Vibrant, cosmopolitan London is packed with culture, nightclubs and crowds. But while few metropolises can top it for buzz, it’s also one of the most expensive cities in the world.
To kick start a new series of posts on filling 48 hours (and an instant weekend) in top destinations around the world with thrifty entertainment, we’re going to show you how to spend two nights in the cherished home of HostelBloggers (and HostelBookers) on a budget of less than £50… Sound impossible? Well, keep reading…
Art, culture, architecture and more… The city may be pricey as a rule but many of its world-class attractions are free. From the extensive comtemporary art collections at the Tate Modern to electic exhibitions from the worlds of fashion and music at The Victoria and Albert Museum, there’s more than enough free culture to keep budget travelers entertained.
For a taste of very British architecture, stroll along The Strand to Trafalgar Square, then head up The Mall to admire the views of Buckingham Palace. From here, cut across to Horse Guards Road and walk down Downing Street towards Westminster; all the quintessential London sights, from the Parliament buildings to the Queens’ Guards and the palace, and all without spending a single pound….
Party on Brick Lane. After a long day of sightseeing, London’s famous clubbing scene awaits. The trendy East End is fast becoming the city’s most popular nightspot, with revelers crowding onto Brick Lane most nights of the week. Grab a £5 curry (look out for restaurants that have a BYOB policy – Bring Your Own Booze – for extra value on eating out) then head to one of the many bars and pubs which line the street. Cafe 1001 and 93 Feet East begin to fill up when the pubs quieten down, thanks to free entry and reasonable drinks (around £3 a beer). The latter is a hotspot for up-and-coming bands whilst Cafe 1001 pumps out dirty techno all day, every day to East London’s fashionable raving set.
Rest Your Weary Head… In the north of the city, London Backpackers offers dorm beds for the seriously attractive price of £9.50 a night. The underground closes around midnight but the city is still very well connected with regular nightbuses transporting weary revelers back to their London youth hostels all through the night for just 90p (on an Oyster Card).
Camden Passage. After brunch (£6.95 for hearty sausages and mash) at the retro 1940s ‘S&M Cafe’ on Essex Road (something of an Islington institution), it’s a short hop to quaint Camden Passage which runs parallel to the busy Essex Road. Filled with small vintage and antique shops, the street is also lined with stalls selling everything from jewelry to junk – perfect for a morning of browsing with a hangover.
Camden Town. There’s more market action to be had in nearby bohemian Camden Town. Here the city’s young and trendy crowds gather among vintage clothes stalls and music stands, with electronic beats blaring out of every corner. The market is now so popular that bargains are on the rare side, but the food is universally good and cheap. Down by the lock, try the Argentinian steaks for £4.50 to refuel after a day of window shopping.
Sink a Pint or Four. The streets of Soho are bustling day and night – the pefect spot to enjoy a few (less hedonistic?) drinks on your second night. For fantastic value in this central part of the city, head to the Cittie of Yorke on High Holborn for dark beams, heaps of old-fashioned English pub charm and (most importantly) £2 pints.
This pub is in fact part of a chain owned by the Samuel Smith’s brewery (although far removed from the typical characterless ‘chains’ which abound in city centers) of which there are a grand total of 32 scattered across London….perfect for a bar crawl that will stretch out the last of that budget!