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London Calling

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We were in London a few years ago. The city is expensive in general and with a weak dollar it was horrendous! Thus we spent more time in smaller towns in Britain, less time in London.


We stayed at a hotel within walking distance of Victoria Station, a place recommended by Rick Steves. I would get his guide book as well as Lonely Planet for some good ideas.

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We were in London a few years ago. The city is expensive in general and with a weak dollar it was horrendous! Thus we spent more time in smaller towns in Britain, less time in London.


We stayed at a hotel within walking distance of Victoria Station, a place recommended by Rick Steves. I would get his guide book as well as Lonely Planet for some good ideas.


I agree with all of this--check out Rick Steves and Lonely Planet and spend more time outside of London.

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If you are interested in visiting the Tower and other historic palaces, it is worth it to get the season pass to the Historic Royal Palaces. The cost for one palace is almost the same as the cost for the season pass.

Other than that I'm no help. We've always visited family, so we had a place to stay, cook meals, etc.

I hope it all works out. It is an amazing trip.

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or staying at a Eurocamp or similar lodging facility.


If you're really trying to control costs, Eurocamps are like campgrounds that have trailers you can rent. The trailers are nice enough and depending upon the campground they can be really fun. We stayed about a ten minute train ride (with easy walking distance to the train) from Paris at a Eurocamp and had a great time. The trailer had a small kitchen where we could cook and three bedrooms. There are also activities associated with the campground and restaurants. I don't know if they are as common in the UK, but they are all over the mainland of Europe. If you're interested in details, let me know and I'll post again.


I know this may sound weird since it's unusual in the US but, also, check out (google) renting an apartment or small house where you want to visit. Renting apartments for vacationing is fairly common in Europe and not unusual. If it's off-season, you can sometimes get a great place and a good deal.


Have fun! We're heading to London for my birthday in March to see Phantom of the Opera. I can't wait!

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My husband and I are looking into a trip to London for my 40th Birthday, but we are having a hard time keeping the overall cost within the budget. Does anyone live at the London or recently visited there? We could especially use lodging suggestions, dining suggestions, and any other money saving tips!

I'm going on a trip to Europe in March with my ds, and found it to be more affordable than I expected. Here's the website I used:


It's the easiest way I could find to plan a trip. The website asks what cities you'd like to visit, asks how many nights you'd like to be there, adds in your airfare (if needed), offers a wide selection of hotels (starting with least expensive and including traveller ratings), and presents a wide selection of tours you might like that are available on each day you plan to be there. I also found the rates to be comparable/better to what I could find on Expedia or booking independently with the airlines.


ETA: I also checked as many reviews of Europeandestinations.com as possible, and all except one were very positive. The one who wrote the bad review sounded a little...weird. I have also already paid for most of our trip (they allow most trips to be paid in 3 installments) and have checked the flights and hotels to confirm the reservations are there (they are).

Edited by Julie in CA
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YES! You can do this!! We took our family of five there 2 years ago and spent less on 12 days in England (6 in London) than we did at a week at Disneyworld...here's how I did it..I traveled OFF SEASON..not much luck if you want to travel May-August...so pick SEPTEMBER!! April might be good too, but other months, you're dealing with icky weather...we were lucky and in the middle of September had NO rain and beautiful 70 degree days.


USE PRICELINE!!!! You're lucky that you only need 1 room..most the rooms in London will only accomodate 2 people max anyhow..rely on Tripadvisor.com for reviews on the hotels over there..they were very accurate. We needed 2 rooms since we had 5 people and I played the priceline game (yes, there are tricks to the system and even a website where people list their incredible deals and what they had to punch into the computer to get them...it was time consuming but if you follow the 'plan' you can get some amazing deals...we went when the exchange rate was $1.93 = 1 pound!! So it's better for you now) We got a 4 star hotel right next to Hyde Park in Kensington (I really recommend Kensington area, it's nice and clean and close to lots of underground stops) for $72 a night!! If you called the hotel and booked it would be over $350 a night!!


I also rented a car, because we were traveling to the Cotswolds, but if you're ONLY doing London, forget it and use the underground...it will get you everywhere you want to go. It helped me to plan out every venture of our trip...Buckingham Palace is only open on certain days, there is a neat ceremony at the Tower of London that you have to write to in advance to get tickets for (Ceremony of the Keys)...those are some of our favorite memories...picking a Tuesday night for the theater will open up discounts for you....food wise we really liked sticking with pubs with great reviews (again rely on Tripadvisor)...the food is what can get so expensive, most the museums are free so despite what people think, London can be very inexpensive...I think as a family we spent less than $500 on incidentals (even theater/food etc.) in 6 days. Just use your credit card, but I do recommend getting about $300 converted to pounds, it's just easier for small meals or train tickets etc.


Let me know if you need any specifics...but you can do this and have a memorable trip!!



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London is horrendously expensive. However, if that is your dream, it can be done.


We stayed at two hotels. One was the Corbigoe--the only thing to recommend it is that it is cheap. If you can afford better you will enjoy your stay more.


The other hotel was a dream come true. It was actually right across the street from Corbigoe. It's called The Blades. The room was nice and it came with a good sized, healthy breakfast. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Here is a link:




Also in the Pimlico area there are small shops and bakeries. We were able to get very nice food for much less (pasties, sandwiches, etc.).


The Tower of London tour is my absolute favorite tour of anything, anywhere. The Beefeaters that run the place not only give you lots of nifty information, but also make it their personal mission to deliver with style, humor, and panache. There was TONS to see there and fascinating to hear.


Lodgings in Europe are very different from the States. Things tend to be much smaller, and you don't always get a private bathroom. If you're willing to compromise these points you can get something cozy and nice.


Public transportation is easy to navigate there. I would NOT rent a car in London--even my dh says he would find that terribly overwhelming. He's normally really adept at driving internationally and figuring things out, but London intimidates even him. (FWIW he's driven throughout the UK and Scotland and Mexico, not to mention all over the States.) We live in a large city so we didn't think driving in another big city would be any big deal, but London is a whole different animal because of the mix of roundabouts, nonexistent or poorly placed street signs, and horrendous congested traffic. Take the tube and the red buses instead.


If you choose to go to Buckingham Palace, go REALLY early or you won't be able to see. If I were doing it again, I would go 45 minutes early and just camp out with some snacks and a book. I don't think they allow people to bring chairs though.


While you're there make sure you enjoy real pub food--stew or fried fish are the standards. I don't know if you drink alcohol or not, but dh and I found the local ales/bitters/beer/etc. to be really tasty. You don't have to drink to go to a pub, though--it's not like the American bar scene. The atmosphere is relaxed and the food is often quite good, and you will see families there as well.


If you want to save some money, try an area outside of London. We had a magnificent time in Dartmouth. There are plenty of historical sights there, river tours, lovely hiking in the hills or moor, and pretty little towns that are everything we dream of in a 400-year-old town. It's a beautiful area, both naturally and the towns. We stayed at Cott Farm and had a really good experience there. The owners served up a lovely breakfast each day, we had a GORGEOUS room and an amazing view from just about any window in the house. The owners were also fantastic about offering advice and resources for getting around. There is also a wonderful pub not far from Cott Farm--we enjoyed eating there, but we also sometimes ordered food and ate it in the dining room at Cott Farm. If you do go to Dartmouth make sure you enjoy a dessert with clotted cream. Cream teas are also famous there, and really fun. Here is a link:




A lot of people go to Stratford-upon-Avon, north of London. We enjoyed it but found it far more glitzy/touristy, and the landscape, while pretty, is nowhere near as gorgeous at the southwest of England. It's an easy trip from London, though. I enjoyed seeing the Shakespeare stuff. There are also canals there. If you head up that way, plan to stay overnight somewhere in Leicestershire and also go to Warwick Castle.


That's all off the top of my head. Have a really lovely trip and keep us posted.

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