One of the questions I get asked most about visiting this city of mine is "Do I need to tip in Amsterdam?". My honest answer isn't really yes or no, but I suppose it leans more to no than yes. Man, that's not helpful, is it? Well, let me explain what I mean by sharing some advice about tipping in Amsterdam based on my experience of living here five years.
Tipping etiquette in Amsterdam
There are no rules about tipping in Amsterdam, as in there are no set guidelines that tourists or travellers need to follow regarding percentages or where and when you do or don't tip, but there are some things worth knowing. In general, tipping is at your discretion. I can't think of a situation where you are obliged to tip in Amsterdam (or the rest of the Netherlands) other than when you are in a decent (or fancier!) restaurant and you experience good service, but even then I can almost guarantee you will find people who don't consider tipping necessary.
While there is no tipping culture in Amsterdam like these is in the USA, for example, Amsterdam and the Netherlands are not places where it's offensive to tip. What can be strange, however, is tipping when service is bad or non-existent; that's not considered offensive, it's considered a bit daft, and you can understand why.
Let me go into some specific detail...
Generally speaking, in Amsterdam service and hospitality staff are paid enough so that tips are not expected to make up a significant chunk of their income. It's also somewhat true that Dutch people are naturally "economical" and don't like to waste their money, or over-spend. Yes, I'm trying to find a nice way to say that some Dutchies can be a bit tight, but perhaps I shouldn't sugarcoat it as many nationals joke and talk about this with us. I will just add that I have Dutch friends who are tight and Dutch friends who aren't, it's really the same as any other nationality, however, where I have seen that economical good sense (ahem, tightness) show itself quite often is in tipping, or not tipping as the case may be!
All this being said, it's equally important to remember that Amsterdam is an international city that sees floods of tourists and visitors arrive each day so there is now a sort of blurred lines approach to tipping, as in, many people working in hospitality or service industries will be open to tips and may even expect it from international visitors (especially North American travellers!), though they shouldn't be relying on it as a steady part of their income... I hope!
Places in Amsterdam where I tip
Perhaps sharing with you the places and situations where I do leave a tip in Amsterdam is a more helpful way of demonstrating when tipping is or isn't appropriate. As an Amsterdam resident of five years, and coming from a place (UK) where tipping is often considered polite and somewhat expected in certain scenarios, I generally apply these rules to tipping in Amsterdam.
Restaurants and cafes (ish)
I will always tip in a restaurant when the service is good. However, we aren't guided by percentages in Amsterdam, instead we normally round up the bill and will tip anything between 5-15 Euros depending on the kind of place we are in, the quality of the food, and how good the service was. Unless the bill was over 200 Euros if we're out with several friends, we would feel weird tipping more than 20 Euros because this would be considered a little OTT by Dutch standards (again refer to Dutch people generally being quite protective (ahem) of their money!).
Still on the topic of restaurants, to date, I've not seen a restaurant in Amsterdam add on a compulsory service charge, like they often do in London and other European cities. To the best of my ability I can't remember seeing that (and we do generally eat out a lot!) but it's possible this happens in more tourist-targeted restaurants, i.e. the places we try to avoid! In Amsterdam, it is generally considered that service is factored into the price of your meal.
What I have seen more recently is that cafes, brunch spots and coffee shops (so places not necessary open for dinner or evenings) have started to have tip jars at the counter. This has increased especially in places in De Pijp which is becoming a more popular area with tourists so I think it's fair to say they are almost certainly trying to target visitors. Again, I would only ever tip in a coffee spot if I received really excellent service or help from the staff.
Taxis (when they deserve it!)
We very rarely get taxis in Amsterdam and most often it's to go to Schiphol Airport. Again I will tip (again by rounding up the fare) if the driver has helped with our luggage, been friendly and not driven like a maniac. It pains me to say this but none of these things are guaranteed with Amsterdam taxi drivers so I like to acknowledge those who do help out and drive safely. I suspect that my Dutch friends (who very rarely get taxis anyway!) would think me a little crazy tipping a taxi driver so this one is absolutely a personal choice.
This is a funny one because we're actually really good friends with our hairdresser, but that often means she fits us in last minute and she cuts our son's hair even though she doesn't actually do kids' haircuts at her salon. For both these reasons we are very happy to tip her as it's a great help to us, and her prices are really good value also. Depending on the cost of the haircut I will tip between 3-5 Euros, so enough for her to treat herself to a coffee or a drink.
Admittedly, I don't expect everyone visiting Amsterdam to have a need for a babysitter (but if you do I recommend using the Charly Cares app) but if you do, and again you have a positive experience, you may want to tip your babysitter. We do when we feel the babysitter has really worked for their money (rather than sitting on the couch and just watching Netflix) and because good babysitters in Amsterdam are kind of essential to our set-up, we like to keep them happy to return to look after our son. This is a very personal decision by us and we have friends (Dutch and otherwise) who would never tip their babysitter, so don't see this is as a general rule. We normally add on an extra 3-5 Euros depending on how long they've babysat for.
If you spend any amount of time in Amsterdam you will see the many food delivery couriers cycling (or scootering) around Amsterdam's streets. We pretty much only use Deliveroo and we nearly always add on an extra 2 Euros to our Deliveroo driver just as a gesture. I also wonder if it means they'll make a little extra effort with delivering your order on time. If you want to order take-away while visiting Amsterdam, it's really easy with Deliveroo, and if you use this link you'll get a little money off your order!
Housekeeping in hotels
Again this is a very personal decision, but on the few occasions we've stayed in a hotel in Amsterdam, I do leave some money for housekeeping. I do this everywhere, because I have worked as a housekeeper in a hotel and it was really, really hard work. That's the reason why. In Amsterdam, I would typically leave around 5 Euros as a tip at the end of my stay. Of course, if I felt the housekeeping in the hotel wasn't up to scratch I wouldn't leave anything and would almost certainly talk to the hotel.
Walking tours and private sight-seeing services
There are a number of walking tours in Amsterdam that operate on a pay-what-you-feel basis, meaning that the tour is technically free but they accept (and encourage!) tips to pay for the tour guides time. I would hope that it goes without saying that you probably should tip in these scenarios, but I've not done these so-called free tours myself. I have, however, had a personal walking tour of Amsterdam's Red Light District and I also joined an Eating Amsterdam Food Tour of Jordaan and on both occasions I tipped the tour guide, mainly because I felt they put a lot of effort and hard work into their tour. Had I not had such a positive experience I may not have tipped. I think each time I tipped around 5 Euros.
Places in Amsterdam where I don't tip
I hardly ever go out at night anymore (and doubt I will for some time - seeing as I'm pregnant and the mother of a two-year old!) but I believe nothing has changed in that nobody really tips in a bar in Amsterdam - unless they experience exceptional service or they hire an area for a function and a lot of work goes into it. Another thing you may want to keep in mind when drinking in a bar in Amsterdam is that you can often start a tab WITHOUT giving a credit card or deposit (though not always!).
Other hotel staff
Maybe it's me but whenever I check into a hotel, I'm normally the least prepared to give a tip. Even staying in a hotel in the city I live I don't seem to have any change or the right amount of change, and obviously I don't have much luggage to bring up to a room so in general I don't tip porters, bell boys or any other hotel staff if I'm lucky enough to be staying in one of Amsterdam's hotels for a treat. Again this is a personal decision (and a lack of organisation) but I may feel otherwise if I had a lot of luggage and was given a lot of assistance. To date, I've never really had someone make me feel awkward for not tipping!
Organised group canal boat tours
You know those large canal boats you see doing tour after tour after tour of Amsterdam, well, it may surprise you to know that I have done a few of them and I have never tipped. Partly because the experience isn't very personal and you don't really feel obliged to acknowledge good service but mostly because it really doesn't seem expected or encouraged.
Anywhere where the service is bad!
Arguably the thing I love most about tipping etiquette in Amsterdam is that if you experience bad service, you don't tip. And you are well within your rights to complain. The Dutch love getting their money's worth in any given situation and I've seen people return fruit and vegetables to supermarkets because they have gone mouldy before their due date - something I just see as a risk you take when you buy fresh produce. I have always felt tipping should be discretionary so I can really get on board with their approach to not tipping should service or their overall experience be lacking.
I hope this guide to tipping in Amsterdam was helpful! You can find lots more Amsterdam travel advice on my blog. Here are some good articles to get you started:
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Frances M. Thompson
Londoner turned wanderer, Frankie is an author, freelance writer and blogger. Currently based in Amsterdam, Frankie was nomadic for two years before putting down some roots with her Australian partner and having a baby boy in July 2015. In 2017, she launched WriteNOW Cards, affirmation cards for writers that help build a productive and positive writing practice. When not writing contemporary fiction, Frankie shops for vintage clothes, dances to 70s disco music and chases her son around Amsterdam.
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