You want to make your daily life in London easy and enjoyable. This means getting your house quickly in order, finding the shops to buy your groceries and enrolling your family to their hobbies. Also, don’t forget to take advantage of the many entertainment possibilities that your new home town has to offer.
Oxford Street and Regent Street are the biggest shopping streets in London. However, different neighbourhoods have their own more tranquil shopping streets, or high streets, as they are called here. Depending on the affluence of the area, they can have various shops and services, like delicatessen stores, fashion boutiques, beauty salons and nice restaurants.
If you prefer large shopping centres, visit Westfield both in White City and Stratford or Brent Cross in Hendon. The largest department store chains are Debenhams, House of Fraser and John Lewis.
Brick-and-mortar stores are increasingly competing with online shopping. You can buy practically anything on Internet and the goods will be delivered to your door. If you are not home, the delivery companies tend to leave the product to your neighbours, agree another date of delivery or, following your instructions, leave the parcel in a secure place in your garden. This service makes your daily life in London easier since you don’t need to carry heavy, bulky items home yourself.
The biggest grocery store chains are Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose with many stores all over London. They all, as well as online store Ocado, offer Internet shopping. Food is delivered in pre-agreed, one hour slots seven days a week.
Grocery stores in general have a good variety of ethnic food items but London has also several speciality shops selling Asian, African, Middle Eastern and Latin American ingredients. There are also various food markets like the renowned Borough Market in Southwark, Smithfield Meat Market in Farringdon and Billingsgate Fish Market in Poplar. During weekends many neighbourhoods have Farmers’ Markets that sell food and products produced within 100 miles of London.
For furniture, check the big department stores – Debenhams, House of Fraser and John Lewis – as well as Furniture Village, Habitat, Heal’s and Ikea. They all have several stores in the Greater London area. Many companies sell furniture online – try such as Homebase, Argos and Sainsbury’s for not so expensive furniture.
Hardware and Appliance stores
B&Q, Homebase and Wickes are the big hardware stores in the UK. Good place for kitchen appliances, televisions, computers and other electrical items are Currys PC World and all department stores. Also many online stores selling electrical appliances can give you a competitive price.
London has a vast amount of restaurants to choose from, ranging from take-away eateries to Michelin starred restaurants. There will certainly be something for every taste and budget.
Londoners like eating out and restaurants are busy especially at weekend, so do make a table reservation beforehand. Most restaurants allow online reservations and tend to call you the previous day to confirm it. Midweek is quieter and you are likely to find reasonably priced two to three course set lunches. Pubs in London are also of great value for lunch and dinner. Their menus have today more varied choices than just kidney pie or bangers and mash.
It is polite to give a 10-15% tip when eating out. However, many restaurants do add the service charge to the bill, so take notice that you don’t tip twice.
London is undoubtedly one of the entertainment capitals of the world. There are theatre, concerts and art exhibitions every day of the week. Apart from the big venues, London has also many fringe theatres, independent cinemas and live music clubs. They have alternative programmes and maybe more budget friendly prices.
You can buy tickets online or straight from the venue. If you cannot find the dates or seats with one provider, try another. However, do book early, since many productions sell out almost immediately. For last-minute tickets try out your luck at TKTS booth in Leicester Square. Visit their website to see what shows are likely to be available.
To keep fit you can practise almost any sport in London. There are several health clubs and leisure centres in the city, many with swimming pools and racket sport facilities. Football and cricket are played in fields all over London. Rowing is also popular, with many clubs along the Thames. Being a densely populated city, there are surprisingly many golf courses and horse riding places in the Greater London area. Cycling, running and walking are your cost-free alternatives.