just how expensive is London

Old Mar 13th, 2005, 04:41 AM
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just how expensive is London

I haven't been for years but the latest Gourmet magazine with the Abbey Road homage on the cover and thought about how nice it would be to go to London again. I used to go years ago on the cheap (vomit comet plane) but would stay at the Connaught as they could get me into all kinds of places otherwise booked.

I've read Brown's (I love Miss Marple) has been updated. Anyone been there? Just starting over here. I'm a regular on the US board.

LilMsFoodie
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Old Mar 13th, 2005, 04:42 AM
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Very nice, one of my first posts here and I did not edit properly. I meant to say I bought the latest Gourmet.

LMF
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Old Mar 13th, 2005, 05:14 AM
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Think of New York prices for food, lodgings, etc. This is how much London will cost (at least)... but these prices are in pounds. With the current exchange rate, in London plan to spend double what you would for a simliar trip to NY.

I believe Brown's has been reopened, but haven't checked the place out yet. Priceline can really help, as I was able to find a double room at the Thistle Marble Arch on Oxford St for $81/night for visitors. On their site they charge about 250 pounds/night. Hope you make it out here and don't let the exchange rate scare you away!
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Old Mar 13th, 2005, 05:22 AM
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It depends where you're from.
London, Paris, you name it, is always expensive for those of us down South Africa way.
We are now in an 11 to 1- rands for pounds sterling exchange rate and think we are really having it easy. At one time we paid 20 to 1, and 13 to 1 for the dollar! I smile when I see posts from the USA complaining about the weak dollar.
Did you know that the Zimbabwe dollar is so putrid it cannot even fetch 1 cent in South Africa. In other words their money isn't worth the paper it's printed on. Last time I heard they could take out more or less R500 (South African)when going on holiday which means they can have 50cents to spend.
Aren't we the lucky ones?
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Old Mar 13th, 2005, 05:59 AM
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Double whatever you see listed in Pounds and you will know what it costs in U.S. Dollars. If you feel a $5 item is worth $10 to you, or $100 worth $200 etc. then by all means go, otherwise I'd look for another vacation destination right now. This is the first year in ages we are not going to London and the reason is the exchange rate. Not everyone on this board is a millionaire (altho sometimes I wonder about that) Also look closely at the figure given if you do book a hotel - see if it includes tax (VAT). If it doesn't you will have another unpleasant surprise coming.
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Old Mar 13th, 2005, 06:18 AM
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While London may cost double what some cities do, I'd hardly say it is double the cost of New York.

When you look at a menu at a really nice restaurant in London and see all the entrees are 20 to 30 pounds (that's in a really FINE restaurant), it sounds like a bargain at first. Yes, that means it's closer to $38 to $55 in dollars, which could even be what that meal would cost in New York. But that's the SAME COST, not double. To be double, those entrees in New York would be listing at $19 to $28 each, and that just isn't so at similar restaurants! We go to many nice but medium-high priced restaurants and have great meals with a bottle of wine for 70 pounds. That's about $135, which is just about what I'd expect to pay for a similar place in New York. If I could get that same meal and wine at a similar place in New York for $70, I sure haven't found those places.

And if a fine hotel in London is 250 pounds a night, that means it is costing you about $475 a night. Trust me, a similar hotel in New York would not be found normally for $240 a night.

My favorite example is the theatre, and as LilMsFoodie knows, I thrive on that.
The cost of top priced tickets in London are actually LESS (not a lot less, but definitely less) than in New York!
My morning latte at Pret a manger is LESS expensive than my morning one at a STarbucks in New York (and yes, I'm taking into account the currency exchange) -- NOT DOUBLE. Underground tickets are less than the subway in New York -- not double.
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Old Mar 13th, 2005, 06:32 AM
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I agree. You can spend alot of money in London, but you don't have to. If you eat every meal out at restaurants, then yes it will cost alot, but if you pick up a few groceries and make a lunch to put in your bag, there are alot of nice places to sit and eat, then you go to a restaurant for your evening meal. Try and get your breakfast included with your hotel. We stayed at the Jury's Kensington Hotel in Kensington and got a buffet breakfast included. We made sure we ate to last until later in the day. We always had small snacks in our bag. If you buy a day pass for the tube it is very reasonable. Most of the sites we went to were no more expensive than alot of places where I live in Canada. If you watch your money, you can still do alot for not that much.
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Old Mar 13th, 2005, 06:56 AM
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Theatre in London is certainly more affordable than New York, but transportation is at least twice the price. London Underground is 2 pounds one way only within zone 1, NY subway is $2 one way to anywhere. Buses are a slightly more affordable (and way more fun) alternative here, but sometimes difficult to figure out. Starbucks prices I've seen here in London in pounds are almost identical to those in New York in dollars. But then Starbucks could be one of the most expensive places in town for coffee, and you're here for tea anyway!

My NY experience is probably a bit cheaper than most here in the forum since I live there as a student, but even on a student budget I'm forced to spend almost twice as much here in London.
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Old Mar 13th, 2005, 07:09 AM
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I know it's always difficult to compare between restaurants or hotels, but just for fun I looked at the website menus for Joe Allen's. Here is a virtually identical and very popular restaurant in both New York and London, so one of the best basis of comparison I can come up with.
The prices in parenthesis are pounds in London:

eggs benedict: (8) $ 11.
entrees: (8.50 to 14.50) $ 15 to $24
strip sirloin steak: (14.50) $24

desserts: (4 to 4.50) $ 7 to $8

So at first glance, when you compare including the exchange rate, London is a BIT higher (nowhere near double, though). Then comes another interesting point. In New York add the tax (7% or so?) and then add the usually expected 20% tip. In London, there is no additional tax, and a 10% tip is considered generous. Now you'll find that the two places are virtually identical in price.
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Old Mar 13th, 2005, 08:01 AM
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I agree with Patrick. The cost of london is greatly exaggerated in many posts here.

Patrick's comparasin with the same restaurant in NY and London seems very reasonable so I do not think it is the case with his comparasin but in general, there should be some caution against comparing the cost of the same thing in London and US. Many american brands carry a cost premium in UK based on the fact that they are trendy and/or cater to wealthy american expats. Perhaps an extreme example but...certain normal american breakfast cereal brands are not regularly imported into the UK and are sold at specialty shops for up to 10x what they would cost in the US. Starbucks is also more of an "everyday" coffee brand in the US than in UK where it mostly caters to expats, tourists or the local wealthy and trendy.

Patrick is also right about the hidden costs of tax and much larger tip in the US. In NYC, you have state and city sales taxes and for hotels, you have special hotel tax. Of course the VAT in UK is around 20% but it is always included in the price. There have been some talk here of London hotels priced ex VAT but I suspect that this is a scam (perhaps too strong a word) aimed at americans who are used to tax as an add-on. I have never seen a hotel priced in the UK ex VAT...it is ALWAYS included here. Also, in the US, breakfast is much less commonly included in the hotel room price. In london, most hotels except perhaps the international chains include breakfast.

I would not recommend someone who is on a budget to go to london for the shopping but for the expenses of the activities of the average tourist (don't forget the free museums) I don't think london is nearly as expensive as people here are making it out to be.
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Old Mar 13th, 2005, 08:53 AM
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I'm not sure comparing London prices to New York prices is really furthering the argument that London isn't that expensive. For many of us New York is unbelievably expensive.
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Old Mar 13th, 2005, 08:55 AM
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I think NYC has many more options for cheap eats than London.
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Old Mar 13th, 2005, 08:58 AM
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Brown's I believe will be reopneing in the next few months. However, I feel that the design is a little too generic, and is lacking in individuality, and as such, it's lost a lot of its charm.

London is expensive, I don't find it expensive day to day as I'm used to it, but after returning from a trip to Spain, the difference in daily living cost is noticeable. That aside, most designer collections are also around ten to thirty per cent more expensive in London than, say Milan or Antwerp. However, recently I stumbled across an eleven foot Dior Homme scarf that was only 85 (not sale price, it's new season) pounds sterling, yet in Paris had been priced up at just under two hundred euros - an error or perhaps a genuine bargain.

If you spend your money sensibly then it's pretty affordable.
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Old Mar 13th, 2005, 09:12 AM
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"Author: rickmav
Date: 03/13/2005, 12:53 pm
Message: I'm not sure comparing London prices to New York prices is really furthering the argument that London isn't that expensive. For many of us New York is unbelievably expensive."

Gee, Rickmav, I hope you didn't misunderstand me. My intention was NEVER meant to show that London isn't expensive. It is, and we know New York is. All that "to do" I did was to refute the statment made here fairly often that London is TWICE as expensive as New York. That just isn't so. I fear many people can't seem to get past the idea of thinking that if it takes nearly two dollars to get one pound, then everything costs twice as much. It is true that if something costs 10 pounds, then that is nearly 20 dollars, but the actual numbers on the prices are definitely lower in pounds in London than they are in dollars in New York -- that's my only point!
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Old Mar 13th, 2005, 09:16 AM
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I agree that comparing London to NYC isn't over-helpful, but then again to work out if a city is expensive or not it has to be compared with something.
I was in NYC 2 weeks ago and agree that I found it more expensive than London (even allowing for the low $). I don't agree that it is easier to eat cheaper in NYC because just about every pub in London does food which can be incredibly reasonable (many places do two meals for £5).
Transportation may be expensive on the face of it at £2 single fares, but travel cards provide much better value costing £13.40 for three day unlimited rides on tube, train or bus within the central London area.
Also, most of the museums are free.
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Old Mar 13th, 2005, 09:22 AM
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Sorry but I wouldn't put pub fare in the same category as the good, cheap food you can get in numerous ethnic restaurants/cafes/stands in NYC.
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Old Mar 13th, 2005, 09:30 AM
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sera, I wouldn't either, but I would put the many cheap good ethnic restaurants, cafes, and stands in London in the same category as the New York ones. Ever been to London's Chinatown? Brick Lane for Indian? Half the city for midEastern? Similar.
One doesn't see as many rolling carts in central London like in New York, but instead there are many tiny closet sized stands which are similar to those stands in price and quality.
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Old Mar 15th, 2005, 09:25 PM
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AR, I live in NY, and I rarely pay more than $10 - $13 for a dinner entree. Granted, that's not the same as 2 meals for £5, but it's quite reasonable for a decent sit-down restaurant. Next time you're here, check out the restaurants on 9th Avenue in Hell's Kitchen or 2nd Avenue below 14th Street. Both areas are saturated with restaurants.
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Old Mar 15th, 2005, 10:08 PM
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It can be as expensive as you want. If you want to stay at the Connaught or Claridge's then, obviously, you'll pay a lot more than staying at a B&B. Priceline is a good option for saving money in central London.

There is an obsession about the exchange rate. In 10 years of traveling to Europe, the dollar has been all over the place, yet, every trip I've taken has been great. Could care less what the exchange rate is.

London has become cheaper for me since I don't stay in central London anymore.
There are plenty of free and low cost things to do in London.
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Old Mar 15th, 2005, 10:10 PM
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rick, I agree. When it comes to lodging London is expensive...not compared to NYC (who cares?) but compared to all the other overnights we had in a 3 week trip to Ireland, England and Scotland.

15 years ago I spent $110 on a hotel room in London and it was a dive.

Last year I spent $110 on a 2* Left Bank hotel and it was nice.

Food, theatre tickets, sight-seeing, etc can be more easily controlled. Finding a nice place to lay your head without breaking the bank is more difficult (IMHO) in London.

If I'm wrong, please share your tips!
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