London Journals

London on the cheap

Best of IgoUgo

A travel journal to London by gorboduc

Tower of London Photo, London, England More Photos
Quote: Samuel Johnson was right when he said "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life." But while it isn't boring, London can be a touch hard on the wallet. Here are some tips how to save and what to spend on.

London on the cheap

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Overview

Quote:
Go to Evensong at Westminster Abbey one evening. It's a beautiful service, even if you're not religious, and it's free - the best money you won't spend while you're in town. Check the schedule to be sure you'll be there for a sung Evensong, rather than a spoken one. You'll be in for a reflective half-hour of beautiful choral music, sung by the men and boys of the Abbey's choir.Quick Tips: If you want to save money, eat ethnic. London has a wide range of resturants serving every imaginable cuisine - the Indian is especially cheap and good. Pubs are also a good budget choice for meals, though, alas, it doesn't take long to max out on various varieties of pot pie, no matter how tasty...Read More

YHA London St Paul's

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Hotel | "City of London hostel"

Quote:
If you're looking for a cheap, clean, and quiet place to sleep in the center of London, this is it. The City of London hostel is run by YHA, and is right around the corner from St. Paul's Cathedral - so close that the sound of the bells wakes you in the morning. The hostel is housed in St. Paul's former choir school, an impressive Victorian building on the exterior, but once you get inside, most of the Victorian detail has been replaced by more functional fixtures. The reception, complete with helpful staff, is open 24 hours. Rooms are moderate sized, with high ceilings and large windows (if you get a street-facing one). Rooms have a sink, toilets, and small but clean showe...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 8, 2002

YHA London St Paul's
36 Carter Lane
London EC4V 5AB
0870 770 5764

Bayswater Inn

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Hotel

Quote:
The Bayswater Inn is located in a quiet square in the Bayswater neighborhood of London. It's popular with folks on cheap packages--like us--Europeans visiting London, and school groups, so how quiet it is depends on how many school kids are there when you are. The Bayswater neighborhood isn't upscale, but it's safe, cheap ethnic food is abundant on Queensway (the main road through Bayswater), and the hotel is an easy walk from the Queensway and Bayswater tube stops. The lobby is modern, done in peach wallpaper and black marble, with deep chairs to sit in. There is a secure luggage room where you can store your bags if you arrive before the 3 PM check in. Even though the luggage ro...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 29, 2002

Bayswater Inn
8 16 PRINCES SQUARE
London, England W2 4NT
44-207-727-8621

Blakemore Hotel

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Hotel | "The Blakemore Hotel"

Quote:
The Blakemore Hotel is located at 30 Leinster Gardens in Bayswater, a few blocks from Hyde Park and Kensington Palace and within walking distance of both the Queensway and Bayswater tube stops. It seems to be marketed to a combination of buisnessmen and tourists, so the decor is neat, trim, and dentist's-office bland. All that's missing are the potted ficus trees.... The lobby and common areas are pleasant, recently remodeled, wood paneled, and have comfy couches to sit in. The standard twin room is tiny but serviceable. People who aren't used to European hotel rooms, which are often much smaller than ones in the U.S., may find them a bit too small. There is a teeny bathroom wit...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 31, 2003

Blakemore Hotel
30 LEINSTER GARDENS
London, England
44 20 72624591

Belgo Centraal

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Restaurant

Quote:
Belgo Centraal is a Belgian (yes, Belgian) beer hall. It's located in Covent Garden, a short walk from the Covent Garden underground stop.

The "beat the clock" deal is the reason to come here. This is how it works: if you order one of three set meals (roast chicken, grilled sausages, or steamed mussles and fries, all including a glass of beer, wine, or soda) early in the evening (call Belgo for the exact hours) you pay the time - so if you order at 5:30, you pay five pounds, 30 p for your dinner.

The food is actually quite tasty (I can vouch for the mussles), and the place itself is an experience - the waiters wear brown monk's robes, and the decor is techno-warehouse.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 8, 2002

Belgo Centraal
50 Earlham Street
London, England WC2H 9LJ
+44 20 7813 2233

The Orangery at Kensington Gardens

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Restaurant | "The Orangerie"

Quote:
Once you're done touring Kensington Palace, stop and have a snack at the Orangerie next door. The Orangerie was built by Queen Mary's sister and successor, Queen Anne, in 1703. The classically-designed brick building was created for entertaining in the summer and for sheltering fruit trees in the winter. Now, you can stop there and have morning coffee, a light lunch, or afternoon tea in the bright and airy space. The contrast in decor is especially striking when compared with the rich, dark paneling that swaths the walls of the Palace--the Orangerie (not surprisingly, as it's a greenhouse) has floor-to-ceiling windows, providing a view of the palace and its lawn. Walls and ceilings are...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 27, 2003

The Orangery at Kensington Gardens
26 Eastcastle Street
London, England
(020) 7467-7455

Stockpot

Restaurant | "The Stockpot "

Quote:
In high-priced London, the Stockpot chain is a standby for generous portions of basic food at bargain prices. The hand-written menu lists appetizers, salads, entrees, and desserts at startlingly low prices. The food is simple and homey, including pasta, omlettes, a number of daily specials, and a set meal. Two people can easily have three courses each for around £20, tip included. For example, my meal of crispy fried mushrooms, spaghetti bolognese (tasty, but a little bland, a'la Chef Boyardee), apple crumble with the ubiquitous Bird's custard, and a Fanta was about £8. Wine and beer are available at reasonable prices for those who don't want soft drinks. The Stockpot on Old Compton S...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 27, 2003

Stockpot
18 Old Compton Street
London, England W1D 4JL
+44 20 7287 1066

Cafe in the Crypt

Restaurant

Quote:
The Cafe in the Crypt is loacated in the crypt of the Church of St. Martin in the Fields, right in the heart of Trafalgar Square. This makes it a relaxing stop when heading to or from the National Portrait Gallery or the National Museum, both located across the street. It's also a convenient place to grab lunch before one of the 1pm classical concerts at St. Martin in the Fields. The vaulting of the crypt is impressive, the classical music playing in the background relaxing. And where else can you eat lunch with Nell Gwyn (who is buried somewhere beneath the floor)? Food is served cafeteria style, and includes soup, sandwiches, and several à la carte hot entrées and sides. The best val...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 27, 2003

Cafe in the Crypt
The Crypt Of St. Martin In The Fields
London, England WC2N 4JF
+44 20 7839-4342

Westminster Abbey

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Attraction

Quote:
Westminster Abbey, located behind the Houses of Parliament, is a stunning sight. Founded prior to the Norman Conquest, the white limestone building that you see today was begun in the 13th century. The nave and Henry VII's chapel are in the perpendicular style--England's version of late Gothic architecture--and was largely complete by the reign of Henry VIII. Once inside the building, you realize why they called English Gothic "perpendicular"--the ceiling soars above you in great vaults held aloft by giant stone pillars. Almost as striking are the crystal chandeliers which line the nave and light the building. The gilded painting standing to the right of the Abbey's main entrance is a port...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 29, 2002

Westminster Abbey
20 Dean's Yard
London, England SW1P 3PA
+44 (20) 7222 5152

Tower of London

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Attraction | "The Tower of London"

Tower of London Photo, London, England
Quote:
If you''ve ever sat thorugh somebody else''s pictures of their vacation in Britain, you''ve doubtless seen pictures of The Tower of London (or, more correctly, Her Majesty''s Royal Palace and Fortress, The Tower of London, as one of the Yeoman Warders who guide you through the Tower will inform you). It seems to be a required visit for anyone who sets foot in the UK. Unsurprisingly, it''s usually busy with tourists. Surprisingly, it''s actually worth braving them to see what''s inside. Your admission fee entitles you to a tour with one of the Yeoman Warders (a.k.a. Beefeaters), who were probably featured in those vacation pictures. They give an amusing and informative tour of the Tower...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 25, 2003

Tower of London
Tower Hill
London, England EC3N 4AB
+44 (207) 709 0765

Kensington Palace

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Attraction

Kensington Palace Photo, London, England
Quote:
Though most famous today as the former residence of Princess Diana, Kensington Palace has been a royal residence for more than three centuries. Kensington Palace was purchased in 1689 by William and Mary as a country retreat from the smog and dirt of central London. It was renovated and expanded by Sir Christopher Wren, and remained the center of court life until the mid-18th centrury. After the death of George II, the last reigning monarch to live at Kensington, the palace sank into obscurity as the home of minor royals. Here Princess Victoria -- later Queen Victoria -- was born in 1819 and spent her youth. The state rooms at Kensington are decorated to represent either the ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 27, 2003

Kensington Palace
Kensington Gardens
London, England W8 4PX
+44 (20) 7937 9561

Apsley House

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Attraction

Quote:
You just can't miss Apsley House when you clamber up out of the Tube at Hyde Park Corner--such an imposing building must be a fancy hotel, a library, a gallery, or perhaps a bank, but cannot have been, you think, a private residence. But Apsley House, standing resplendant in Hyde Park, was in fact just that--the London residence of Arthur Wellsley, Duke of Wellington. Nicknamed "Number One London" for its prominant situation as the first house a traveller encountered after passing through the Knightsbridge toll gates, the sobriquet became even more appropriate when Wellington took up residence in 1817 and embarked on a campaign of domestic politics that he hoped would match the success of his ca...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 5, 2003

Apsley House
Hyde Park Corner
London, England