Avoid tourist wear
If you want to blend in, don't wear brightly colored clothes in the winter or baseball hats. Both are dead giveaways for tourists.

Hats for Hire*
Hire brands of hats worn by Royals and celebrities within a 3-minute walk of the Grandstand from

If you are a fan of arugula (or ‘rocket’ as it is known here) you are in luck, nearly every salad here features this green.
UK 'bacon' isn't the generally of the crispy variety. The texture and flavor is more akin to Canadian bacon or ham. Sainsbury's does stock Oscar Meyer bacon, so you can have US-style bacon at home.
BBQ at home
We were happy to discover the tasty Waitrose marinated, oven-ready brisket and salt beef – a good close-to-home substitute.
Given the variety of flour that is available here, the UK is able to produce over 200 varieties of bread. Something I never tire of trying.
You'll see there is no section on chicken. The reason is that the chicken here is better and tastier than what you can find in the US. Why you ask? The best tasting chicken is free-range and the UK has outlawed the use of cages to raise their chickens (and the US hasn’t).
Cream & Sugar Equivalents
A UK-US decoder for some basic baking ingredients.
caster sugar = granulated sugar
icing sugar = confectioners’ sugar
single cream = half and half cream
double cream = heavy cream
whipping cream = heavy cream
clotted cream = no equivalent
Dim Sum at Home
Head to New Malden to purchase frozen dim sum from Korea Food Market and you can steam dim sum at home. You can also get beef bagogi, shrimp and tofu buns along with fresh fruits and vegetables in bulk. The market includes a range of Asian ingredients and foods, including Chinese, Indian and Japanese. They also carry better-priced 'knock-off' US items such as graham crackers, Oreos, saltines.
Why are UK eggs not refrigerated? US factory farm eggs are more susceptible to salmonella contamination and require refrigeration after washing. UK eggs do not require refrigeration since they are not washed. Interesting and true.
Full English Breakfast
This substantial meal rooted in Victorian tradition consists of bacon, beans, black pudding*, eggs, mushrooms, sausage, tomato and toast. It is widely served at both formal and informal restaurants throughout the UK.
Home Grocery Delivery
On-line grocery ordering with delivery to your door is commonplace here. And some like Ocado are limited to on-line only. Convenient as long as you don’t need to handle your own fruit and vegetables or check expiration dates.
Maids of Honour
It is believed that Henry VIII came across Anne Boleyn and her Maids of Honour (young ladies who attend the Queen) eating cakes. The story goes that he liked the ‘Maids of Honour’ cakes so much that he put the recipe under lock and key at Richmond Palace.
Mr. Whippy
Quite the opposite of fancy gelatos and ice cream, there is Mr. Whippy soft ice cream. These ice cream trucks are found throughout London and Surrey. Apparently, a UK research team (which Margaret Thatcher was a part of) found that doubling the amount of air meant manufacturers could use less content. Having taste-tested many other cones, we found Mr. Whippy to be creamier, lighter and tastier than the rest.
Public vs. Free Houses
Central to British culture are public houses (known as ‘pubs’). Pubs are owned or run by breweries and required to supply their specific products. On the other hand, Free Houses are not tied to a brewery and are ‘free ‘to serve more than one product.
Many attractions and venues allow you to bring your own food. What has been a pleasant surprise is how good the food is at places like museums, parks and zoos. If you’re an adult, you can even have a glass of Pimm's* or wine at these venues, something usually not in the offer at similar American venues. So lighten your load and just pack snacks.
Sunday Roast
While consistently good burger and steaks are hard to find, British roast beef served at Sunday lunch is not. Chicken, lamb and pork are also commonly used. Sunday roast is served at pubs and restaurants and typically come with or mashed potato, Yorkshire pudding*, stuffing, vegetables and gravy. A little like Thanksgiving every Sunday here.
Sushi Takeaway
We are 'regulars' at Atari, a small grocery shop in Kingston that sells sushi for take-out only. It is fresh, made-to-order at good prices. It turns out, this location is one of the shops run by Atari Group that has a number of full-size restaurants and distributes quality fish to much of Europe. Who knew?
TexMex at Home
The closest substitute for cheddar cheese is Red Leicester (cheddar or mature cheddar is different from common cheddar in the US) and you might try substituting sour cream for crème fraîche. Lastly, be advised that the Old El Paso taco seasoning packet available in the UK is a sweeter and not as spicy variety, though.
London water is perfectly safe to drink. In fact, in blind taste tests, people couldn’t tell the difference between cold bottled water and cold tap water. It is perfectly acceptable to request ‘tap water’ at restaurants. At nicer restaurants they will ask you for still* or sparkling*, and expect the charge to appear on your bill.

Free books
UK libraries are localized and tend to be on the small side. Use your US library card to download ebooks – a great to have books on the go and stay current with US authors.
Free tours
Free tours of Big Ben and Houses of Parliament are available to UK residents when requested from MP or Member of the House of Lords.

Pop-Up Shops
For some reason, I thought Pop-Up Shops originated in the UK while in fact it is a LA import. It is basically a temporary retail space that it is open for one to three months located in high foot traffic areas. London’s got this down to a science with everything from accessories and clothing to bars and restaurants and even galleries, movies and souvenirs – a fun way to be one of the first to try something new.
Restaurants in the UK must pay waiters at least the national minimum wage, whether or not they receive tips. Expectations for tips and service levels can vary. Tipping, when done is usually at lower levels than in US.
UK Costco
You can use your US Costco membership in the UK. A great place for seasonal and sports clothes (ie Crocs, ski jackets/pants, workout tops/bottoms) and of course US branded foods.

Blue Badge Guide
These internationally recognized professional guides go through up to two years of vigorous training and truly will make your visit come to life. They are also the only guides allowed to give tours in the Big Five: 1) the British Museum, 2) St. Paul’s, 3) National Gallery, 4) the Tower of London, and 5) Westminster Abbey.
Private Tours
It is possible to schedule a private outing with group of family or friends for many of London’s attractions – in many instances at a reasonable rate.

Boot* and Scoot
No not the boogie that Brooks & Dunn made famous. You drink and they come and drive your car home for you. They literally have a foldable scooter that they put in the boot of your car. Truly a brilliant* idea!
Bus Tour Alternative
When family and friends visit, the cost of showing them the sights can add up quickly. Instead of booking a tourist bus, get on an iconic Routemaster* for a fraction of the cost. Take the Number 11 bus starting at Liverpool Street Station and ending at Victoria Station. The route takes approximately an hour and goes by many of the major landmarks including Bank of England, St. Paul's Cathedral, Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace, Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey. A fun and affordable way to see London!
Oyster Card
For £10 (£5 deposit and £5 minimum) you can start to access most of London’s transport services, including Tube, bus, tram, Emirates Air Line and KPMG Thames Clipper services. The Oyster is smart and won’t let you pay more than the price of a Day Travelcard. There are no date restrictions, is transferrable to family and friends and reusable with automatic top-up* option. Just be sure to tap card readers both in and out of stations; otherwise the system will charge you the maximum day rate.


  1. I took guests on a street art tour through Shoreditch and then caught the #11 Routemaster outside Liverpool Station to Westminster Abbey. Liverpool is the first stop so if you are quick, you will be able to nab the top front row seats. Thanks for the top tip!

    1. So fun this worked for you and your guests Leslie! Love the street art in Shoreditch too!!