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If you’re dreaming of taking a twirl around Her Majesty’s not-so-humble abode, you’ll need to plan your trip carefully. (Dreamstime)

London can seem like a deceptively easy trip abroad. After all, there's no language barrier or major culture shock. Our ongoing media exchange with Great Britain — all of those BBC shows and James Bond movies — means England's capital has a familiar, cozy feeling for most Americans. But don't be fooled. Newbies coming to London can make all kinds of blunders, which can cost you your time, money or sanity. Luckily, we've explored this city thoroughly, from the top of the London Eye to the bottom of the Underground, and come away with quite a few lessons in the process. Here are our top tips to avoid looking like a rookie on your next trip.

1. TAKING A TAXI FROM THE AIRPORT

London black cabs are — to borrow a British phrase — pretty bloody expensive. And taking one from the airport to your hotel is a full-on punch in the wallet. As an example, a ride from Heathrow Airport to the boutique hotel neighborhood of Holborn is close to 90 pounds ($115 dollars). Skip the taxi line and do as the locals do: Ride the Heathrow Express train. This helpful train darts out of the airport and connects to Paddington Station in central London in just 15 minutes for as low as 22 pounds. From Paddington, you can either hail a much cheaper cab, or you can continue to follow the locals and hop on the London Underground (aka the Tube) to your hotel for less than five pounds. Those arriving in Gatwick Airport can use the similar Gatwick Express.

At Oyster.com our special investigators visit, photograph, review and rate each hotel. We uncover the truth, before it's "uh-oh" time.

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