Get the most out of London’s taxis

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There are many different ways to get around London, such as bus, the Tube and even a so-called Boris Bike. But many visitors, both holidaymakers and people who are in London for work purposes, will choose to rely on taxis.

However, it won’t take you long to notice that there are different types of taxis pounding the streets of the UK capital. And therefore, the services that they offer and how you procure them will also be quite different.

If you’re already confused and baffled, then hopefully we can help with a handy guide as to what types of cabs are available in London and what you can get from each one.

Black cabs

These are easily one of the most common sights on London’s streets, which is no wonder as about 22,000 of them are in service.

London Black Taxi

These are one of the most iconic and recognisable modes of transport in the capital, but be warned, they are also one of the most expensive. Each cab runs on a meter, but if you have the maximum permitted number of five passengers, hopefully the bill shouldn’t be too high.

Finally, remember that London’s black cabs don’t have lots of boot space, so if you are taking luggage with you, you will be forced to have it in the cab with you. In which case, it might not be the comfiest ride of your life and it could be a little bit of a squeeze.

If you are willing and able to run the risk of travelling on a meter though, a black cab can provide a truly authentic taste of London life and a chance to see the city from another perspective. And don’t forget, black cab drivers boast an unparalleled depth of knowledge about London’s streets, so they might take you down shortcuts and alternative routes you might not get to see otherwise.

Mini cabs

These offer a basic service in comparison to what you would expect from black cabs. For instance, drivers are not required to have particularly in-depth knowledge of London’s streets, while they use standard four-door vehicles as opposed to purpose-built cabs.

You won’t be able to hail these cabs and they can only be used if they are booked through licensed mini cab operators. Indeed, cabs are not insured to carry passengers unless they have been booked, and this offers a guarantee that you are actually using a genuine bona fide cab.

If you’re still not sure as to the veracity of the driver who pulls up, then they should have some photo ID available that you can see.

Finally, it wouldn’t hurt to find out about some of the most highly rated mini cab operators in London. Plenty of people will have shared horror stories online about when their cab didn’t turn up at the airport or the time they were dropped off halfway to their destination because they weren’t willing to pay more than the quote that was originally put to them.

Online review sites and social media will contain plenty of positive and negative ratings and help you make an informed decision about which taxi firm you should go with.

Chauffeured Executive Service

If you demand a luxurious experience while you are being driven around London, then why not go for this option?

These can be booked via a private hire office just as a mini cab can, but instead of a fairly underwhelming saloon car pulling up, you can expect a high-end luxury manufacturer such as a Lexus, Jaguar, BMW or Mercedes.

Sit back and relax on the all-leather upholstery, breathe easy in the air-conditioned interior and enjoy a relaxing ride with even a copy of today’s newspaper thrown in for good measure.

The standard of the driver will also reflect the premium offering, as English will be their first language and they will have good knowledge of London’s streets, as well as a smart and well-dressed appearance.

Customer service will be a priority for these drivers and they will be expected as a minimum requirement to be helpful and respectful to their passengers.

Remember this is a premium service, so maybe look with suspicion at anything that seems surprisingly cheap. Again, it’s probably sensible to go online to get some quotes and read some reviews for various companies so you can see which ones are most highly rated.

Before making any decisions regarding how you want to travel around, ask yourself why you are visiting.

If you are on a business trip to the capital, you probably won’t mind slumming it in a mini cab or getting a receipt from a black cab so you can claim the cost back on expenses.

But if you are out to impress somebody, such as a family member or significant other, then a luxury chauffeured vehicle is surely the only way to proceed.