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Staines is a fairly typical town to the west of London, part of the London Commuter Belt. It was in the traditional county of Middlesex, but rather than becoming part of Greater London with most of the rest Middlesex, in 1965, it was ceded to Surrey.

A significant proportion of the town's population finds employment thirty minutes down the rail line, in central London. However, a number of larger companies, such as a Bupa and LogicaCMG have major offices in Staines. The administrative offices of Spelthorne District Council, are also in the town.

Most of Staines is on the north bank of the River Thames, across which there has been a bridge since Roman times (hence the Roman name of the town Pontes).

Staines was the site of the Staines air disaster in 1972, at the time the worst aircrash to have occurred on British soil.

Staines is also the home of the fictional character Ali G.

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