Some people are just fine with visiting London and immediately being discernable as a tourist. That may include standing on the left-hand side of the escalators on the tube, or turning up to afternoon tea in your flip flops. Though this is no issue if it is your preference, and actually incredibly convenient if you are staying in one of the hotels in Oxford Street London, because you are on the doorstep of some of London’s top tourist attractions, there are also those people who want to blend into London life as swiftly as possible – a seamless transition from tourist to local. This is achievable, but first you need to know these do’s and don’ts.
Always stand on the right
As mentioned briefly previously, nothing makes you stand out quite like inciting the wrath of a commuting Londoner by being in their way. That may seem quite harsh, and arguably quite an impatient life-attitude to be had by the easily infuriated local, but that is a question for another day. Especially when such wrath-avoidance is achievable by following a simple rule of thumb: only stand on the right. While cars overtake on the right in London, people overtake on the left. If you aren’t in quite the same rush to get from hotels in Barbican London to the newest exhibition at the Natural History Museum as the passersby who are charging off to work, then standing on an escalator into the hot-aired depths of the underground will be preferred to walking down or up at the various stations. If you make sure you always – always – stand to the left so that people can overtake, you will never find yourself with a briefcase to the side or a grumpy snarl in your ear.
Guests at Shaftesbury Premier London Piccadilly will have one major activity on their mind from the moment they realise the hotel serves it: Indian afternoon tea. Unfortunately, there is one (and only one) con when it comes to afternoon tea: if you don’t take it correctly, your tourist status goes from an internal awareness to a neon flashing sign above your head which reads, “I don’t know what I’m doing”. But fear not: they aren’t the kind of rules and guidelines that you need a master’s degree and a 400-page almanac to get the hang of, just an overarching theme of formality. For instance, dress in closed shoes and smart-ish clothes. This also comes with a fine balance, because if you turned up in your ball gown (because who doesn’t bring a ballgown along on their trip to London?) you would also look out of place. Just keep things “smart casual” but focus on the smart side of the spectrum. A faux-pas of note is to stick your pinky out whilst sipping your tea – don’t do it, no matter how many shows on the Cartoon Network implied this was the way to do it. It is all a bit of a myth which nobody is fully aware of the origin of, but pinkies-out is simply not how the queen would do it and therefore not how you should do it either. The one thing you don’t have to pay too much concern towards is the order you cream/jam your scones. Purists will tell you cream first, but honestly: it’s a preference thing, so go with your preference.
While storming into a pub and trying to order yourself a pint in cockney slang or bellowing “Cheers, Guv” on receiving it is probably going to earn you a few strange looks and perhaps even cause the bartender doubt as to whether you have already had too many, knowing the local lingo of a town can be instrumental in making you feel at home within it. For instance, and this has filtered into this list without even an introduction to it because it is such a commonly understood parlance: calling the London Underground the “tube” is the done thing. This is particularly helpful for newbies to the city, as you are likely going to need to ask for directional help at some point, and just by saying “which tube will take me back to Piccadilly?” is better than an overly formal, “which underground/metro/subway will get me home?” Another good one to keep in mind, especially when buying things from British waitrons or clerks, is that “quid” is an alternative way of saying “pound”. So, if someone tells you your pint costs “five quid”, you know it is £5 – moreover, £5 and £10 are often referred to in shorthand to a “fiver” or a “tenner”.
Though being able to successfully navigate the tube is an excellent way to feel at one with the city, it can also do the opposite if it is the only method of getting around that you use. It is a wonderful underground system which connects the city in incredible ways, however, it can be easy to lose track of how the city pieces together when you only travel it in multi-coloured straight lines (which, as are intuitive enough to have guessed, aren’t the actual shape of the routes – they are far bendier, but that would make for a very confusing map). A great way to remedy this while also seeing London from above-ground is to walk places. Often, a 15-minute ride on the tube is only a 30-minute walk, and shows you that London is not just a series of individual places connected by trains but rather that each place blends into the other – just like you are hoping to do.
London is a great place to be trying to blend in like a local, because it is filled with such an international, eclectic collection of people that you are never going to feel totally out of place. In fact, it would probably be agreed by most Londoners, no matter where they are from originally, that the key to blending in in the Big Smoke is confidence. If you feel like you belong: you belong. It is one of the reasons London is so well-loved. That said, confidence is in part a decision, a decision which you will feel infinitely comfortable making once you feel like you have a basic understand
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