City travel can be incredibly expensive, especially in a city that stretches as far as London.
With over 1500 kilometres of space, London is one of the most diverse and eclectic cities for any trip and offers up ample opportunities for all tastes. From the city centre teeming with attractions to the borough fringes boasting unique hidden gems, guests at the Park Grand Hotel Hyde Park will be spoilt for choice during their London excursions.
However, when it comes to finances, transportation, accommodation and attractions can all add up. What’s more, with shoddy exchange rates, tempting (and very posh) city dining opportunities and a wealth of high street shopping, it’s easier than you might think to overspend in the city.
That means that to truly enjoy your stay – especially if you’re on a budget - you’ll have to plan your visit. There’s so much to do in London that it can become overwhelming and as any lost holidaymaker will say, some of the more stressful moments of your holiday can manifest due to a lack of planning.
This doesn’t just come down to budgeting, though.
That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the best London life hacks. Straight from the horse’s mouth, these tips will not only help you enjoy your trip and broaden your holiday horizons, but will give you the tools to live like a Londoner, seeing the city through the eyes of its locals.
Travelling the city
Life hacks for travelling the city are one of the best ways to save money during your visit to London. With such a large transport network and many great links to other cities, getting your head around the extensive public transport links will help you travel quicker, more comfortably and (most importantly!) for greater value prices.
This is also great news if you’re looking at London hotel offers because central hotels – including Park Grand Hotel Hyde Park – are well-situated near public transportation hubs.
Pick your airport wisely
There are five airports serving London, and the best way to ensure a smoother journey to the city is to pick the right airport. Some of the smaller airports book cheaper flights with cheaper airlines, and whilst they may not be as deluxe on the plane journey, they could save you a lot of money, especially during peak periods.
Also, consider the distance from your London airport to your accommodation. Keep in mind that Heathrow has direct links to Paddington Station and the Gatwick Express runs to Victoria. Easy access!
Invest in an Oyster card
For international travellers, Oyster cards are a far better bet when paying for public transport than contactless payment.
To start, many foreign contactless cards aren’t supported by the public transport system and won’t accept concessions such as rail cards and weekly travelcards. What’s more, the Oyster card works on a daily capping system, rather than a weekly one like contactless does. Whilst weekly capping saves money in the long run, you’ll save more money through daily caps if you’re only in the city for a few days.
City map apps are your friend
If you’re in a rush to get somewhere, phones really are your friend. With apps such as City Mapper and Google Maps giving you the quickest routes to your destination, you’ll never feel lost again. If you want to save money, these apps will give you the best options for walking or cycling to your destination as well.
Walk when possible
Keep in mind that central London is relatively compact.
Walking from Westminster to the Southbank will take you no more than 15 to 20 minutes, whilst Covent Garden to the British Museum is about the same. Whenever possible, traversing London on foot will find you seeing the city from a new point of view, and might even have you discovering a discreet café, bar or shop. Who knows, you could stumble upon your new favourite spot in the city.
Use a Santander Cycle
If boots were made for walking, city bikes were made for riding.
The cycling superhighway in the city will have you weaving past canals, nature reserves, parkland paths and some of the most beautiful and unexplored areas in London. Cycling is an eco-friendly and healthy way to see London and will also save you money when using the easy to find Santander Cycles.
Avoid rush hour at all costs
Peak times and rush hour combine to create a stressful and expensive travelling experience.
It seems contradictory to think that you pay up to a third more per journey for a more uncomfortable tube journey, but between the hours of 7 and 9 AM and 4 and 7 PM, you’ll be crammed like sardines in the underground system. If you can, try to avoid using public transport during these hours.
Assuming that seeing the city’s attractions are a part of your itinerary while visiting London, a bit of local knowledge will go a long way in helping you save money and make the most of each experience.
Below are some tips and tricks to get you started.
Capitalise on London’s free museums
London is teeming with free museums. With the collection at Museum Row in South Kensington being free to visit, you can also explore the permanent exhibits at the Tate and National Galleries in the city for no fee at all.
Explore what the fringes have to offer
It’s not just the city centre that has a great culture. Areas like Dulwich and Elephant and Castle offer up hidden gems such as the Horniman Museum and the Newport Street Gallery.
The West End can (actually) be inexpensive
Booking your tickets in advance is one way to save money, but box office returns from the venue on the day of your show can save you heap.
On certain days of the week, West End Theatres offer box office returns at the start of the day. On a first-come-first-serve basis, you could grab tickets going for hundreds of pounds for anything as low as £12
Entertainment can be inexpensive, too
It’s not just the West End which can be cheap, comedy venues and music venues offer up shows on a donation basis or completely free of charge. Check out comedy venues such as the Backyard and Angel Comedy Club, alongside music venues such as the Old Blue Last and Shacklewell Arms to find the next big things showing the crowd what they’ve got to offer the world of entertainment.
Eating and drinking
Dining in London can be expensive, but it can be as soft on the bank as it is on your belly.
Tipping isn’t a must
Whilst those working in customer service in the United States survive off tips, the UK pays their waiters and bartenders (just about) enough to get by. If you’re low on cash, don’t feel obliged to tip. Of course, if you enjoyed your service, tipping is always appreciated!
Dining deals at your accommodation
Hotels such as the Park Grand Hotel Hyde Park offer great deals for guests on their diverse menus. For all-inclusive breakfast around Paddington, you can’t get much better than a full English at the Park Grand.
Taste the multicultural food markets
London weekends offer bitesize tasters of the international community through regular street food markets in many areas of the city. For a bite to eat during your sightseeing, check out areas such as Brick Lane and Borough Market. Both offer high quality and diverse foodstuffs.