As a major global business hub, London attracts many business visitors who come to negotiate deals, attend conferences and trade shows, or simply spend a night in a budget hotel near Heathrow airport while en route to a different location.
Since many visitors arrive for the first time, they can benefit from some expert tips that all travellers who spend a lot of time in the UK’s largest city are well aware of:
1. Be aware of the time zones
United Kingdom is located in the Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), but switches to British Summer Time from March to October to save daylight. This can be confusing for foreigners, especially those coming from outside of Europe.
Make sure to check the time zone and set your watch to local time immediately after you arrive, or you might be terribly late (or early!) to a business breakfast in Hounslow.
Britain uses its own currency
Despite being geographically and culturally part of Europe (for now!), UK never adopted the Euro and instead uses its traditional currency, Pound Sterling.
Stores don’t accept any other currency, so it’s wise to exchange at least some of your money before you try moving around town. However, if you have a card with you, you can withdraw pounds from any ATM or even pay for services directly.
Drive on the left side of the road
This rule catches many American and European visitors by surprise, since driving on the left side is typical for countries that have a strong cultural connection with Britain.
If you are not completely comfortable with this situation, it may be better to avoid renting cars and stick to cabs or public transportation. On the other hand, this could be a really memorable experience if you love driving and have an adventurous streak.
Finding Wi-Fi is not hard at all
Most business visitors need internet access to do their jobs, and in London it won’t be very hard to connect to the web no matter where you are. Free Wi-Fi is available in most public institutions, as well as hotels like Park Grand Heathrow and restaurants. Just carry your laptop or tablet with you, and you’ll be able to stay in touch with your friends and business contacts throughout your stay.
Good hotels may be busy during some periods
Huge numbers of tourists and business visitors come to London, especially during the fair-weather months.
Booking your hotel well in advance of your visit is thus a necessity, at least if you want to take advantage of Heathrow hotel deals and save some money. Last-minute solutions rarely work well in London, and you may end up paying too much for a room if you wait until the last moment. Book now!
Dining and shopping options are world-class
There are many stylish restaurants around London where you can enjoy great food in exquisite atmosphere, either alone or with your business partners. In the evening hours, you might want to visit a few famous pubs and unwind after a hard day of work. Shopping venues are also fantastic and easy to find, so you can buy amazing presents for your family and friends back home.
Locals are proud of their history
Citizens of London appreciate when foreigners show an interest in English history and tradition, and will be glad to answer your questions, provided they are sensible.
Doing a little bit of research about the part of town you intend to stay could buy you a lot of goodwill with the locals. Learning more about London’s illustrious history will also make your stay more special and provide context for the unique architecture and culture you’ll be surrounded with.
Schedule conservatively – everything is far away
It’s so easy to lose your sense of time in this huge and marvellous city, and it’s even easier to get stuck in traffic and be late for a key meeting. That’s especially true if you need to cross to the other side of town during rush hour on a work day. With that said, it’s absolutely essential that you leave extra time on your schedule if your day includes multiple activities taking place at distant venues.
London is environmentally friendly
You can find organic food, recycled products and environmentally-friendly technology at every turn in London, so it won’t be hard to maintain a green lifestyle while you are visiting. In fact, guests from some parts of the world may be surprised by the popularity of vegan cuisine and a general eco-friendly vibe.
2. The airport is connected to the city via public transportation
A lot of international visitors book accommodation near Heathrow airport like Park Grand Heathrow Hotel, relying on public transportation to reach urban locations. While it’s simple to get from A to B, we do like to point out that during peak travel times, it can take longer than usual. We advise leaving at least an hour, that way you’re not sweating in transit.
Of course, that’s only if you’re on your way to a business meeting. If you’re simple sightseeing, time is always on your side! Kick back, relax, and enjoy your holiday while in transit.
3. All major attractions take a long time to get in
The list of historical monuments and major tourist attractions in London is very long, but the same can be said for the queues in front of each of them. Business trips usually last only a few days, so it’s probably not realistic to queue for three hours when you need to attend a conference later in the day.
We recommend that you plan ahead, get fast passes when you can, and leave plenty of time on either side of museum visits, etc.
4. Never overstay your visa!
Depending on your country of origin, you might need a visa to enter the UK. These days, immigration service has its hands full, so they won’t look sympathetically on a business visitor who accidentally failed to get a proper visa or to leave the country on time.
To avoid any problems, do your research beforehand and make sure you understand all the conditions of your visa. If you do that, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.
With all of these tips in mind, your next business trip should go off without a hitch. See you soon!