‘When in Rome…’ is a classic phrase used widely to refer to the importance of adapting yourself to do what’s customary/ typical in a particular place or setting and behave like the locals of that area would. An example of using this saying could be…. “Are you certain we should be eating this rice with our hands?” Answer: “Well why not? Everyone here is eating it that way, so “When in Rome- do as the Romans do!”
As any discerning traveller will tell you, the best way to really blend in and get to know the place that you’re visiting is to get in and mingle with the locals. So, although we aren’t in Rome at present, as London is definitely the place to be, this month we’ll be looking at a few tips to help you to ‘Live like a Londoner’, enabling you to adjust yourself to a few of London’s customs, eccentricities and habits, some most certainly quirkier than others!
Top tips to ‘Live like a Londoner’
- Use Public Transport
- The Tube……The underground is a safe, cheap, easily navigated way of travelling everywhere around London. It’s great when trying to get around quickly and efficiently. However, a word of warning, avoid rush hour and always stand on the right on the escalators to avoid the wrath of daily commuters!
- London Buses…. Alternatively you could opt for the famous London bus, (unmissable as they’re bright red!) A more leisurely experience, allowing you to take in London’s superb city sights whilst travelling from A to B.
- Invest in an Oyster Card, or go Contactless
Whilst in London, you’ll probably rely heavily on public transport when travelling, as taxis are expensive. You can buy daily travel cards and one-way tickets, although it’s easier and cheaper to use a pay as you go Oyster Card, which you can top up as required. They’re available in advance online, from the station or newsagents. Alternatively use the ‘contactless’ facility on your credit/debit card. Note- You can’t pay your London bus fare with cash.
- Hail a Taxi!
If you are part of a large party, a cab may work out cheaper, however the meter tots up quickly, so beware! As regards tipping, expectations vary depending on the kind of taxi you use.
- Black cabs
These are hailed easily but are expensive, although they have a highly knowledgeable driver. Usually payment is in cash with a tip of 10%.
These are booked through a minicab office or by phone and are usually cheaper. Tipping is appreciated but not compulsory.
- Uber cars.
Booked via an app, these cabs are fast and cheap. Your fare is conveniently automatically deducted from your credit card. If you choose to give cash tips they’ll be appreciated, yet aren’t expected.
- Black cabs
- Dress the part
When it comes to dress code, almost anything goes. The weather, it has to be said is often ‘changeable’ to put it politely, so often dominates our wardrobe. It’s therefore sensible to play safe and opt for that layered look when sightseeing, with shout walking shoes/boots and a raincoat, unless it’s high summer. Locals dress fairly casually, even office workers, except for those who work in London’s business districts like The City and Canary Wharf, where suits usually prevail. It’s sensible to have a few smarter alternatives too, as higher end hotels like The Savoy, have strict dress guidelines; ie a no-sportswear policy. Generally though, casual tops/jeans are the norm, even in many of our famous theatres, although getting dressed up is, of course great on these occasions. If you don’t wish to stand out as being ‘touristy’, avoid wearing the ‘kiss me quick’ hats, and the ‘I love London’ tee-shirts within the capital! Concerning bags- ensure yours is secure enough to carry your valuables. Make it small enough to carry any essentials, but leave your valuables like passports, spare credit/debit cards and ID cards in your hotel safe.
- Shop the Markets
Many residents head off to the London markets to shop for local produce or for a relaxing coffee/ reasonably priced lunch. Firm favourites for Londoners include Colombia Road Flower Market, Portobello Road and Brick Lane Markets, and Greenwich, yet these are also frequented by visitors, who enjoy bagging a bargain or two. Visiting these bustling places gives tourists and Londoners alike, an insight into the real London, away from more famous, expensive attractions. So go on, immerse yourself in the excellent street food and other fine crafts and trinkets that you’ll find at these amazing places.
- Visit the Pub
While visiting London make a point of having a pint, in one of the city’s fabulous pubs! There is a plethora of bars popular with residents, serving anything from craft beers to cocktails. Remember to take advantage of ‘Happy Hours’ where drinks are often reduced in price, as London is an expensive place to have a night out! Nightclubs are common throughout the city, although are always very crowded with tourists, so often avoided by residents. So to get a true picture of real London, try opting one evening for a local pub, where you might get a reasonably priced meal too. Why not try these as a start? The Victorian Bath House; Call Me Mr Lucky; Mayor of Scaredy-Cat Town and Cahoots. Mostly unknown to those other than locals, these are the ideal venues if you want to experience London like Londoners do.
- Check out less ‘touristy’ eateries
Try ditching the typical ‘restaurant chains’ that we’re all guilty of frequenting, and embark on something more exciting whilst in the capital? Londoners certainly sample the range of delicious meals at numerous food stalls and local restaurants within their area. London’s quieter streets often boast the best eating experiences and are better value for money too, so go on a food hunt to see what’s available! Its multi-cultural influence has made London one of the best places to eat in the world, with dishes originating from every corner of the globe, so there’s something to suit everyone’s taste and budget. So shop around, you won’t regret it! For instance, why not try the Welsh Rarebit, sourdough, poached egg and onion jam at ‘Caravan’ in Exmouth Market? Alternatively, try ‘The Modern Pantry’, near St Paul’s, where you’ll enjoy slow-roast tomatoes, plantain fritters and grilled chorizo.
- Take a stroll
Londoners love to get out into this surprisingly green city. In fact, did you realise almost half of the city consists of green space? There are, for example, 8 stunning Royal Parks making a delightful backdrop to the hustle and bustle of the busy streets and thoroughfares. During the summer these are populated with Londoners and visitors alike; sunbathing, playing games and having picnics, whilst in winter the parks are no less spectacular. A crisp walk, wrapped up snuggly in scarves and hats, surrounded by natural beauty, lovely lakes and exquisite architecture, certainly becomes one of the highlights of visiting our capital in winter. Top that with a hot chocolate in one of the heated lidos and you have a marriage made in heaven!
- Try Pedal Power
Aside from walking, London’s famous sites can be seen in greater detail by hiring a bike. Perfect for sightseeing and working off excess calories, consumed during your stay, these can be hired cheaply and make an inexpensive way of touring the capital. Many residents happily avoid the daily traffic jams (and congestion charge associated with car travel in the city centre), by biking to work. So why not give it a go?
- Learn the Lingo
Finally, Londoners are a funny lot…..friendly, but funny! Not least with their strange sayings, so you’ll certainly hear a range of them on the streets. Learn a few and you’ll definitely be a hit with the locals. In fact you may even become one! So loosen up those vocal chords and give them a try!
- "Faff" means to waste time doing very little, coming from the 17thC word "faffle," meaning to flap about in the wind. Eg “We were just faffing around on the beach.”
- "Fag" is a cigarette. "Fag ends" are also the last bits near the end of a reel of fabric, making up the worst bits, so in the past "fags" were the cheapest cigarettes. Now though, this slang word has spread to mean all cigarettes. Eg- "Can I have a fag please?"
- "Geezer" A very suave or dapper man and is widely used within London. Eg -“He’s a lovely geezer.”
- "Cream crackered" is rhyming slang for "knackered," or exhausted. During the 19th/20th C, ‘knackers’ were people who killed worn-out horses for hide and meat. So, those who were ‘ready for the knacker's yard,’ were tired beyond any relief. Eg- I'm really cream- crackered."
- "Doddle" An easy task is known as a "doddle." Eg- "This is going to be a doddle."
- "Gobsmacked" means bewildered, shocked or astounded. "Gob" is another word for mouth, so being gobsmacked means you're shocked and cover your mouth in disbelief.
- "Gutted" Contrary to being disembowelled like a fish, anyone who is gutted is very upset. Eg- "I am really gutted I didn’t get the job.”
- "Miffed" - Rather annoyed. It comes from the German word "muffen," meaning "to sulk." Eg- "I’m rather miffed about that."
- "Spend a penny" A polite yet novel way of saying you are going to the toilet. In Victorian times, to use public toilets, women had to pay a penny for the privilege. Eg-“Hang on, I need to spend a penny!”
- Pop your clogs" Means to die! In the past workers wore clogs to protect their feet. When they "cocked" or “popped” their clogs, their feet pointed upwards as they lay down dead. Eg-“Poor old bloke has popped his clogs.”
- "Round" – means to take a turn in buying a drink for your friends in the pub. Eg- "Whose round is it now? Yours?”
- "Zonked" Exhausted; tired. Eg- "I want dinner but I’m really zonked."
So here are a few ‘do’s and don’ts - if you want to live like a Londoner!
Do carry an umbrella, as it does rain a lot in London.
Don’t tip barmen/women, although you can tip in restaurants, if a service-charge hasn’t already been added.
Do use a knife and fork in restaurants, and remember your pleases and thankyous!
Don’t talk about Brexit. It’s a touchy subject with Brits at the moment!
Do take advantage of London’s fabulous museums. They're free, and you’ll see many residents there too!
Don’t worry which comes first- the cream before the jam or the jam before the cream! Your afternoon scone and tea will taste delicious however you do it! Just eat and enjoy!
So immerse yourself fully in this city of hidden gems and customs. Although you may not live here permanently, you can still appreciate London like the locals do, even if you are only visiting for a short break. Make the most of your stay and try to live like residents do!
Remember though, to get a ‘round’ in, don’t get ‘miffed’ in the rush hour, or get ‘cream crackered’ when sightseeing. Most importantly of all…..try not to ‘pop those clogs!’
Now you have some top tips to help you live like a Londoner during your stay, let’s get your accommodation sorted! Euracom offer you the chance to spend your vacation in some of the most spectacular serviced apartments available within the capital, all at affordable prices.
There’s an apartment for every budget, from sumptuous suites in fashionable areas like Kensington and Chelsea, to more economical studio apartments, ideal for those who need to watch the pennies. Why not take a look below at our 3 featured properties this month? For others please visit: https://www.euracom.co.uk/serviced-apartments-london/.
These are perfectly situated for a short stay near Hyde Park. Located minutes from bustling shops, restaurants and cafes, the apartments offer compact studios at affordable prices, great if holidaying. Ranging from £476p/w, the apartments are within an historic Georgian terraced building, decorated with vibrant interiors and offer a cost effective way to see London on a budget. Each studio has a kitchen, high speed broadband and is cleaned/serviced weekly.
- Baby cot / high chair (upon request)
- Central heating
- Door entry phone
- Fully equipped kitchen /Laundry / dry cleaning facilities
- TV / Freeview Wifi
A slightly more expensive alternative, these modern, luxury serviced apartment are ideally situated within the heart of the City of London, yet in a quiet residential street. Close to superb restaurants, pubs, shops and boutiques just off fashionable Sloane Street, the 34 apartments range from £1492p/w and have a variety of alternatives, from studios to 1/ 2 bedroomed apartments. Deluxe interiors are both modern and contemporary, with classic, simple lines and sophisticated elegance. All have air-conditioning with fully equipped kitchens and offer all the amenities traveller would expect including satellite TV and wireless broadband. With luxurious goose down duvets, sumptuous towels and bathrobes along with toiletries, these fabulous serviced apartments offer guests an exclusive on-site fitness room. A 24-hour concierge caters for everyone’s needs, from re-stocking the fridge to booking theatre tickets. With an on-site, Michelin Starred restaurant, what’s not to like?
- Air conditioning
- Baby cot / high chair (upon request)
- Breakfast available
- Central heating
- Concierge / security / reception
- Daily or weekly linen change/ Daily cleaning service
- Dining table & chairs Dishwasher (in some)
- DVD player/ Radio / Alarm clock/ Safe/ Satellite TV/ Telephone/Wi-fi
- Fully equipped kitchen
- Gym in building/ Spa
- Kitchen / Laundry / dry cleaning facilities available /Starter grocery pack/toiletries
- Tea / coffee making facilities
- Utilities included
Described as the most prestigious site in London, these student apartments are centrally located and therefore make ideal student accommodation. Near many universities, these long stay student apartments have great transport links. Ranging from £260p/w pp, the apartments offer a range of room types to meet everyone’s needs. Completed to a high standard, and boasting a newly refurbished cinema room, there is also a courtyard for BBQs and on-site maintenance, support and security.
- Concierge / security / reception Desk /Lifts
- Kitchen / kitchenette
- Laundry / dry cleaning facilities available
- Movie lounge
- TV / Freeview Wifi