My London: the perfume designer
From luxury shopping at some of the city’s most iconic boutiques to a secret spot of tranquillity in Regent’s Park, perfume designer Azzi Glasser divulges her favourite upmarket haunts around London
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Your inside track to the city
Time in London
Savour the flourishing weather of springtime in London. With bursts of rain, green spaces come to life with a sprinkling of daffodils and crocuses. Catch best blooms at the world-famous Chelsea Flower Show and horticultural hub Kew Gardens. Soak up warmer, sunshine days in Hyde Park and take a pedalo out across the lake. Keep your wardrobe in mind for spring and come prepared for all weather.
As the days get longer, London comes into its own. At the first hint of summer, a happy-go-lucky atmosphere spreads across the city and you’ll see grinning faces everywhere. Hop between the collection of hip rooftops bars and restaurants. When the weather is fine, everything goes outdoors – from cinema screenings and theatre in the parks to watching the tennis at Wimbledon. Remember to carry an extra jumper, a bottle of water and umbrella in your bag to be prepared for all occasions.
Autumn weather can be unpredictable, but it’s a glorious time to visit with rusty, golden and caramel coloured leaves adorning the trees. Temperatures are usually cooler than in summertime, and although there are some rainy days, it’s often sunny – perfect for park strolls. Be sure to pack an umbrella and raincoat just in case, they are essential. November is chillier, with the odd sprinkling of frost come morning, but the city – and its skies – come to life on Bonfire Night with fireworks and a buoyant atmosphere.
Enjoy the charms of London in winter. With chilly temperatures in the city, there are plenty of pop-up bars and food stalls, festooned with fairy lights, serving up mulled wine and good cheer. Festive shop windows at Liberty, Selfridges and Harrods are a must-visit with their works of art. The scattering of outdoor ice rinks across the city make for wintry fun, whether you’re pirouetting or grasping onto the railings. Snow is far from guaranteed, and it may only amount to a light (but pretty) dusting. Whether or not the flakes are falling, it’s wise to wrap up in a scarf and warm coat.
Whether you’re looking for London’s best hotels, restaurants, parks and bars, our in-the-know panel of experts have it covered. Their guides cover everything from must-visit London attractions to quirky architecture, the most stylish, luxurious shops and little-known, hip London neighbourhoods. Whether it’s secret spots, the best places to eat and drink, or activities for families you’re after, our London gurus’ tips will ensure your trip to the capital is unforgettable.
Perfumer Azzi Glasser takes us around Christies, for afternoon tea at Fortnum & Mason’s and to Harvey Nichols.
Want to know the story behind St Paul’s Cathedral? Or the best Art Deco Café to hang out in? Tom Dyckhoff gives an architect’s guide to London.
Practical advice to families with kids, the Chiappa sisters explore the Natural History Museum, Trafalgar Square and go picnicking in London’s parks.
From historic department stores to one-off vintage gems, Peony Lim gives her fashion guide to Pimlico, Knightsbridge and Notting Hill.
Despite the recent referendum vote for the UK to leave the European Union, visa-free travel is still in place for citizens of the EU to and from the UK.
Those arriving from some countries outside the EU may need to apply for a visa. To check if one is required, and for information on how to apply, please visit the UK Border Agency website.
If you are a national of some countries (including Australia and the USA) you can join the ‘Registered Traveller’ scheme and enjoy faster entry into the UK, as long as you have a biometric passport. Read the full list of eligible countries and conditions on the ‘Registered Traveller’ website.
Remember, it’s your responsibility to ensure that you have the right visa and documents to be allowed entry into the UK when flying into London.
Hit the ground running as soon as you arrive and arrange your London airport transfer with us as part of your booking. We can arrange shared and private door-to-door transfers and chauffeured executive transfers with City Transfers UK. Simply select your preferred option when you book your trip to London.
The city’s famous black cabs are quintessentially London. Sticking out your arm to hail it on the street; if the ‘taxi’ sign is lit up, the cab is available. Sometimes you’ll find black cab ranks at train, Tube and bus stations. All black cabbies take ‘The Knowledge’, an extensive training course, which means they know the city inside out. Fares are on the meter and it’s common to round up your fare to the nearest pound. Private hire vehicles and minicabs are also available, but they must be pre-booked over the phone or at an office. Be sure to ask the fee when you book.
London has brilliant public transport, and it is a cheap and quick way to get around. The Underground (aka the Tube) and DLR are based on a system of six zones which radiate out from the city centre. A flat fare of £4.90 for journeys in zones 1 to 3 applies, rising to £6 for journeys across zones 1 to 6. Far cheaper than buying individual tickets is to use a pre-paid Oyster card or by tapping your contactless card. This payment method is always as cost effective as buying a daily Travelcard, sometimes cheaper. Buses are great value, with single journeys costing £1.50 with Oyster or contactless.
Exploring on foot is one of the best ways to see London, with many of the city’s iconic landmarks – such as Big Ben and The Shard – best viewed on a stroll along the banks of the River Thames. Another fun way to get around is to hop onto a bike and use London’s self-service bicycle hire scheme. Avoid crowded roads, instead stick to canal paths (which tend to be less busy) or the pretty Royal Parks and designated cycle lanes.
A unique vantage point to view London from is aboard a boat on the River Thames, where you’ll whizz past some of the city’s most famous monuments. Thames Clippers operate a River Bus commuter service with several stops stretching between Putney and North Greenwich (payable by Oyster card), plus a range of operators run fun and informative sightseeing cruises too.
After touching down in London Heathrow, there are plenty of options for getting into the city centre. Metered London taxis usually cost from around £40 one-way, taking approximately 45 to 60 minutes. Alternatively buy an Oyster Card (£5 deposit required) or your contactless credit or debit card and use the Underground. It takes around an hour (£6 one-way). You can also take the 15-minute Heathrow Express to London Paddington (£22 one-way) or a National Express bus to London Victoria (£5 one-way), which takes 35 to 60 minutes.
The journey time from Gatwick to central London is around an hour and costs from £60 one-way in a metered taxi (up to £100; in traffic, surcharge dependent). The Gatwick Express gets you to London Victoria in 30 minutes (£19.90 one-way).
Use the Docklands Light Railway to take you to Bank station in 20 minutes (around £5 one-way), pay with an Oyster or your contactless card. Metered taxis will cost from £40 one-way into central London.
Just over an hour away from central London in a metered taxi, a journey costs from £60-£100 one-way, traffic dependent. Another convenient option is the Stansted Express, which drops you at London Liverpool Street in 50 minutes (£16.60 one-way).
When dining in restaurants in London, leaving a tip of ten to 15 percent of the total is standard. It is often listed as an optional service charge on the bill, particularly when eating with a group of six or more. It’s normal to pay this unless you feel that service was substandard. For exceptional service you can increase it, if you like. Don’t tip for fast food or takeaways.
Generally it’s not expected to tip in pubs and bars when ordering drinks in London. The exceptions to this are if a cocktail bartender is making complicated cocktails, or if you’re at a table where drinks are being brought to you. Bar staff will always appreciate a small tip, say a pound or two if they’ve been looking after you all night or dealing with large orders.
On taxi rides, it’s considered good manners to round up the fare to the nearest pound on both long and short journeys. For longer journeys, and perhaps airport transfers, if the driver helps you load and unload your bags, you should add on a couple more pounds to your total fare. Taxi drivers often know London very well, so it’s worth asking them for their insider tips.
In luxury, high-end hotels in London, tips are expected less and less but, if porters help you carry your bags to your room, a tip of £1-£2 is appreciated. If you’re staying for a while it’s considered good manners (but again not compulsory) to leave a small tip, say £2-£5, for cleaning staff. Tips are not expected at budget accommodation or hostels.
Call 999 in an emergency for Fire, Police or Ambulance services
Contact your country’s consulate for urgent assistance