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Cheap 5-day London break--happy to travel in each day

(19 Posts)
Londoncheapo Wed 04-May-16 09:31:22

I am an expat Brit and will be back in the UK this summer. I am a bit clueless about London so would appreciate some advice!

I am hoping to spend about 5 days in London (just me and my 5yo daughter) and would like to keep things reasonable.

Would appreciate some advice about free and cheap things to do. As the UK is like a foreign country to me in some ways, just ordinary/everyday things and taking in the ambiance is great. Parks or wandering about markets or whatever. I think there are a lot of free or cheap museums we could visit as well?

We don't have a car back home and are completely used to keeping ourselves entertained on trains and buses, so there is no need to stay in in a particularly central place.

In terms of how far out we could be: I think we would want to be in an area that would enable us to get to parks/museums etc. in no more than 50-60 minutes door-to-door, so I suppose a maximum of about 30-40 minutes on the train or bus.

We would like a cheap bed and breakfast. Doesn't have to be at all fancy. However, the area it is located in must be basically safe, as I will be by myself with my child.

Any and all advice appreciated!

Have you checked out the Premier Inns and Travel Lodges in the London area? I'd start with their websites.

lenibose Wed 04-May-16 09:40:37

Premier Inn somewhere in Zone 3/4. The one in Richmond is 2 mins from a bus stop to take you to Richmond station. And a short walk to Kew Gardens. Also close to a big Sainshurys to get sandwiches etc.
A 5 year old will enjoy Hyde Park, Natural History Museum, the Science Museum and the Transport Museum which is in Covent Garden. All but the last are free.
Kew Gardens is lovely for kids but expensive to get in.
I would also do an open top Bus tour and take a boat but again that is not cheap.

hooliodancer Wed 04-May-16 09:46:59

I would look at a Premiier Inn in a nice town outside London, e.g. St Albans, Epsom, Guildford, Dorking,. Not too touristy, but nice places to be. Working is surrounded glorious countryside, is a nice town and about 50 mins from Victoria/Waterloo. You can get good deals if you book in advance at Premier Inn.. London premier Inn are much more pricy. You could look at b and he's in similar towns, is great for that.

Make sure you come in to a mainline station, then walk as much as possible.I always think London is smaller than people think, even people who have lived there for many years! I guess this may be harder with a 5 year old though!

For example, from Victoria it's a lovely walk up to Buckingham Palace, from there you can go to Downing Street, The Mall, House off Parliament, St James Park, Gren Park etc.

Londoncheapo Wed 04-May-16 11:49:14

Oooh, good advice here! Thank you all. :D I think I will be taking a look at Travel Lodge and PI. I always assume that BnBs are cheaper, but I guess that is not always the case? I hope to get a discount if I book now. Good idea about being close to a supermarket--we are hoping to fill up on sandwiches and bananas and stuff whenever the weather is nice, to save on cash.

There are so many Tesco Metros and Sainsburys Locals nowadays that I'm sure you'll have somewhere to get yourself cheap packed lunches wherever you stay.

TommyandGina Wed 04-May-16 12:49:38

I live in north Herts and can get to Kings Cross easily within 40 mins by train, then there's the whole tube network at your disposal, can do my nearest station (Letchworth) to the west end within an hour, and there's plenty of reasonable hotels and bnb's around.

TommyandGina Wed 04-May-16 12:51:00

And only half an hour in the opposite direction to go to Cambridge, there's plenty to do there as well

Artandco Wed 04-May-16 12:59:27

Bare in mind train travel can be expensive. So I wouldn't stay anywhere that isn't on the tube line. The tube also gets more expensive each zone you go out. So saving money on accomadation isn't nessecarily cheaper if it's then expensive to get in daily.

Have you considered air B and B? That way you could get a small apartment so have kitchen facilities ( a studio apartment would be big enough for just you two). Often same cost for 5 days as a basic hotel. Or look at other self catered studio apartments. Then you can save by eating breakfast at apartment a few days, and can buy a few snacks/ picnic things and keep in fridge.

wigglesrock Wed 04-May-16 13:01:39

I stayed in the Travellodge Covent Garden last month with my 10 year old. We used Holborn tube station - quick and easy. Room was great, breakfasts were good. Big Sainsburys beside tube station - for snacks, juice, sweets, buns grin. We dandered about for a few days - she had a list of all she wanted to see and do. We had a brilliant time, not sure how you're getting to London - we flew in and out of London City and just used the DLR and tubes.

Artandco Wed 04-May-16 13:04:15

They are basic but do look at the Hyde park apartments. Super central, and £400-450 for 5 nights which is very cheap for London.

keely79 Wed 04-May-16 13:05:25

You could also look at using something like AirBNB which will probably work out cheaper than a hotel and would allow you to self cater to save cost should you wish to.

If you travel into Central London by train, be sure to check out the train company websites - there are sometimes good discounts if you show your train ticket when purchasing entry tickets. Have a look here:

Artandco Wed 04-May-16 13:05:36


TondelayaDellaVentamiglia Wed 04-May-16 13:10:54

i'd seriously weigh up the cost of transport and timings versus being able to fall out of your hotel into central London and get on with your day. Or even if you are needing an afternoon nap, the thought of having to flog all the way back out to the hotel and then being stuck because it's too much of a trek to go back out for the evening, and you end up watching Eastenders on a crappy tv in a overheated cheap hotel room resentful as you are wasting holidaytime

Premier inn hub hotels are the new big thing, small room, big beds similar to CitizenM but not quite so chi-chi! We've stayed at the Covent Garden one, which is actually less than spitting distance from Trafalgar Square, around the corner from the National Gallery

there's also a lot of options with self catering places, apartments and flats....airbnb can be a good place to look...I've even seen a houseboat up on there!

Londoncheapo Wed 04-May-16 13:58:48

Oh wow, I am very interested in the Hub-type hotels too! Having stayed in capsule hotels in my time, the lack of space would be no big deal....!

The ones I looked at (Covent Garden, Spitalfields and Tower Bridge) started at 69 pounds. Are there any other Hub type hotels or similar concept (=very small room) which are just a little further out and go for a slightly lower price?

cestlavielife Thu 05-May-16 11:48:17

if you can get 69 room in central london that is a great deal....snap it up!

if you go out and get say a special 39 room deal you will pay so much in fares and not have the convenience it wont be worth it.

JapanNextYear Thu 05-May-16 11:55:25

Go for the £69 rooms if you can get them! The ability to go back for a nap is highly recommended - and there's lots of parks and spaces in the middle of London for some down time.

Also some of trains aren't great, you won't want to get commuter trains - expensive and no seats available - so you won't get in till later and I think it restricts when you can get back too.

It depends whether you want to see London, or stay somewhere else as a main base and then just go in for one or two days.

TondelayaDellaVentamiglia Thu 05-May-16 14:40:50

we're booked for the tower bridge one later in the month so looking forwards to that, dh has asked for a room with a view, and we are going down on the sleeper so will be in early to dump bags and try to guilt trip get dibs on a better room if they have fobbed us off!

the Tsquare one....named as Covent Garden is effectively a building within a building, so although all the rooms do have windows, most are obscure glass so again you can request a view but I think they have very few in that particular hotel.

Am pretty certain that the Tower Bridge and Spitalfields ones are just about up and running hence them being a bit cheaper as they are bedding in iyswim...we were there in May last year for the Covent Garden one and that was the only one on site as a Hub then

Spitalfields and Shoreditch are probably just the right side of edgey these days..spitalfields in particular was like Covent Garden used to be 30 years ago, artsy fartsy, lovely foody stalls, but the market is changing so quickly, they'd finished the rebuild and packed it full of restaurants within a couple of years.

Iwasbornin1993 Thu 05-May-16 15:28:54

Try the Tune hotels, they're small room concept hotels but perfectly clean and modern with comfy beds! We've stayed in the Westminster one but there's a few dotted around. I think we only paid £50/night although this was a couple of years ago now.

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