There are many undiscovered ways of exploring the city. London is a funny place – it has a diverse history and encompasses over 270 nationalities and 300 languages but there are a small number of quirky rules of social etiquette that are sacred to Londoners. Here are some insider tips to help you live like a local and get involved in all its wonderful eccentricities!
Know your London Bridge from your Tower Bridge
Don’t worry, this is a common mistake – even Fergie featured the wrong bridge in the music video for her hit song, London Bridge. London Bridge is, in fact, not the one you have seen in photos. Tower Bridge has the moving drawbridge and towers – London Bridge unfortunately has neither, just a slightly underwhelmed rotating collection of tourists. Stayo recommends visiting the Tower Bridge Exhibition as it explains the history behind one of the world’s most famous bridges. This is located inside one of the towers and if you are lucky, a ship will pass through whilst you are there, and you will get to experience mechanics and architecture that was way ahead of its time.
Save money by visiting the free attractions
There are so many great things to do in London and most of them are free. You can get stuck into the city’s culture without digging deep into your pockets. The Guildhall Gallery, the Natural History Museum, Tate, the British Museum, and many more do not ask you to buy a ticket – not to mention all the green space that takes up 40% of the city. We suggest Greenwich Park with its gardens, tennis courts and wonderful views; it’s a free experience worth spending your time on.
Stand on the right
There has never been a rule so accepted in London history. Stand on the right and walk on the left – this seamless system has governed the London underground since escalators were introduced in 1911. There is no hard proof as to why we stand on the right but there are a few theories. One claims that as most people are right-handed, they would want to steady themselves using their stronger hand. The following theory, however, is the most acclaimed to – as the first London escalator used the design patented by an elevator company, it replicated the elevator’s system which required moving passengers to stand on the left so that they could exit first safely before the standing passengers.
Embrace the British queue
The first thing you should know about British people is that they love an orderly queue. Not every Stayo member has always lived in the UK and they found it fascinating and very amusing when they moved to London. You are likely to cause huge disruption if you fail to notice a queue or try to jump it. Queue for your ice cream, queue for the toilet and most certainly do not try to get onto the tube before all those disembarking have come off. The last is the most important – tube etiquette is the ultimate weird and wonderful social practice that you can master to blend in with the locals.
Fun fact! The shortest distance between two adjacent stations on the underground network is only 260 metres. The tube journey between Leicester Square and Covent Garden on the Piccadilly Line takes only about 20 seconds, but costs £2.40; it takes 5 minutes to walk! You are likely to pass ‘Wok to Walk’ a healthy Asian takeaway and a firm Stayo favourite.
Despite your new, extensive knowledge of tube etiquette don’t hesitate to travel by foot, it’s the best way to explore the city. Forget sweaty packed trains and popping up at your destination with no idea how you got there. Instead, meander through backstreets enjoying the architecture and discovering just how close some bits of London are to each other. Plus, you’re almost guaranteed to pass an independent bakery, coffee roasters and other hidden treasures. What could be better.