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Jun
10

London on the Cheap. Is It Possible?

Is it possible to see London with a family without breaking the bank?

Accommodation

I don’t know that it is possible to do London cheaply….unless you can find a housesitting gig or if you have family to stay with.  We found accommodation in London to be RIDICULOUSLY expensive! It is the most expensive city we have every stayed in!

We spent hours scouring the Internet looking for a reasonably priced hotel room. We even looked at hostels and they were not any cheaper than a hotel since we are a family of four. I asked for advice in Family Travel Groups, searched on Airbnb, and asked friends for their recommendations.

In the end, the cheapest place we could find was a Travelodge, all the way out in Greenwich. The cost? Over $160 CAD per night (About $135 USD) for a very basic room. On the plus side, that room had a queen bed and two singles (Yay for not sharing a bed!) and included a decent buffet breakfast. On the downside, it was nothing special and for that kind of money, I expect something really nice! Depending on traffic it took between 40 minutes to an hour to get into downtown London by bus.

Now if we wanted to save time instead of money, we could have reserved a room in downtown London but that would set us back upwards of $250 per night. No thanks!

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Entertainment

After we mourned the loss of our money on our hotel room, we found that London COULD be seen on the cheap if you are not interested in the tourist traps and what we call artificial entertainment. If you are interested in things like the London Eye, Harry Potter World, and the aquarium, take out a loan. 🙂

We concentrated on seeing London for FREE! Walking around the historic parts costs absolutely nothing. We walked, and walked, and walked, seeing sights such as Big Ben, London Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace, and Trafalgar Square and we thoroughly enjoyed it! It is a cool feeling to see in person the iconic buildings that you have seen in media your whole life!

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We also went to some AMAZING MUSEUMS. I must express my gratitude to England for making so many of their world class museums free. Yup, you heard me. Absolutely free for anyone! On each of our three full days, we visited a museum. We started with the amazing British Museum, then explored our kids’ favorite, the Natural History Museum, and finished up our days at the Imperial War Museum. All of these museums were incredible and we highly recommend them.

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London also has some beautiful parks. We whiled away an afternoon in famous Hyde Park which was a nice place to sit in the shade and watch the locals. We also really loved the Princess Dianna Memorial Fountain which is open for kids to play in. Next time we will bring our bathing suits!

Food

Nope, food is not cheap if you plan on eating out. We ate out twice (once at a Museum Cafeteria because we were desperate. Yuck!) and once at a Nandos. The rest of the time we self-catered from Tesco Express. Our staple meal was tortilla shells, sliced roasted chicken, shredded cheese, chopped cucumbers (chopped with a plastic knife since we travel with carry-on only), and hummus. Add a pack of blueberries and a bag of popcorn and we were golden. Since our hotel room did not have a fridge, we asked staff to put our leftovers in the staff fridge and they did so with a smile.

So Can London Be Done On the Cheap?

If you don’t eat out and stick to the free activities (which there are certainly enough of) London can be a reasonably priced city. The only issue is the lack of inexpensive accommodation. The farther out from the city center you get, the cheaper accommodation becomes.

We really loved London and we’ll be back!

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