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Penny Pinching in London?

by kevinpratt Online Now Feb 23, 2013 at 8:39 AM

England is just so expensive; there must be some little things we can do to save some money. Help!

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21 Answers
  • goodfish's Profile Photo

    Re: Penny Pinching in London?

    by goodfish Online Now Feb 23, 2013 at 8:56 AM

    You are in luck! While accommodations can be very expensive, london is full of terrific attractions that cost nothing to see. The parks and neighborhoods are free to explore, and almost all the museums are free! We also enjoyed a few hours at the marvelous British Library.

    Some of the most advertised " tourist hot spots" are really tourist traps not worth forking over big $$ for, such as Madam Tussauds and the London Dungeon. Skipping these sort of things will save your pounds for the really important stuff - like the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey.

    Our London members will have a great deal more to add here, and Chicago member, Dabs, who travels London a lot has a nice money-saving tip here:

    "2 for 1 offers London" - Sightseeing Tip by Dabs

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  • Dabs's Profile Photo

    Re: Penny Pinching in London?

    by Dabs Online Now Feb 23, 2013 at 9:28 AM

    All kinds of ways to get discounts in London

    1/2 price tickets at the TKTS booth in London for theater shows, day of or sometimes even a few days before

    Priceline or Hotwire for hotels, I just got a $90 rate on a Marriott County Hall right on the Thames for June

    Eating-all kinds of discounts out there, sometimes on the restaurants website, sometimes through vouchers.co.uk or Groupon or Time Out or Living Social.

    Museums-most of the major ones are free

    And Kate gave you a link to one of my favorites, the 2 for 1 discounts if you get a travelcard issued at a rail station

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  • toonsarah's Profile Photo

    Re: Penny Pinching in London?

    by toonsarah Online Now Feb 23, 2013 at 10:36 AM

    Lots of good answers already which I'll try not to duplicate - but as I'm reding this in my phone I apologise if I've missed some things.

    It's well known that the big museums in London are free but it's also worth checking the small commercial galleries for interesting exhibitions. Look at Time Out (online or bought from a newsagent) or the Londonist website.

    The same websites will tell you about special events when you are in town. Sometimes there are free festivals on the South Bank or music in Trafalger Square. The parks are always free of course and great for people watching. Why not buy a picnic in a supermarket if the weather is fine? Cheaper than eating out :-)

    Get a good guidebook that has walking route for some of the city's most interesting quarters and follow a few of them. Alternatively the walking tours organised by London Walks are not expensive and are usually highly recommended.

    Hope these ideas get you started - I'll be back when I think of more!

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  • leics's Profile Photo

    Re: Penny Pinching in London?

    by leics Online Now Feb 23, 2013 at 10:39 AM

    Buying the English Heritage, NT or Britrail passes will only save money if you intend to use them extensively.

    Avoid eating in tourist-popular spots or high street locations. Go into the side-streets in any settlement to find lower prices.

    Chains such as Greggs or the Cornwall Pasty Company offer cheapish e.g. pasties, sandwiches etc, and supermarkets (including Boots the Chemists) are also good sources for reasonably-priced sandwiches. Places such as Pret a Manger and Marks & Spencers have good sandwiches etc but are pricier.

    All state-owned museums in the UK are free, as noted. Only privately-owned ones have entrance fees.

    The Wetherspoon's chain of pubs offers reasonable food at reasonable prices (and well-kept beer). They are well worth seeking out:

    http://www.jdwetherspoon.co.uk/

    Some pubs offer 2 meals for the price of one between certain hours (e.g. 5-7). Keep your eyes open for such offers; they're not always on a blackboard so check pub windows/doorways as well.

    Skyscanner is a very good tool for finding carriers for your dates/route and getting fares but, as noted, there is no need to go to the airline website through the site. Just google it: you'll find the same fares available.

    Walk whenever you can, to save money on public transport costs (not cheap). Walking is normal, especially in cities.

    Book a hotel with breakfast included, so you can fill up and avoid having to pay for a large lunch (or a breakfast in a cafe).

    Ethnic restaurants, of which the UK has hundreds of thousands, offer very good food at very reasonable prices.

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  • planxty's Profile Photo

    Re: Penny Pinching in London?

    by planxty Online Now Feb 23, 2013 at 12:09 PM

    I would disagree that England is expensive, it all depends on what you cmpare it to. Certainly, major cities are, London particularly so. It is ne of the most expensive cities in the world. With the greatest respect, your question is so general it cannot really be answered properly without some more information. Are you in England now or just researching? If you are there, where are you? If not, where do you intend to visit? What type of accomodation do you intend to stay in? What sort of daily budget have you? How do you intend to travel, if indeed you do travel around? What are your interests?

    The UK is one of the worlds locations that are better served on VT and there are many members who either live there or visit regularly and will give you great advice but we need a few pointers before we can help properly.

    Incidentally, welcome to VT and you have picked the right place to come for advice, this is a very useful travel resource. fergy.

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  • planxty's Profile Photo

    Re: Penny Pinching in London?

    by planxty Online Now Feb 23, 2013 at 12:13 PM

    Incidentally, apologies for the last response. I had composed it a few hours ago and then got waylaid with friends watching the rugby! I see you have had some great responses so far.

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  • Dabs's Profile Photo

    Re: Penny Pinching in London?

    by Dabs Online Now Feb 23, 2013 at 12:44 PM

    Fergy, I don't find London to be anymore expensive than any other city in Europe, in fact because of the ways that I've found to save money, I find it much cheaper than going to Paris or Switzerland or a whole bunch of other major European cities. Hotel expense is going to be the biggest chunk of your cost, I've been able to stay in London for just about $100US per night on my upcoming visit and my last visit was under $100 per night and that was been in the peak summer season. Theater tickets, even at regular price, are usually less than NYC or even Chicago, even factoring in the exchange rate. I can eat decent meals for under £10, it's rare that I eat that cheaply even at home. And free museums? We don't have many of those in the US, I think that's a huge benefit to going to London, top notch museums that you don't have to pay for!

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  • leics's Profile Photo

    Re: Penny Pinching in London?

    by leics Online Now Feb 23, 2013 at 12:51 PM

    I must admit that I don't find the UK to be much more expensive than the UK, if at all. Daily costs seem pretty much the same to me, excluding the free museums....and petrol, of course.

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  • davidjo's Profile Photo

    Re: Penny Pinching in London?

    by davidjo Online Now Feb 23, 2013 at 2:23 PM

    Many Chinese restaurants offer as much as you can eat meals from as little as £5 (try Real China--they are a chain). Fish an chip shops are another option or a hot pie, sausage roll at Greggs (a take away joint that also has sandwiches and drinks). Many museums are free, most of the parks are a joy to meander through and there are several Art Galleries and historic houses that are free. If you look at my London pages i have posted several tips which list free attractions---and there are many!!!

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  • IreneMcKay's Profile Photo

    Re: Penny Pinching in London?

    by IreneMcKay Online Now Feb 23, 2013 at 5:35 PM

    Eat out in pubs rather than restaurants, or buy food from supermarkets, newsagents, bakeries, or take advantage of lunch time deals in Chinese or Indian restaurants.

    If travelling around London, get an oyster card to save money on public transport.
    

    As others have said there are many free sights such as parks, many museums, nature walks.

    In London there are sometimes tourist information booklets that offer two for one tickets on some of the sights. I've picked these up at the airport before.

    Some things in the UK are very cheap. You can get clothes very cheaply from places like Primark, Dunnes etc.

    For accomodation maybe bed and breakfast rather than a hotel

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  • anilpradhanshillong's Profile Photo

    Re: Penny Pinching in London?

    by anilpradhanshillong Online Now Feb 23, 2013 at 8:55 PM

    Penny pinching methods I have practised in London city:

    1. Buy essential groceries at the supermarket. Check out prices. Products manufactured by the supermarket themselves are cheaper than the other branded products.

    2. As expiry date on the product approaches, the discounts starts. But be carful of the taste of these.

    3. Make your own sandwich at home and eat it at lunch enjoying yourself in a park.

    4. Like mentioned above, most of London is free - parks, museums, walks. Also, a few rituals like Changing of the Guards, is also free.

    5. Group the tourist attractions you want to visit in neat, compact, geographic areas and visit them in one go.

    6. Get a map of London and walk all over. It's quite compact.

    7. If you're staying for a week or more, PERHAPS, an Oyster Card may suit you.

    8. Plenty of 2 for 1 offers. For example

    If you travel by rail from London to Windsor Castle on a day trip, while buying your 'off-peak time, same day return' ticket, ask for a promotional booklet for some tourist attractions of London. This booklet contains quite a few vouchers which allow two persons to visit some London attractions for the price of one. We visited St. Paul's Cathedral that way. Here's the link:

    nationalrail.co.uk/times_far...

    Remember to retain your rail ticket!

    9. Unless absolutely necessary, don't pay for going to a convenience. Instead, when you want a cup of coffee/tea, go to a McDonald's or similar outlet. They all have restrooms.

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  • Britannia2's Profile Photo

    Re: Penny Pinching in London?

    by Britannia2 Online Now Feb 24, 2013 at 3:26 AM

    I do not think London is expensive in comparrison to the USA. In fact in 2010 I found California more expensive than London. London is certainly cheaper than many other European cities. Not a lot I can add to the excellent suggestions above but all the help you need is here on VT. My London pages have most, if not all, offers on transportation - see London Transportation Tips by Britannia2

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  • leics's Profile Photo

    Re: Penny Pinching in London?

    by leics Online Now Feb 24, 2013 at 3:48 AM

    My apologies for the typo in my post above. I meant, of course, to say ' I don't find the US to be much more expensive than the UK, if at all'....but I hope most readers would have realised that!

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  • hawkhead's Profile Photo

    Re: Penny Pinching in London?

    by hawkhead Online Now Feb 27, 2013 at 8:12 AM

    Dabs wrote:

    All kinds of ways to get discounts in London

    1/2 price tickets at the TKTS booth in London for theater shows, day of or sometimes even a few days before

    Priceline or Hotwire for hotels, I just got a $90 rate on a Marriott County Hall right on the Thames for June

    Eating-all kinds of discounts out there, sometimes on the restaurants website, sometimes through vouchers.co.uk or Groupon or Time Out or Living Social.

    Museums-most of the major ones are free

    And Kate gave you a link to one of my favorites, the 2 for 1 discounts if you get a travelcard issued at a rail station

     Be careful with the 2 for 1 - you should have a rail ticket in hand, the one with the crow's feet logo and one ticket for each person.  Not all places ask to see them but increasingly more places are e.g. British Museum, Westminster Abbey, V&A....... you'll just have to try it and see what happens.

    It's the national museums and galleries that are free, which, when you consider all the museums in London, is certainly not the majority.  However, the national museums tends to be the big ones e.g. British Museum, British Library, National Portrait Gallery, National Gallery, the Tates and some others, although you will have to pay for special exhibitions.  Wallace Collection is also free.

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  • planxty's Profile Photo

    Re: Penny Pinching in London?

    by planxty Online Now Feb 27, 2013 at 8:27 AM

    hawkhead wrote:

     Be careful with the 2 for 1 - you should have a rail ticket in hand, the one with the crow's feet logo and one ticket for each person.  Not all places ask to see them but increasingly more places are e.g. British Museum, Westminster Abbey, V&A....... you'll just have to try it and see what happens.

    It's the national museums and galleries that are free, which, when you consider all the museums in London, is certainly not the majority.  However, the national museums tends to be the big ones e.g. British Museum, British Library, National Portrait Gallery, National Gallery, the Tates and some others, although you will have to pay for special exhibitions.  Wallace Collection is also free.

     Hawkhead,

    I am not sure I am following you here.  You say that more places like the British Museum and V&A are asking to see the railcard then you go on to list the British Museum as one of the big national museums that are free.  Why then would they ask for a railcard?  You just walk in.  Apart from the special exhibitions you mention which do incur a fee, the British and the V&A are completely free, no crows foot ticket required.

    I would also disagree that the museums that require payment are in the majority, that is simply not true.  Statistically, it may be possible and I am not going to research every minute museum in London to prove or disprove the point but the places the visitor is likely to want to see are free.  The original question here was about "penny-pinching" in London and this is one of the ways of doing it.  A visitor could spend weeks just going round museums for nothing, it is one of the admirable things to attract the visitor.

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  • goodfish's Profile Photo

    Re: Penny Pinching in London?

    by goodfish Online Now Feb 27, 2013 at 9:33 AM

    The 2-for-1 provides a discount for some of those special exhibits at the National Museums that require buying a ticket (but the museums themselves are free.) Dab's tip has the link to the website that lists all the things the card covers and what documentation you need to get one.

    We were amazed at the amount of free museums in London! Terrific bargains, those.

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  • Dabs's Profile Photo

    Re: Penny Pinching in London?

    by Dabs Online Now Feb 27, 2013 at 9:42 AM

    Indeed not all museums in London are free, by major I meant the British Museum, the V&A, the Science Museum, the Natural History Museum, the National Gallery, the Tate, the Museum of London, the Imperial War Museum. A lot of the less well known ones are free as well such as the Wallace and Sir John Soane's house

    Time Out has a decent summary of those that are free (special exhibits may be extra)

    timeout.com/london/museums/f...

    The tip that Kate posted a link for has all the restrictions for the 2 for 1 deal, you can also see them here

    http://www.daysoutguide.co.uk/faq.aspx

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  • hawkhead's Profile Photo

    Re: Penny Pinching in London?

    by hawkhead Online Now Feb 27, 2013 at 10:01 AM

    I know the BM and others are free. As you will see, I said that there is a charge for special exhibitions. It is for those exhibitions which the 2 for 1 discount applies.

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  • hawkhead's Profile Photo

    Re: Penny Pinching in London?

    by hawkhead Online Now Feb 27, 2013 at 10:03 AM

    Oh lawks, planxty, so sorry to have offended in raising the "minority"/"majority" issue. Won't do it again.

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  • metropolis's Profile Photo

    Re: Penny Pinching in London?

    by metropolis Online Now Feb 28, 2013 at 11:29 AM

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  • funkycarla8's Profile Photo

    Re: Penny Pinching in London?

    by funkycarla8 Online Now Mar 13, 2013 at 5:00 PM

    Hi,
    I find this is a good website for deals:
    http://www.daysoutguide.co.uk/
    Many of the deals though require both of you to have a national rail ticket for entry discount (underground tickets not valid in offers) but it depends where you're stayign and visiting. There are also meal/show/accommodation discounts that you may be interested in.

    Hope you have a great trip
    Carla

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