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Cheapest/best way to do a touristy break in London. Where to stay etc

(15 Posts)
TheOriginalNutcracker Sun 20-Jul-14 19:38:25

Let me start by saying I know sweet fa about london and where one place is in relation to another.

Not going on holiday this year but would like to do a 1 night 2 day trip to London (would prefer 2 nights actually but think it might cost too much).
Want to go to Madame Tussauds and maybe London Zoo, sea life centre or similar.

There would be me, dd1 (16), dd2 (14), and Ds (11). We'd be travelling by train from Birmingham.

Hotel needs to be in a safe area, but only needs to be basic.

Would really appreciate any suggestions. Thank you

joanofarchitrave Sun 20-Jul-14 19:46:58

I'd probably look at YHA London Central - check though if there is a five-bedded family room. It's a 15-min walk or so from Madame Tussauds through some interesting streets and/or Regent's Park - all very safe. Also not that far from the Zoo. Also fairly close to the British Museum, Oxford Street for Oxford Circus Top Shop and the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre for a show.

soaccidentprone Sun 20-Jul-14 19:49:24

Loads of hotels charge a lot less to stay on Sunday night. We went to London last year, and stayed at a hotel which is normally over 200 pounds a night, but we only paid 82!

HPparent Sun 20-Jul-14 19:49:34

London especially central London is pretty safe on the whole though there are pickpockets etc. Why not stay at a Travelodge - there are quite a few in the Central London area. Including near Euston or near Marylebone if you are taking the Chiltern line. I would buy lunch at Pret or Sainsbury etc.

I would not recommend MT - I used to work there and think it is an overpriced ripoff. London zoo is OK but not cheap either. There is no sea life but London Aquarium is another rather expensive one.

Loads of free museums and stuff - get a London guidebook from the library and decide.

joanofarchitrave Sun 20-Jul-14 19:51:24

I think I'm ignoring the Sea Life centre as the queue is so horrible I hate even thinking about it! Went there with ds and sort of enjoyed it (we had a ticket deal which cut out some of the queueing) but it was so crowded and claustrophobic. Why not just go to the Birmingham one?

If you come in to London Euston, you'll be all of 20 mins walk from the YHA - make sure you buy a Mini A-Z as you arrive or beforehand, don't try to rely on tourist info maps.

Tiredemma Sun 20-Jul-14 19:51:38

When we went last year someone on here recommended using Halls of Residence in some of the Universities in London. I cant find the links now but they were really cheap (for London)

Tiredemma Sun 20-Jul-14 19:54:08

here is the link

joanofarchitrave Sun 20-Jul-14 19:54:32

Yes, sorry for the confusion, I mean the London Aquarium was claustrophobic, it wasn't a Sea Life Centre.

I'd choose the London Eye and the National Theatre (Travelex tickets) as things to prioritise if possible.

Frontier Sun 20-Jul-14 20:10:08

Use Tesco vouchers for attractions where you can, also if you're travelling in to London by train a lot of places do 241 offers on production of a train ticket.

I'd stay in a Travelodge, if you book early you can get some good deals.

For food you can do much worse than Wetherspoons! The London ones are really quite respectable, there's one with great views a Tower Bridge and a nice one at Trafalgar Square. A meal and a drink for less than £10 right on Trafalgar Square!

I agree, avoid the Aquarium. Massive queues and disappointing for the money when you eventually get in.

fackinell Sun 20-Jul-14 20:11:28

I lived in London for many years. Have a look at London for free site. The Science and Natural History in Sth Kensingtin are fab and free. We used and got a 'secret room' for a fraction of the usual price. I knew where it was though as only one in that street. Madame Taussauds (sp?) I didn't really enjoy, the dungeons were so much better but wherever you go, be prepared to queue.

mysteryfairy Sun 20-Jul-14 20:36:48

I do this on a regular basis with my DC. I like the premier inn on park st near the Tate Modern and if you are flexible on dates it can be very cheap. Things that I've had success with include
Tate Modern
See all or part of a play at The Globe for £5 a head if you stand
getting the commuter boat down the Thames to the O2 admiring sites en route and going on the cable car across the river (all v cheap as part of public transport network)
Summer opening of parliament (cheap for children, but quite dear for adults)
Going to see a show - Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Warhorse etc
Going to Spitalfields Market and Brick Lane at the weekend - lots to see and v cheap street food
Choosing a cake or similar at Borough Market
Museum of London is interesting and quieter than the more famous museums. V and A also not as heaving as Natural History and Science Museums
My youngest at 11 loved the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green

TheOriginalNutcracker Sun 20-Jul-14 21:04:28

Thanks all, so much helpful advice on here. Going to sit and look at all of the ideas now.

Won't bother with the aquarium then I don't think, as I took ds not long ago anyway.

Wouldn't bother with Madame T's - stupidly expensive and pretty dull. the London Eye is much better value imho, and you can mooch around the South Bank from there too. We go to the ticket booth in Leicester Square for tickets for a show - if you're not too fussy about what to see, that can work well.

If you want to go to the zoo, you can usually get two for one offers if you're travelling by train.

We usually stay in a Travelodge, or in the Novotel at Greenwich if there's a good deal (but you tend to have to book a long way in advance to get them).

We tend to eat at Wagamamas, Carluccio's, Pizza Hut etc in the evenings, and try to have more 'exciting' lunches, as that usually works out cheaper than paying for dinners in non-chain restaurants. Or we just have a sandwich from Pret or an M&S picnic for lunch, if the weather is nice.

Lots of the museums are both free and excellent, although the main ones are likely to be very busy.

sleepdodger Tue 22-Jul-14 16:37:56

If you stay at a weekend in docklands / canary wharf much cheaper
Also would you consider a house swap?
Or in between have you ever considered airbnb?

fuzzpig Tue 22-Jul-14 16:39:05

I've not stayed at any London ones but premier inn are fab IME, great value.

If you're into music they have free classical concerts some lunchtimes at st Martin in the fields

Definitely look online for voucher codes - just googling "voucher code [attraction]" should bring stuff up. We got a 20% off dinner at planet Hollywood earlier this year which was great, made it just about affordable!

If your DCs are film/TV geeks there are walking tours around the locations used for filming, like Harry potter, dr who etc

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