Once you’ve gotten over the sticker shock of a night out in Basel, you’ll be left with an uneasy feeling about more than just your dwindling bank account. Tipping (no, not cow tipping) is by far the the most confuddling Swiss-ism for this North American expat.
In the US, tipping 20% in restaurants is the norm. How simple and how easy… if not easy on the wallet.Â Â In Basel, if you tried to tip 20% at dinner they’d send for the polizei.
So, what is the right amount to tip? And not just for meals. What about hairdressers, taxi drivers, that cute bartender and more? I took a completely non-scientific poll of Swiss citizens and long-time Baselers to get to the heart of the matter:
Drinks (at bar) – Rounding up to the CHF
Dinner wait staff (mid-range – up to 100 CHF) – about 5 CHF; “Nothing if they were crap.”
Dinner wait staff (high-end- over 100) – 5 to 10 CHF or approximately 5%; “rarely leave more than 20 CHF”
Sommelier – nothing
Haircut/ color – nothing (tho some expats report giving 5-10 CHF; I gave 20 CHF once and it was returned with a stern admonishment that it was “too much.” I now give nothing)
Hair washer – nothing
Spa services (massage/facial) – nothing
Nails – nothing
Taxi – 2 to 3 CHF
Hotel maid service – 2 CHF per night in big hotels; nothing in family run establishments.
Hotel bell hop – 2 CHF per bag
These are just the tip of tipping eisberg, so if you have more insights on the magical art of Swiss tipping (e.g., do people tip COOP delivery service?), please email me at email@example.com.