Tipping in Bratislava
The idea of tipping in the last 15 years, much to the chagrin of many Europeans, has been spreading eastward at a steady pace. Slovakia is not a country where a large tip is necessary, and tipping a standard 20% may leave your waiter wondering if you forgot your money. However, good service still demands something, and 10% is more the norm.
How it used to be done
In Slovakia the pre-euro tradition was to simply round up, and since the euro has taken effect many Slovaks are following the same custom. Due to the exchange rate this has actually led to smaller tips for the waiters and the rumor is that the Slovak population now does not know what to leave. For example, a 30 cent round up is not the equivalent of a 30 crown (roughly one euro) round up.
Tipping in Bars
Unlike many other European destinations, table service is still offered in Bratislava at most bars even if you are only having drinks. Only some bars charge after every round. A tip for every drink purchased is not necessary, but recognize that at some point a little extra is expected. Of course good tips will get you good attention, and any extra money slipped to a waiter will make your loud stag party seem less noisy and more fun than obnoxious.
What do I tell the Waiter?
If a bill comes for |9.30| and you want to give the waiter a |0.70| tip, the standard is to tell the waiter how much money you will be giving him. You can give the waiter a fifty euro bill and say “Ten euro.” This will signal the waiter that you want forty euro in change. If the bill is five euro and you want to leave a one euro tip, then give the waiter a ten euro bill and say “Six euro.” He will understand it to mean that you want four euro back.
WARNING: Don’t Say Thank you!!
When paying the waiter, do not say “Thank you.” Do not say “Dakujem.” In Slovakia, when you do so, it means “Thank you for being so good to me, you can keep the change as your tip.” So, if you have a cup of tea for |1.30| and give the waiter a five euro bill, and say “Dakujem” or “Thank you,” that is Slovak shorthand for “You can keep the change.” Don’t do that, unless you want him to keep the change. After you get your change back and have paid him or her a tip is a better time to thank him or her.
The bottom line is: you can leave whatever you want. There’s no clear standard. You can round up, to the nearest |0.50| or to the nearest euro. You can try not to leave too much more or too much less than 10%. If you really don’t like the service, it’s also acceptable to not leave anything at your table.