01 February 2017 Insider’s Guide
London is many things; cheap it is not. Or at least that’s what they want you to think. And yeah sure, it’s hard to find good, cheap things to do. But it makes it all the more rewarding when you do find a gem of a place with an inoffensive price tag. For every £50-a-plate-of-food eatery you’ll find in London, we’d wager you will find two top notch under-a-tenner spots that deliver an equally flavoursome punch.
This post will serve as a budgeter’s guide to the city and tackle everything from travel to culture. Enjoy. Whilst you’re in the capital schedule a stay with us at easyHotel, we have a host of cheap accommodation in London, right by key points in the city.
Getting around London can be a real pincher at times. Especially if you don’t travel the smart way. As a visitor to London you’ll want to be getting yourself a Visitor Oyster Card. The cheapest they come is at £18. This gives you £15 credit with which to use, the remaining £3 purchases the card itself.
Oyster Cards are used on all means of public transport in the capital and can as much as half the cost of buying a paper ticket for the same journey. Order before you travel to ensure you receive it on time. Be warned though not all London airports sit within the Oyster Card areas and so extra tickets may need to be purchased.
If you’d rather expend some energy whilst moving around the city, then you can use the city-wide cycle hire programme. Costing just £2 for 24 hours’ worth of access, this is one of the more economical ways of getting around the city. But you’ll need to keep an eye on the time as you can only use one for 30 minutes at a time before you will have to dock it at a parking bay. Then you will have to wait 5 minutes before taking out another bike.
Or of course you can ditch all means of transport and use those things at the bottom of your legs. The centre of London is really easy to walk around and will give you the best understanding of the layout and changing character of the city as you walk east to west or north to south. In many instances, and particularly at busy times walking from one tube stop to the next is just as quick, if not quicker than taking the tube.
Things to see and do
If you’re a real deal culture vulture you may want to look into the London Pass. The price for adults is £50.40 which may seem a little steep, but if you intend on visiting the vast majority of the sights in London it is well worth the initial outlay. It gives you entry to some of the city’s best known attractions, such as the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, London Zoo, Hampton Court and many more. It will also give you access to a hop on, hop off bus tour for a day.
While certain tourist destinations in London cost to get in there are just as many that are free. Most of the big museums and galleries offer free entry. The Natural History Museum, Tate Modern, Science Museum, and V&A are just some. There will be pricey exhibitions on, but the permanent collection is open to the public and free of charge.
Some of the best value for money in London you’re likely to get is in its natural surroundings. The parks of London are absolutely free and pack quite the punch. Particular mention should be given to Hampstead Heath and Regent’s Park. The two parks sit on opposite ends of the spectrum, Hampstead Heath revels in its wildness, whilst Regent’s Park is famed for its stunningly pruned and immaculately maintained gardens.
Grabbing a bite to eat
The capital has 70 Michelin starred restaurants, and for the flashy traveller these are the establishments they’ll be heading to. That’s fine, they don’t interest us right now. You’ll be eating there one day. Just wait.
But beyond the glitz and the glam is a bubbling restaurant and street food scene that can really set the heart racing. Chinatown is just one such place. Now, you’ll have to tread carefully because for every top value, top taste joint, there’s the tourist trap that’s overpriced and bland. Try Hung’s or New Mayflower for dead certs when it comes to flavour and value.
Or head to Oxford Circus and try eating by new rules. Ethos is a vegetarian restaurant where you pay by weight. Load your plate as you desire, touring the buffet as if touring the world, dipping into Korean kimchi, Italian risottos, Indian-inflected scotch eggs, and much more. The pay by weight model means you will avoid any nasty surprises, each 100g portion costs £2.60 at lunch, and £2.85 for dinner. To to really save a few pennies, takeaway all day for £2.30.
Grab a pint
Many will claim that Wetherspoons is the home of cheap booze in the UK. They’d be wrong. There is another fine drinking establishment that far surpasses a ‘Spoons in terms of atmosphere and price. That’s a Samuel Smith’s pub (check this map for all their locations). Dotted around the centre of London, there’s pretty well nowhere you’re going to get a cheaper pint. And to add to that the atmosphere is always amazing, they’ve got the rustic charm of a pub stuck in the ‘70s. We highly recommend.
With that we have taken you through the best ways to explore London and save a couple of pennies along the way. But what about a place to stay? Well, we’ve got you covered there as well. We have a host of cheap London hotels, dotted throughout the capital. Perfect for saving a pretty penny while you’re here.
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