LONDON FORUM FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
The best way to find relevant information on the London forum (often referred to as ‘TALF’ - Trip Advisor London Forum) is to use the “SEARCH BOX” at the top of the forum’s table of contents, and type in the topic or key words that you are looking for.
WEATHER: What is it like in (insert month here)?
The only consistent thing about British weather is its unpredictability. However, you can check 5-day forecasts, or the weather patterns over the past years, at these websites:
WHAT SHOULD I WEAR?
Clothes that you can layer and comfortable shoes. No, it doesn’t matter if you wear white sneakers. No one will care. The main thing to remember is that the weather is unpredictable, and that you are apt to be doing a lot of walking, so be comfortable. Use common sense – if you know that you are going out for a meal in a fine restaurant, for example, or think that a slightly dressier occasion will arise, include something suitable in your suitcase.
WHAT TIME DOES THE SUN SET?
* Restaurants: Londoners tip about 10%, but some restaurants will add 12.5% or, in some high-end restaurants, 15% to the bill. Check your bill to see if a service charge of 10%, 12.5%, or 15% has already been added before adding a tip. Outside of London, 10% is still the norm, though some restaurants will include a 12.5% service charge.
* Pubs: It is not necessary to tip in pubs. However, if the same bar person serves you several times during the evening, you could offer "one for yourself." He or she will either have a soft drink or put the money in a pot to be distributed at the end of the evening.
* Taxis: Some people round up the fare to the nearest GBP; some tip 10%.
* Housekeeping: Those who tip advise £1 per day in hotels.
BANKS, MONEY, & CREDIT CARDS:
Britain has smoke-free legislation. Enclosed public areas, including those in hotels and restaurants, are smoke free.
HOW CAN I SEE LONDON ON A TIGHT BUDGET?
* Free and inexpensive activities can be found here:
* An active forum discussion on money-saving tips:
WHAT’S ON IN LONDON DURING MY VISIT?
Time Out magazine is the tourist’s – and local’s – bible.
WHAT IS OPEN ON CHRISTMAS? WHERE CAN I EAT? IS THERE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION ON CHRISTMAS DAY?
* If possible, DO NOT ARRIVE ON CHRISTMAS DAY!!! THERE IS NO PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION, and only a limited number of ethnic and hotel restaurants are open.
This information may change, but in general:
* The Tube runs a Sunday service on the 24th with the last train around 00:30.
* THERE IS NO TUBE SERVICE ON CHRISTMAS DAY. A reduced service runs on Boxing Day with some stations closed.
* THERE IS NO BUS SERVICE ON CHRISTMAS DAY, and a Sunday service on Boxing Day.
* Taxis will carry a surcharge (in 2014 it was £4) for journeys between 8.00pm on Dec 24 and 6.00am on Dec 27 AND between 8.00pm on Dec 31 and 6.00am on Jan 2.
Good Christmas Day advice:
* What’s on in London over the Christmas period?
WHAT DOES THIS WORD/PHRASE MEAN? HOW DO I PRONOUNCE IT?
ANY SPECIAL ADVICE FOR SOLO WOMEN TRAVELLERS?
Yes. Here is an old thread with information that is still valuable:
TRANSPORTATION & LOCATION QUESTIONS
HOW DO I GET FROM THE AIRPORT TO LONDON?
* From Heathrow: Heathrow Express, Heathrow Connect, or the Piccadilly Line on the Tube.
* From Gatwick: Gatwick Express is best on a weekday before 10am, as it has dedicated luggage space and plenty of seats. After 10am on a weekday, or on weekends, it is cheaper to take Southern Rail (to Victoria Station) or Thameslink (to London Bridge or St. Pancras) trains.
* From Stansted: Stansted Express, National Express coach, Terravision Victoria Bus, or easyBus to Baker Street.
* From Luton: Thameslink Train, Green Line bus 757/easyBus.
* From London City: Their website says, “The easiest way to get to/from London City Airport is to use London City Airport DLR station. The service…has direct connections with the Jubilee Line (at Canning Town), Northern, Central, Circle and Waterloo and City Line (all from Bank station).”
WHERE IS THIS HOTEL, RESTAURANT, THEATRE, SHOP?
HOW DO I GET THERE?
Type in the street address or postcode for detailed maps:
* How do I walk from here to there?
Type in your starting and ending locations for directions:
* How do I get from here to there by Tube or bus?
Use this journey planner:
* Anything I should know about the Underground and travelling with kids?
WHAT IS AN OYSTERCARD? WHAT IS A TRAVELCARD? WHICH ONE SHOULD I BUY?
HOW DO I TAKE ADVANTAGE OF 2-4-1 OFFERS? WHERE DO I BUY THE APPROPRIATE RAIL TICKETS?
HOW DO I PLAN RAIL JOURNEYS AND FIND OUT TICKET PRICES?
IS THIS A GOOD HOTEL?
By all means, ask us on the London forum, but before you do…
CAN YOU RECOMMEND AN INEXPENSIVE, CENTRALLY LOCATED LONDON HOTEL?
These tips will help you get value for money and advise you what to expect for your money.
* Hotel bedrooms in London are small compared to those in North America. Most hotel rooms are twins (two single beds) or a single Queen/King Size bed with little space around them. Your room is likely to be 'compact' and not what you would accept 'back home.'
* You pay a hefty premium for a room right in the city centre. London has a great public transport system. You will save yourself a sizeable sum by selecting a hotel 3 or 4 Underground stops from the very centre of town. Consider districts like Bloomsbury, Kensington and Paddington/Lancaster Gate.
* These days, even a 'budget' hotel for an en-suite double/twin room is over £100 per night. If you find a hotel offering anything below this rate, research it well. Caveat emptor!
If you are watching your budget, try the following:
* The Travelodge UK chain. Go to their website and select the 'Savers' option.
* Check out 'no frills' chains offering clean, well-maintained accommodation such as Premier Inn, easyHotel and Ibis. http://www.premierinn.com/pti/home.do
* Research Bed & Breakfast accommodation well. Note that many will be in 6-storey Victorian buildings & often won’t have a lift.
* Rates vary according to district, time of week, and month. In general:
* Anything south of the river or in the City of London is much cheaper at the weekend.
* Some 4-star hotels have their best rates in August and at Christmas, when the business/conference trade goes quiet.
A good list of budget hotels by neighbourhood can be found here:
IS THIS A GOOD NEIGHBOURHOOD? WHAT AMENITIES ARE IN THE AREA?
CAN I GET A HOTEL/THEATRE PACKAGE?
WHAT ARE SOME REPUTABLE COMPANIES FOR SHORT-STAY APARTMENT RENTALS?
*Search the name of the rental company on the London forum if you are unsure. There have been several threads about disreputable companies and agents.
WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW BEFORE BOOKING A SHORT-STAY APARTMENT RENTAL?
WHAT ABOUT HOSTELS OR AIRBNB? tripadvisor.co.uk/…65213834
ARE THERE ALTERNATIVES TO HOTELS OR B&Bs?
The Bed & Breakfast Club offers accommodation in private London homes (and elsewhere in the UK).
DINING AND DRINKING QUESTIONS
HOW DO I FIND A GOOD RESTAURANT?
For user reviews and to find restaurants by cuisine or location:
WHAT ARE LONDON’S BEST RESTAURANTS?
RESTAURANTS WITH VIEWS?
BEST FISH & CHIPS?
BEST INDIAN RESTAURANT?
WHERE IS THE BEST AFTERNOON TEA?
Popular afternoon teas include Claridges, The Capital Hotel, and The Wolseley, but cream teas and afternoon teas in various price ranges are available throughout the city. Please note that, 99.9% of the time, you are probably looking for afternoon tea, NOT high tea. Here is an explanation of the difference between the two:
* http://www.afternoontea.co.uk shows monthly special offers by various hotels and restaurants.
Search the forum under “afternoon tea” for advice, and “tea review” or “TALF tea” for reviews of past TALF tea meets.
HOW DO I GET TO BOROUGH MARKET?
IS THIS A GOOD PUB?
WHICH BARS HAVE THE BEST VIEWS?
ANY HAUNTED OR HISTORIC PUBS?
ARE CHILDREN ALLOWED IN PUBS?
According to the British Beer & Pub Associations website,
"The licensee has overall discretion over whom he or she allows into the pub.
…Generally speaking, children are allowed to enter a pub unless it has a particular licence condition that says children are not to be permitted.
The exception to this is if the pub is used “primarily or exclusively” for the supply and consumption of alcohol on the premises. In this case a child under the age of 16 is not permitted on the premises…unless they are accompanied by someone 18 or over."
The Wetherspoon pub chain is child-friendly. http://www.jdwetherspoon.co.uk/pubs/
IS THERE TABLE SERVICE IN PUBS? WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO ‘BUY A ROUND?’
Food and drink is ordered at the bar. Staff do not bring drinks to your table, but will bring your meal to the table.
SHOPPING & ANTIQUES QUESTIONS
WHEN ARE THE LONDON MARKETS ON? HOW DO I GET TO PORTOBELLO MARKET?
WHERE IS THE BURBERRY OUTLET?
CULTURE, ATTRACTIONS, & SPORTS QUESTIONS
WHAT ARE THE ‘MUST SEES?’
* An old thread, but the answers are still valid: tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g186338-i17-k30202…
A few popular choices:
* Tower of London
* Westminster Abbey
* St Paul’s Cathedral
* Windsor Castle
* The London Eye
* Thames River cruises:
* British Museum
HOW CAN I GET 2-FOR-1 ENTRY TO ATTRACTIONS?
* Note that these offers may change at short notice.
See the Transportation section above for more 2-4-1 information.
HOW DO I VISIT THE HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT?
CHANGING OF THE GUARD:
PARKS & GARDENS:
HALF-PRICE THEATRE TICKETS:
At the Half-Price Ticket Booth in Leicester Square:
WHAT DAY TRIPS DO YOU RECOMMEND FROM LONDON?
WHAT ARE THE HOP-ON-HOP-OFF BUS TOUR ITINERARIES & PRICES?
Do-it-yourself London walks:
HOW CAN I GET TICKETS TO A FOOTBALL MATCH?
The season runs from August until early May. NOTE THAT BUYING TICKETS FROM TOUTS (scalpers) IS ILLEGAL IN ENGLAND.
For a list of fixtures go to
GIVE ME IDEAS FOR SOMETHING OFF-THE-BEATEN PATH:
An old thread with suggestions that are still useful:
LONDON WITH KIDS:
MORE EXCELLENT INFO HERE FOR YOUR TRIP:
Still have questions? Search the London forum for your topic, and have a look at the TA Traveller Articles for London.
If you’re still stuck, please ask your question on the London forum.