Common Mistakes You Might Make On Your First Trip To London


London is one of the largest cities in Europe, consisting of 32 boroughs and 1500 square kilometres of diverse districts, parks and landmarks. It’s also an incredibly diverse city within a country that is well known for its unique way of doing things. Indeed many looking from outside of the country might think the island is contrary to the ways of mainland Europe. If you’re planning a stay at hotels near Liverpool Street London, you might see some major differences as soon as you touch down in the city.

All that being said, London is a welcoming and exciting place to spend a holiday. But for guests of spa hotels in London, you can make your stay that little bit more relaxing by researching some of the key differences and traditions that might throw you on a first time visit.

This blog will make your first visit to the city run a little bit smoother by providing advice and information surrounding some classic mistakes that are often - and easily - made.

Look Right When Crossing The Road 

The English drive on the left hand side of the road, which means that you must look right when crossing as a pedestrian. This contrasts the norm in mainland European countries, and indeed most countries in the world. It’s not just pedestrians who should keep this in mind, if you’re planning on renting a car, then remember what side you need to drive on! 

Don’t Buy Single Tickets For The Underground 

The London Underground is a vast network of over 200 stations and almost 250 miles of rail line. It connects the entirety of London but mostly works via contactless payment. To save money, your best bet is to buy an Oyster card, a blue rectangular contactless payment card that can be picked up from most stations in the city for £5. These cards allow top up payments and can have day, week and month long unlimited travel added to them. Most travelcards can be purchased from the touch screen machines in tube stations or at the kiosk.

Know Your Zones 

London consists of 6 different zones. If you’re buying a travelcard, make sure that you are buying it for the correct zones or you’ll be charged for the journey.

But Are Travelcards Worth It? 

More often than not, travelcards come out as slightly more expensive than the daily cap on contactless journeys, which can range from zone 1 to 2 at £7.60 to Zone 1 to 6 at £14.10. Travelcards only come out cheaper than the daily cap if you buy a weekly travelcard and are planning to take more than 3 journeys a day for 6 days of your visit. 

Buses Are Cashless

 Unlike the tube service where you can top up your Oyster card using cash, the bus is contactless card only. This means that you’ll either need a topped up Oyster card or a contactless debit card to pay for your bus journey. Keep in mind that you can also use the “city hopper” fare, which allows two bus journeys for the price of one if caught within an hour of each other.

Rush Hour Gets Busy 

Rush hour occurs between 7 am and 9.30 am and 4 pm and 7 pm. Okay, peak times are more than an hour long, and they also mean more congestion at London Underground stations. You’ll also be paying up to a third more for your tube journey. It’s worth factoring in whether your public transport in London coincides with the hours when workers are travelling to and from their offices. 

Stand On The Right On Escalators 

Especially important at peak times, standing on the right hand side of any escalators will allow for people walking to move past you and not cause congestion. You’ll be reminded of this by the tannoy speakers in most stations though. 

Central London Is Walkable 

Central London AKA Zone 1 is split between Westminster and the City of London Ceremonial Borough. It’s worth noting that the City of London is only about one 1.12 square miles, or 2.9 square kilometres. Westminster is a little bigger, spanning 8 square miles, but the centre of London is easily walkable. It’s worth remembering this if you are planning on travelling from one part to another. Make sure that you check the walking distance on a phone map before walking though, you might find it is indeed worth getting a bus or train. 

London Has A Car Congestion Charge 

If you are travelling through Central London by car, it’s worth noting that there is a congestion charge of £15 a day, paid through Auto Pay. Whilst accommodation like the Montcalm City Hotel do have nearby car parks for guests, Central London parking can be very difficult to come by, and rather expensive too. If you can avoid travelling by car, consider plane, train and bicycle for reaching and then navigating the city. 

Santander Cycles - A Sightseeing Hack 

And that brings us smoothly onto the subject of cycling in London. Thanks to a rapidly expanding network of cycle lanes called the London Cycling Superhighway, visitors can reach many areas of the city by bike. Santander Cycles also has pay as you go bike rental docks located all around the city centre. These cost about £2 for every half hour. Digital map apps will also show you the closest locations for picking one of these sturdy city bikes up. 

The Underground Closes Around Half Midnight 

The London Underground may close at half past midnight, but there are many night bus routes you can use if you miss the last one. It’s also worth noting that night tubes run a 24 hour service on Friday and Saturday nights. The 24 hour services on weekends run on parts of the Central, Northern, Piccadilly, Overground and all of the Jubilee and Victoria tube lines. 

Many Museums Are Free 

Lastly, many of the best museums in the city have permanent exhibitions that are free to visit. Guests of hotels and restaurants near Finsbury Square can enjoy South Kensington’s Exhibition Row trio of museums, the British Museum,  the Tate and National Galleries completely free of entry charge.