London is the capital and largest city in England and the United Kingdom.
London is also the largest city in Western Europe and the European Union. Situated on the River Thames in South-East England, Greater London has a population of around 12.8 million people. London is considered to be one of the great world cities and is still a global capital of finance, culture, fashion and trade.
It is customary to tip in restaurants where service is not included and the average rate in England is currently 12.5%. You will find that a lot of restauants will include service and tax in the bill, so look carefully at the bottom when you check the bill.
Getting around London
The fastest and easiest way to get around London is by the Underground network or Tube as we call it. Buying single journey tickets is expensive and we would recommend buying either a Daily Travelcard (the price will depend on how many zones you want) or an Oyster Card. Check out the Tube map for planning your journey.
You can even order your Oyster card online and get it delivered to you at home. There is a surcharge for overseas addresses, but it will save you time when you arrive off your flight or train as you are ready to go! When using your Oyster card you need to make sure you touch in and out on the Tube, otherwise you will be charged the full rate! On a bus you only need to touch in when you enter the bus and not when you exit. However, if you are in London for a day and plan to use the Tube a lot, we would recommend you buy a One Day Travelcard which would cost £7.50 for example, if you have flown into London City Airport.
Your Travelcard or Oyster card is also valid on all London buses. Check out the bus map for routes around the capital.
Barclays Cycle Hire
Another way to get around the city is by renting a bicycle. Barclays Cycle Hire or Boris’ Bikes, as it is better known, named after the Major of London, is a great way to see the city and not worry about the traffic. Why not check out our guide to using the bikes.
London Black Cabs as they are known, have an excellent reputation and are the safest and easiest way to get around London when travelling on four wheels. There are a number of well-know licenced taxi services, such as Addison Lee. We would tend to tip a taxi driver around 10%.
Please note that Black cabs do come in different colours as well as black, such as silver and red!
The quickest way to get from Heathrow Airport (LHR) in to London is by using the Heathrow Express train, which is easily accessible from every Terminal and goes directly in to Paddington Station and takes just 15 minutes (21 minutes from Terminal 5). The trains start from just after 5a.m. with a single online fare costing £18.00 (£19 on day of travel) a return is £34. A Black Cab will cost you, depending on the traffic, around £65 and will take between 30-45 minutes and even up to an hour depending on where you are in London. They offer free onboard WiFi and you can even check your bags in at Paddington for your return journey.
The cheapest way to travel in from Heathrow is via the Piccadilly line on the Tube, but it will take you much longer.
If you are coming in from Gatwick Airport (LGW), again we would recommend you take the Gatwick Express which goes in to Victoria Station. Fares for Adults are £18.90 one way (£16.85 online) and £33.20 return and the journey time is 30 minutes. A helpful little tip: the regular train to Victoria Station, which leaves from the same station at Gatwick and can take a little longer (30-36 minutes depending on the train) but costs less at off-peak times, currently from £11.75 if purchased online.
Stansted Airport also has a quick train service that runs in and out of Liverpool Street Station. One way Adult fares start at £21.50 online (£22.50 on the day) and a return is £29.50 (when booked online) or £31.50 on the day. The journey time is around 46 minutes.
London City Airport (LCY) is in the Docklands to the east of the city and is by far the closest to central London, with access via the Docklands Light Railway and Jubilee Underground Line. It is only 10 miles from Westminster and 3 miles from Canary Wharf.
Passport & Visa Photographs
Our Man On The Ground has found a great little Photo ID shop in The Strand, right across from Charing Cross Station should you need photos for passports or Visas in a hurry. You can get 6 good quality photographs done by a person (rather than a booth that drains the colour from your face) for just £7. For friendly, quick and good quality service do try The ID Photo Shop. It is also worth noting they do very professional portrait photos as well.
No Smoking Policy
England banned smoking in public indoor spaces on 1st July 2007, so you will find eating in restaurants and bars a far more pleasant experience these days. As a result a lot of the traditional drinking pubs have been turned into more up-market gastro pubs with good if not excellent food, some of which we feature on this website.
Thank you for choosing Our Man On The Ground to be your luxury travel guide to match you to your perfect destination. Read on for the city's highlights, our reviews on its hidden gem hotels, restaurants, bars, pubs and great things to do.
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Photograph of Tower Bridge courtesy of Susannah Fields Photography