Etiquette

Although largely informal in their everyday dealings, Londoners do observe some (unspoken) rules of etiquette.

  • Strangers Unless asking for directions, British people generally won't start a conversation at bus stops or on tube platforms. More latitude is given to non-British people.
  • Greetings When meeting someone formally for the first time, shake hands.
  • Queues The British don't tolerate queue jumping. Any attempt to do so will receive tutting and protest.
  • Tube Stand on the right and pass on the left while riding an Underground escalator.
  • Bargaining Haggling over the price of goods (but not food) is OK in markets, but non-existent in shops.
  • Punctuality It's not good form to turn up more than 10 minutes late for drinks or dinner. If you're unavoidably late, keep everyone in the loop.
  • Apologise The British love apologising. If you bump into someone on the tube, say sorry; they may apologise back, even if you are to blame.