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West London is the area on the west side of London, on the north bank of the River Thames. The boroughs in this unofficial sub-division are Brent, Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham, Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow, and Kensington and Chelsea.
The Boroughs of West London are traditionally affluent and leafy, particularly in Ealing, Fulham and Chelsea. Kensington and Chelsea houses some of London's more famous museums, and Hammersmith is a good place for a stroll by the Thames.
Paddington and Victoria are the most convenient mainline stations for West London. The are is also connected to the rest of London by the Overground and Underground rail networks.
It's usually best to avoid driving in London, but providing you're armed with an A-Z and plenty of patience there isn't anywhere that you can't drive to.
Victoria Coach Station is conveniently located for West London, offering connections to the rest of the United Kingdom.
It is possible to arrive in West London by boat. The most convenient route links Chelsea Harbour with Embankment and Blackfriars in the City, though this service only runs at peak travel times.
Travelling by car isn't really necessary, but is possible. Be prepared to hunt for a parking space.
Public Transport links are excellent. West London is well connected by Bus, Underground, Overground and even commuter boat services. It is useful to be aware that South Kensington is the station for the Science, Natural History and Victoria & Albert museums.
Some areas are compact enough to explore on foot - particlarly Kensington, Ealing and the riverside at Hammersmith.
When travelling between areas it's best to take a bus or tube as distances can be long and routes confusing.
Cycle facilities across London are generally adequate and improving - this is no different in West London. Some good routes exist, including the traffic free National Cycle Network routes at Chelsea riverside and from Paddington to Perivale.
Just about every eating possibility is catered for somewhere in West London. At the budget end, there's a string of cheap Chinese places in Bayswater, thought by many to be superior to their Chinatown rivals. Most pubs will serve up some kind of food too, from cheap and traditional to expensive gastropub style.
Other interesting budget to mid-range options include:
Kensington and Chelsea are busting at the seams with expensive food options. You're unlikely to be disappointed by the following:
There's a sprinkling of decent boozers distributed liberally across the area, plus a few noteworthy smart bars in the more affluent districts towards the city. Options include:
Internet cafés can be found in many cities and towns. All UK public libraries provide access, often branded as "People's Network", usually at no or little charge, though there is usually a time limit. Some hotels/hostels also offer internet access, including wifi, but most times at a cost. Using the internet on your personal phone can become expensive very quickly, with carriers charging 100's of times the local rate for data. To avoid these expensive roaming charges, you can hunt for wifi at a local cafe or hotel, or rent a mobile hotspot via several providers including DATAPiXY, and XCOM Global.
See also: International Telephone Calls
The country calling code to the United Kingdom is: 44. To make an international call from the United Kingdom, the code is: 00
In case of emergency, call 999 or 112 from any phone. Such calls are free and will be answered by an emergency services operator who will ask you for your location, and the service(s) you need (police, fire, ambulance, coastguard or mountain rescue). You can call this number from any mobile telephone as well, even if you do not have roaming.
Although the number is declining, you can still find payphones in many public areas, especially stations, airports etc. You can usually pay with cash and sometimes by creditcard or, for international calls, special phonecards are still available.
Mobile phones are heavily used. The main networks are T-Mobile, Vodafone, Orange and O2. 3G data services are available, usually priced per megabyte and coverage is usually very good in the UK, however it may lack in rural areas. Roaming on your personal phone plan can be expensive. To manage costs, consider purchasing a local UK SIM card for your phone. Several companies offer local SIM cards including Telestial, and CellularAbroad.
The Royal Mail provides postal services in the United Kingdom. The Royal Mail's store fronts are called Post Office and offer services ranging from sending letters and packages to foreign currency exchange. Use the branch locator to find the nearest Post Office branch. There will be at least one post office in any town/city and there are quite often post offices in larger villages. It's common for a post office to be incorporated into a grocery store, where there will be a small counter located at the back of the store for dealing with post related matters. All post offices are marked with signs that say 'post office' in red lettering. Post boxes can be found at any post office and standalone large red post boxes on the streets or red boxes in the sides of public buildings.
For sending packages overseas, it might be a good idea to check prices and services with international companies like TNT, UPS or DHL.
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