London – Budget or Luxury?

There are many ways to travel and many possible budgets. Some opt for the challenge and excitement of the thinnest budget; often, this is called backpacking. For the privileged few who consider money no object or perhaps the average wage earner who wants to splurge once, there is the luxury version, sparing no expense. Below are some comparisons.

Getting there

If you’re working on a shoestring, you need to purchase airfares carefully. Choose economy class; you save the most money and can get a window seat or emergency exit aisle for extra legroom. After checking Travelocity or Expedia for the airline with the cheapest fare, try checking the airline’s home site. Sometimes they offer the same ticket for a bit less, which is the case here. For greater savings, make your dates flexible whilst searching instead of using exact dates.

When the sky’s the limit, you can afford whatever you want. Choose the best times for you on your favourite airline. For example, Emirates first class lets you enjoy your own private suite, with a fully equipped mini bar, adjustable lighting, vanity table, mirror and a seat that converts into a fully flat bed with a mattress so you don’t lose out on a good night’s sleep. Enjoy a variety of tasty dishes for dinner from the regionally inspired menu and eat off Royal Doulton fine bone china but only after you enjoy high tea in the onboard lounges. You can even take a spa shower or socialize with passengers in either of the two onboard lounges. It will only set you back a few thousand dollars.

Budget Accommodation

A hostel is almost always your best bet for saving dollars. London has loads of them, some more expensive than others; some located better than others; for cheap but good accommodation, consider The Crown at 102 Lavender Hill, London for $23.39 AUD/night in a 15 person dorm room. It’s clean and secure with a free breakfast, free Wi-Fi and within 15 walking minutes to Clapham Junction Station. They even offer a free walking tour of London, and you receive a half-off drinks coupon for the in-house bar. (A close 2nd is The Green Man.)

Luxury Accommodation

For the ultimate in luxury, the Lanesborough in London, a St. Regis hotel, offers the Royal Suite priced at GBP 8,000 per night and it’s truly fit for royalty. Sumptuously appointed and richly decorated, the floor to ceiling windows boast a gorgeous view of the manicured grounds of Buckingham Palace and a view of the Constitutional Arch. The hotel even provides a free breakfast (included in the price of course). There’s an onsite spa and the most amazing dining facilities.

With the ever distinct air of ‘old money’, The Dorchester houses the most expensive suite in London; The Oliver Messel Suite, at 2,950 pounds per night it is at the height of luxury. You might choose to stay there or in one of their less expensive suites, or simply pay a visit to enjoy their renowned afternoon tea.

Sightseeing

There are quite a few free sights and experiences around London for the energetic backpacker: In western London, broaden your mind but keep the expenses small while visiting the free Natural History Museum with a ‘hidden’ entrance on Exhibition Road if the queues are long. The Science Museum is not just for children; the last Wednesday of every month is an adult-only late opening offering music, talk and wine. Check out the Victoria and Albert Museum, which offers free performances and music every Friday night. For a cool place to visit try the Dana Centre after 9pm for adults-only conversation or visit history-rich Fulham Palace. Northern London has its share of freebies, like the RAF Museum with its military aircraft or Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge. In central and eastern London, there are lots of museums, parks, galleries and even a few theatres that come gratis and are definitely worth checking out.

Without restrictions your options are even greater. If you’re tired of sightseeing the same old way, indulge in a helicopter tour and view London from the sky. There are a number of tours ready to whisk you away, but a private helicopter, all to yourself, sounds deliciously decadent. And rather than join the tours around the country that cater to everyone and travel in a bouncy coach, hire a guide to tailor a tour just for you. However, everyone should visit the Borough Food Market at the southern end of the London Bridge, an institution established in ancient Roman times. It’s open Thursday through Saturday every week.

Eats and Restaurants

There are plenty of tasty budget foods in London. If you’re in north-west London, pause for a bite at the Queensbury Deli, or Ecco for some wonderful Italian food. For Asian fare, step over to Alisan for dim sum. South-east London boasts Greenwich Union, or if you fancy pizza, the Bianco43 is a great stop. Down a shabby stretch of Trafalgar Road is the hidden gem of a French deli called L’Artisan. It’s worth looking for. In eastern London sits a 1940s replica of a US diner called Fatboy’s Diner. Excellent, simple American food. The Garden Community Cafe is bright, colourful and well-priced for uncomplicated home-cooked meals.

And without limits, sink into the sinful creations of the London elite, like Restaurant Gordon Ramsey on Royal Hospital Road. Pétrus, at the Berkley, is another Gordon Ramsey owned dining establishment. For Indian and Pakistani cuisine, dress up for the Amaya Restaurant at the Halkin Arcade. The Veeraswamy Restaurant is the most expensive and possibly the oldest surviving Indian restaurant in the world. It can be found on Regent Street. And definitely do not miss afternoon tea in London; dress smart and choose your favourite high-end spot from the Savoy to the Dorchester, just make sure you book in advance.

Travel Insurance

There are several different options for travel insurance depending on what your needs are and there are definitely ways to save money but you should choose a plan based on your needs and careful consideration of where you are going to. Healthcare in the UK is of a high standard but healthcare costs for travellers can run into the thousands and higher. As an Authorised Representative, AR 338646, of Travel Insurance Partners Pty Limited, Australia post can cover you for some of the worst eventualities, ensure you always read the fine print carefully and ensure you are covered.

Karen Davies is the Head of Digital & Direct Marketing at Australia Post.  Australia Post offers a range of products and services to help ensure you get the most from your time away including: Mail Hold, Travel Sim Cards and Travel Insurance – see auspost.com.au/travel-solutions.html for details

2 Comments

  • K.T. @TheLifescape

    September 30, 2013

    Our budget trip to London consisted of a 18 USD bed in a 10 bed dorm (at a hostel in Earl’s Court), eating pre-packaged sandwiches from local grocer, avoiding the Tube at all costs (13 USD per day per person is RIDICULOUS!) and went on free walking tours.

    Sounds miserable but it was actually a lot of fun!! The city of London puts on a lot of free shows around the city. On Friday nights in Trafalgar Square you can regularly see shows and events.

    We watch the symphony AND opera on a massive screen with thousands of other people. We felt like ROYALS.

    London is a great city- budget minded traveling or not!

  • Jamie @ Living in Dubai

    October 25, 2013

    I have been in London already and I can say is a wonderful city to visit, I had the best time ever, there are too many places to go to, and many things to do. The food is great, getting a beer on a pub is great, also taking the tour on the red buses is a whole adventure.

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