London on a budget: 6 travel hacks to save on your trip
Can you visit London on a budget? This is a question that can be answered with one word, and that word is yes. You don't need to have lots of surplus cash to be able to enjoy spending time in the UK capital or restrict yourself to going to London attractions like the British Museum or the Natural History Museum just because they're free.
Doing London on a budget doesn't mean riding around on the London underground all day because you and your travel buddy got lucky and found some discounted tickets. If your plans to explore London on a budget don't include anything more than taking one free walking tour after another, maybe it's time to rehash your plans.
Although they can be fun and informative, forget free walking tours. There are plenty of other ways for saving money when you're in London that are far better than traipsing around King's Cross behind someone holding an umbrella aloft. If you need a place to store your bags while you're in the city, you'll find that the Bounce luggage storage facilities in central London, as well as being the safest place to leave your belongings, are super economic, so use them, and you'll be saving money.
Cheap places to stay in London
To be able to save money when you stay in a London neighborhood, the first thing you need to do is find cheap accommodation. While that may sound like an impossibility, it's actually not. There are fantastic budget hotels, boutique hotels, and hostels in London with reasonable room rates that won't leave you feeling as if you've been fleeced of your hard-earned cash when you check out and pay the bill.
Here are three examples of the type of cheap accommodation you can stay in when you visit London. No, they're not on Oxford Street, but they are still central, so they are absolute bargains.
Smart Hostel Hyde Park View
It would be difficult to get a more central accommodation for a better price than what they offer at the Smart Hostel Hyde Park View. This budget hostel is a renovated townhouse 100 meters from Hyde Park and a short walk from the Portobello Market, Knightsbridge, and many more of London's top attractions.
Stay here in a shared dorm, and it'll cost in the region of $30 a night, but you can upgrade to a private room with an en suite bathroom for around $50. There's a laundry room, kitchen, and communal area with TV, and all guests are given access to free wifi.
easyHotels London is a budget hotel company with four properties in London. The most economical to stay at are the hotel in South Kensington and the hotel in Victoria. You can get a room in either for around $65 a night. The Shoreditch and Paddington properties are slightly more expensive but still reasonable for London.
All of the easyHotels offer the same amenities as standard in their private rooms, which include their signature decor of orange walls and furnishings, a double bed, an en suite bathroom, an air conditioning and heating unit, plus a TV. When you're planning on visiting London, it's worth checking out all of easyhotels properties as the company often publishes special offers at quieter times of the year, and as all the hotels are well-located, central, and pretty much the same, it won't matter too much which one you stay at.
The Monopoly Accommodations is a 14-bedroomed guest house a seven-minute walk from Liverpool Street Station. For the price of $65 a night, you get a deluxe bedroom, a desk and chair, a TV, and a hairdryer, but you'll need to share a bathroom. They do have two units, one a single and the other a double, with en suite bathrooms, but they cost around $25 a night more.
The inconvenience of sharing a bathroom will fade into insignificance once you realize you're less than a 10-minute walk from the Tower of London, London Bridge, Tower Bridge, the London Eye, and the Sky Garden.
Cheap things to do in London
The Tate Modern, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and Big Ben are tourist hotspots that most people have at the top of their list to see when visiting London. They're all free attractions, so if they're on your list, you don't need to worry about spending money to do them. They're not the only things you can do, though. There are lots of other cheap things to do in London that, while not free, won't send your spending budget into crisis mode.
There's no entry fee to get into Camden Market, but if you're staying in the city center, you will need to fork out for tickets for the London underground to get there. Don’t think you’ll save money, though. You probably won’t, as you're bound to purchase something, so it won't be an entirely cost-free outing. While you're browsing around the markets, make sure to take a selfie with the Amy Winehouse statue that stands at the entrance to Stables Market.
IFS Cloud Cable Car
Taking a ride on the cable car 90 meters above the River Thames is a thrill you can get for as cheap as $6 if you book your ticket online before arriving. Pay when you get there, and it'll cost you the princely sum of $7 for the ten-minute ride. You can board the cable car at the Royal Docks or from the terminal on the Greenwich Peninsula. The cable car is well worth doing as the views of St Paul's Cathedral, the Gherkin, and the Thames Barrier from high up are amazing.
The London Dungeon
For low-priced fun and entertainment, the London Dungeon wins outright. Think funfair-style haunted house, but a thousand times worse. At the Dungeons, you pass through 19 different stage sets that will make your hair stand on end. Each set is manned by actors who will scare you even more with creepy stories and spine-tingling surprises.
The scares start the moment you enter the lift to go down into the dungeons and don't stop until you come out. There are also a couple of thrill rides to rattle your nerves even more, so it's great value for money at around $25 per person. You make it even better value for money if you want. To find out how, check out the budget tips further down in this article. They'll have you screaming with sheer delight when you discover how to save money to spend on something else.
Cheap Places To Eat In London
London ranks in first place on the list of Europe's most expensive cities, and it has a food scene to match with more Michelin-starred restaurants than you can count on two hands. If you want to save money and visit London on a budget, sadly, they're the places you'll need to avoid like the proverbial medieval plague. That won't be as hard as you might imagine as there are lots of places where you can get cheap eats as well as enjoy amazing street food in London and where it won't cost you an arm and a leg to satisfy your appetite.
Poppie's Fish and Chips
You can't be in London and not go for a fish and chip meal. You can be forgiven for not digging into a plate of pie, mash, and liquor, it's an acquired taste that, if you haven't acquired will probably make you vomit. Fish and chips, though, are a British staple that's a must-try, so head to Soho, Spitalfields, or Camden, they have premises in all three places, and try some at Poppie's Fish and Chips.
Poppie's doesn't offer a fine dining atmosphere. The premises are more reminiscent of 1960s American diners than a British restaurant, but they certainly know how to plate England's favorite food, and they've been doing it since 1952. Cod and chips, a battered sausage, some deep-fried cod roe, and a side of mushy peas will provide you with enough carbs to keep you going for a week. You might save money eating here, but you certainly won't save on your calorie intake.
Gordon Ramsey Street Burger
As far as travel tips go, this is a good one. If you want to boast about eating food made by a Michelin-starred chef without having to fork out a fortune for your dinner, you should check out Gordon Ramsey Street Burger in Covent Garden. No, it won't be the man himself who grills your patty, but it's guaranteed to be next level and won't cost you anywhere near as much as a Beef Wellington in Hell's Kitchen.
The trendy but somewhat dark location of Gordon Ramsey Street Burger is decked out with black leather banquettes and some pretty eclectic wall art that wouldn't be out of place in the Tate Modern. The price of a standard burger and fries at Street Burger comes in at around $17, so not much more than a regular Big Mac meal deal at Mcdonald's. Dining here is one way to save money while also having your cake, or rather burger, and eating it.
If street food is your thing and you want to eat street food in London, then you need to go to Borough Market. At this buzzing trading hub, there are vendors of street food offering cuisine from just about every country on the globe. Whether you want to chow down on Spanish food, eat a falafel wrap with Arabic spicing, try some vegetarian Indian food, or go straight for some Thai, you'll find it here. The market and street food vendors are here every day, but only until 5 pm or 3 pm on Sundays, so don't leave it too late to go and grab something, or you'll be out of luck.
Cheap Bars In London
There are bars in London where you can go for a drink that, when you find out the price of a pint or cocktail, will literally make your toenails curl. They're not the ones you want to go to if you're doing London on a budget. There are plenty of cheap bars in London, though, so all you have to do is find the ones that fit within your budget range. Here are a few to get you started.
The Thirst Bar is a trendy low-priced venue in Soho for cocktails and late-night dancing that you won't want to miss going to.
The Exit Bar is where you can boogie all night while downing quality drinks for ridiculously low London prices.
Call Me Mr Lucky
Call Me Mr Lucky is near Borough Market, so it's a great place to drop into if you've been sampling the street food there. It’s also great for a bargain breakfast Mai Tai when you've been out clubbing all night.
Bonus Budget Tips For London
- If you're considering going to the London Dungeons, then you should check out their multi-attraction ticket, which will give you discounted entry to the London Eye, Madame Tussauds, and the Sea Life Aquarium. You won't get a free tour, but you'll make a massive saving.
- There are very few travel tips better than this one, to be honest. When you visit London, get a London Pass Card. With a London Pass, you can save over 50 percent, if not more, on the majority of entry prices for the main London attractions. Don't skip getting a London Pass, or you'll financially regret it.
If you were lucky enough to see a cheap flight to London, then jump on it. The cheapest flights are hard to come by, but a great start to having a budget London trip. Cheap flights, travel hacks, free things to do, and money-saving budget hacks in a post like this will all help make sure you've found the cheapest options and spent less money on your trip. Don't doubt buying those flight tickets, go for it, you'll have an amazing time.