Hotel staff are likely to look bewildered if you offer them a tip for carrying your bags. They do not expect to have to tug their forelocks to earn their crust, and there is usually a clear career structure in hotels, which is how staff aspire to get on after they notch up the requisite training and qualifications.
Service has not generally been itemised on restaurant bills since 1993, after unions representing restaurant staff signed an agreement with employers to regulate salaries across the industry. So your waiter is not on a minimum wage (Sweden does not even have one), has probably undergone formal and sometimes prolonged training at a specialist vocational college, has a sense of pride in his or her work, and faith in the future. Therefore they do not want a tip, let alone expect it – with the implication that their living is dependent on your caprice, rather than on the right to receive a living wage.
It’s not quite Barcelona in 1936, but rather a legacy of the country’s idealistic, egalitarian past and its surviving consensus approach to industrial relations.
Another reason to love Sweden