London is an exciting, vibrant city, offering a whole host of things to do and see. It is also one of the safest cities in the world.
In order to make your experience as enjoyable as possible you should exercise the same amount of caution as you would at home.
Avoid using unlicensed cabs. Safe cabs to use are those licensed by the Police. The driver will wear a badge and the cab will have a licence on display.
When using a hire car, be sure to fully check the car over for any damage prior to signing the forms.
Accommodation in London
Accommodation in London is given a Star and Diamond rating by official tourist organisations. The greater the number of stars or diamonds, the higher the quality.
As with any major city, crime can be a problem. However, if you follow the same basic principles as you would at home, you will be perfectly safe. Keep purses and wallets in zipped compartments. Avoid using rucksacks. Keep cameras hanging round your neck, not over your shoulder. Never put your bag on the floor of a restaurant or bar, keep it with you at all times.
It is not always cost effective to change your money up at your Hotel. Try to shop around for the best rate. Banks and Building Societies often offer the best rates.
Once you have changed up your money, be sure to store it in the safe at your hotel.
Eating And Drinking
Be wary of young ladies inviting you into bars for a drink. These ladies are often escorts and you may end up paying hundreds of pounds for one drink and the privilege of the ladies company for the evening.
It is now expected that diners will tip their waitress or waiter in a restaurant. Before doing this, check your bill to see if service is included. It is accepted that a tip of around 10% of your total bill is reasonable. However, don’t be tempted to tip if the service or the food is poor.
It is illegal to carry a knife, a gun or CS spray in London.
Important Holiday Dates
Holiday dates for 2010 are as follows:
New Year’s Day – 1 January,
Good Friday – 2 April,
Easter Monday – 5 April,
May Day – 3 May,
Spring Bank Holiday – 31 May,
Summer Bank Holiday – 30 August,
Christmas Day – 27 December,
Boxing Day – 28 December.
Our Banks are closed on Bank Holidays however the most popular shops now open between the hours of 10am to 4pm.
Bank Holidays are classed as family days, therefore there are usually plenty of activities organised to keep everyone entertained.
It may distress American ladies to know that you will gain a dress size during your stay in London, and it won’t be down to the food. If you are a size 8 in America, you will be a size 10 over here and in Europe. Let’s hope that doesn’t put you off your shopping! If it’s any consolation, you will need shoes 2 sizes smaller, a 7 in America is a 5 over here for ladies. Mens clothes sizes are no different. Their shoes however are 1 size smaller over here.
Driving In London
We could write a book about driving in London. It is of course much easier to say, “don’t do it!” Driving in London is not a pleasurable experience. You may be interested to learn that in 1898 the average speed of cars in London was 11mph, in 1998 it was also 11mph, so much for progress. It may be some comfort to you to know that there is an excellent underground system, which is cheap and fast. If driving is your thing we have a wealth of information for you to read and digest.
It’s a fact, we are obsessed with roundabouts. Roundabouts are placed at junctions where typically traffic is heavy. Love ’em or hate ’em, they work well. On approach to a roundabout look to your right, if there is nothing coming there is no need to stop. You must give way to the right and travel round the roundabout in a clockwise direction. You should indicate your intentions to assist other drivers.
A valid (full) European, US or Canadian licence is needed to drive in the UK.
Seatbelts must be worn by all passengers.
You must come to a complete stop where you see a stop sign and a solid white line in the road, even if you can see your way is clear.
Unlike most other countries, drivers have to stop at zebra crossings if a pedestrian is waiting to cross.
On pelican crossings you must come to a complete stop on red. On amber you must wait until all pedestrians have safely crossed prior to driving off.
Traffic lights follow the following sequence; red (stop), red and amber (get ready), green (go).
We overtake on the right, and quickly move back to the left hand lane after overtaking.
To cope with the mass amount of traffic visiting London on a daily basis the Mayor has introduced a congestion charge. This charge applies to vehicles entering central London by car between the hours of 7am-6.00pm Mon-Fri (excluding Bank Holidays). The charge is £8 daily. This can be paid in advance by visiting http://www.cclondon.com you’ll also be able to pay at garage forecourts, in shops, by post and actually in and around the congestion charging zone. You can now also pay by text message although you have to register online first. Simply text the last four digits of your credit/debit card to 81099 on the day of travel and they will text you back your receipt number within 30 minutes. A hefty fine applies to those that do not pay the charge by midnight on the day of travel.
Parking in London is neither cheap nor easy. If you have parking at your hotel, we suggest you leave your car there and use the tube. Traffic wardens in London have a habit of popping up when you least expect them, and following closely behind them is the clamper van. The release fee is a bitter pill to swallow.
When driving in London, always lock your car doors. Gangs have been known to strike when vehicles are stuck in traffic.