Like any city, there are rules of etiquette. London is one of them, and because it's home to over 9.7 million people it's common courtesy to respect those unspoken rules, just as you would in your own home town. For tourists visiting different countries around the world, you'll find it's hard to keep up with what's acceptable in one place, but not the other, so we thought about what top five things we would want to know before visiting London so that we could help make your trip more enjoyable - and save you worrying about getting it wrong.
Unlike in some cities where tipping is second nature, there's always a question mark over what happens when you're abroad. London, and the rest of the UK for that matter, is a city where a 15-20% tip is expected at high service restaurants or if the bill is over £20-30. Although no one is stopping you leaving a tip wherever you go (we wouldn't want you to break a habit) you won't be chased out of the restaurant for not leaving one. Plus, because London is such a fast paced city not everyone always has time for a sit down meal. Just use the rationale - if you think it's worth it, tip it, because then it's really expected!
- Travelling on the tube
Our underground network is a busy place, especially during morning and evening rush hours. A small courtesy is to be mindful of the common practice when it comes to escalators and exits/entrances. Typically, when you are walking down the escalator, you will go down on the left hand side. So everyone who wants to stand, just make sure you keep to the right hand side. If you're travelling in a big group, too, our advice is to walk all the way down the platform rather than wait at the entrances or exits as this can cause a bottle next for commuters who need to catch their tube. Likewise, on the way out, get your ticket out before you arrive at the ticket barrier, that way everyone will be able to get out or carry on their onward journey without delay.
Londoners aren't known for their cheeriness or warm greetings, but this should be a myth debunked. Londoners are friendly creatures, so if you really want to make friends with one, why not greet them with an Alright?
This common phrase will earn you some kudos for making the effort. If it's someone more familiar, for those wanting to show a little solidarity, a good handshake might be better practice than a continental kiss as a first time greeting, too.
There's nothing worse than seeing a group of people lost, with no directions. Most Londoners own an A-Z; a comprehensive map of all the streets in London to help them on their way. We recommend you purchase one of these before you embark on your adventures around the city. It helps as London is such a huge place, there can often be two or even three streets with the same name, in opposite ends of the city, so make sure you know your post code as well. If nothing else it helps to have a bit of context if you need to stop and ask for help.
- Holding doors open
Now, although some may say this practice is rather antiquated, it's always nice to follow someone through a door that has been held open for you. No longer is it associated with chivalrous men, but everyone is aware of the practice (no matter how busy they are). If you want to fit in nicely, make a conscious effort to either get yourself through the door first and hold it open behind you, or let people behind you go in front. It won't win you any bonus points, but it will be appreciated. Isn't it nice when someone does it for you? Explore London with The London Pass and save time and money on your sightseeing adventures. Find out more, here.