London is an awesome place to live and visit, but if you’re new to the city, there are some absolute no-nos when it comes to fitting in.
Here’s a short list of what not to do in London if your want to enjoy yourself, while avoiding traps that might lead to embarrassment.
11. Saying your favourite place is Leicester Square.
Leicester Square is not only one of the biggest tourist traps in London, it’s also chock-full of over-priced, mediocre eateries and crappy chain bars, pick pocketers, and dodgy people trying to force you to sit down while they draw your picture for a small fortune. You want people to take you seriously that you’re interested in London? Don’t say you love Leicester Square.
10. Not having your ID.
Even though the legal drinking age in the UK is 18, London has started IDing for everything, no matter how old you look. You need ID to get into lots of pubs, bars, and clubs and you will be left out in the cold if you don’t. If you do have ID, make sure it isn’t expired.
9. Not drinking.
Yes, you can have fun without drinking alcohol but if you want to get to know us Londoners and be part of the crew, then be prepared from some drinking sessions.
We don’t pretend that it isn’t one of our favourite pastimes — most of us will consider it a hobby.
8. Leaving tips on bars.
Anyone who works in the service industry in Britain, let alone London, will tell you how shocking it is when someone tips you separately from your bill or from the pre-assigned 12.5% that is added to your receipt.
But in London we never tip bar people. Rightly, or wrongly, we don’t.
You can, if you want of course, but be prepared to be chased down the street with yells of “you’ve forgotten your change,” if you do.
7. Going in for an air kiss.
There are too many eventualities from an air kiss. Us Londoners are consistently confused over whether you go for one or two, which can lead to an unfortunate head butt or awkward near actual kiss. Just shake hands at first to be sure.
6. Trying to get a table for dinner after 10 p.m.
Our continental cousins all like to dine late and into the early hours of the morning, but unfortunately, until we get the 24-hour tube service in London, most restaurants will stop allowing you to sit down just before 10 p.m.
We usually get our eating done between 6-9 p.m. so we can carry on with our evening and make our last train back home.
5. Being too overdressed.
If you like being stared at, and some people do, then overdress for the pub or dinner — this is guaranteed to get everyone looking.
That’s not to say you have to be a slob, but you might be perceived as a show-off even if you turned up to a Michelin-starred restaurant in red-carpet attire.
4. Standing on the left.
Whether it is on the escalators or you’re walking slowly up stairs, always stand to the right. There are even signs pointing toward this.
You’ll be seriously embarrassed and probably reprimanded by a number of passive aggressive Londoners saying “excuse me” to get past you. Others will just look at you like you’re unbelievably stupid.
3. Eating on the Tube.
Commuting on the London underground is cramped and depressing enough, without having to be stuck in a travelling test tube with all the smells from the local food stall you thought looked yummy at the time. Either eat before you’ve got on the carriage or wait until afterwards.
2. Falling asleep on the Tube.
Falling asleep on public transport is pretty embarrassing, regardless of where you are, but considering everyone fights for a seat on the Tube, the last thing you want to do is annoy off by slomping over several places.
Also, as well as being embarrassed, you’ll probably get your bags nicked.
1. Speaking to anyone you don’t know on public transport.
One of the best things about travelling is meeting new people but never, ever speak to people you don’t know on public transport unless you’re asking for directions.
It may sound harsh and unfriendly but while a small amount of people will be amenable to your plea for someone to talk to, most people will think you’re either crazy, chatting them up, or are about to rob you.
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