Coming to London? If so, and you’re a newbie to the Bi Smoke experience, then you may not know quite how to do it just right – so you get absolutely the most out of the experience you should. In which case, a few hacks for that tip-top London trip may be in order. So, allow us to be of service…
How to save money
If you’re not careful, it’s true that a stay in the UK capital can become costly – but it certainly doesn’t have to at all hotels near Hyde Park. Perhaps the most obvious way to cut costs is with expenditure on travel. You’re highly advised to make use of the city’s very reliable, state-of-the-art transport system, which is made up of the London Underground (Tube) network, Overground trains and, of course, those iconic red London buses.
All of which you can pay for – and in a money-saving way – via one, single payment system; a credit card-like electronic method called the Oyster card. Without an Oyster card, expect to pay *much* more for travel – especially if you foolishly(!) choose to get about in that other London icon, the black taxi cab.
The attractions you shouldn’t miss
Again, if cost-efficiency’s a deal-breaker for you, then you should consider making time for one or more of London’s fantastic free-to-enter attractions (especially if you want to spend money on dining at awesome restaurants in Hyde Park). There’s everything from South Kensington’s Science and Natural History Museums to the Tate Modern and Wallace Collection galleries. There’s a good reason why these venues (and more) are among the most visited in the entire country – and not just because you don’t have to pay to enter.
Why you should see Big Ben
Maybe, just maybe London’s most recognised landmark, the clocktower of the Houses of Parliament (the cradle of British democracy) is usually mis-referred to as ‘Big Ben’; to be precise, that’s actually the name of the biggest bell located behind the tower’s clockface. Nonetheless, if everyone calls the tower Big Ben, who are we to argue? And, frankly, this year is definitely the year to make a beeline to Big Ben because it’s undergone a spruce-up and looks better than ever. Pop along and you’ll see what we mean – thanks to re-gilding and a new paint job, the details of the clockface are now picked out in a deep blue (rather than black) and glisten gloriously in the sun.
How to ride on the Tube and buses
Touched on above, the trick to travelling in London is an Oyster card. You can use this payment method not just for the Tube but also all those iconic red buses (and Overland trains in the city, too). Be sure to pick up a paper Tube map, so you can familiarise yourself with the network – it’s very comprehensive. Alternatively, you might want to download a clever-clever app that’ll give you not just maps of the Tube and London bus routes, but also real-time intel on which train lines and bus routes are experiencing delays.
How to enjoy yourself like a local
Like the idea of getting a genuine – rather than a totally touristy – experience? If so, then you won’t might want to visit one of London’s traditional city pubs. Walk in, soak up the atmosphere, order at the bar, sit down, exchange pleasantries with and get talking to some locals and order and demolish a plate of fish and chips – what’s not to love?
How about taking to two wheels?
If you weren’t aware, public transport in London isn’t just confined to trains and buses; you can also hire one of the many Transport for London (TfL)-backed bicycles dotted about the city and take to two peddle-powered wheels to and from your Hyde Park London hotel instead.
It’s a great way to get about and see the sights with freedom – you can literally go wherever you like by bike. That said, it ought to be noted that, although increasingly friendly to cyclists, London remains a very busy city filled with cars and lashings of traffic; so, using a TfL bike may be best suited to experienced urban cyclists.
Why you should make an itinerary
With so much to see and do in the UK capital – and given you’ll inevitably be on a time limit – you’re advised to compile a to-do-list of activities and attractions you want to prioritise. Moreover, if you’re going to be in the city for, say, just a couple of nights, you may want to limit your travel to the area where you’re staying, which would be absolutely ideal if you’re planning to book at accommodation Hyde Park London because, as you’d imagine, the biggest concentration of high-quality attractions are in Central London.
How to pack for a London trip
Finally, it’s perhaps wise to share a word or two with you on packing hacks for a Big Smoke trip. After all, there’s little point schlepping to the place if you haven’t packed what you’ll need – and some advice on how best to pack wouldn’t go amiss either, right…?
- Packing clothes – layers are the way to go when it comes to clothes in London; even in the height of summer, although the temperatures ought to be warm/ decent, the weather can be very changeable (bright sunshine one moment, heavy rain the next and then back to bright sunshine), so you’ll want to pack and wear layers you can put on and take off
- Packing footwear – should you be planning a night out during your stay in London, then you’ll doubtless want to pack smart shoes/ killer heels (delete as appropriate); in terms of general footwear, though, sensible shoes you’ll be comfortable in for walking and walking and walking between attractions is your best bet
- What not to forget – if a bit of research informs you you’ll need plug adapters so you can run your electronic equipment as you want in your London hotel room (necessary if you’re travelling from the US, for instance), then these items should be top of your must-take list; as too, though, will be an umbrella and, if you’re not visiting in spring or summer, a warm coat, hats, gloves and a scarf or two. Good luck!