Londoners aren't known for their manners. But for the tens of thousands of Chinese tourists visiting the British capital each year, the city's hospitality is becoming a big pull factor.

Chinese-speaking staff, signs and maps in Chinese, and managers trained to receive a credit card with both hands and a slight bow are all increasingly common as the capital tries to woo the yuan.

Shop workers even know to offer hot, not iced, water to thirsty Chinese shoppers.

It's no wonder. In the first six months of this year, visitors from China spent more in Britain than tourists from any other country - accounting for a fifth of purchases by foreigners, reports tax refund firm Global Blue. The average Chinese visitor spends £2,688 (HK$32,500) per trip - more than four times the global average of £636, says tourist board VisitBritain.

Competitive pricing has long made London popular with Chinese visitors: designer goods in Britain are about 30 per cent cheaper than those in China because there are no import taxes, and foreign shoppers can claim a 20 per cent value-added tax refund.

British brands have also been slow to take their wares to China, says Fenella Barber, of the China-Britain Business Council. So the shoppers are coming to them.

Growing cultural sensitivity is helping Britain to capitalise on these advantages, says Taiwan-born Steven Bywater, who works for trend analysis firm Wei Consulting.

"Many Chinese consumers comment on the quality of customer service in the UK versus the lack of it in Chinese flagship stores. You go into Plaza 66 in Shanghai and it's a ghost town - they're basically just brand showrooms," he says.

From Harrods to John Lewis, British stores are accepting UnionPay, making the money side of things simple. At Harvey Nichols, which has seen a 50 per cent increase in Chinese spending in three years, all employees now receive cultural training, and Putonghua- and Cantonese-speaking staff have been hired.

The luxury department store also offers a "VIP tax-free airport fast-track service". Those who commit to spending more than £7,000 will be chauffeured to and from the airport.

The Chinese aren't made to feel at home only in London. Take luxury coach Shopping Express (tickets are sold by tour operators in China, as well as those in Britain) to Oxfordshire and you'll find designer outlet Bicester Village, where almost half of the shopaholics in the 130 boutiques have travelled more than 8,000km, says the China-Britain Business Council.

Three out of four Chinese tourists to Britain visit Bicester Village; that market has become so valuable that signs there are written in English and Chinese and shops are tailoring their goods to suit Asian visitors - including stocking smaller sizes.

During "golden week", stores buy in extra shoes, accessories and big-ticket bags - many, of course, in the lucky shade of red.

Etan Smallman in London