Paying the restaurant bill in Germany

“Zusammen oder getrennt?” Together or separate asks the waiter/ess as you finish a meal with friends and request to pay the bill. If you’re wondering what is meant by this, in Germany you are literally asked if you want to split the bill between the table or if one individual will be covering everyone. Honestly, I think this is great. Don’t get me wrong, at first I did wonder why we can’t just split the bill amongst ourselves, as we do in the UK. However, if you reply with “getrennt” separate, your waiter/ess then comes to each of you individually so that you can make your payments one by one. You even go through the bill together and are able to say exactly what you ordered so that you pay for just that. Extremely practical! You then of course, just add a tip onto your bill… Ah yes! Tipping in Germany. This brings me to my next point, which took me a little longer to adapt to.

I’d not long been in Frankfurt when I went for my first meal and handed over my money to pay for my food when the waiter literally stood there and stared at me. It got kinda awkward. So I smiled. Then the waiter smiled back. I politely smiled again but I was wondering what the hell he wanted because I just wanted to pay for my meal. He took the money from me and I gave him back a euro or so for the tip. And then it clicked! As the next person paid, I realised that in Germany, once the waiter/ess tells you how much you owe, you are then expected to declare how much you’d like to pay altogether, which means how much tip you’d like to add. For example:
Waiter: Zusammen oder getrennt?
Customer: Getrennt.
(Look through the bill together and point out what you had)
Waiter: €15.10
Customer: €17.00 (price including tip, said whilst handing over money)
Waiter: Danke!

This way, you have now paid for your meal and included your tip all at once! So there you have it, a few tips for eating out in Germany. Just remember, that ordering tap water is not an option, so you’ll be expected to let them know if you want still or sparkling!

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