UK meetings are like open forums.
Meetings in UK business have been described as inconclusive and frequent. Very often they are used as a forum for open debate as opposed to other cultures which may use meetings for assigning tasks and delegation. By comparison to other countries, there is a lot less preparation done prior to the meeting, which means you are expected to use the time in the meeting to demonstrate your usefulness – no hiding behind an agenda or slacking off or sleeping! UK meetings are still quite formal and require usual common courtesies such as punctuality, committing to appointments, not interrupting others and listening to others.
Don't overlap meeting times - Else you're brain will look like this.
As it is impossible to measure the length of a debate, it may be difficult to determine how long a meeting is going to be and therefore there is a slight chance it will stop short or overrun. It is probably wise to leave a considerable length of time between meetings in case one overruns, or you have transport difficulty, i.e. you miss a train.
Meetings are usually around lunchtime, but may be held at breakfast or dinnertime. Generally, people do not meet for food the first time, but it is common to meet for food and drink at other times, whoever calls the meeting is usually expected to pay for the meal.
When you are the guest, make sure you print a map of directions to the restaurant, as it’s easy to get lost in a city and with technologies like Google Maps and smartphones, getting lost is no excuse for lateness or absence. Also make sure you allow spare time in case of bad traffic or congestion on the roads/buses or at some times of the day, the tube.
You could probably get away with having a glass of wine at this meeting.
If offered alcohol, it is best to follow whatever the contact is doing, especially if they are the host. You may feel inclined to sample British Ale and maybe even encouraged to do so if your host is particularly keen to welcome you to British culture. Larger amounts of alcohol are consumed at dinnertime, but in both cases you are not expected to drink if you do not wish to.
When it is your turn to arrange the appointment, it is safer to book a table at a nice place, but not too expensive as it may seem like you’re showing off or it may intimidate your contact, which you don’t want to do (unless you’re in the business of Gladiators). Take recommendations from your hotel if you are staying at one, friends if you have any in the area or perhaps ask the contact themselves to see what they recommend, that way you will know it’s a place they like! Some sectors, such as the media sector, prefer venues that have a cool reputation but that will allow less formal clothing.
Otherwise try these links for places suggesting business lunches: