London is one of my favourite cities to visit. There is so much to see and do and much of it doesn’t cost a dime – world class museums, art galleries, parks, or simply taking a walk to view the impressive old Tudor, Edwardian, and gothic-style buildings. Accommodation is often the biggest expense, but London can still be very affordable if you’re staying in hostels or somewhere like EasyHotel or Tune Hotels.
Accommodation – US$20.76 per day
- Palmer’s Lodge hostel, 21-bed female dorm, 8 nights – £112.50, NZ$229.42, US$160.46
- Generator hostel, 4-bed female dorm, 2 nights – £33.08, NZ$66.85, US$47.18
- Total = £145.58, NZ$296.27, US$207.62
I spent 8 nights initially exploring London and then a couple of nights after driving back from Scotland before taking the Eurostar to Brussels. As much as it pains me to admit, considering the fond memories I have of a previous visit in 2012, I did not enjoy my stay at Palmer’s Lodge. The bed was very uncomfortable, the “privacy curtains” around the bed don’t give you any privacy as they hang low and leave most of you exposed, and there are very few working outlets available for the 21 guests. However, I was very impressed with the Generator Hostel – so much so that I chose to stay with them again in Paris.
Food – US$18.23 per day
- Total = £127.79, NZ$259.94, US$182.29
Meals were a combination of pub grub (and a couple of pints), fast food, full english breakfasts and various snacks on the run. I could have done this cheaper, but I some very nice meals and the full english breakfasts were delicious value at £5.
Transport – US$9.28 per day
- Oyster card – £65, NZ$130.40, US$92.75
I primarily travelled around London on the tube, with the odd bus along the way for sightseeing (a great introduction to the city). I topped up £65 including the card fee, but I’m pretty sure I received some of this back in cash and forgot to record it.
Activities – US$6.54 per day
- Westminster Abbey – £20, NZ$40.15, US$28.54
- Cutty Sark & Greenwich Observatory – £18.50, NZ$37.34, US$26.40
- Planetarium Show – £7.50, NZ$15.13, US$10.70
- Total = £46, NZ$92.62, US$65.64
With all of London’s museums and art galleries free to visit, I didn’t spend much on activities this time around. I didn’t go in to any of the castles as I had done so on previous visits. Westminster Abbey was a repeat visit as it is such a marvellous building and I wanted to see the burial chambers of the English Kings and Queens again.
Misc. – US$31.02 per day
- Souvenir book of English Kings & Queens – £7.99, NZ$16.03, US$11.40
- Mini sewing kit – £3.69, NZ$7.39, US$5.27
- Replacement cellphone – £89.99, NZ$180.69, US$128.44
- Shopping – £115.67, NZ$235.22, US$165.09
- Total = £217.34, NZ$439.33, US$310.20
My cellphone, which I was using as a GPS at the time, stopped working during the drive down from Scotland. Panicking slightly at the thought of not having GPS when travelling around Europe and driving in the US (because apparently I’d never heard of paper maps before) I bought the cheapest decent-looking smartphone I could find, which was the Nokia 535. It served me well on this trip, but it has languished in a draw ever since I got home and fixed my Samsung so it was probably a waste of money. I also did some more shopping and I managed to rip open my neck pillow at Heathrow airport so bought a mini sewing kit to fix it up.
Total London Budget = US$85.85 per day ($56.48 sans shopping & phone)
- Total = £601.71, NZ$1218.56, US$858.50
Who says London is expensive?! I was quite surprise at the overall daily spend (excluding shopping). This doesn’t include transport to London, as it was my first stop in Europe. Inter-city travel certainly pushes the overall cost of travel up, but you can keep costs low by staying longer in each place. I love London and anticipate many return trips in the future – lets hope she stays this affordable!
What’s your top tip for visiting London on a budget?