Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Trying to convince hubby that we can afford a 2 week trip to London despite the exchange rate!

Trying to convince hubby that we can afford a 2 week trip to London despite the exchange rate!

Nov 30th, 2004, 06:47 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 45
Trying to convince hubby that we can afford a 2 week trip to London despite the exchange rate!

Of course I am doing all the planning and found a few B&Bs that arent too outrageously priced in London. My husband is having a hissyfit about the exchange rate and yes it has gotten bad but we still can afford the trip. I did see about an hour ago that one pound costs $1.90. That does hurt but it's only two weeks and it should not deplete the kids college fund much. Am I the only one having to convince her other half to stop complaining and just go?
praline is offline  
Nov 30th, 2004, 07:02 PM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 715
Have you considered proposing a trip to an area with a more favorable exchange rate that both of you would enjoy? Not knowing the context of your discussions, maybe it's possible that your husband's objections are based on prudent financial planning rather than being mere complaints.
MikeBuckley is offline  
Nov 30th, 2004, 07:04 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 45,643
I'm not in a position to convince anyone to go or not to go to London right now, but I swore off trips to London about 5 years ago because the expense simply didn't justify what I got out of it. I love the city, but the prices are totally outrageous. I really hate a vacation where you stop for a simple lunch for you and your two kids and end up paying $150 for a few sandwiches and soft drinks. My money goes so much farther in other European countries, even with the devaluation of the dollar, that I'm unwilling to travel to the UK right now.
<<It doesn't hurt the kids' college fund much." How much is "not much"? College tuitions are going up. I've got one going to Berkeley next year on an athletic scholarship, but it's only a partial, and Cal State schools increased their tuitions 8% across the board this year, so if I were applying that against my vacation budget I'd be very cautious. Money doesn't go very far in London at all these days. It is, by my standards, an outrageously expensive city where there are fantastic historical sites and museums and theatre, but what you get for the money you pay for hotels and food is nonsense compared to what you can get on the Continent. I can totally understand your husband's hissy fit, especially since you could go to so many other places in Europe and get so much more for your money.
StCirq is offline  
Nov 30th, 2004, 07:15 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 45
Thank you SCirq. Wow, I had no idea that London was so expensive! $150. for lunch for 4? Gosh, that really is exorbitant. Aren't the European countries just as expensive? England has its intrigue and the language would be no problem. We have been to Europe before and loved it but experienced some difficulty not knowing Italian or French. I know some high school French and my grandmother was Cajun but it didnt help me much in Paris unfortunately.
I'd still like to go but with the way the dollar is going, the "boss" might put his foot down and say no London for us!!!
praline is offline  
Nov 30th, 2004, 07:25 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,612
With all due respect to StCirq, of course lunch for four can be had for less than $150. London DOES seem terribly expensive to those of us converting prices to dollars (and perhaps even to the people who live there) but it is a fascinating city with many things to do and see.
Within a day's journey are historic sights, countryside, castles, universities, and famous gardens.

It really depends on whether you want to go and stick to a budget more or less, perhaps not be housed, nor eat or shop too lavishly, or if you'd rather indulge and pamper yourselves in some other place where your dollar can go farther.

To quote Dr. Johnson, "He who is tired of London is tired of life." Of course, I'm assuming the man had means.
elaine is offline  
Nov 30th, 2004, 07:34 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,214
I have to agree that StCirq is indulging a bit of hyperbole with a her sandwich lunch for 4. You could do sandwiches, drinks, chips and dessert at Pret A Manger for about 25GBP. That's still no bargain at the current exchange but it's nowhere near $150.

Look here at the menu for yourself:


Yes, Pret is a chain but the food is fresh and pretty good but more importantly the prices are comparable with other sandwich shops and take away food from the groceries.

Have you considered Priceline for hotels? 4 stars can be had for under $100 a night. There is also a poster here who regularly stays in a B&B outside of central London. He/she swears by it. Of course I can't think of the name but perhaps he/she will chime in.

Elaine is right. If you have your heart set on London, there are ways to economize and still enjoy yourself.
obxgirl is online now  
Nov 30th, 2004, 07:36 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 45,643
And with all due respect to elaine, whom I consider an experienced traveler, London is one of the most expensive places on earth, and yes, one can go much farther with the dollar on the Continent. I agree you don't have to spend $150 for lunch for four in London, but we were absolutely shocked, and this was back in 1999, at how hard it was to feed a family of four for anything even close to what we considered a reasonable price at even modest sandwich shops or Italian pizza restaurants at dinner. Forget anything resembling fine dining - that would have killed us!
By contrast, in France, even in Paris, one can stick to a budget of about $140 a day for a family of four, eating breakfast at a café or patisserie, lunch at a place like Brioche d'Or or having a picnic, and dinner at a simple bistro where there's a prix fixe menu of about 20 euros apiece.
Maybe it's just me? I never found inexpensive GOOD food in London, even at ethnic restaurants, which I'm not at all averse to eating in - in fact, my kids love Chinese, Thai, Indian, etec. We just never found a bargain in London in many years of visits, and in recent years have found the entire city prohibitively expensive for us.
StCirq is offline  
Nov 30th, 2004, 07:37 PM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 12,170
praline, I don't quite get why it sounds like you're in a master-servant relationship with you resentfully deferring to your husband. Both of you should be able to look objectively at your joint financial situation. Decide how much you can reasonably spend on a trip, wherever it is you might go. Once you have a dollar figure for what is reasonable to spend, then you can decide if London is feasible at your budget level. I imagine that your husband has very legitimate concerns and is under stress at the thought of an expensive trip, particularly if it diminishes the college fund at all. Maybe you can think of a way to save or earn more money, and postpone the trip until you do that.

About two years ago I did a cheap budget trip to London but still kept expenses at about 35 pounds per day (just me), with theatre or concerts almost every night and all the attractions I could muster seeing - but I had to stay in a hostel to do that, and did not eat restaurant meals or go shopping. The poster rj007 regularly posts about how cheaply he manages to do London.
WillTravel is offline  
Nov 30th, 2004, 07:38 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,154
I've been to London a couple of times this year and it definitely IS a comparatively pricey destination. It's certainly none of my business, but my original reaction to your post title hasn't changed after I read the responses: "Why TWO weeks in London?" You could make this a less expensive trip by either shortening it outright or splitting it with another, less expensive city. Paris, for example, is a city that I find to be significantly less costly than London.
Flyboy is offline  
Nov 30th, 2004, 07:39 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,765
I agree with St.Cirq. I, too, love London, but gave up going a few years ago in favor of France. There are so many wonderful little inns and B&B's, and so many options for great food without spending a fortune. As for the language problem, I don't think you would find much of that either - definitely not in Paris, as more and more people are learning English. Driving around the countryside, yes, it helps to know some French. But I think you would get along fine. And the sightseeing seems to be superlative just about everywhere in France. And lastly, in my experiences, the French people couldn't have been kinder and more helpful. In spite of the high euro, I plan to keep going!
Sue4 is offline  
Nov 30th, 2004, 07:39 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,214
Praline, There have been a number of good threads with budget London restaurants listed. Lots of these places have their menus posted on websites. Check them out. Yes London is very expensive. It's still doable.
obxgirl is online now  
Nov 30th, 2004, 07:40 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 445
Hi I just replied to your accommodation post, but you obviously are on a very tight budget. My husband and I nearly fell over when a bill for 4 for breakfast in London came to AU$150 which consisted of a couple of pork sausages, 2 eggs and a bit of toast, when a full breakfast in Australia with bacon, sausages, mushrooms, eggs, toast, tomatoes and often a hash brown is usually only AU$12 each or $48 for 4 and that includes coffee more often than not. The cheapest place we found to eat was the St. Mary's Hospital Cafeteria (but that's another story).
London will be expensive no matter where you go or what you do. Have you considered Rome instead? It is actually quite a lot cheaper - we actually got accommodation for around AU$80 per night and it was certainly much cheaper to eat and most all of the sightseeing is free.
Daneille is offline  
Nov 30th, 2004, 07:40 PM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 12,170
London did not seem that expensive for my son and I this summer. Hotel was the Holiday Inn Kensington Forum for $64 USD + night + taxes and fees (Priceline). We had breakfast from the grocery store for less than 6 pounds total. Lunch and dinner could be a total of less than 10 pounds per person. We didn't starve or eat unappetizing foods. We did splurge by having a cafe dinner, which cost 20 pounds for both of us including tip.
WillTravel is offline  
Nov 30th, 2004, 07:52 PM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 965
If you have your heart set on London I think you should go check it out. Some people suggested looking at budget options for hotels and food. You may also want to look at air and hotel packages like go-today.com. I second the idea to shorten your trip. Could you compromise with your husband and do just a week in London or 3 nights London and 3 nights Paris? My husband and I considered London too but we feel like it is too expensive at this time. It will be our first trip to Europe and my heart is set on Paris and we plan to see Bruges and Amsterdam too. Good luck.
ilovetulips is offline  
Nov 30th, 2004, 08:04 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 729
We just went to London in August, and we were on very tight budget. It was very expensive, but there are ways to keep it under control. Our hotel was 3* by British Museum $100 (booked thru British Holidays) - full breakfast included. After eating a full breaksfast, we did not really need a lunch, we would just stop for cofee or tea which are reasonably priced. We would spend about $50 - $60 for two for dinner eating in Indian, Thai restaurants. Few times we had fish and chips for much cheaper and it was good. THe theater prices are cheaper than in US even with the exhange rate. You can buy a British Heritage Pass for attractions which will save you some money. We did not do any shopping, because prices are so high! Other than that, we had a great time! It is a fantastic city, and I would not postpone my travel until it gets cheaper. Good luck!
helen63 is offline  
Nov 30th, 2004, 10:04 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 725
Thanks to obxgirl and WillTravel for mentioning my posts. That is very kind of you.
Give up on London - NEVER!!! I just returned last week from my 8th visit and it was yet another great trip.

praline, please tell your husband that I have made 10 trips to Europe over the last 10 years - the dollar has been all over the place and I have had 10 wonderful trips. Don't let the exchange rate stop you from coming to London or anywhere else in Europe.

>>we never found a bargain in many years of visits<< There are plenty of bargains in London. First, you have world class musuems absolutely free. Noontime concerts at various venues -free. One of my favorite things to do in London - wander the neighborhoods and checking out the architecture - free. Walking through some absolutely beautiful Royal Parks - free. The TKTS booth in Leicester Square offering discount tickets to the theatre. The National Theater with its 10 GBP program. Last year I got a front row seat at the Olivier for 10 GBP.

As obxgirl and WillTravel noted you can use Priceline to get some great deals to stay in Central London. I prefer to stay in the suburbs on a very quiet residential street 3 min walk from the tube. Total price for double (with breakfast) - 44 GBP. Website - serenade.ndirect.co.uk

As noted, plenty of cheap places to eat. And if you want to splurge there is a way to save some money. Go to toptable.co.uk - they have plenty of deals where you can get a nice meal for a lot less than the regular price.

Concerts, lectures, musuems,movies -the list is endless. A couple of weeks ago I saw a great Fellini movie "La Strada" at the National Gallery (free).

Check the websites of the various museums, theatres etc. to give you an idea of what is going on.

You'll have fun in London. I can't wait to get back there! Enjoy your trip.
rj007 is offline  
Nov 30th, 2004, 11:32 PM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 3,399
You can still afford it. You don't mention what the B&B cost is but you may also want to consider priceline for lodging too, www.biddingfortravel.com has a list of winning bids and the moderator will help you if you need assistance.

You can also eat inexpensively. We always frequent Starbucks for some quick afternoon sadnwiches. And don't forget the museums are free and they have some pretty good inexpensive dining too. And then there's always a grocery store you can get some inexpensive sandwiches and such. There are also many lower priced restaurants/cafes in Trafalgar Square.

When hubby graduated med school we did London surviving mostly on McDonalds and I never regretted it for a minute. In fact, that vacation started our love for the UK and we have been back plenty of times since.

I would go. Warmest wishes
travelinwifey is offline  
Dec 1st, 2004, 02:08 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 6,260
Sigh..wouldn't it be nice if being "an experienced traveler" made the prices go down?
Intrepid1 is offline  
Dec 1st, 2004, 04:27 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,612
sometimes being experienced with a place does "make the price go down." When I've been to a place I am more confident and willing to take a chance on some of the budget-minded options in lodging, food, and such. That's assuming that I care to go back there and am on a budget.
London isn't my #1 favorite city, but it's in my top five and though I may love other cities a bit more, and there is that dollar to pound crunch, I just couldn't discourage anywone from going there--and a number of major museums are free! Time spent elsewhere in the UK is also an attraction, things are less expensive but the exchange rate still not good. Splitting time between L and another city such as Paris is good advice too.
elaine is offline  
Dec 1st, 2004, 05:03 AM
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 4,276
rj has some great advice. he/she obviously has a lot of experience with london and therefore can sniff out the bargains and avoids the rip offs.

I don't think that the average traveller notices a huge difference between london and, for example, paris. a 1/2 litre of beer in paris costs about EUR 8,00. for londoners, that is shocking.

If you know where your going (or alternately listen to those who do), you can easily avoid disappointments in dining and other things. One of the problems in london is that a lot of touristy restaurants do not look touristy. they look very charming and more "local". however, they are tourist traps in disguise. here you will get cheap, bad food for a huge price. many italian restaurants fall into this category.

generally, you must go where people live to get a good meal. exceptions to this are chinatown and some japanese and other "ethnic" places around very centre of london. For anything else, you need to get out of the main crowded areas. just about the only people who eat in many of the places in the crowded centre are either tourists or londoners out for a night of drinking, who care more about the location (near nightspots), than the quality or value of the food.

i travel all over europe for my job and i live in london. i have also lived in the US for many years.

i would hesitate to force him to go to london because (like most guys), it will be a constant "i told you so" every time you see a menu.

$150 for a lunch for 4 is far from typical and certainly not for sandwiches! a couple can have a decent dinner with house wine for about £45 ($80)- including tax and tip. certainly not outrageous for
a major city IMO.
walkinaround is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 07:46 AM.