A tangle of roads and lanes, a muddle of rising and falling neighbourhoods: London can be a tough beast to tame, even for those who call it home. But this everchanging and regenerating capital can also charm you with its beauty, from wind-rustled parks to that winding River Thames. Its mix of people, abundance of culture and the occasional louche night on the tiles also makes it a city that will surprise and win you over.

Need to know

Get to grips with the basics

  1. Ups and downs: When you stand on an escalator within the Underground, always stand on the right; you are likely to find someone barking in your ear if you don’t.
  2. Glass half empty: This is not Utah. Don’t be too puritan; go with the flow. Londoners still love a pub.
  3. Daily greetings: Handshakes are likely, kisses (one on each cheek) possible among friends – even work colleagues – but hugs are less common and are not recommended on first introductions.
  4. Compass connections: South Londoners and west Londoners like different things. But this is not just something that impacts on residents who have been here for generations: even new arrivals soon define themselves by where they live (they even get a certain look).
  5. Table manners: London’s top restaurants are often the least helpful. Persist. Be nice. Don’t beg. Good tables are available if they like the sound of you.

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Hotels

Hospitality at its finest

  1. The Connaught, Mayfair

    High-end luxury

    The centrepiece of The Connaught is a five-storey solid mahogany Edwardian staircase – Ralph Lauren supposedly tried to purchase and export it – that is located in front of a lobby desk manned by staff in Nicholas Kirkwood uniforms.

  2. The Zetter Townhouse, Clerkenwell

    Quirks and cocktails

    A taxidermy kangaroo jostles for attention with costumed felines in the hotel’s curio-filled lobby, which by night doubles as a cocktail destination favoured by in-the-know locals.

  3. Ace Hotel, Shoreditch

    Creative minds

    Cool clientele aside, the Ace Hotel’s location is its greatest asset: around the corner from the boutiques and bistros of Redchurch Street and minutes from Brick Lane.

Vocabulary

Local lingo

  1. Blighty: Great Britain
  2. Boozer: Pub
  3. Boris Bikes: London’s bicycle-rental scheme
  4. Fiver: Five pounds
  5. Loo: Toilet
  6. Offie: Shop selling alcohol
  7. Oyster: Travel card
  8. Pants: Underwear
  9. Quid: Pound
  10. Ta: Thanks

Food and drink

Smart bites and top stops

  1. The River Café, Hammersmith

    Best for a client dinner

    Started in 1987 as a canteen for her architect husband’s next-door studio, Ruth Rogers’ café is an ever-popular Thames-side Michelin- starred restaurant serving inventive pasta dishes.

  2. Dinings, Marylebone

    Cosy Japanese

    Fresh European produce and well-honed Japanese dishes make this unassuming Edwardian townhouse an unmissable destination for an intimate dinner.

  3. St John Bakery, Bermondsey

    Knead to know

    Rising to the lofty benchmark set by his restaurants, Fergus Henderson’s bakery is at its best (and busiest) on Saturdays when hot-from- the-oven madeleines draw the crowds.

  4. The Monocle Café

    Print and percolators

    The Monocle Café is just steps from our nearby HQ and our shop on George Street. The café’s team serves a range of global cuisine to the tune of Monocle 24 radio. Meanwhile, the café basement is available to hire for breakfast meetings, afternoon pitches or casual drinks.

  5. The Bull & Last, Hampstead Heath

    Lazy Sundays

    The Bull & Last pub is the perfect spot for a post-ramble pint or an intimate candle-lit dinner. This cosy former 19th-century coaching inn has everything you need for a leisurely Sunday.

Retail

Shop talk

  1. Labour and Wait, Shoreditch

    Timeless classics

    Owners and former menswear designers Rachel Wythe-Moran and Simon Watkins scour the world to source products. They also manufacture some items locally, including an in-house range of aprons and handkerchiefs.

  2. Liberty, Mayfair

    Tudor rose

    Set in a Tudor-revival building, Liberty is one of the few traditional emporiums of its kind left in the world. Sells everything from popular menswear and womenswear brands to rarer labels.

  3. Trunk Clothiers and Trunk Labs, Marylebone

    Impeccable global edit

    Trunk is an integral part of the fabric of this well-turned-out neighbourhood. Trunk Clothiers was established with a view to shaking up London’s menswear offering; just down the road is Trunk Labs, an accessories shop.

  4. London Undercover, Spitalfields

    Best for brollies

    This shop in east London sells a range of elegant yet durable umbrellas that are nothing like the disposable black brollies that are sold on street corners in the city’s more touristy spots.

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