Local Customs Guide
English people are a reserved bunch, but because London has such a diverse population you will observe a multitude of different habits and customs in your daily life.
Avoid Controversial Subjects:
if you not well acquainted with a group of people, try to avoid controversial topics such as religion, racism and politics. The British prefer to know someone well before entering a discussion that could become antagonistic.
People who you meet at work or through acquaintances are likely to address you by your first name from the moment you meet. It is very rare to use someone’s last name unless you are in a formal meeting or environment. If you are addressed as “Sir” or “Madam” or with “Mr.” or “Mrs.”, follow the lead and do the same.
It is more than an habit, it is indeed an institution. Orderly queues are formed in front of every till and behind every closed door. Don’t dare to jump, or move ahead in, the queue or you will encounter the full wrath and frustration of the British public.
One habit you might want to honor is the practice of not making eye contact while riding public transport. People ignore each other in London and do not make small talk with strangers.
The right-hand side of a London escalator is for standing; the left-hand side is for those who want to walk to the top of the escalator.
Drinking alcohol is acceptable at lunch-time in London but stick to one glass of beer or wine. The rules change after 5pm.
Expat local customs guide London
Smoking in all indoor public places and that includes on platforms at train stations is illegal. Whole districts such as Canary Wharf have designated smoking areas.
Avoid talking loudly on your mobile phone or you will be tagged as being ill-mannered.
When you think of London you think of tea time! Afternoon tea at The Ritz is a London event but comes with a price. Call to make a reservation and make sure to book 12 weeks in advance because The Ritz is that popular, especially on weekends. The Ritz: http://www.theritzlondon.com/tea/; +44 (0) 207 300 2345
In addition to the normal days off like Christmas and Easter, there are bank holidays in the UK in May and August. Barbecues and shopping are popular things to do on bank holidays. (See the “Bank Holidays” section for exact dates)
Many pubs offer Sunday roasts now that people don’t tend to cook at home; pubs on Sundays are packed with families enjoying this English tradition.
Londoners seem to be eating at all hours of the day and night. At lunch time, you will see people eating their sandwiches in the most peculiar locations. In the middle of the night, it is not unusual to pass “kebabs shops” doing a roaring trade. Once the subject of ridicule, food has evolved tremendously, a re-discovery of British traditions as well as the influences from the rest of the world has moved British food forward. London has as many Michelin-starred restaurant as Paris.
Test your trivia skills by attending a pub quiz, another London institution. Check your local pub to find out which night they do this.
Guy Fawkes Day – November 5:
Guy Fawkes Day remembers Guy’s plot to blow up Parliament! The Brits celebrate this day with fireworks. You will see fireworks displays across London. Sit by the Thames for a good view.