We have already noted the most important apps for visitors to London to carry, but it’s also worth remembering the value of a good old-fashioned phone call. Spending half an hour before travelling loading your phone with a few emergency numbers can mean help is quickly at hand when things don’t go to plan.
How do London’s phone numbers work?
It may seem obvious to regular travellers, but you should start by making sure you understand how the basic phone codes work. To call London from abroad, first dial your own country’s exit code (normally 00, but 011 in Canada and the US). When phoning a UK number, you need to add the UK country code 44 and remove the 0 from the start of the area code. The London area code is 020, so a call from the US to London will begin 011 44 20, followed by the local 8-digit number, which will start with 7 (central London), 8 (Greater London) or 3. If you’re calling London from a UK phone, it’s simply the area code (020) followed by the local 8-digit number.
What numbers should I have stored in my mobile while in London?
While in London, the Baron would recommend you have the following numbers at your fingertips:
999: The emergency number. Once connected, you will be offered a choice of police, ambulance, fire or coastguard. If speaking would endanger you, remain silent and enter 55 when prompted. The 999 number was the world’s first automated emergency code, introduced in July 1937, and initially covering a 12-mile radius around London’s Oxford Circus. It was chosen as it was at the end of the dial, so could be felt for in darkness or fire.
112: The global emergency number, which you can use in London and in 127 countries including the UK.
111: For non-emergency health calls, this will connect you to an advisor who can help you decide if you need an ambulance or to speak to a suitable health practitioner.
101: The non-emergency police number, for reporting crimes such as criminal damage that do not require an emergency response.
116 123: For the Samaritans, whose volunteers will listen without judgement to anyone who needs to talk. The service is free and the call won’t show on your bill. The organization was founded in London in 1953 by a vicar named Chad Varah.
118 500: For Directory Enquiries, where you can request a phone number; or you can speak to an operator by dialling 100.
00: The UK exit code. So, to call the US, you need to dial 00, then 1, then the number.
Also make sure you have your ‘Find My Phone’ app loaded: these numbers are only useful on your mobile if you haven’t lost your mobile!
You can call 999 even when your phone is locked, your balance is zero, and you don’t have a signal.
Are there still phone boxes in London?
There are modern phone kiosks in London, which variously accept coins and credit cards, and have internet connectivity. There are also still examples of London’s traditional red phone boxes, designed in 1924 by architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, and voted in 2015 as the greatest British design of all time. Many red phone boxes are now Instagram stars, snapped ironically (or not!) on tourists’ mobile phones. You can have fun tracking down Scott’s original K2 wooden prototype at Burlington House in Piccadilly.
The other number our guests will need in their contacts list is our direct number (+44 (0)208 241 3153), as we’re always available to address any enquiry about our luxury apartments, to try to accommodate any request, and share our knowledge about living in the wonderful city of London.
If you want to want to talk to me, Ali, this is my business and I’m a Londoner who has lived in this area all my life. We have been hosting business travellers and families from around the world for many years. I would love to talk to you about how we can help your visit, working stay or relocation feel like you’ve not just moved house, but moved home. Just give me a call!