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Beating the £ in London (and the rest of England)

Beating the £ in London (and the rest of England)

Mar 27th, 2008, 03:47 AM
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 1,190

ALL B+B's include breakfast, that's what the second B is for and I'd be disappointed if that B wasn't full English.

sashh is offline  
Mar 27th, 2008, 01:11 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 11
My husband and I spent a week in London last winter, and I made a point of searching out only the attractions that were free. We literally ran out of time to take in everything on our list. The only exception to my rule was an evening ride on the London Eye - my 50th birthday present - and it was worth every penny! We bought an Oyster card for off-peak hours and almost always rode the bus rather than the tube so that we didn't miss any of the sights.

My big complaint was finding an inexpensive cup of tea while we were out shopping and walking in London. I was just loathe to spend the two or three pounds that some places charged. We finally discovered that MacDonalds provided a great, cheap cuppa with a surprisingly relaxing environment in which to rest our feet for a bit.

As for souvenirs - I did quite well at the airport when we were returning home. Harrod's has an outlet there with a good selection of gifts - cheaper than in their store. And there were several other places offering nice, reasonably priced things as well. I actually wished that I had waited to purchase all my souvenirs there - it would have saved lugging my purchases around as we went about our days.

While we stayed in a great, inexpensive hotel in Belgravia, we intend to rent a flat next time - much more economical. There is more room to relax, and you can save a lot by preparing simple meals of your own -- Tesco's has a great selection of pre-made meals! Wherever you stay - hotel or flat - always check out the neighborhood and find a local grocery store. While we loved our pub meals, we discovered that not every pub serves an evening meal - or they might one day and not the next. Tesco's was a great backup plan.

Farther afield ... on a previous trip we visited York (in May). It is a GREAT tourist-friendly place to visit - give yourself at least a couple of days there. We had expected a tourist trap and were pleasantly surprised at how reasonable prices were - from B&B's to souvenirs.

The Railway Museum is FREE!!! and it is fantastic. It is just too grand to merely pop in and out. My husband is a retired railroader and he couldn't see the point of going to look at "a bunch of old trains" Well, I couldn't drag him out of there. We closed the place!

Our favorite money-saving trick when we are touring the rest of the UK: buying a cheap bottle of red wine, a chunk of local cheese, and a loaf of crusty bread and finding a secluded spot of country-side to enjoy a picnic. For us, it just doesn't get any better than that!
Susie50 is offline  
Mar 27th, 2008, 02:15 PM
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Head north, in general things are cheaper the further north you go and there are some beautiful and interesting places outside of London.
Mar 27th, 2008, 02:50 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,352
If you stand at the base of the steps to St Paul's, you can see an M&S food only. Sitting on the steps on a sunny day are a hundred people fortifying themselves for the hundreds of steps to the top.
PS. You need to save on lunch, since it is now 10 GBP to get into the church.
icithecat is offline  
Mar 28th, 2008, 02:56 AM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 4,466
If staying in London (and are happy to leave your accomodation as late as possible) Laterooms.com is a fantastic website which offers heavily discounted rates on hotels in London (and the rest of the UK)

I live in the UK and have used it myself and have gotten rooms i hotels (at a great discount) when i haven't been able to get them thru the hotels themselves!!!!
Smeagol is offline  
Mar 28th, 2008, 03:21 AM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 7
Home exchange has already been mentioned as a way to save on accommodation costs (it's free!) When visiting London, check out the many home exchange offers on the London based site Home Base Holidays: http://www.homebase-hols.com

There is so much to see and do in London that doesn't cost much (or sometimes anything) plus the pound has dropped in value against the euro in the last few months, which makes a trip to London more affordable too. I enjoyed walking in the many beautiful parks and along the Thames and browsing in the markets (picking up tasty goodies to eat back in my 'home' when I did a home swap to London).
Lizzie2 is offline  
Mar 28th, 2008, 03:35 AM
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 12,582
Another penny pinching option is to watch out for a JD wetherspoons pub. This is a chain that sells very cheap drinks and offers two meals for £6.99 and the food's OK.

The downside to them is that they tend to be souless barns full of the sort of people you would imagine being attracted to a place that sells cheap booze. In general they're fine at lunchtime though.

Cholmondley_Warner is offline  
Mar 28th, 2008, 04:16 AM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 548
I've posted this before, but in London and other cities, University accommodation offers great value - but is limited to outside term time.

We often stay in student accommodation belonging to the London School of Economics. Locations are good, rooms - while a little bit shabby - are perfectly clean and safe, cooking facilities are available and the price - which can be as little as £50 for a twin room - includes a cooked breakfast.

Here's the website - http://www.lsevacations.co.uk/
ter2000 is offline  
Mar 28th, 2008, 04:19 AM
Join Date: Jul 2004
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Fodor's editor, shouldn't you have said the rest of *Britain* ? The rest of it does use the £ as well, you know. And some people get very cross when Americans use 'England' when they mean Britain.
caroline_edinburgh is offline  
Mar 28th, 2008, 04:27 AM
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here we go again.....
Cholmondley_Warner is offline  
Mar 28th, 2008, 04:33 AM
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We ate at the Westminster Central Hall cafeteria just across the street from the cathedral. Nice and clean with good food, very reasonable prices and handy restrooms.
twina49 is offline  
Mar 28th, 2008, 09:39 AM
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Point well taken, Caroline. England was used basically because we are currently updating the England guide and would like to include some member tips. The Scotland editor will be by in the coming weeks I'm sure to hear your tips related to saving money there. However, Wales is actually covered within the England book.

Any Wales-specific tips out there? My former roommate here in New York was from Wales. Despite spending almost a year in England, I'm ashamed to say that I never made it to Wales. After meeting her, I realized the full error of my ways based on her photos.

Katie_H is offline  
Mar 28th, 2008, 09:42 AM
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The Scotland editor will be by in the coming weeks I'm sure to hear your tips related to saving money there.>>>>

You're goping to ask the Scots how to penny pinch? You're going to need bigger servers!
Cholmondley_Warner is offline  
Mar 28th, 2008, 10:09 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
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Author: Cate_W
Date: 03/26/2008, 10:06 am

I love Pret a Manger, Wagamama, and GBK. Any other ideas for inexpensive meals out?

Marks & Spencer
Iceland Groceries (Meal Deal £2.99 sandwich, crisps, 20-oz drink)
Sainsbury's (we ate at the Marble Arch store)

Robespierre is offline  
Mar 28th, 2008, 10:47 AM
Posts: n/a
Boots the pharmacy to a meal deal for £2.99 for a sandwich or pasta sald, snack (eg crisps, fruit bag or chocolate bar, and a drink. Boots are everywhere and the larger the store the wider the choice of sandwiches.

They are great for lunches although the best sandwiches go quite quickly as many office workers buy them
Mar 28th, 2008, 01:50 PM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 1,221
"However, Wales is actually covered within the England book. "

The Welsh won't like that.

Anywhere with a reasonable working population is going to have a selection of shops selling cheapish sandwiches/baguettes/whatever to workers for their lunches, roughly c.£2-5. Avoid petrol stations, railway stations, and any tourist site food sales (eg cafe at stately home) - they are almost always overpriced. Drinks tend to cost more there than they would in a supermarket - if you like soft drinks but are staying somewhere there's a fridge it would make sense to stock up i a supermarket and use fridge/minibar to chill a couple of bottles or cans overnight before you go out for the day.

A B&B will nearly always be nicer than a hotel charging the same rate.

If staying in a B&B always take advantage of the breakfast, and have it cooked unless you really can't bear hot food at that time of day. You may not need lunch then, or only want a light snack.

If driving in the countryside, you may find garden centres have cafes with reasonable prices. It's not going to be haute cuisine, but is often perfectly adequate for a light lunch or afternoon tea (usually with home made cakes etc), and will be cheaper than a teashop in the centre of a town or village.

In the evenings, pubs are cheaper than restaurants, although food is variable. Chain restaurants are sometimes cheap too, although not necessarily worth it.

Buses are cheaper than trains or hiring a car, but are generally less convenient and take longer than either. If travelling by train get your tickets well in advance - there are significant savings to be made, but at the expense of flexibility.

Using ATMs: make sure the ATM deosn't charge. They are required to say by law if they do, but you'll always be safe with one from the Nationwide buidling society, who don't charge on principle.
Nonconformist is offline  
Mar 29th, 2008, 03:49 AM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 548
Masala Zone is a Wagamama-like chain of restaurants with an Indian theme. Great value (2-course lunch or pre-6.30 meal for £8.35!) and delicious with branches over London - www.masalazone.com .
ter2000 is offline  
Mar 29th, 2008, 05:55 PM
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jonmck is offline  
Mar 30th, 2008, 07:29 AM
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We'll be in London in June. Thanks!
Ronda is offline  
Mar 30th, 2008, 08:57 AM
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I love the Indian YMCA hostel in Fitzroy Square (Warren Street Tube Station, or walk from bus stops on Tottenham Court Road or Euston Road). Great tasting Indian food at incredible prices.


Wagamama for Japanese food - great filling bowls of noodles or rice for less than 12 GBP a head. but get there early - the queues start from 7pm.

Also under 16y olds are free on buses, so try to work out the system - it's not too hard to do, and the cheapest way to get around London. Day passes for adults are 3.50 GBP. Yes, you will often find you go past your stop, or get off too soon, but it's not the end of the world, and never too far to walk back/forward to where you wanted to be!
julia_t is offline  

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