London, as with England, has a history of etiquette, politics and politeness and unlike much of mainland Europe, there are certain rules that differ quite greatly to their neighbours. Never anything important, but the contrast between the British pint and American pint, what side of the road you drive on and in what unit distance measured can all be a little confusing for a guest of Montcalm Club packages.
So if it’s your first time in London and you’re getting your lifts and your elevators or your litres and your pints mixed up, fear not because every part of British culture and sensibility is easily explainable and simple to navigate. Further to this, every city has its own quirks, and as the 32nd largest city in the world, there’s a lot for Montcalm Club guests to learn. This blog will explore some of the common mistakes that visitors might make when they first come to England and more specifically, London, and how you can blend in, fully enjoy and appreciate your time in the city.
On The Road, Look Right Not Left!
A crucial one for first time Londoners, especially during rush hour when the roads are busy. Englsnd, due to some contrarian reaction to the rest of Europe, drives on the left hand side of the road. The reason for this is that in British tradition, knights would always keep their left hand free to draw their sword. For the modern day, it means looking right, not left when you’re about to cross.
But Not On Escalators
It’s the opposite way around for escalator etiquette. If you are going to stand instead of walking for your conveyor belt journey, then do so on the right hand side, leaving the left hand side for walkers. This is especially crucial during rush hour, when standing on the wrong side can lead to accidents and general dirty looks from passersby who are late for their train.
Miles Over Kilometres
Londoners and England in general still use the imperial standard of measurements for distance. This means that guests of the Montcalm London Marble Arch will be measuring their walk around Hyde Park in miles, not kilometres. When you consider that a kilometre is only just over 0.6 of a mile, you could very much underestimate the distance you might end up walking!
English And American English
If, where you’re from, you’re used to seeing American English, remember that the spellings in the UK – for instance metres instead of meters – are not wrong, they’re just simply a more traditional way of spelling. Though you won’t be criticised on your spelling in England, any forms or documents you have to read or fill out may not be spelled incorrectly, merely using British spelling instead.
Only Sightseeing In Central London
As mentioned, London is in the top 50 largest cities in the world, and that means that if you’re planning a weekend visit, you’ll certainly not have time to see everything that the English capital has to offer. However, short stays needn’t mean you only stay in the city centre, each area of London has its own unique personality, almost like a collage of villages that come together to form a whole.
If you’re staying a little out of the centre of London, say at the Montcalm at the Brewery in Shoreditch, you have a wealth of London locales to see and enjoy beyond the city centre. For instance, those staying in Shoreditch, can easily reach Hackney, the Hackney Marshes, Stoke Newington and Dalston within a 15 minute overground journey. Make sure to stray from the beaten track when visiting London, you may find your dream locale.
Tipping Too Much
London is a city that actually pays its waiters and bar staff well. This means that service charges are included in the bill and unlike countries such as America, you’re not obliged to tip customer service staff in a restaurant or bar. You are of course welcome to do so if you feel like your service was outstanding, but it is not mandatory.
Peak Times And Public Transport
If you can avoid it, try not to travel on public transport during peak hours. Between the hours of 06.30 am and 9.30 am and 4.00 pm and 7.00 pm you’ll find that the tubes and buses are a lot busier than other times of the day. If you can avoid travelling at these times, you’ll find yourself having a far more enjoyable experience, plus you’ll be saving a third on tube journeys.
Not Investing In An Oyster Card
Oyster cards provide more flexible travel options for your visit to London. These blue cards can be bought for no more than £5 from any tube station or train station and allow you to invest in week travel passes and utilise railcard discounts. Unlike contactless payment on the tube – which is a viable and much used mode of travel payment – Oyster cards allow you to top up whenever you like, thus keeping tabs on the amount of money you’re spending on travel.
Underestimating The Scale Of London
As mentioned several times above, the size of the city means that you’ll have to plan ahead to reach those faraway attractions or areas you want to see. Allow an extra fifteen minutes for your journey to compensate for service disruptions or traffic.
Not Using Map Apps
Google Maps and Citymapper are vital tools for your London journey. They will help you to factor in service disruptions and alternative routes and can even tell you where the nearest Santander Cycle Hire is.
On a tangential note, Santander Cycles are well worth their £2 per 30 minutes hire price as they provide you with a mode of transportation that can double up as a sightseeing tour of the city. Factor in that London has an extensive cycling network and you have an easy means of transportation that is enjoyable and healthy to use.