The subtle art of Tipping

I always wonder in which situation it is recommended in Switzerland to give a tip for a service and of course how much.

At the restaurant in my homeland, it’s an evidence, I always know how much to tip appropriately without calculating a percentage or whatever (it’s like for the french-speaking people, knowing the gender of every single object). But here in Geneva, I’m a bit lost on what is considered acceptable for an OK service. Do you guys have a rule of thumb or a threshold?

Another situation: a few years ago I got this amazing offer from Qoqa at The Chedi Hotel. I was totally out of my world in this 5-star hotel but it was fantastic though. After bringing our luggage from the car to the lobby, I handed 10.- to the voiturier. He got surprised and a bit hesitant but eventually took it, the situation made me cringe, was it too low for a palace? or is it uncommon in Switzerland to tip grooms?

Last case I just got my groceries delivered by Migros, again is it common to tip the delivery guy bringing your bags in front of your door?


I’d generally say tipping in Switzerland is not really expected as nobody works just for the tips as in the US, most people in service jobs have a regular hourly rate or monthly salary that let’s them live comfortably.

In restaurants in general I usually round up to the next 5 bucks, for large meals or with 4+ ppl maybe to the next round 20 or so (e.g. meal was 305 → 320). I haven’t seen anybody upset in Switzerland because of the lack of tips.

That’s a bit weird in a place like hte Chedi I’d say they would be used to tips and probably higher than 10 bucks.

I usually don’t tip the delivery drivers, again they have a regular salary so unless they were here in like 5mins instead of the announced 50 I wouldn’t consider tipping.


I have always been confused about tipping in Switzerland. When I moved here 6 years ago, I was told by some local that people don’t really tip because most people working in services have a decent salary. Also that tip is mostly expected in very touristy areas (like Niederdorf in Zurich). I took that for granted and went with it for the next 3 years and noone complained. I mostly liked it because I hate doing the quick math when I get the check.
After a while I talked about this to some local again, and was surprised that they always tip. Since I’ve spoken to more people about this, and indeed as MrCheese said, it’s either rounding up to the nearest 5 for a small service and rounding to 20 (or 10% sometimes) for bigger services (like a big table of people).

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CHF 10 is a lot for what is …maybe 10 minutes of work? (as a tip, that is).
Even in the U.S., 10 USD would seem generous for a bellhop/valet parking.
I briefly googled to confirm, and the advice seems more like 1-2$ per bag.

I don’t think you were too low.
Probably surprisingly generous.

…unless, you’re identifiable as coming from a country with very strong tipping culture and/or giving off strong vibes of being filthy rich. Please don’t take it personally when I assume you aren’t and didn’t :wink:


Personally, I have never tipped anybody outside of a restaurant. In a restaurant, I usually tip between 2 and 5 CHF depending on the service (sometimes 0 if really bad service).

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I’m usually tipping in cafés/pubs and restaurants, not really anywhere else (but I don’t frequent hostels). When I was working as a waiter, we considered tips an expected part of our pay and while we acknowledged that young people didn’t tip much anymore and put that on them not having much cash to give away, I would have been disappointed if, after good service for a CHF 100+ bill of a meal with wine, the table didn’t leave any tip.

For drinks only, I round up to the next 50 rappens, or put in 20-50 rappens if the number is round but don’t fret it if I have no change, in which case I won’t tip but may leave a bigger than usual one if/next time I come to the same place.

For meals, up to 5% is good. 10% means excellent service that did make the experience more enjoyable. Poor service gets no tip.

I won’t tip if I know the person serving me is the owner: they set the prices to what they want to get and don’t need anything extra. Their reward is recurring customers.

For people living in flats, I’ve been told it’s customary to tip your janitor/handyman comes the end of the year (at some point between before Christmas to the first week of January). Doing it will buy you the goodwill of someone you might come to depend on so I’d consider it money well spent.


We gift Christmas cookies to waste disposal men, vegetable delivery, daycare, cleaning service, school teachers. Cleaning service also gets a chf 20 Christmas tip. This is very old-fashioned (I copied my grandmother) but people appreciate it very much!


Something else to consider:

If you’re new in some city / area it never hurts to spend a little more (10%-20%) on tips. Cheap way to get to know the waiters and have them remember you. They tend to repay that with better/faster/more customized service.

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Even cheaper - or more value for money in becoming a regular:
You go often at regular days/times and order your meal with a specific modification or substitution.

I’m well-known as «extra-spicy, but no cocktail sauce» at my local kebab joint.

It’s not really related to tip but when you go to a concert, a music performance, free entrance but there is a ‘hat’ in the end… do you have an amount in mind that you usually apply? Or do you take into account variables such as the number of musicians ? (quite complicated if it’s a large ‘ensemble’ of musicians…) technical apparatus necessary to set the show?.. whatever!
Example 1: 3 musicians, classical repertoire, in a church
Example 2: pop-rock band, 5 musicians, in a local bar

The only place I regularly tip is at the hairdresser, because they are known for earning really poorly. But also there I’m rounding up to the next 5.-

Not claiming I always used to be known as „the smoothest blend and fade“ with the ladies at the office.

But when I tip my hairdresser, I just tip myself.

I read few weeks ago some article from a knigge expert about tipping in switzerland. I was kind of shocked. In my understanding she said basically:

-Dinner in a fancy restaurant: at least 5-10%, more if you are really satisfied

  • Uber ride, coffeeshop, hairdresser: you may give some CHF if everything was absolutely prefect, otherwise no tip.

I dont understand why in a expensive environment you should be more generous.

I guess “you’re expected to be able to afford it” would be the generic answer. Also, “generous tips make you pass for a really rich person”, maybe… I don’t make a difference between fancy or not restaurants but the waiting staff isn’t generally (much) better paid in fancy places, industry standards is what they often get, so if you expect higher quality service, you should pay for it with the tip.

I don’t have an explanation as to why we don’t tip hairdressers, ubers and such. While restaurant tipping has been part of my education, tipping in other circumstances has never been presented to me as something to do. It may be a cultural thing, or just me and my family.

The simple explanation is that you don’t tip people that can set their own prices.