Is it the first time you travel to London? If so, it is normal that you have many doubts about what you should do and what not. Especially when paying in restaurants, cafes, pubs, hotels, supermarkets, etc., ignorance of local customs is what leads tourists to need advice beyond cultural information. In this article we try to solve this type of doubt with some very useful tricks.

Below you have an index with all the points that we are going to deal with in this article.

Article Index

Practical tips to enjoy London

When going out to eat

There are many restaurants, pubs and cafes where you can go for dinner or have a drink in the british capital. However, as a consumer you must be careful, since in some establishments they could get over-ready if the tourist is clueless.

This is something that happens in all the great capitals of the world where there is a large influx of tourists on a daily basis. To avoid any type of abuse, it is better to be prevented.

If you are going to ask for water, it is best to ask for one jug of tap water. No one is going to look down on you for it, as it is quite common.

In this way, you will save a considerable amount on the bill, since ordering a jug of tap water is free. The only condition for it to be served to us without any problem is to consume, that is, to have asked for some food.

Some restaurants, on the other hand, have the habit of refusing to serve the consumer if they consider that what he has ordered is insufficient. Although this is not usual for this to happen, no one can force you to order, so if necessary you could get up and leave the site if you do not want to ask for more and, therefore, spend more money.

The same happens with the issue of tip: leave tip in London it's not mandatory. You should not be alarmed by this when you go out for lunch, dinner or a drink, since no one is going to force you to leave anything if you do not consider that the service has been satisfactory enough.

This also applies to hotels and other accommodation, but in the case of pubs it is not usually customary to leave anything. In any case, some have a boat enabled for anyone who wants to leave a donation.

Both hotels and restaurants are required by law to expose their price list to the public. In case of not being there, you are within your right to request it and have one shown to you.

Otherwise, perhaps this establishment is not entirely recommended, since in this case it may be exorbitant prices. The same happens with the hours in which certain cheaper menus: must be clearly indicated.

However, you should bear in mind that in some establishments they use a kind of trick to deceive tourists. Consists in return the change putting the coins underneath and, on top of them, the bill and the bills on the plate.

In this way, if the tourist is in a hurry, he will simply take the bills and leave quickly, thus leaving the coins on the plate. Therefore, we advise you to always review it.

You should also know that, if you are going to order wine, the letters are usually not very clear. By this we mean the following: imagine that you ask for a bottle of wine at a relatively good price, but when you pay you find that the price is double what it stated on the menu.

This is because many establishments set the price for half a bottle, not a whole one. In addition, they are required uncork the bottle in front of the client to know that its content corresponds to the tagged brand.

Reserve in hotels

Tourists usually book a hotel, B&B or any other London accommodation via the Internet, telephone, letter or fax. Whichever route is chosen, the most common is that they ask for an amount on account as a guarantee.

However, no law specifies the obligation to pay this amount. In case of paying it, you must bear in mind that it must be a reasonable amount, which does not exceed the 25-30% of the total amount.

Also, keep in mind that it is a firm advance, that is, an amount that will not be returned in case of cancellation of the reservation, unless the hotel indicates otherwise.

In cases of force majeure, such as accident, death or illness, they also usually agree to return this amount to us. Some establishments also accept to return it under prior agreement, giving notice within a specified period. If it is the hotel that cancels, then they must refund this amount.

When paying this amount by debit or credit card, it could happen that they made you a card pre authorization. It is a payment system through which the hotel verifies that it is a suitable card to make reservations.

Airlines often do this too when booking a ticket. It is a request that is requested from the bank that issued the card and through it the following can be done:

  • Verify that the card is valid and active: that it exists, is not expired, is not on any blacklist, etc.
  • Check that you have sufficient funds to face the operation that is being requested.
  • Request that the requested amount be blocked from the availability of the card balance.

In the latter case, it could happen that the guarantee is charged on the one hand and, on the other, that the total amount of the number of nights reserved is withheld. This is only a hold on our card, not a charge. This block will be valid for a limited time, which is usually 3-7 days, depending on your bank.

After this time, the bank releases the retained balance and the blockade disappears. If you use a debit card, our advice is that you have enough balance or, otherwise, you could temporarily leave the account in negative numbers.

On the other hand, they cannot force you to book several room nights if you want to spend only one. Similarly, they cannot force you to have breakfast, have lunch or dinner at the hotel.

This is considered by law as a "subordination of the provision of services", so it is illegal and is punishable by a fine. Another thing is that the hotel offers half board or full board. Find out well before booking whether it is a hotel or a hotel-restaurant. What is legal is to charge a supplement for sleeping accompanied by a child.

Like restaurants, hotels are required to inform their guests about prices, category of premises and, where appropriate, the type of cuisine they offer.

In case of not being able to do it in person, they are also obliged to do it by phone. Whether or not it is born from them depends on the professionalism and disposition of each one, but you have the right to claim it.

Another very useful tip to stay in London is to opt for hotel chains. It is a way of ensuring certain conditions, such as those relating to hygiene rules, which are usually very strict in these establishments.

The issue of hygiene in independent accommodation in London is very relative, so if you give importance to this, it may be a good option. Now, you will not find any for less than 80 pounds sterling overnight.

If you travel with children

Many are the parents who organize a trip to London with the best of intentions, but they end up not getting the most out of it because they are overwhelmed by the immensity of the city and the energy of the children. There are numerous especially interesting places for children depending on the time you are going to be in the city.

If you are traveling to London with children, our number one tip is this: prepare a adapted itinerary to your interests.

The tourist and monumental center is a good place to start, starting at Trafalgar Square. You can take them to take a look at the British units of measurement engraved at the bottom of the Nelson column.

Afterwards, visiting the National Gallery is always a success and, moreover, it is free. Near this area is Saint James's Park, where you can take a simple walk or even skate.

Take them to see the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, the residence of the Queen of England. The change takes place at 11:30 a.m. every day, although in winter it is every other day.

Go see the Horse Guards it is sure to be great entertainment for the children, who often amuse themselves trying to cheer up the impassive sentries who continuously guard the entrance. Then you can't miss the London Eye, Piccadilly Circus, Convent Garden… The following article may be useful to you: London Maps.

The most important thing when sightseeing in London with children is not to burden the day too much. Also, try to use public transport to move around the city; If you go to everything on foot, the children will tire sooner and London is very big.

If you enter museums, it is not advisable to visit each and every one of the rooms, since the children will be overwhelmed before. Also, do not forget to wear comfortable shoes and a rain jacket.

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