How to Survive Visiting London During The Credit Crunch by:Tom Sheppard
We're taking the bus instead of driving. We're only using detergent that we've secretly swept up from the local laundrettes' floor. And the only new clothes we have are ones we've recently weaved from discarded rags found round the back of Primark. The credit crunch has hit us all pretty hard. But nothing has taken quite as big a blow as our holidays. And let's face it - it's at a time when we need them the most. But it IS possible to take a break without worrying about the state of your mortgage. This is the ultimate credit crunch guide to visiting the capital. Not so much London on a shoestring as London on a piece of value string, bought in the sale.
Where to stay
The recession has hit London hotels hard, and they've had to severely drop their rates to stay afloat. Bad news for the hotel industry but excellent news for budget travellers. LateRooms.com have numerous London deals, with over 600 properties on their roster. The site specialises in independent properties - doubtlessly the best way to find budget accommodation in a variety of enviable London locations. By eschewing the chains, and picking somewhere a bit more personal, you can shave pounds off your overall expenditure.
Where to go
Anywhere free! London has gained quite the reputation for being inordinately expensive yet in reality, lest we forget, is the ideal city in which to do free things. Literally countless tourist attractions, historic monuments and places of interest won't set you back a penny. Marvel at the changing of the guards! Get delightfully lost in the Natural History Museum! Stroke your chin in an educated manner at the Tate Modern!
Where to shop
Shopping in London isn't all about the designer boutiques of Bond and Regent Street. If you know where to go - London offers a world of budget shopping possibilities. Portobello Market offers many a second-hand find, at a snip of usual London prices. Camden Town offers so much more than Goths and vegan cafes - specialising in all manner of interesting and unusual clothing, art and music. Again, for the loose change you could scrape out of the bottom of your bag. Lesser known areas such as Spitalfields and Hoxton should definitely be explored for some financially-challenged treasures.
Where to eat
When on a weekend away, it's easy to fall into the trap of eating every meal out - but you can still indulge in a little traditional London fare without having to offload large amounts of your hard-earned dollar into some tourist trap cafe. Instead, nip down to the nearest supermarket or bakery and pick up a few bagels. Then head to any London deli a buy a few slices of salt beef. Then stock up on gherkins and coleslaw, for the ultimate authentic London lunch.
If you must eat out, opt for back street Italian restaurants or curry houses. Not only are they cheaper, they are more often than not a hell of a lot better than anything you'll find recommended in a guide book. A little unearthed gem is the restaurant chain Leon, which can be found in a variety of London hotspots (Carnaby Street, Bankside, The Strand...), serving healthy and delicious meals at ridiculously low prices.
Oh, and there is of course another option. Stealing croissants from your hotel at breakfast. Simply place an open napkin on your lap and with one swift gesture, lunch is taken care of! Note: We do not condone this sort of behaviour.
What to do
London being a veritable tangle of cobbled streets - offers many an interesting walk. Simply purchase a guide book (you'd be surprised at how many can be found in your local charity shop) et voila! Your very own guided tour - personally tailored to exactly what you want to see.
London seems to present the cash-strapped traveller with free treats on a continual basis - with gratituitous entertainment seemingly unravelling at your feet. For an evening of free entertainment, head to an area populated by high levels of tourists, such as Covent Garden, with a supermarket bought bottle of wine (screw top, obviously) and a blanket. With numerous street artists and performers to keep you entranced - wander around until you stumble lovely jazz quartet - then set up camp.
Failing these - the perfect credit crunch busting London past time? Head down to Canary Wharf (the city's financial capital) armed with a box of eggs. Proceed to throw said eggs at the bankers who got us in this horrible mess in the first place.* Total cost? Around 79p for a box of eggs.
* Don't actually do this.
About the author
At LateRooms we specialise in hotels. With a dizzying array of over 20,000 properties and millions of deals across the UK and worldwide. In particular we provide over 620 London Hotels (http://www.laterooms.com/en/k16295585_london-hotels.aspx
) which range from cheap, boutique and luxury.
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