London is among the greatest cities in the world, but you need to plan ahead to ensure a smooth trip. Here are a few pointers for your next visit:
Once you are in the city center, walking is by far the best way to get around. Bear in mind though that distances between attractions can be huge and so comfortable, practical shoes are a must if you plan to get around on two legs.
Keep to the right on escalators and move along the platform away from the entrances to avoid incurring the wrath of busy locals.
It rains in London all the time, right? Actually, no. London gets less rain than Rome or Paris, not to mention the rest of the U.K., and short, sharp showers are far more common than prolonged drizzle.
Pack an umbrella and then forget about it — the weather is unlikely to do any harm to your vacation.
Food in London is varied, plentiful and not as expensive as you might imagine. However, costs can rack up if you aren’t careful. A good tip is to eat your main meal in the middle of the day. Many of the top restaurants offer cut-price fixed menus for lunch and you are more likely to be able to get a table as a walk-in.
Pubs make a great choice for a simple dinner, though try to pick one where locals are eating to avoid tourist traps, particularly in the West End where mediocre pubs are — in my opinion — largely to blame for the poor reputation of London’s food abroad.
Reservations are recommended in well-known or popular restaurants and on Friday and Saturday evenings.
Londoners like a drink. Pubs and bars will be very busy most evenings, especially on Fridays, when the weekend gets started for most people with a few after-work tipples.
If you don’t like crowded bars, spending a little more per drink will often buy you a quieter environment and hotel bars can be a good choice. But pubs are an integral part of our culture and no visit to London is complete without joining the locals at the bar one evening.
Tipping is less ubiquitous in London than it is in America, but is more customary than it is in many other places, and there are some important rules to keep in mind.
Taxi drivers should be tipped by rounding up the fare slightly. In restaurants, 10 percent is a standard tip, and increasingly 12.5 percent is added on automatically as a service charge; it is not necessary to tip in addition to this.
Tips are not expected in pubs but are appreciated when ordering food — just add 10 percent or so to the bill.