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By Steven Potter & Vicki Forde of HotelMap™
With a population of over 8 million and a constant influx of new openings, London can be a thrilling but daunting destination for first-time visitors. In order to help take the stress out of your visit, his guide covers everything that a London novice should know, ranging from transport tips and sightseeing suggestions to cultural norms and weather tendencies.
London is home to some of the world’s best museums and galleries, and remarkably many of them are free to visit. Cultural institutions such as the British Museum, Natural History Museum, Science Museum and V&A Museum all have free permanent displays while world-famous galleries like the National Gallery, Tate Modern and National Portrait Gallery are also free to enter. Lesser known options include the Wallace Collection, Imperial War Museum, Serpentine Gallery and Design Museum. While all these venues have large free-to-view collections, they also have a number of ticketed temporary exhibitions.
Forget plotting your journey on the tube map; every savvy Londoner knows that the Citymapper App is the best tool available when it comes to navigating the capital’s vast public transport network. The free-to-use app integrates data for all modes of public transport, as well as walking and cycling times, to display the best possible routes between two destinations. It details the time and cost of the journey and even tells you where on the platform to stand and which exit to take at each station.
The easiest and most cost effective way to travel around London is with a contactless debit or credit card. Not only does this mean that you don’t have to worry about purchasing a ticket, but it also much cheaper than purchasing a travel card. When using the tube or train, simply tap your card on the yellow reader at the beginning and end of your journey. If you are travelling by bus or tram, you only need to tap your card at the beginning of your journey. Alternatively, you can use an Oyster card in the same way. These are available to purchase online or at any station for refundable £5.
Many of London’s top attractions and major tube stations are much closer than many first-time visitors realise, meaning you can easily walk between them rather than getting the tube. Covent Garden and Leicester Square are one of the best examples, with just a four-minute walk between them. St Paul’s Cathedral and Tate Modern are separated by the pedestrian Millennium Bridge; the Shard is just a five-minute walk from Borough Market; and the Whitechapel Gallery is just down the road from Brick Lane and Spitalfields.
Carrying up to five million passengers every single day, the London Underground is one of the busiest transport networks in the world, and in order to keeps things running smoothly, passengers must follow a couple of simple rules. Firstly, stand on the right of escalators and only use the left if you plan on walking – preferably at a decent speed. Secondly, once you reach the platform be sure not to loiter at the entrance or the bottom of the stairs. Stick to these rules and you shouldn’t have too many angry commuters queueing behind you.
With a beautiful sunny morning soon transcending into a major afternoon downpour and all four seasons seemingly making an appearance in just one day, London is renowned for its unpredictable weather. Don’t be fooled by the scene that greets you first thing in the morning and instead be sure to check the weather forecast, packing both an umbrella and sunglasses if you have any doubt.
Most London restaurants automatically add between 12 and 15% as a discretionary service charge, so be sure to check your bill before deciding whether to tip. While it may be added as standard, it is completely discretionary and staff do already receive a wage, meaning you are within your right to ask for the charge to be removed if the service wasn’t up to scratch.
A number of special hotel deals have been arranged for registered visitors and exhibitors of IFSEC International. As well as a range of nearby hotels, all of which are located a short walk from ExCeL London, there is a fantastic variety of properties to choose from.
Whether you want to stay in a major London hub such as Covent Garden or book into one of the capital's best new hotels, this selection of properties has something for you.
If you are attending the Protection and Management Series, you can access the official hotel deals from HotelMap™ here: Hotel deals for IFSEC International
Alternatively, email [email protected] or telephone +44 20 7292 2320