London can be a difficult city to love.
The United Kingdom’s most iconic city is large and overcrowded, glamorous but expensive, beautiful yet filthy. The weather is poor, its residents grumpy, and yet it’s iconic, historic and an amazing city to travel to.
I’ve written before on this travel blog about the many reasons to both love and hate London and of some of my favourite things to do in London, like visiting Richmond, Kingston and the city’s best riverside pubs.
Now I’m going to write about what NOT to do in London. If you do these things I guarantee you won’t get the full London experience; in fact, by doing some of these things you will run the risk of being punched in the face.
Support the wrong football team
You’ve heard of football hooligans, haven’t you? You’re going to want to avoid these chaps.
I’ve said it before (in my post about going to my first English Premier League match, where I managed to get the game ball) and I’ll say it again: do not sit in the home stand if you plan to support the away team and vice versa. Also, go to Millwall matches at your own risk. You have been warned.
Do something stupid on the Tube
Londoners will gladly tell you where to go, whether you ask them or not.
On the Tube it’s best to tow the company line and do as others around you do – and by “others” I don’t mean those scary-looking hoodies drinking and playing their music really loud. In fact, you should avoid those people and definitely NOT strike up a conversation with them.
Meanwhile, the stereotypical London tourist stands on the left-hand side of the escalator, which is a big no-no when on the London Tube and an offence punishable by death. I kid.
More London Tube etiquette.
Buy theatre tickets in Leicester Square
They’re called tourist traps for a reason, people. Do not go to Leicester Square looking for bargain West End theatre tickets. Instead, if you have internet access – and who doesn’t nowadays? – buy your tickets online.
Walk into the first restaurant you see in Brick Lane
London’s Brick Lane is famous for its Indian restaurants and the pushy salespeople who stand outside on the street, trying to lure you in with the promise of free naan bread.
You need to take your time, walk the street, haggle your ass off and play the sales people against each other to get a great deal. Brick Lane restaurateurs have a curious case of amnesia, too, where occasionally they “forget” about the deal you negotiated outside. Remind them.
Similarly, only a fool takes the restaurants of Brick Lane at face value. Every freakin’ restaurant has won some sort of an award on this street.
Wear a bowler hat and say “guv’nor”
Dressing like anyone from Oliver Twist, Marry Poppins or Sherlock Holmes might seem like a good idea – if you’re an idiot – but the joke will most definitely be on you.
The same goes for adopting a shite interpretation of the English accent or talking in Cockney slang – unless you happen to be Cockney yourself, in which case, I think you’re talking utter cobblers.
Confuse London Bridge with Tower Bridge
Legend has it that a gullible American once thought he had purchased Tower Bridge, when it was actually the much less iconic London Bridge that he bought to relocate to Lake Havasu City in Arizona.
Whether or not this is true, and there are a lot of websites that say this story is patently untrue, beware of anyone trying to sell you a bridge.
Seek tranquillity on Oxford Street
You won’t find peace and quiet here; on the contrary, you’ll find the busiest shopping street in the UK, a road so heaving with people – and traffic – that claustrophobia is likely to set in.
Do you have you any London travel tips that should be on the list? Let us know in the comments below…