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
Your inside track to the city
Time in London
“March winds and April showers bring forth May flowers”, goes the old English saying – and it sums up London’s spring climate pretty accurately. Bursts of rain bring green spaces to life with a rainbow-coloured sprinkle of daffodils and crocuses, with the best blooms seen at the world-famous Chelsea Flower Show and horticultural hub Kew Gardens. On warmer days it’s an ideal time to take to the waters on a pedalo in Hyde Park and bask in the sunshine, but wardrobe-wise do come prepared for all weathers.
As soon as the mercury begins to creep up on the thermometers, London comes into its own. At the first hint of summer Londoners walk around with grins and a happy-go-lucky attitude, hopping between hip rooftop bars and restaurants. When it’s fine, everything goes outdoors – from cinema screenings and theatre in the parks, to watching the tennis at Wimbledon. Layer clothes as temperatures vary, always carry a bottle of water on the Underground, and bring an umbrella – summer storms aren’t unheard of.
Autumn weather can be unpredictable, but it’s still a glorious time to visit London. As children are back at school, many cultural attractions are a little less crowded. Generally, temperatures are cooler than in summertime, but it’s often sunny which makes for pleasant park strolls as the leaves turn caramel. Equally, wind or rain can arrive, so an umbrella and a raincoat are essential. November is chillier, but the city – and its skies – come to life on Bonfire Night with fireworks and a convivial atmosphere.
London in the winter is rather charming. The city responds to plummeting temperatures with pop-up bars festooned with fairy lights, serving up mulled wine and good cheer. Festive shop windows at Liberty, Selfridges and Harrods are practically works of art, plus outdoor ice rinks ideal ripe for alfresco pirouetting arrive. Snow is far from guaranteed, and sometimes amounts to a light dusting. Whether or not the flakes are falling it’s wise to wrap up in a scarf, warm coat and gloves. During the ‘January Sales’, just after Christmas, shops discount lots of items meaning plenty of bargains for shopaholics.
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.
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.
London’s famous black cabs are about as quintessentially London as you can get. Hail one on the street by sticking out your arm, 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 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
+1 212 745 0200
For British Nationals in need of urgent assistance