Driving in London may seem daunting, and sometimes people are put off before they even look into it – this is a waste, because it really is not a lot of trouble at all once you are in the know. So, this article will show you that reaping the benefits of your Premier Club Rewards for London Hotels can go hand in hand with driving around the city. Here is everything you need to know, from where to park to which licensing you need.
The actual driving is, to a certain extent, the easiest part about driving in London. It is all well and good cruising around the city center, but the difficulty arrives when you then need to find a parking close to Park Grand Paddington Court London after the galavanting comes to an end and you are ready to get a cocktail at the bar and tuck into a wholesome meal at the local pub. Here are parking spots near your hotel in Paddington, as well as parking nearby all of the city’s major tourist attractions.
Parking your car while staying in Park Grand Paddington Court London is easier than you might think. JustPark Westbourne is a short five minute walk from the hotel, right by Sussex Gardens. These are small spots, though, so not recommended if you have a big SUV type vehicle. Rates are available on their website: www.justpark.com/uk/parking/london/.
Alternatively, you could head to Q-Park Queensway, which is about a 15 minute walk from the hotel but equally handy in terms of proximity to the rest of central London, with more details available at www.q-park.co.uk/en-gb/.
If you are looking to park near the royal residence, then you can head to ParkBee Westminster Abbey Orchard Street – it is quite small, so you may struggle to find space, but you can check ahead of time whether there is space on their website: https://parkbee.com/uk/parking/westminster-abbey-orchard-st/.
This famous square commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar and is a tourist must-see, because it is not only in front of the National Gallery but host to Nelson’s Column. Q Park Trafalgar is your best bet in this case given its outstanding proximity to the square itself. To figure out diner details like pricing and timing, head online and learn more: q-park.co.uk.
In general, you will find that there are more parking spaces across the city for Q Park, ParkBee, JustPark and the likes, so head online and type in the location best suited to your parking needs and everything will be made clear and simple for you. In almost all situations in London, if you are not 100% sure whether you are allowed to park, there is certainly a signpost nearby which will tell you exactly the sort of zone it is, whether it is residential parking only, the charges as well as the time frame in which it is reserved. Make sure to never just park anywhere – always look out for signposting that may be critical in ensuring you don’t have a nasty fine on your hands when you could have just paid a small fee upfront.
As it were, a lot of people are resistant to driving in London not because of the difficulty of parking or an issue with the roads, but rather because of the Low and the Ultra Low Emission Zone charge; and the congestion charge. It is in place in order to improve London’s air quality and should be respected by drivers as something working towards the overall improved environment in this bustling city.
To break it down simply: the congestion charge is paid by all vehicles driving in London. The low emission charge is an additional charge that is applied daily (with some exceptions) to those driving in Greater London. The Ultra Low Emission Zone is a further charge for vehicles driving in the centre of London. You do not need to do anything in advance – the sophisticated technology will clock your number plate and you will be charged thereafter. It is then up to you to make sure the money is paid in a timely fashion.
The congestion charge is 24 hours a day, every day of the week, at certain times with a couple of exceptions, and this is a charge for anyone driving in Greater London. There is no charge between 6pm and 7am on weekdays or on weekends, public holidays or any days between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. This means, for instance, that you would be able to drive around parts of London without charge on weekends or outside of working hours.
The ULEZ is 24 hours a day, on every day of the week with no exceptions except Christmas Day. The ULEZ costs £12.50 for most vehicle types, including cars, motorcycles and vans (up to and including 3.5 tonnes), whereas it costs £100 for heavier vehicles, including lorries (over 3.5 tonnes) and buses/coaches (over 5 tonnes). This means that driving around Central London will always cost you unless it is on Christmas. The fines are not worth it, so make sure you keep on top of the zoning.
The boundaries of Central London are therefore important, so you know from which point you will start being charged, and can be found at https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/ultra-low-emission-zone/ulez-where-and-when#on-this-page-0.
Licenses from other countries
If you are planning your holiday and need to know whether or not your driver’s license will be valid or whether you will need to acquire a permit, then there is a click through questionnaire on the following website which will outline the specifics of your particular license: https://www.gov.uk/driving-nongb-licence. However, it is good to know the simple fact that all valid foreign driver’s licenses are acceptable for driving in the UK for 12 months from the date of entry. So, if you are holidaying, you are likely going to be just fine – unless you are in the habit of taking year-long holidays.
Unfortunately for those with international licenses, the insurance (which is mandatory) when renting a car is higher than those with EU and UK licenses.
Rules of the road
Some people will be lucky enough to have similar road-rules to their own country, while others, such as visitors from the United States of America, will need to make a few adjustments. The first and arguably most confusing for those who do not have the same system is driving on the left hand side of the road, on the right hand side of the car. Then there are smaller scale but equally important things, such as stopping for pedestrians at zebra-crossings and how to use turning circles properly. The full Highway Code is available here, and may be worth glancing over before hiring a vehicle: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/the-highway-code.
Bus lanes are a critical thing to understand in London, given how expansive the bus public transport network is. You do not want to be messing with bus lanes or making mistakes that upset bus driver’s, so remember the following. You are allowed to drive in bus lanes outside of operation hours, which in the city centre are from 7am to 7pm from Monday to Saturday. If you are not 100% sure what constitutes as the bus lane, it is quite simple: the solid white lines demarcate the lane’s parameters.
So licensing is easy and hardly a concern for the majority of visitors, and keeping out of the bus lanes is not too difficult. So why isn’t everyone driving around, you may ask. Well, in part, this will be because London has notoriously heavy traffic – and that is taking into consideration the fact that numbers are already reduced as a result of the congestion and low emission charges. Unfortunately, with a city as big as London, and given the nature of businesses all being located in London, the city is an absolute commuter hotspot and a lot of people will be driving in the city during peak times to get to work and to get around the city. This does not have to be an overall deterrent for you, however it can be valuable to know that public transport is often your best option – as well as the quickest option – when trying to get from A to B in London. If you are staying centrally, it is especially useful to use public transport because you are nearby so many London Underground stations that can get you from West to East, riverside to park side, in mere minutes sometimes.
If you want to keep on top of the traffic and perhaps schedule your driving trips around congestion or troublesome times as well as live updates, then head to http://www.trafficengland.com/. Here, you will be kept updated by all the latest traffic information as it comes through. If you are able and have useful traffic information, you may also want to report it to the website so that they can help people like you who have yet to take off in their vehicle.
Though we have reached a stage internationally where these rules remain consistent, it is important to remember that car safety is important in the UK and London especially given how many people are on the road. This means that seatbelts are a legal requirement, and that small children cannot travel in cars without adequate car seats.
We are living in the 21st century – there is no need to be trying to find your way around the city with a pocket manual or using only signposts to navigate through the city. There are a number of useful apps that will make driving in London much easier and more pleasant for you. Those include:
Citymapper is an app which factors everything involved in a journey, with the destination and location information you provide it with, and tells you what the quickest, most effective way to travel is. For instance, if you put into your Citymapper app that you wanted to get from Grand Royale London Hyde Park to Hampstead Heath, it would break down the route and let you know whether you are best off driving, walking, cycling, taking the bus or taking the tube. This is particularly handy if you aren’t sure what the roads will be like and you want to know whether driving is a good idea or not.
Nobody wants to be stuck driving up and down side roads trying to find parking, but RingGo, JustPark and PayByPhone, to name but a few, are apps which are combatting that issue one piece of data at a time. You share your location with these apps, and it pulls from its database to let you know the nearest parking in the area, what it costs and it also allows you to book it. These apps are particularly useful when you would like to extend your parking time remotely, which is often necessary if you selected a limited time session but intend on staying at your destination a bit longer.
If you are keeping up with the times, you may have opted to rent or buy an electric car. If you are driving this in London, this means you need to know where you can charge your cars. Download Zap-Map, which will tell you where all the different ports are around the city to ensure you are never without battery in London.
If you are making the most of the Grand Royale London Hyde Park Loyalty Program, then you are going to want to visit often, meaning it is likely you will need to hire a car or bring your own in order to get around with no trouble. But you don’t want to spend your whole trip feeling overwhelmed by the rules, regulations and charges. So brush up on your knowledge using articles such as these and make sure you know where to park, how to get around and which lanes you definitely shouldn’t be in. After that, you are ready to drive around London – enjoy!