FAQ: London forum frequently asked questions

The best way to find relevant information on the London forum (often referred to as ‘TALF’ - Trip Advisor London Forum) is to use the “search box” at the top of the forum’s table of contents and type in the topic or key words that you are looking for.

GENERAL FAQs

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WEATHER: What is it like in (insert month here)?

The only consistent thing about British weather is its unpredictability. However, you can check 5-day forecasts, or the weather patterns over the past years, at these websites:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/

http://www.met-office.gov.uk/

WHAT SHOULD I WEAR? Clothes that you can layer and comfortable shoes.

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g186338-i17-k12097…

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g186338-i17-k14260…

WHAT TIME DOES THE SUN SET?

timeanddate.com/worldclock/astronomy.html…

TIPPING:

* Restaurants: Londoners tip about 10%, but some restaurants will add 12.5% to the bill. Check your bill to see if a service charge of 10% or 12.5% has already been added before adding a tip.

* Pubs: It is not necessary to tip in pubs. However, if the same bar person serves you several times during the evening, you could offer "one for yourself." He or she will either have a soft drink or put the money in a pot to be distributed at the end of the evening.

* Taxis: Some people round up the fare to the nearest GBP; some tip 10%.

* Housekeeping: Those who tip advise £1 per day.

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g186216-s606/United-K…

www.thelondontraveler.com/tipping-in-london/

SMOKING: Britain has smoke-free legislation. Enclosed public areas, including those in hotels and restaurants, are smoke free.

HOW CAN I SEE LONDON ON A TIGHT BUDGET?

* Free and inexpensive activities can be found here:

…about.com/od/…free_London.htm

…about.com/od/…free_London2.htm

timeout.com/london/features/4994/Things_to_d…

* An active forum discussion on money-saving tips:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g186338-i17-k13505…

WHAT’S ON IN LONDON DURING MY VISIT?

Time Out magazine is the tourist’s – and local’s – bible.

http://www.timeout.com/london/

WHAT IS OPEN ON CHRISTMAS? WHERE CAN I EAT? IS THERE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION ON CHRISTMAS DAY?

If possible, DO NOT PLAN YOUR ARRIVAL FOR CHRISTMAS DAY. THERE IS NO PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION, and only a limited number of ethnic and hotel restaurants are open.

This information may change, but in general:

* The Tube runs a Sunday service on the 24th with the last train around 00:30.

* THERE IS NO TUBE SERVICE ON CHRISTMAS DAY. A reduced service runs on Boxing Day with some stations closed.

* THERE IS NO BUS SERVICE ON CHRISTMAS DAY, and a Sunday service on Boxing Day.

* Taxis will carry a surcharge (in 2007 it was £4) for journeys between 8.00pm on Dec 24 and 6.00am on Dec 27 AND between 8.00pm on Dec 31 and 6.00am on Jan 2.

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g186338-i17-k15092…

Good Christmas Day advice:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g186338-i17-k15757…

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g186338-i17-k16111…

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g186338-i17-k15914…

* What’s on in London over the Christmas period?

http://www.londonforchristmas.com/

WHAT’S THE BEST WAY OF OBTAINING CASH & GETTING THE BEST EXCHANGE RATE?

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g186338-i17-k16380…

WHAT DOES THIS WORD/PHRASE MEAN? HOW DO I PRONOUNCE IT?

http://www.effingpot.com/index.shtml

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TRANSPORTATION & LOCATION QUESTIONS

HOW DO I GET FROM THE AIRPORT TO LONDON?

* From Heathrow: Heathrow Express, Heathrow Connect, or the Piccadilly Line on the Tube.

* From Gatwick: Gatwick Express is best on a weekday before 10am as it has dedicated luggage space and plenty of seats. After 10am on a weekday, or on weekends, it is cheaper to take Southern Rail (to Victoria Station) or First Capital Connect (to London Bridge or King’s Cross) trains.

* From Stansted: Stansted Express, National Express coach, Terravision Victoria Bus, or easyBus to Baker Street.

* From Luton: First Capital Connect Train, Green Line bus 757/easyBus.

www.londontoolkit.com/travel/luton_bus.htm

* From London City: Their website says, “The easiest way to get to/from London City Airport is to use London City Airport DLR station. The service…has direct connections with the Jubilee Line (at Canning Town), Northern, Central, Circle and Waterloo and City Line (all from Bank station).”

www.londontoolkit.com/mnu/master_airports.htm

http://www.visitlondon.com/travel/airport/

http://www.londontransport.info/

http://www.heathrowconnect.com/

www.londoncityairport.com/index.php…

WHERE IS THIS HOTEL, RESTAURANT, THEATRE, SHOP?

HOW DO I GET THERE?

Type in the street address or postcode for detailed maps:

http://www.streetmap.co.uk

* How do I walk from here to there?

Type in your starting and ending locations for directions:

http://www.walkit.com/london/

* How do I get from here to there by Tube or bus?

Use this journey planner:

…tfl.gov.uk/user/XSLT_TRIP_REQUEST2…

WHAT IS AN OYSTERCARD? WHAT IS A TRAVELCARD? WHICH ONE SHOULD I BUY?

* What is an Oystercard?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oyster_card

Also:

www.tfl.gov.uk/tickets/oysteronline/2732.aspx

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g186338-i17-k16762…

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g186338-i17-k16809…

* What is a Travelcard?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Travelcard

HOW DO I PLAN RAIL JOURNEYS AND FIND OUT TICKET PRICES?

http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/

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ACCOMMODATION QUESTIONS

IS THIS A GOOD HOTEL?

tripadvisor.com/Hotels-g186338-London_Englan…

CAN YOU RECOMMEND AN INEXPENSIVE, CENTRALLY LOCATED LONDON HOTEL?

These tips will help you get value for money and advise you what to expect for your money.

* Hotel bedrooms in London are small compared to those in North America. Most hotel rooms are twins (two single beds) or a single Queen/King Size bed with little space around them. Your room is likely to be 'compact' and not what you would accept 'back home.'

* You pay a hefty premium a room right in the city centre. London has a great public transport system. You will save yourself a sizeable sum by selecting a hotel 3 or 4 Underground stops from the very centre of town. Consider districts like Bloomsbury, Kensington and Paddington/Lancaster Gate.

* Normally, a 'budget' hotel for an en-suite double/twin room is over £60 per night. If you find a hotel offering anything below this rate, research it well. Caveat emptor!

If you are watching your budget, try the following:

* The Travelodge UK chain. Go to their website and select the 'Savers' option. Rooms are often available on a first come, first served basis for under £50, and sometimes for £26.

http://www.travelodge.co.uk/

* Check out 'no frills' chains offering clean, well-maintained accommodation such as Premier Inn, easyHotel and Ibis. Rates are invariably well below £100.

http://www.premierinn.com/pti/home.do

http://www.easyhotel.com/

http://www.ibishotel.com/gb/home/index.shtml

* Consider Priceline. You can get allocated a 4-star hotel in Central London for $100-$150. Bear in mind that the number of stars is for services offered, NOT the hotel’s quality. In some Priceline hotels, you won’t get the same room as that of a 'normal' customer, and your hotel may be awkwardly located. Yet you can't grumble about value if you get a multinational chain hotel for £50-75 in London.

* Research Bed & Breakfast accommodation well. Note that many will be in 6-storey Victorian buildings & often won’t have a lift.

* Rates vary according to district, time of week, and month. In general:

* Anything south of the river or in the City of London is much cheaper at the weekend.

* Bayswater is much more expensive at the weekend.

* Euston and Earls Court/Gloucester Road areas of Kensington tend to be slightly cheaper at the weekend.

* Some 4-star hotels have their best rates in August and at Christmas, when the business/conference trade goes quiet.

CAN I GET A HOTEL/THEATRE PACKAGE?

http://www.superbreak.com/theatre-breaks.htm

www.holidayextras.co.uk/theatre-breaks.html

WHAT ARE SOME REPUTABLE COMPANIES FOR SHORT-STAY APARTMENT RENTALS?

http://www.shortstay-london.com/

http://www.globeapartments.co.uk

www.londonchoice.com.

www.aplacelikehome.co.uk

http://www.lfca.co.uk/

WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW BEFORE BOOKING A SHORT-STAY APARTMENT RENTAL?

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g186338-i17-k10145…

ARE THERE ALTERNATIVES TO HOTELS OR B&Bs?

The Bulldog Club offers accommodation in private London homes.

http://www.bulldogclub.com/london_intro.html

IS THIS A GOOD NEIGHBOURHOOD? WHAT AMENITIES ARE IN THE AREA?

http://www.mynottinghill.co.uk/ [From this website, you can then click on to other specific London neighbourhoods (e.g. www.myislington.co.uk/ www.mykensington.co.uk/ etc)]

http://www.streetsensation.co.uk/

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DINING AND DRINKING QUESTIONS

HOW DO I FIND A GOOD RESTAURANT?

For user reviews and to find restaurants by cuisine or location:

http://www.squaremeal.co.uk/

http://www.london-eating.co.uk/

http://www.toptable.co.uk/

WHAT ARE LONDON’S BEST RESTAURANTS?

timeout.com/london/restaurants/features/2473…

RESTAURANTS WITH VIEWS?

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g186338-i17-k47542…

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g186338-i17-k13173…

CULINARY DEBATE: BEST FISH & CHIPS?

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g186338-i17-k14834…

CULINARY DEBATE: BEST INDIAN RESTAURANT?

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g186338-i17-k11675…

WHERE IS THE BEST AFTERNOON TEA?

www.elegant-lifestyle.com/afternoon-teas.htm

http://www.tea.co.uk/index.php?pgId=111

TALF recommendations include The Ritz, The Lanesborough, The Wolseley, The Dorchester, Claridges, Browns Hotel, Fortnum & Mason and, for those on a budget, The Orangery.

Search the forum under “afternoon tea” for advice, and “tea review” or “TALF tea” for reviews of past TALF tea meets.

HOW DO I GET TO BOROUGH MARKET?

http://www.boroughmarket.org.uk/

IS THIS A GOOD PUB?

www.fancyapint.com

WHICH BARS HAVE THE BEST VIEWS?

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g186338-i17-k99921…

ANY HAUNTED OR HISTORIC PUBS?

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g186338-i17-k16762…

ARE CHILDREN ALLOWED IN PUBS?

According to the British Beer & Pub Associations website,

"The licensee has overall discretion over whom he or she allows into the pub.

…Generally speaking, children are allowed to enter a pub unless it has a particular licence condition that says children are not to be permitted.

The exception to this is if the pub is used “primarily or exclusively” for the supply and consumption of alcohol on the premises. In this case a child under the age of 16 is not permitted on the premises…unless they are accompanied by someone 18 or over."

The Wetherspoon pub chain is child-friendly. http://www.jdwetherspoon.co.uk/pubs/

IS THERE TABLE SERVICE IN PUBS? WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO ‘BUY A ROUND?’

Food and drink is ordered at the bar. Staff do not bring drinks to your table, but will bring your meal to the table.

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g186338-i17-k16871…

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SHOPPING & ANTIQUES QUESTIONS

WHEN ARE THE LONDON MARKETS ON? HOW DO I GET TO PORTOBELLO MARKET?

http://www.londontourist.org/markets.html

http://www.streetsensation.co.uk/markets.htm

WHERE IS THE BURBERRY OUTLET?

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g186338-i17-k12925…

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CULTURE & ATTRACTIONS QUESTIONS

WHAT ARE THE ‘MUST SEES?’

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g186338-i17-k30202…

A few popular choices:

* Tower of London

http://www.hrp.org.uk/TowerOfLondon/

* Westminster Abbey

http://www.westminster-abbey.org

* St Paul’s Cathedral

http://www.stpauls.co.uk

* Windsor Castle

www.royalcollection.org.uk/default.asp…

* The London Eye

http://www.londoneye.com/

* Thames River cruises:

http://www.citycruises.com/

http://www.riverthames.co.uk/

* British Museum

http://www.britishmuseum.org/

HOW CAN I GET 2-FOR-1 ENTRY TO ATTRACTIONS?

Note that these offers may change at short notice.

daysoutguide.co.uk/attraction-types/2for1lon…

As of this writing, the information in this Original Post is valid:

tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowTopic-g186338-i17-k251…

HOW DO I VISIT THE HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT?

http://www.parliament.uk/about/visiting.cfm

CHANGING OF THE GUARD:

www.royalcollection.org.uk/default.asp…

PARKS & GARDENS:

http://www.royalparks.org.uk/

http://www.kew.org/

HALF-PRICE THEATRE TICKETS:

At the Half-Price Ticket Booth in Leicester Square:

http://www.officiallondontheatre.co.uk/tkts

WHAT DAY TRIPS DO YOU RECOMMEND FROM LONDON?

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g186338-i17-k16240…

WHAT ARE THE HOP-ON-HOP-OFF BUS TOUR ITINERARIES & PRICES?

http://www.theoriginaltour.com/

www.bigbustours.com/uk/html/uk_home.html

LONDON WALKS:

http://www.walks.com/

http://www.secretlondonwalks.co.uk/

Do-it-yourself London walks:

http://londonwalks.libsyn.com/

HOW CAN I GET TICKETS TO A FOOTBALL MATCH?

The season runs from August until early May. Currently, there are five Premier League clubs in London: Arsenal, Chelsea, Fulham, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham. Tickets are very difficult to come by for all but Fulham. Hotel concierges can sometimes help. You could join the Supporters’ Club of a team. NOTE THAT BUYING TICKETS FROM TOUTS (scalpers) IS ILLEGAL IN ENGLAND.

It is much easier to get tickets for games in The Championship, one league below. Current Championship local teams are Charlton, Crystal Palace, QPR and Watford. London teams in lower divisions (Leagues One & Two) are Brentford, Millwall, Leyton Orient & Barnet.

For a list of fixtures go to

…bbc.co.uk/sport2/…default.stm

Click on your chosen league (e.g. Premier League, Championship, etc), and then click on ‘Fixtures.’

DIFFERENT OR OFF-THE-BEATEN PATH:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g186338-i17-k13516…

LONDON WITH KIDS:

www.londonnet.co.uk/ln/out/ent/kids.html

http://www.kidslovelondon.com/kll/index.html

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g186338-i17-k12594…

SOLO TRAVELLERS (especially for women):

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g186338-i17-k32435…