The locals' guide to...London

Whether you're a refined culture vulture or a party animal who's never going to disturb the sheets of your London hotel room - this is a city that delivers.

Check out our blog for more tips and tricks about what to do in London.


How do I get away from large tour groups wearing matching caps?

So you’re on a London break - first off you need to brave the crowds and visit a few tourist hot spots; go by Buckingham Palace and take in the amazing views from the Shard. Then you might want to head over to the West End where musicals don’t come much better than Wicked, Jersey Boys and Mamma Mia.

Even though you don't tend to notice tourists that much in the British capital, you’re more likely to bump into groups of people wearing waterproof jackets and rucksacks at the city's big museums. To avoid them visit on the one night a week they open late and take in the culture in relative peace.

During the day visit some of the smaller museums and galleries. Dr Johnson's house will appeal to history buffs and arty types should check out the Design Museum.
If you plan to use the tube to get around, buying an Oyster Card is cheaper than paying for tickets with cash. You can pick one up at any station.

After a long day of trekking round the sights, why not relax at one of the many spas in and around London, Spa Verta and Athenaeum Spa both offer a wide range of health and beauty treatments, or enjoy a champagne afternoon tea at the May Fair Spa.

Where do the locals party?

Everywhere and anywhere that serves alcohol - the oil that keeps the machinery of London running smoothly. The city's appetite for new and different party experiences means there's something for every taste. Ministry Of Sound and Fabric head up the super-clubs and pull in the hottest DJs from around the world.

Comedy and cabaret clubs have sprung up around the city, so take yourself over to one of the 99 club’s five London venues to check out some brilliant up and coming acts as well as some of the UK’s biggest comedians. Or if you fancy something a little more provocative, head over to Sway Nightclub in Holborn and spend an evening with The Dreamboys.

Restaurants without an 'all-you-can-eat tourist buffet'?

Soho is just a few minutes' walk from the tourist-trap areas of the West End and Covent Garden and offers a truly global dining experience around the clock. Budgeteers should check out wallet-friendly cafés like Hummus Bros and Piada. If you want to splash some cash try Apsley’s, one of the many brilliant Michelin Star restaurants in London- situated in the 5 star Lanesbough Hotel on Hyde Park Corner.

The locals' absolutely secret number one tip: When you're stuck in human traffic, go one street back. The roads parallel to Oxford Street and Regent Street are home to cute cafés, chic boutiques and eclectic shops all with 90 per cent less people.

A quick guide to where the locals hang out


The snack: There's a queue outside Brick Lane Beigel Bakery 24 hours a day. For hearty sustenance at a mere £2.50, it's worth the wait.

The shops: Forget Oxford Street, the antique shops and boutiques on Portobello are a hot spot for vintage finds, kitsch collectables and affordable but totally original fashion.

The place for people watching: Bar Italia. Open 'til the wee small hours, this café in the heart of Soho is the perfect place to take in the 'colourful' locals and do some subtle celeb spotting.

The cocktail: The London Cocktail Club has two venues in the city, Goodge Street and Shaftesbury Avenue, both serving up everything from the classic Mojito to the obscure Bacon and Egg Martini.

The hangover breakfast: Party girls Kate Moss and Sienna Miller have been spotted at Raoul's in Maida Vale. Head here for a great breakfast menu and guilt-quenching fruit smoothie.

The trip: Experience the Great British seaside. Brighton is under an hour away by train from Victoria Station.

The museum: The Sir John Soane's Museum. When he wasn't designing the Bank of England, architect Sir John collected antiquities. His house is now a museum with a Greek and Roman collection to rival the British Museum.

The guilty pleasure: Indulge your inner rock star with a private booth in the basement karaoke joint, Lucky Voice in Soho - the celebs do.


Can I drink the water?

The eight essential questions you'll need answering

Which local animal is likely to hospitalise me?

Tread carefully under bridges where pigeons roost. The London pigeon can tell a tourist a mile off and their aim is deadly.

Which native liquor will make me think I am attractive?

When the time comes to overinflate your ego and become the new Huge Grant, the British opt for lager every time. Be careful when drinking with the English, once someone gets in a round you have to keep up for the rest of the night, and they don’t mean halves.

How can I avoid a beating by the local hard nuts?

Too much beer can have mixed results on the average Brit. One too many and he may want to flatten you for “looking at his bird” or decide your his new best friend and want to hug you.

Will I get lost?

Of course you will. At first glance the London Tube map may look it’s been attacked by a hyper-active child with a packet of Crayola, but you’ll soon find that London is very well connected.

Will I find myself?

Find yourself? You’re in London. You’ll probably lose yourself, find yourself, reinvent yourself as a retro, hippy super freak and go back home a completely different person.

Should I take an umbrella?

Are you kidding? This is London. Of course you'll need an umbrella. You'll also need a wind-cheater, snow shoes, fog-goggles and sun cream.

What should I order in a restaurant to impress the locals?

The typical dish is curry, and if you really want to impress the English make sure you order the hottest thing on the menu. It’s normally a phaal, and don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Can I drink the water?

In the swanky bars and restaurants, they may look down on you for ordering tap water but that’s just because they want to add £10 to your bill. The water here is clear and wet and above all it’s free.

Call our travel experts for help - 0871 222 5969
Opening times:
calls may be recorded

08:00 - 21.00

08:00 - 19:00

09:00 - 18:00

Calls cost just 10p/minute

Rate our site