Basic Tips and Rules of Good Living for Tourists in London
1. Donations to museums
In London, most museums are free and only require donations. In the excitement of learning that they are free, it is easy to switch directly from the entrance to the exhibits. However, making a donation is expected – and appreciated ! It is rude not to donate to a museum, and that is right. These cultural institutions require large sums of money to remain open to the public and this is only possible thanks to the donations made by grateful visitors. The easy access to museums for people of all classes is crucial for the improvement of society. If you have a pound in your pocket (British currency), consider giving it to the institution through which you experience this magical experience. Of course, Visitors who do not have money are free to visit these museums for free ! If this is your case, consider making a donation on your next visit! To find out more activities to do on a limited budget, read our blog article on the top 10 free activities in London .
2. Tipping in London
The rule of tips can be confusing in foreign countries, because the “norm” differs from one place to another. We will help you know when and where to tip London, so do not offend your servers! In the restaurant, it is customary to leave your server with a tip of 10% to 15% of the amount of the bill, only if the service is not already included in the price – always check! The waiters work hard to please you and their remuneration is largely made up of tips. If you are satisfied with the service, be generous. Taxis also receive tips that amount to 10% to 15% of the amount of the race. In pubs and bars, it is not usual to leave a tip!
3. The electronics
The standard voltage in London is 220V, against 120V in the United States. If you are an American, it is likely that your electronics are not suitable for the London electrical outlets. Nevertheless, this problem is easy to solve! You will need to buy an adapter that suits your devices, such as airport shops, and if the voltage of your electronics is less than 220V you will need to buy a transformer to avoid overheating. In addition, the London wall outlets are equipped with a switch to control the power supply. Remember to turn it off when you no longer need it.
4. Useful tips for public transport
Like any large city, London has a series of tacit rules of etiquette on the subway. These rules stipulate, among other things, always to tighten on the right in the escalators in order to let the people go left (the metro is crowded and the Londoners leave to work!), And to pay attention to the walk between the train and the quay so that nobody Be wounded!
The London Underground is the oldest in the world and its corridors are narrow. Think of walking fast, pay attention to others and do not stop suddenly on the way! Finally, it is important to know the different train systems in order to travel quickly and easily in the city.
There are three types of trains in London. First of all there is the DLR , an abbreviation for “Docklands Light Rail”. The DLR only serves the Docklands, from the East End to Lewisham, and is mostly airborne. This train is automatic, which means there is no driver! Then there is the Tube or Underground, the most known mode of transportation that serves much of Greater London. It is underground and with driver. The third best type of train is the Overground , which is on the surface. It also serves much of Greater London. All these means of transport are compatible with the Oystercard, a rechargeable smart card.
5. Rules of etiquette by taxi
Taxis are a very convenient way to get around the city as long as you do it carefully. Make sure all taxis you borrow are licensed and licensed. Getting into a minicab that has not been booked in advance is dangerous and illegal ! Use the famous “ black cabs ” or call a reputable minicab service. To find a car available on the streets, look for the yellow TAXI light signals at the front of the “black cabs” and remember that cars in the UK roll left . In these taxis, the price of the race is calculated on the meter and starts at a minimum of £ 2.40. Most accept payments by credit or debit card but also in cash – it is however better to check with the driver before! After the race, it is customary and appreciated to leave a tip of an amount of your choice.
6. Rules of know-how in holiday rentals
Do not forget that the owner of your holiday rental trusts you. So be respectful ! Be sure to do the housework before you leave and obey all the rules of the building.
It is also important to behave with your temporary neighbors in the same way as if they were permanent. Courtesy is fundamental – do not make noise at night, do not put music or television too strong and keep common places clean (eg laundry). Even if you stay only one week, remember that your neighbors are living here permanently and that they are likely to get up and go to work tomorrow! If you have not yet found the perfect apartment for your holiday, check out our London vacation rentals . For travelers wishing to stay for a month or more in London, check out our furnished rentals .
7. Shopping without taxes
Most goods and services in London, with the exception of books, basic goods and children’s clothing, are subject to value added tax or VAT . Nonetheless, it is possible for foreigners to be refunded VAT on their purchases. Customers must have spent less than one year in total (365 days) in the United Kingdom in the two years prior to purchase and must leave the UK within three months of purchase. We recommend that customers ask for the refund form (VAT 407) at the checkout of any store. Once this form is completed and returned to the seller, the refund will take between 8 and 10 weeks. Do you think it’s great? Discover the best places to shop through our blog article on the 5 best places to shop in London . Please note that not all stores offer VAT refunds and many require a minimum number of purchases.
8. Numbering of floors in the United Kingdom
The numbering of the floors can cause great confusion among non-EU visitors, especially for Americans. Keep in mind that Londoners use the term “ ground floor ” to describe what the Americans consider the first floor. In London, the first floor is the one above. Therefore, the first floor in London is the equivalent of the second floor in the United States . In addition, Londoners use the term “ lower ground ” to refer to the subsoil. However, the apartments located in the basement are not really cellars – they usually have windows leading to the front of the building and to the level of the terrace / garden at the back.
9. Going off the beaten track in the city
With our apartments for rent in London, tenants will discover the life of Londoners – so why not visit the city as if you were one? London is a big city where there is plenty to see and everything is not in the city center. While there are some must-see attractions for those who visit London for the first time, such as Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey, there are also countless beautiful buildings, parks and small authentic shops to discover! We advise you to visit Windsor Castle in Berkshire, the largest and oldest inhabited castle in the world. Also pass by Hampton Court Castle in the district of Richmond upon Thames, one of the last two castles of King Henry VIII still standing.
10. Ask your way
Do not be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Although most Londoners are friendly and helpful, asking for a taxi is probably the best option. Indeed, these drivers have passed a difficult exam on the streets of London, and are therefore very seasoned. Not forgetting that they are criss-crossing the streets all day long! You may also want to watch our video tours of London’s various neighborhoods, such as this video tour of Southwark in London . We hope that this will help you to familiarize yourself with the neighborhood and to make the most of your time!