London is one of the world’s greatest cities, but like Paris, New York and Rome, can be hard on the wallet. While you can see all the stunning major attractions from the outside at no charge other than your travel, some do have entrance fees and if you want to cram in as many as possible, the costs are going to mount up. Choose the ones you want to see inside carefully, and make the most of them.
If you want to see the luxurious side of London but lack the financial wherewithal to splurge, it is possible, it just needs a bit of know-how and some planning.
One of the greatest attractions of London is Theatreland. Some say it outshines Broadway but unless you try, you can’t judge. A family outing to the theatre in the West End can be a pricey affair, but there are ways to make it a comparative bargain. Check out special offers for combined hotel and theatre packages on sites like Show and Stay, or visit the half price ticket booth on Leicester Square. Luxuriate in the opulence of antique theatres and enjoy the best drama, comedy or dramas in the world.
London has more than its fair share of luxury hotels – The Ritz, The Dorchester, The Savoy, and Claridges, to name just a few. A stay in one of their amazing suites may be out of the question, but there are some delightful boutique hotels dotted around the city. Also, look for little budget hotels in the areas away from the main tourist drag – public transport makes it easy to get around so you needn’t feel isolated. Book a budget hotel, get hold of an Oyster card for travelling, and you can afford some extra treats.
As you have saved on your travel and accommodation, you can afford some of the extra special attractions. Since the Millennium, the London Eye has firmly established itself as one of the must-do things in the capital. Make it extra special by taking a champagne flight for two. You have an entire capsule to yourselves and a bottle of champagne to sip, as you view some of the most iconic landmarks in the world.
This next one may well surprise you. It is shopping. But, we’re not talking about the overpriced stores in Oxford Street or the upmarket designer boutiques of Bond Street. For luxury shopping on a budget, eschew the shopping malls and brightly lit streets and head for the charity shops, but not just any one. The Oxfam in Notting Hill not only has designer label cast-offs from its well-heeled residents, but also great unique pieces by the students of the London College of Fashion. Alternatively, try the Chelsea British Red Cross shop for some true designer bargains.
It’s been a while now since the UK has put its legacy of warm beer and terrible food behind it. The London food scene actually sets the trends and has an amazing collection of restaurants. Of course, these come at a price so unless you happen to find a daily deal site with a very special offer, they are best avoided. Instead, head to ethnic restaurants in their own ethnic enclaves. Fancy something Greek? Find a restaurant in Palmers Green. Need kosher? The only place is Golders Green, and for Chinese, of course it is Chinatown, but avoid pricey Gerrard Street. There is such a vast selection of cuisines on offer in London, it is a real opportunity to sample something new. You could be eating Lebanese on the Marylebone Road, Bangladeshi in Tooting, or Somalian in Bethnal Green, and all at a fraction of the cost of a Michelin star meal in tourist central.
This guest post is from Show and Stay, the UK’s provider of cheap theatre breaks.