taxi driver`s mercy - enter at your own risk.
Because the prices from the airport to city center are fixed you do not necessarily need to tip from the airport. But if you are in a giving mood, 10% is an acceptable tip. Try to round it up to the nearest 20 CZK or 50 CZK. If the bill is 380 CZK, then pay 400 CZK. If the bill is 660 CZK, pay 700 CZK; just round the fare to the next hundred CZK. 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.
Tipping tour guides is very much appreciated but not expected. Common practice in the Czech Republic is about 500 Korunas ($20 USD) per person, per day for small group or whole day tours, and 250 Korunas for half day tours. 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 the Czech Republic 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. It is easiest to round up to the next hundred Koruna.
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 the Czech Republic 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.