Are you planning on visiting London soon?   Here are 10 tips on how to plan and make the most of your  time in London.

Tower Bridge of London

Tower Bridge of London

1.  Pick your hotel based on location— If you are visiting New York City, would you opt to stay in Queens or New Jersey?  Probably not, so don’t do it with London either.  London is an easy city to navigate by foot or train but picking a central location is key to using your time wisely.  Is the hotel near what you want to see?

2. The West End is where many of the attractions are located-  This area is unofficially bound by the Thames to the South, Farringdon Road to the East, Marylebone Road/Euston Road to the North and Hyde Park and Victoria Station to the West.  Buckingham Palace, the British Museum, the shops and theatres of Soho are all in this area as well as numerous hotels and restaurants.

3.  Consider buying a London Pass- If you are a first time visitor or plan on doing a lot of sight seeing, the London Pass can give you entry into 60 attractions and special offers and discounts on other things that may interest visitors.  It’s sold on a per day basis so if you are planning on sightseeing a lot during your stay, a 2-3 day pass may be very worthwhile.  Another feature is the “front of  the line access” at many major attractions.  Just a note about the London Pass— while it includes an around-town, on-off motorized shuttle bus option, the ticket has to be validated at the bus tour’s main office downtown, rather than the individual stops around town. So just keep that in mind. It’s a good perk of the pass, but you have to follow the rules to get it right.

4.  Get a detailed street map with an index- London’s street name and even, building #’s don’t follow usual patterns.  Some buildings have no #’s at all.  It may be a good idea to pick up a London Ato Z (the ultimate street by street reference guide) that is available in many new stands.

5.  Check out menus before heading into a restaurant or cafe-  All restaurants are required to display prices in a place visible from the outside.  Prices shown will include VAT charges and any cover charges must be made clear.

6. Pubs usually offer a good value for dining.  Eating out in London can be pricey so in addition to checking out restaurant pricing, you may want to check out some pubs for fine brews, friendly faces and great food.

7.  Tipping in London— Most restaurants will add a 10-15% service charge to your bill.  If you’re not sure if they did, ask.  A standard tip would be 10-15% and even if it is included in the bill, you can always leave something extra for great service.

8.  Be a part of the Ceremony of Keys at the Tower of London –  This ages old tradition of locking up the Tower of London has happened nightly for over 700 years.  Tickets are free but you will need to order them in advance and as early as possible.  Clients of My Vacation Lady tried to order them in March for their August vacation and they were completely booked up.  Use this link to order them in advance:

9.  Get to know Britain’s currency system— it’s based on the pound (£) which is made up of 100 pence (“p”). Pounds are also called quid.  There are 1 and 2 £ coins as well as 1,2,5,10,20 and 50 p coins.  Bills come in 5, 10, 20 and more £ notes.  Check with the current currency exchange rates to make sure you’re getting a fair price when converting money.

10. Always look to the LEFT.  Remember that Brits drive on the wrong side of the road (well at least for Americans).  When you step off a curb, always look to your left first.

My Vacation Lady can offer these and many other tips to our clients traveling near and far.

If you are looking for assistance planning your next vacation, contact us.