Everything You Need To Know For Your First Trip To London

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Lonodn is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, drawing in around 30 million tourists a year. The scale of the city, its history and the sheer amount of entertainment in London go some way to attracting such a massive holiday crowd. Returning guests of the best hotel in London probably know this already, but if it’s your first time in London, you still have a lot to discover.

As with any culture, it takes a little why to get used to the idiosyncrasies that a capital city presents. This blog will offer some tips for first time guests of the Montcalm Spa to relax into the city and get as much as they can from it as possible.

English Culture 

The Brits like to do things a little differently to their mainland counterparts. It can be a little confusing at first, British English differs slightly from American English and the people of London differ even more in their heritage and diversity from the rest of the country. London is one of the most diverse cities in the world, with substantially higher rates of English as a second language in the capital than the rest of the country and so the city reflects this multiculturalism, whilst also retaining its Britishness. Here are some of the other aspects of London culture that might catch overseas guests of Finsbury Square London Hotels off guard.

Pints, Pounds And Miles 

The UK’s measuring system is a mixture of imperial and metric measurements. You’ll find most road signs measure distance in imperial miles, whilst amounts of food or drink is measured in ounces or pints. Metric units are used for money and smaller distances such as metres and millilitres. Keep this in mind, walking 5 miles is drastically further than walking 5 kilometres! 

Tipping Culture In London 

Unlike America and mainland European countries, tipping is not obligatory in England. Whilst you are welcome to leave extra money after service at a restaurant or cafe, service charges are usually included in the bill. 

Look Right When You Cross The Road 

The UK is one of a minority of nations that drive on the left hand side of the road. Guests of hotels near Chiswell Street should bear this in mind when navigating the busy City of London by foot, especially at rush hour. 

England, UK or Great Britain? 

The United Kingdom is a country of four nations. These are Wales, England and Scotland and across the Irish Sea, Northern Ireland. The first three of these nations are located on the island of Great Britain and when you add Northern Ireland, this creates the United Kingdom. Make sure to get these right if talking to a local, the inhabitants of these four nations can be very pedantic when it comes to the geography of their heritage! 

Navigating London 

Now we’ve talked a little about the culture of the UK, it’s time to get to know the city of London. As a city that spans 1500 square kilometres and incorporates 32 different boroughs, London could be considered a collage of districts and villages, rather than a city in and of itself. Indeed, each area of London has its own distinct personality and you might find that your journey from one area to another will take longer than you first assume. 

The London Underground 

London isn’t a city designed for driving, which is why its Underground rail system is so popular for commuters and travellers. The London Underground consists of 12 different tube lines, as well as several Overground services. The complexity of the roughly 250 mile long rail line is thanks to the age of the system. The London Underground was the first of its kind, with the service dating all the way back to 1863. You needn’t worry, the trains being used today have changed a lot since the Victorian era! 

Invest In An Oyster Card To save Money 

London’s Oyster card is a contactless top up card that you can buy from almost every station in the city for £5. Once purchased, you can use it to top up from your bank account for pay as you go underground and bus travel. Whilst you can use your own debit card for single journeys, the Oyster card allows you to purchase day, week and month long travel tickets. If you own an 16-25, 26-30 or senior railcard, you can also link it up to your Oyster and enjoy 30% off individual off peak journeys. Overall then, investing in an Oyster card can save you money on travel. 

London City Hopper Fares 

Another great travel-saving tip is the City Hopper bus deals. If you are using two of more than 700 London bus routes within an hour of each other, the second journey you take will be free of charge. 

Avoid Rush Hour 

London’s peak travel times occur between 6.30 am and 9.30 am and between 4 pm and 7 pm. During these hours, single journeys will rise by about a third and services will be much busier. This is because between these hours, bus and tube services will be inundated with commuters and students, making journeys pricier and more uncomfortable. 

London’s Free Museums 

London might be an expensive city on the surface, but once you dig a little deeper, you’ll find that there are more ways to save money than you might first expect. Take the city’s most famous museums as an example. Whilst temporary and touring exhibitions will be ticketed, the free galleries and permanent staples of museums such as the Victoria & Albert Museum of Design, Natural History Museum, Science Museum and the British Museum are completely free of charge. Art galleries with free exhibits include the Tate Modern and Tate Britain, the National Galleries on Trafalgar Square, the Wallace Collection and many others around the city. Make sure to capitalise on the many free cultural days out that London has to offer.