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To think I can stay in London cheaply

(46 Posts)
OctoberFlowers Mon 18-Jul-16 09:24:07

We've never been to London before and can't afford a honeymoon abroad. I thought a stay in London to do some sightseeing would be a nice trip.

But how realistic is it to stay in London for several days (3 or more?) On a budget?

We're happy in a cheap hotel or bnb but as I've never been, I don't know where would be a central-ish place to stay?

Any help is very much appreciated smile

Mouikey Mon 18-Jul-16 09:39:56

So London can be really expensive to stay, factor in your food and sightseeing and sometimes it maybe better off going on a package for a week.

The cheapest hotel I have ever stayed in was £5 night Travelodge in Covent Garden (I kid you not!), but those deals are long gone. Try and look out for the £35/£49 nights vis Travelodge or Premier Inn in the city. If you stay slightly outside (say Excel, Greenwich etc.) you may find them slightly cheaper too especially mid week. Easyhotels (yep, they exist and are very orange!) have hotels that aren't too expensive, but I'd prefer TL or PI to be honest.

Get an oyster card when you arrive as it is the cheapest way to travel these days.

Food can be expensive, so look at Groupon and Wowcher etc. Or head up to Camden that has the biggest range of street food and its pretty cool. If you want theatre tickets, you can get them from Leicester Square on the day with some good discounts - although not the big ones (also close to a japanese food place called Abeno - amazing, my fav!!). If you fancy Book of Mormon, you can get tickets on the day through their lottery (you pay £20 front row seats I think), but it is very popular and you do have to hang around when the draw takes place (we've never won!!).

Its a wonderful city (maybe take a picnic for Hyde Park, visit London Zoo - go see Tammy the Tree Anteater, she is super cute!, trip up the thames etc.). It doesn't need to cost a fortune, but do some calcs in advance.

Congrats on your wedding!!

ExcellentWorkThereMary Mon 18-Jul-16 09:44:09

"On a budget" is very subjective. DH and I stayed in a serviced apartment in London for a week which cost £105 a night - this was pre kids and we were really chuffed with what a bargain we had found, a room with a bed, a mini kitchenette, fridge, tv, little outdoor square with a table and chairs, and walkable from Central London.

Nowadays I'd cry at having to spend £105 a night on a hotel!

What is your overall spending budget?

TheCrumpettyTree Mon 18-Jul-16 09:51:02

Look at easy hotels if you want budget.

JapanNextYear Mon 18-Jul-16 09:54:37

Also, depending on where you live, you can get cheap coach and hotel or rail and hotel deals.

You can use a contactless card on the Underground/buses - no need for an Oyster card.

Look on Air BandB as well. I like to stay centrally so I don't waste time commuting in and out and can walk everywhere and save on transport - but if you are happy to spend half an hour on the train then Croydon is uninspiring but cheap .. with really regular connections.

The best tip is to be flexible on dates - if you book early and stay a Sunday night you should be able to get a £39 or £49 Premier Inn deal (PIs are great - there's a thread running on them at the moment).

There's loads of reasonable places to eat and if the weather is nice then a picnic in the park is brilliant - and buy a bottle of fizz!

Tesco club card vouchers get you into places really cheaply or google free stuff in London - there's a surprising amount!

Quodlibet Mon 18-Jul-16 09:56:15

Yep you can.
You can find very nice Air BNBs in Zone 2 for as little as £15-25/night.
Have a look for one maybe somewhere scenic like Greenwich, or with an easy commute into town.
There's loads to do in London which is free - parks, museums, galleries, Southbank. And lots of places you can eat out cheaply.
Just do a bit of research and stay away from the obviously 'touristy' stuff (speaking as a Londoner, most of it is crap anyway). There are loads of really interesting neighbourhoods in London to explore - if you tell me what you like doing I can give you some pointers.

HarrietVane99 Mon 18-Jul-16 09:58:41

Accommodation will be your biggest cost.

Much of central London can be done on foot, especially if you plan to focus on one area each day. Don't use the tube for short journeys. Get the ordinary red buses, not tourist buses. Top of a bus is one of the best ways to see London. You need an Oyster card or contactless, London buses don't take cash. See the website.

A lot of the major attractions, such as museums and galleries, are free. Also churches - Wren churches in the city are open on weekdays. Walking is great too, if you're reasonably fit. You can do long walks along the north or south bank of the river. Take comfy shoes. Personally wouldn't bother with some of the really big attractions such as the Tower. Expensive and crowded. Westminster Abbey is always busy too. St Paul's is good, if you want to do one big, paid for attraction.

You can buy food or sandwiches in supermarkets and picnic. And there are less expensive places to eat such as Garfunkel's if you just want somewhere to sit down for a couple of hours.

Have a good trip.

EssentialHummus Mon 18-Jul-16 10:02:15

I'd second the idea of staying somewhere like Greenwich and taking the Tube/bus around. Don't go to restaurants on auto-pilot - plan meals, look at "Cheap Eats London" on TimeOut or similar sites, and have a few sarnies from Tesco or Boots for lunch (and bring your own water). We recently had a raft of guests over, and a few stayed at a local guesthouse in our neighbourhood - it was £65.00 for two, including breakfast, in Zone 2. So it can be done!

branofthemist Mon 18-Jul-16 10:07:11

What's the budget?

We did 3 nights in London. Return tickets from were £29 because we went travelled outside main commuter times.

Stayed in a mal Masion for £75 per night and it was stunning.

It really depends on what 'a budget' means to you.

What does on a budget mean?
There are some centrally placed youth hostels that have double rooms
Premier Inns at County Hall, Euston, Tower Bridge etc.
Holiday Inn Express e.g. Victoria

Eating in London is as expensive as you want to make it. Big museums and galleries are free. Walking is one of the best ways to get around the centre.

spidey66 Mon 18-Jul-16 10:08:15

If you're going during holiday periods I think some of the university halls let out rooms lately though these are likely to be single rooms"

If you fancy a trip on the river don't get the tourist boats. The Thames Clipper (a river bus) takes you all the way to Greenwich. Going under Tower Bridge is great even for someone who has lived here for years.

An all day River Roamer ticket is £14.70 which allows you to get on and off at 15 piers on the route.

2016Hopeful Mon 18-Jul-16 10:14:22

We stayed in a travel lodge in Greenwich (well Deptford but there is one a bit closer to Greenwich too) which was about £62 for a family room with breakfast so would be cheaper for a double. It was right by the DLR but could walk into Greenwich in 10/15 mins. Greenwich park is lovely and there are lots of interesting things to see around there. Also very easy to get into centre of London. So we did one day in London and one day around Greenwich. You can also take boat from Greenwich into centre of London along the Thames.

puglife15 Mon 18-Jul-16 10:17:28

It really depends what you want to do and where to go. I love walking around the South Bank and that feels like classic London to me - fab views of the Thames and many iconic buildings.

You can get some good deals on with their Top Secret hotels, and tell everyone it's your honeymoon - might get an upgrade.

They won't be as cheap as some others but could be a bit more special.

pinkdelight Mon 18-Jul-16 10:20:19

There's a Premiere Inn in Earls Court which is cheap and handy for transport.

HarrietVane99 Mon 18-Jul-16 10:21:11

If you're going during holiday periods I think some of the university halls let out rooms lately though these are likely to be single rooms"

Yes, they do, and not just in London.

I've used them for holidays and short breaks in lots of places. They're especially good for single people, because that's who the rooms were intended for.

exexpat Mon 18-Jul-16 10:37:09

If you book in advance and avoid Friday/Saturday nights you can get Premier Inn rooms for about £49 a night, or it's worth trying websites like and seeing what special offers there might be for more upmarket places (I got a night in a nice hotel just off Trafalgar Square for about £80 recently). Museums are free, as are the parks, and you can look up walking routes which take you to interesting places off the beaten track.

exexpat Mon 18-Jul-16 10:38:15

I've stayed in university halls of residence (LSE behind Bankside) and the bed was one of the most uncomfortable I've ever tried to sleep in - Premier Inn is far, far better.

0pheIia Mon 18-Jul-16 12:29:04

You can do it easily.

If you book well in advance, you can get some great deals with Travelodge. Some hotels are cheaper than others; Aldgate East is right next to the Tower of London but you can get rooms for under £50. City Road is good value, too. Kings Cross Royal Scot is dirt cheap, but avoid it - it's awful. If you're willing to stay a little further out, Bethnal Green is extremely good value - it's still only zone 2 though with easy links to the west end etc. When you book, google 'Travelodge voucher codes' or sign up to their mailing list beforehand - there are often really good discounts available. I think at the moment there's 20% off with SUMMER2016.

The easiest way to save is on transport. While you're there, use an Oyster card but only travel on buses - your fares will be capped at (IIRC) £4.60 a day, however many journeys you make through however many zones. Buses are much nicer imo - you see so much more. The 11, 14 and 15 routes are pretty much the same as the expensive bus tours - they go past the Tower, St Paul's, Parliament, Whitehall, etc. Plan like a demon beforehand, using an app like London Bus Checker and Google maps to see which buses you need and which routes from your hotel etc. I like that part smile

While you're there there's so much free/cheap stuff to do. The British Museum, National Gallery, Imperial War Museum, National Portrait Gallery etc are all free. Also lots of quirkier little places like the Sir John Soane's Museum in Lincoln's Inn. The Guildhall with its Roman Amphitheatre in the basement and the Museum of London are next to each other (near City Rd Travelodge actually) and are unmissable. MoL Docklands is fantastic too. Also Greenwich is definitely worth a visit - the Old Royal Naval College is stunning and was the set for lots of films. One thing you should definitely do is try to catch a performance at the Globe - 'groundling' tickets are only a fiver and it's the most fun, immersive theatre I've ever experienced.

What I'd say is do lots of research - what's your 'thing'? History, art, music, landmarks? There's so much to do for little or no cost if you know what you're looking for. Definitely avoid expensive tourist traps - Madam Tussaud's, M&Ms world, that kind of thing. Just a walk along the river on a beautiful evening is lovely. We grab food at a Wetherspoons or similar, cheap and cheerful. There's loads in central London.

I think I'm going to have to book another trip now! grin

Waffles80 Mon 18-Jul-16 12:31:10

We've stayed here rally cheaply before - and it's so central we walked everywhere so didn't need the tube:

springwaters Mon 18-Jul-16 12:32:02

Sunday night is always the cheapest to stay

Waffles80 Mon 18-Jul-16 12:32:14

really not rally


ProcrastinatorGeneral Mon 18-Jul-16 14:18:41

We're going to London later in summer. Three nights in a hotel and train tickets for four have set me back just over £200. It really is worth looking around, but booking way in advance is what got me the cheap deal.

AmyGDalae Mon 18-Jul-16 14:57:20

You can also visit Hampstead Heath (you can go swimming in the ponds year round) & Kenwood House, free and lovely. Wellcome Collection in Euston, fab free exhibits and talks. Ditto British library in kings x, behind kings x station is canal and lovely fountains, places to eat, etc. Science museum lates and dana centre events (both in south kensington), adults only, free, great exhibits, interactive events and talks. Portrait gallery is my favourite free art exhibit in Trafalgar Square). Theatre: check out theatre monkey website for great deals. Apart from main theatres check out donmar warehouse and sadlers wells for fab productions (the later for dance). Proms!!! You can get £5 tickets on the day for all events at Royal Albert hall in south ken. There's a bar in shard where you can buy a drink/coffee and get nearly the same views as on the expensive platform a few floors up. While you are in London bridge, check out borough market for food and treats. Then walk along river back towards Waterloo. Stop by south bank centre for free music events in foyer.

There are a million more cheap awesome things to do. This is just to give you some ideas. smile

OctoberFlowers Mon 18-Jul-16 21:13:20

Oh wow, thank you so much for your responses!

Sorry about the late reply, I've been at work all day.

I'm going to read through each of your posts more thoroughly now and begin to make plans.

We're coming from the North West so I think a coach down will probably be our cheapest form of travel if we can find one.

Our budget is reasonably flexible but nothing too expensive, £70 a night for 3 nights for example would be doable and we could then afford to do some touristy stuff too. Eating out is fine as we'd likely eat in known chain places that would be cheap - we're mostly interested in sightseeing than food.

It's also the 'finding' places that scares me a bit, you all make it sound so easy to navigate your way around grin

It's very 'overdone' but we'd love to include a visit to:
Hampton Court
Tower of London
A West End Show
London Zoo

and anything else we can fit in really!

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