Lone London traveller: Cheat sheet
There's no denying that London is a vast metropolis of action, culture and fun. But with so much to do and see, it can be overwhelming for the lone business traveller who only has a few hours here and there at their disposal. From getting around on the underground to finding the perfect café for solo working, it can be tricky to navigate a day or two around the busy capital. With that in mind, we thought we'd compile the ultimate London cheat sheet for those that are visiting the big smoke alone. Read on for top tips on where to eat, what to do and how to get from A to B.
Payment: There are various methods to pay for the underground and buses around London. One of the most common ways is the oyster card, which you can acquire from any of the help desks in London tube and train stations, as well as some corner shops. It works either on a pay as you go or a travel card system. If you're only staying for a couple of days, it'd be more economical to put some money on the card and top us and when needed. If you're staying for a week or more, it'd make more sense to buy a weekly travel card, which allows you unlimited travel for a week within the zones you select. If you have a contactless card, this can be used just the same as an oyster card - by touching it to the reader at the barriers in tube stations and the entrance of all buses. If you're only in London for a day, you may find it more convenient to simply by a day travel card in the form of a normal ticket, instead of an oyster card.
Finding your way: One of the most commonly used navigation tools for getting around London is the free smartphone app, Citymapper. Once downloaded, simply enter where you want to go into the search tool and select 'get route'. It will show you a map, and use your location to tell you the best travel route to get to your destination, including tube lines and direction (e.g. Victoria Southbound), and bus numbers.
Just remember, whether you're staying in one of the central London hotels or are further out, with a little knowledge of the transport system, the city is your oyster (pun most certainly intended).
Cafés: Working solo
Riding House Café (43-51 Great Titchfield Street, W1W 7PQ): Light and airy, made up of refurbished furniture and parquet flooring, this quirky spot is perfect for an afternoon of work, and even has its own meeting room.
Google Campus (4-5 Bonhill, London EC2A 4BX)
Full of like-minded creatives that are there to network, drink coffee and make use of the speedy free wifi.
The Book Club (100-106 Leonard Street, London EC2A 4RH)
Lots of natural light, bare brick walls, interesting 'book art', great Wi-Fi and plenty of room make The Book Club a trendy and practical place to work.
CARAVAN (Granary Building, 1 Granary Square, London N1C 4AA)
Set in an old grain store, CARAVAN is a gigantic, quirky eatery that oozes London charm. The food is sophisticated and delicious, and the open space provides a great atmosphere for meetings and big thinking.
With critically acclaimed, free exhibitions daily, the Tate Modern is great for visiting solo. Situated right by the river and London Bridge, it's the perfect central location for popping to if you have a few hours in between meetings to kill. Plus, in getting there you'll be able to see the London skyline from the perfect viewpoint, and wander through the famous Borough Market for some of Britain's best food.
Hackney Picture House
If you fancy a movie but still want to feel like you're making the most of London, avoid the big chain cinemas and head to the independent Hackney Picture House for something a little more cultural. Showing a great mix of foreign films, arty flicks and mainstream cinema, there's bound to be something you fancy. Plus, they have a stylish bar/eatery downstairs serving some seriously tasty grub.
Theatre Royal Stratford East
The Theatre Royal puts on a great free comedy night every Monday, which is the perfect spot to catch up and coming talent. It's actually London's longest standing free comedy night, and has been praised for its high standard of, well, funniness (people are often wary of a free comedy night in London). Best of all, if you're not impressed you'll still have cash in your pocket for a drink or two.
London is a whirlwind of trendy cafes and dimly-lit bars, world class art and double decker buses. And although at first it can seem daunting, there's no doubt that - equipped with the right knowledge - it's one of the greatest cities on earth. Welcome to the Big Smoke. You're going to love it.