So, should you tip in the Netherlands? Well, that depends mainly on the sector and the service.
Unlike some countries with substantial tipping cultures, the Dutch tipping system usually relates to good service rather than a hard and fast socially entrenched rule.
As a general practice, good service = a good tip. However, expectations vary depending on the industry. Let’s break it down.
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Service staff in the Netherlands are paid a decent wage by their employers and thus don’t depend solely on their tips to make a living. Yet, they’re still usually paid a minimum wage. While this minimum wage is generally more in the Netherlands than in other countries, one also has to factor in the higher cost of living in cities like Amsterdam.
In the 1970s, high tips were commonplace in the Netherlands and known as servicekosten (service charge). They were often as high as 15 % and added to the bill. However, over the years, restaurants opted to instead integrate these higher service charges into the cost of meals, allowing restaurant owners to pay staff a living wage.
As a norm, tipping around 5 – 10 % of your bill is perfectly reasonable. Of course, more is always appreciated if you have an exceptional experience.
If, however, your meal isn’t up to scratch, it’s perfectly acceptable to round your tip to the nearest note. For example, if your meal is 38 Euros and the meal is subpar, you might tip 40 Euros.
In cafés and bars
Usually, when you visit a café, you’ll leave a little change for the server – especially if the food was scrumptious (or lekker as they say locally!) If the bitterballen have delighted or the stroopwafel has satiated the appetite, you can, of course, leave a little more.
In bars, you are not expected to tip for each drink. However, if you’re running a tab, you might add a couple of Euros to the bill at the end of the evening to show appreciation.
Tipping isn’t mandatory in hotels, as there is sometimes an added service charge. However, if you’re feeling generous, it’s always a kind token to give the cleaning staff or bellhop a couple of Euros to show thanks.
It’s not expected to tip taxi drivers – since fairs are already pretty high due to rising fuel costs and taxes. Nonetheless, you can always round up the taxi fare by a few Euros if you feel generous. This will always be appreciated.
If you’re attending a paid tour, you shouldn’t feel obligated to tip (however, it’s once again super appreciated by the guides). If, however, you’re going on a free tour, it’s usually expected that you tip around 10 Euros, as this is the only way the guide makes money.
Tipping in Dutch culture is largely discretionary. While a tip in a sit-down restaurant is usually the norm, other sectors are largely based on your personal preference. Nonetheless, service staff always appreciate a tip, and a little can go a long way. If you experience brilliant service, a tip is a fantastic way to show your appreciation. Check out tipping culture in Germany and Iceland, if you want to learn about different tipping cultures.