Do as Londoners do? Navigating London’s cultural norms

british culture and social norms

There’s that age-old saying; when in Rome, do as the Romans do. So, presumably, in order not to stick out like a sore thumb, when you’re in the UK capital (perhaps staying at one of the hotels in Paddington London), you should do as Londoners do, right? Well, to an extent, yes; but it’s far from *totally* necessary. Remember the ‘Big Smoke’ is one of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities, comprising among its population thousands of souls visiting from overseas every day of the year. To wit, it’s as well to be aware of some of the mainstays of London etiquette before you visit, but don’t worry about needing to become a Brit-like shrinking violet – you don’t have to and such an individual’s a bit of a fallacy in the 21st Century anyway…

weather in london

Do bring waterproof clothing/ an umbrella

To start off then, this one’s simply a must – nobody wants a drowned rat dripping everywhere all over a Tube carriage, so to meet the changeable, unpredictable and (let’s face it) often wet British climate on its terms, pack and carry about with you lightweight waterproof gear and a definitely a trusty ‘brolly’.

Driving in london

Don’t drive on the ‘right’ side of the road

Get it straight; the right-hand side of the road is the wrong side for driving in Britain and the left-hand-side is the right side. It’s simple enough, even though, granted, only three in 10 people in the world drive this way round.

Do react with warmth when you’re called ‘mate’

Every place in every nookie and cubbyhole on the planet has its own curiosities and, in the UK, one of them are its terms of affection. For instance, should you visit some regions of the country (the South West and the Midlands, for instance, you might well be referred ‘duck’, especially if you’re a woman or a girl). Down in London Town, though, nowadays, the likes of ‘mate’, ‘son’, ‘miss’ and even ‘chuck’, dearie’ or – perhaps unlikely, sad to say – ‘treacle’ get bandied about. There’s no reason to take any of them without good grace.

Don’t speak *too* loudly

People like speaking their mind in London and throughout Britain; especially right now as there’s so much going on politically and socially, yet by and large it remains true that Brits aren’t the loudest of nationalities. Especially in public places; not just London libraries, I mean, but also restaurants near Paddington Station, shops on Oxford Street and – especially – on public transport. The Tube at rush hour is not a place to make new friends; after pub-chucking-out time on a Friday or Saturday night, though? Well, that’s a different kettle of fish.

Buckingham Palace

Don’t be disappointed The Queen’s not at Buckingham Palace

Finally, although it’s one of her ‘official’ residences, The Queen doesn’t actually spend much time staying in the iconic grey-brick Georgian masterpiece that’s Buck Palace (which may be a little disappointing, given it’s just down the road if you’ve chosen as base for your trip the Park Grand Paddington Court London hotel). Yes, the ‘Palace’ is her ‘official London residence’, but nowadays she prefers not to spend so much time in the hustle-bustle of Central London; more often or not she’s at her favourite digs, Windsor Castle, located just down the road. That said, if you trot off to Windsor on a day trip you’re highly unlikely to spot her – or any other member of the Royal family – there either.