Tired of London, tired of life, yadda-yadda, but most people forget the second half of Samuel Johnson’s popular aphorism: ‘for there is within London, all that life can afford.’ While, no doubt referring to the extraordinary diversity found in London, he also hit upon another significant aspect of the Great City. It’s expensive.
There are however, numerous ways of enjoying your stay on limited funds, and this will be a short primer on how to maximise your budget, while still seeing the significant parts on offer.
Firstly – where will you stay? Well, not only could you write a book on this, there are hundreds which currently exist testifying to the fact. However, some of the cheapest rooms are located around Heathrow airport, so a quick scan of ‘Laterooms.com’ will return the day rates from all over town. You can quickly see that Heathrow specialises in discount rooms, Bloomsbury: between the City and West End, has some bargains, and Hackney on the fringes of the City, is convenient and cheaper too. In addition, you should also factor travel costs into your room rate. Use a Tube Travelcard in 1,3 or 7 day flavours. They rise in price dependent on how far from the centre you are, so consider that with regard to staying near Heathrow. The surrounding area is zone 4,5 and 6, compared to Bloomsbury and Shoreditch which are zone 1 and 2. Travelcards offer unlimited travel, and in weekly form there are no rush-hour restrictions. So that’s your room and travel fixed, which are bare minimums: there’s no way around these costs unless you plan to spend your visit walking, and sleeping under bridges (not recommended).
Cheap Sightseeing Tour
First tip is a sightseeing tour of the city, which retail at about £25-30 per person through the official channels. Or you can opt for the no-commentary, ordinary bus version. Go after 10am, to avoid being compressed by chubby commuters and you’ll find plenty of space available. The two best options are: the RV1 bus which you can catch outside Tower Gateway Tube station: which passes Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, The Tate Modern, The National Theatre, Waterloo, Strand, Aldwych and terminates in Covent Garden. Not over-long or taxing and you see plenty along the way.