Tipping is a tricky topic for international travellers, because every country takes a different approach. While giving a little bonus to a bartender usually doesn’t happen in Finland, not leaving a tip in the USA or Canada is tantamount to a slap in the face. In Hungary, the giving of gratuities is always appreciated but never mandatory, although in several circumstances tips are more commonly expected, including some that are quite unique here. Below we present typical tipping amounts for various service providers in Budapest and nationwide.
At sit-down eateries in Hungary, it is standard to tip about 10% of the total for decent service, or up to 15% for an outstandingly helpful server. Nowadays many restaurants include a 12.5% “service charge” (“szervízdíj” in Hungarian) in the total, so make sure to check for this either on the bill itself or on the menu; there is no need to leave any extra tip in addition to this amount. At more casual eateries, a tip jar will often be next to the cash register, or guests can round up to the next highest forint-bill denomination when paying the server. However, no matter what type of restaurant it is, tips should never be left on the table when you leave – all tips should be given directly to the server or into the tip jar.
One local caveat – some traditional Hungarian restaurants hire a house band to play live Gypsy music and other evergreen tunes, and the musicians may begin traveling from table to table to entertain individual dining parties. When the band is at your table, if you request a particular song and they can play it, you will be expected to provide a tip for the musicians; a 500-forint bill should suffice. However, if you do not request a song, there is no need to tip the musicians… even though you may experience mild pressure to do so.
If a bellhop brings luggage from the front desk to a guest room (or back from the room to the lobby), it is typical to give him a 500-forint bill for this service. Housekeepers do not expect tips, but when checking out it is greatly appreciated if you leave them approximately 200-300 forints for each day of your total stay. If utilizing a hotel’s concierge services, tips are also not expected, but at the end of your stay concierges will happily accept 500-1,000 forints as a bonus for all assistance offered during the course of your visit, particularly if guests present them with considerable logistical challenges.
First of all, it is important to always order cabs by phone in Budapest, or to board them at official taxi stands or in front of major hotels; we always discourage hailing taxis on the street, as overcharging cab drivers are unfortunately still quite common here. Once arrived at your destination, it is ordinary to tip approximately 5-10% of the total fare, or to round up the charge by about 100-200 forints for a typical ride of ten minutes or less. Airport-shuttle drivers will gladly accept a tip of 200-500 forints, especially if they assist with loading and unloading your luggage. If hiring a limousine or other specialty vehicle, drivers will expect a tip of about 5-10% of the total charge.
Bartenders in Budapest do not expect to always receive tips, but they are always appreciated; typically, customers leave about 30-50 forints for each drink ordered, usually rounding up to the next 100-forint denomination above the total charge. At fancier clubs or cocktail lounges, guests are expected to be more generous with tips, although a 200-forint-per-drink bonus will suffice at almost any upscale bar nationwide. A 50-forint coin is enough to leave for cloakroom attendants, if a tip jar or tray is provided at the counter.
At many Budapest bars and ruin pubs, a restroom attendant is stationed outside the bathroom doors to provide everything from toilet paper to perfume to McDonald’s cheeseburgers. Oftentimes these attendants have a contract with the club to clean and service the bathrooms in exchange for the tips that they receive, so even if you do not take any of the toiletries or other offerings, it’s nice (but not required) to leave 20-50 forints per trip to the restroom, and more if you take advantage of the extra provisions – like about 500 if you have a fast-food burger, even though it won’t be fresh (but what do you expect?).
Unique to Hungary’s thermal-bath culture, many major spas hire locker-room attendants to help every guest secure their valuables before submerging into the hot-spring waters. At least among Magyars, it is typical to tip these attendants 100 forints, usually at the conclusion of each spa visit (try to find the same attendant who helped you at the beginning of your visit). This gratuity is often not expected among foreign spa visitors, but it will certainly be appreciated.
Massages: For standard services, the provider will be happy to receive a tip of 300-500 forints, or perhaps 1,000 if the massage is provided in your hotel room or home. However, for top-quality massage services at deluxe spas, no tip is expected.
Hairstylists and cosmeticians: A tip of approximately 5-10% of the total charge is always appreciated but never expected, especially if the stylist owns the salon.
Delivery services: A 200-forint gratuity is enough for any standard delivery services (food, dry cleaning, etc.), unless you are ordering a considerably large amount of something and/or having it delivered to a particularly remote location.