When it comes to visiting the U.K. there are several things you should know. Like tipping. Unlike in the U.S. tipping is not expected in most encounters. This includes waitresses and taxi drivers.. All employees receive minimum wage in the U.K. at minimum thus tips are not supplemental income for many of the minimum wage employees.
Feel free to round-up the taxi fare if you desire or if the service is really good, it’s o.k. to show your appreciation. Overtipping is considered rude and flaunting so don’t. If you order room service you should tip the delivery driver or the hotel staff a pound.
Hotels and bar tipping
You shouldn’t tip your bartender. Most of the time if you have developed a rapport with him or her over your stay, say you frequent the same pub while you are there, telling the bartender on your last day to “add one for yourself” is a sign of appreciation. This is offering to buy the bartender a drink and he will either do so or if not permitted will take it as a sign of a tip. However it isn’t polite to tip a bartender on first encounter or after every drink. Porters at hotels are commonly tipped for carrying your bags, about two pounds, but unless you are very messy, you can forgo tipping the “chambermaids”. If you do though, it is appreciated. It is not expected or common to tip those who serve room service.
Black cabs versus Taxi cabs
If you are licensed to drive in the U.K. you can drive what is referred to as a mini or black cab. Taxi cabs however employ trained drivers who will most likely be able to get you where you need to go and quicker.
It’s easy to fall into the same traps we commonly find ourselves in here in the States. In the U.K. there is minimal if any racism and homophobic talk is considered rude as same-sex relationships are not shunned in the U.K. as it tends to be in the states. Avoid complaining about politics or anything you don’t like about the surroundings or U.K. itself. Someone may be in ear shot and they don’t necessarily care for people belittling their country. It’s very rude.
The middle finger and the “peace” sign are considered exceptionally insulting. So don’t do it.
Handshakes are not common outside of business but you will find yourself more often than not in that situation. Firm but not to firm is what you want. Too firm and it’s oft putting, too soft and you are perceived as insincere. When you are speaking with someone, look them in the eye but don’t stare as that is considered rude and you will likely find yourself in a quick conversation. Don’t gloat over your “holiday” costs because that’s a sign of being too egotistical. Please and thank you should be used every single time you are asking or receiving anything. It’s extremely rude for you not to and it is likely you will not get a second chance.
Smoking in public places is illegal, even in most pubs. There are designated smoking areas and all you have to do is ask where one is at. Smoking in a public place could get you thrown out and fined. A cigarette is sometimes referred to as a “fag”.
Casual is the name of the game in London. Most Londoner’s where jeans and sweaters but you will see a lot of younger citizens wearing casual t-shirts as well but it’s still casual…with taste. Brit – Some in the United Kingdom consider the term “Brit” short for “Briton” to be offensive while some do not. Use the term with caution no one is offended by “Briton” which refers to a British person.