If youíre planning to visit London for the first time, negotiating some of the more labyrinthine streets in the constant drizzle and battling through the drunken teenage masses of the West End on a Friday evening might seem daunting, even terrifying to some, but armed with the basic knowledge described below youíll be able to enjoy our gracious capital at its best, weather conditions and befuddled youths aside.
Humble, hipster or high life?
Whether you appreciate the finer things in life such as the initialled bathrobes at the Dorchester, or whether your idea of a holiday is to divide it between walking very slowly in front of other people while carrying a backpack, and guzzling beer at a sticky-floored watering hole, there is something to suit every palate. Where you choose to stay will depend on your budget and your choice of sightseeing adventure. If you have a passion for fashion then book a stay at 40 Winks in Stepney Green way in advance, as there are only two bedrooms, however rates are cheap and the hotel is mostly used for fashion shoots, so not only will you be minutes away from the East Endís hipster territory but you will be able return home boasting that youíve hobnobbed with Lily Cole. At the very least, with someone who looked like her.
The underground and other maladies
The tube is the Londonerís favourite bone of contention, therefore if you want to make conversation with the handsome stranger sitting next to you start off by saying how rubbish you think the Jubilee line is. If you really want to go in for the kill throw in a line about the increasing number of tube strikes affecting the capital Ė something which is likely to arouse strong emotion whether youíre talking to a disgruntled pro-anarchy student or a commuter belt dweller who works in accounts. Choose your words wisely.
Donít be put off asking a passer-by for directions just because everyone you saw on the tube seemed to look constipated. This does not mean Londoners are rude, itís just the natural facial expression of someone who pays through the nose to travel in cramped conditions to an underpaid job as a pensions administrator in an open-plan, stuffy office with no natural sunlight, or something along those lines. In any case, the British are far too polite to refuse helping you.