An Honest Guide to Business Travel in London
In London for business? Take note of these all-important tips to guarantee a successful trip
So, you're in London for business? We're giving the lowdown on how to become a city slicker to rival the very best (read: stressed) of them. Yes, even that city lot. Read on for our expert opinion, forged by the extensive research that we at Plum Guide pride ourselves on.
Choose the most convenient airport
The city is served by five major airports: London City, Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton and Stansted. Heathrow is the capital’s main hub and is served by the Heathrow Express which takes you from the terminal to Paddington station in fifteen minutes. As the name suggests, London City is closest to the centre, but flight times are a little restrictive due to its location.
Wherever you’re flying in from, you’re sure to find a flight and budget to suit the requirements for your business travel in London. Just be sure to factor in travel time to and from the airport, as Gatwick, Luton and Stansted are all a longer journey from the city itself.
Decide which mode of transport to use
Your best bet is to opt for the underground (or the Tube); it’s fast, reliable and much more cost-effective than travelling by taxi. You can use your contactless card to pay on the move, or purchase an Oyster card if you prefer. Maps and transport apps are readily available – we recommend CityMapper or the TfL app to help you plan your route in advance – but there’s always plenty of transport attendants to ensure you get from A to B safely.
Prefer the door to door service? Black cabs are readily available (and their drivers will no doubt advise you on London’s top things to see and do during your visit). Uber also operates in the city, as do similar app-based platforms like Gett, Grab and ViaVan. There will often be free credit for first-time users, so be sure to check for that if you haven’t used the service before. The perfect excuse for an extra Martini at the end of a long working day…
Learn the London etiquette
Generally speaking, etiquette in London is fairly straightforward. Unlike in the US, service is often included in restaurant bills, but it’s customary to reward excellent service with an extra 10% tip. Word of advice: always join the back of the queue (Brits don’t take kindly to ‘queue jumpers’) and don’t be afraid to ask for directions, we all get lost sometimes.
Find the perfect accommodation
The range of accommodation for business travel in London is vast and varies hugely in price according to neighbourhood and quality. If you’re looking for all the amenities of home without scrimping on life’s little luxuries (who isn't?), then Plum Guide is the place to go. With corporate rentals in London's most sought-after locations – including Mayfair, Soho and South Bank – there’s bound to be a home-from-home to suit your business trip needs.
Know where to hold your business meetings
Thanks to the rise of coworking, you can now rent a hot desk or private conference room with WeWork by the hour or by the day. With locations across the capital, it’s a good option for convenience. Similarly, if you’re a member of Soho House (or are meeting somebody who is), their London sites are the perfect place for discreet discussion with clients.
Prefer the quiet buzz of a coffee house? Needless to say, there are countless cafés that welcome freelancers throughout the day (laptops and all) to be found in London. Our favourites at Plum Guide are The Book Club in Shoreditch, Timberyard in Seven Dials and Origin Coffee at The British Library.
Choose a place for business meals
You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing a place to wine and dine clients in London.
Berners Tavern is an much-loved spot for lunch or dinner, with a vast menu of British classics in the heart of Fitzrovia, as is the light-filled conservatory at Soho’s Ham Yard Hotel. In the city itself, there are jaw-dropping views and equally impressive food to be found at Aqua Shard, Fenchurch and Duck & Waffle.
If you’re meeting clients near Kings Cross, then the new Coal Drops Yard development – with laidback eateries like Caravan, Lina Stores and hicce – is the perfect place to chat over coffee and a quick bite.
Explore London in your off-time
Find yourself with a little time to kill? Well, lucky you, because London is full of (far more interesting) things to see and do beyond the four walls of a board room. The Natural History Museum is a must-visit for history buffs, whilst art-lovers can while away an hour or two at Tate Britain, The National Gallery or The V&A. It’s worth squeezing in a West End show or a trip to Borough Market, where a whole host of tempting food stalls await. And of course, no trip to London is complete without a stroll through St James’s Park and past Buckingham Palace to watch the Changing of the Guard. It just has to be done.