First Time In London? Here’s What You Need To Know

First Time In London Here’s What You Need To Know

London has long been a city that is highly popular with tourists. A distinctly unique part of Europe, England’s capital city sees tens of millions of visitors each year, all coming with different interests and aims as to how to enjoy their trip. With many London hotel special offers, it’s now easier than ever to explore the city in a way that’s right for you.

But London can be an overwhelming city for first time visitors; with a contrarian approach to measurements and road laws, London does things a little differently to the rest of Europe – and that’s before we’ve even started on the rest of England! Whether it’s cuisine, money or just common courtesy, the city of London may take a little while for first time guests of hotels on Bayswater Road to get used to.

This blog will provide some insider tips for first visitors, ensuring that all guests of the Grand Royale London Hyde Park feel comfortable and safe when visiting the city. From public transport to discount dining, this blog will explore some of the ways that you can budget, keep safe and fully enjoy your trip to the city without hassle or stress.

Brits Drive On The Left Hand Side

Unlike much of Europe and America, the British drive on the left hand side of the road, meaning that when you’re crossing in London, always make sure to look to your right before stepping out. Strangely, this diversion from the international norm comes from a place of ancient tradition, that the “right hand” should be kept free so as to draw your sword if necessary. Though there’s little need for a sword during your visit to London, this anecdote for the tradition of left hand-orientation is indicative of the city’s – and the country’s – long history and adherence to tradition. 

On Escalators, Stand To The Right

On Escalators, Stand To The Right

Contrary to the left hand side of the road, escalators on the London Underground require those standing to do so to the right and for people walking to do so on the left hand side. You’ll often be reminded of this on the sometimes hectic London Underground by the tannoy speakers, but to avoid annoying fellow passengers in a hurry, respect the orderly nature of London commuting by adhering to the left hand side rule on escalators.

Brits Pay In Pounds, Not Euros

Unlike much of Europe, the British stuck to their guns and kept on using the pound. For better or for worse, it’s worth reminding yourself at the foreign exchange not to change your money to euros for your visit to London. It’s also worth remembering that whilst Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, Southern Ireland is not and uses Euros. If you plan on visiting the Republic of Ireland after your stay at 4 star hotels in London, remember to change any money to Euros before you travel. 

Kilometres Or Miles?

Whilst London and the UK use the official metric system of kilometres, colloquially and on roads, the country uses miles as a measurement of distance. Miles measure 1609.9 metres, whilst a kilometre is 1000 metres. Don’t get them mixed up on your walking trip then, you might either be short changed or in for an unexpectedly long hike!

A Pint Of Lager Is The Norm

As with miles to kilometres, you’ll find that the UK measures drink sizes in pints, much larger than other European countries. The English pint comes out at 20 percent larger than an American “pint”, so if you’re planning to drink in England, make sure that you’re prepared for a larger lager and perhaps line your stomach beforehand!

Travel Tips For London

So now we’ve covered some of the broader culture shocks of first time UK visitors, it’s time to move on to what one can expect from London more specifically.

Download Routeplanner Apps

Apps such as CityMapper and Google Maps can help you navigate the 1500 square kilometre city that is London. The sheer scale and range of places to visit on the London Underground can make London an easy place to get lost in. If you use mobile apps, you can plan your routes and keep up to dates with train and bus service disruptions and cancellations.

Avoid Rush Hour

Rush hour in London observes peak times of between 7 am and 9.30 am and 4 pm and 7 pm. Between these hours you can expect roads and underground stations to be busier than usual. Furthermore, single fares will be up to a third more expensive than at off-peak hours. If you are visiting London and want to avoid spending more for a more uncomfortable journey, then consider avoiding these hours of travel on public transport. 

Keep Your Valuables Secure

Make sure when travelling through the centre of the city and on public transport that you keep your valuables secure. You’ll often hear regular alerts on train stations of warnings that  “pickpockets operate in the area” and whilst it’s not a regular occurrence, it’s well worth keeping phones, purses and wallets secured on the inside pocket of a jacket and bags within reach at all times. 

Weekends Have Night Tubes

Train services into and out of London can run as late as 1.30 am, but weeknight tubes will stop at around 00.30 am. On Friday and Saturday nights however, the Victoria, Jubilee, and most of the Central, Northern and Piccadilly lines run night tube  – or 24 hour services – as does the Highbury and Islington to New Cross Gate Overground service.

Budgeting Tips

London can be a very expensive city, so save up before your visit. That being said, there are plenty of ways to enjoy London on the cheap, including visiting its many free museums and art galleries. Permanent exhibitions here cost no money at all, and you can save money on eating out using apps like TooGoodToGo and Tablepouncer. 

If you’re planning to see a theatre show on the West End, save money by visiting the Box Office first thing in the morning, when you’ll potentially find tickets for as much as 90 percent cheaper than buying beforehand. Get in half an hour to an hour before opening though, especially if the show is popular, these cheap tickets sell like wildfire.