Want to enjoy a unique and fun day out in London on the cheap? Then carry on reading, because ThinkMoney.com, the site that helps you manage your money and bills, set me the challenge of finding hidden gems in England’s capital, with a budget of just £40*. They came up with an amazing idea of creating a UK Travel Guide written by Lifestyle Bloggers up and down the country, and I was delighted to be asked to represent London.
I understand that London is an expensive city, and many people assume that they can’t afford to do a lot here. But after living in London for over seven years, I have learnt that it’s about scouting out places that aren’t necessarily on the ‘Tourist Radar’. Sure it’s fun to go on the London Eye, have Afternoon Tea at the Dorchester and cocktails at Claridges, but it’s also very expensive to do that. You don’t need to spend loads of money to have a fun day out in London. In fact, I haven’t just found activities or places that cost £40 or less, but I have created a whole day out for under £40 (excluding Travel). So let me talk you through it.
Breakfast and Brunch at Mezzorama • Willesden Green • Total Spend: £9.65
Willesden Green – or Willy G as we call it – is where I live, and is definitely off the radar. It’s in North West London and is only 12 minutes from Bond Street on the jubilee line. It’s high street offers a selection of charity shops, cafes, bars and restaurants, including one of the best Sushi restaurants in London, Sushi-Say, and my favourite place to brunch – Mezzorama. This place does amazing food and they don’t overcharge for it like they do in central London. On sunny days you can sit on the sofa’s outside, or they open up the front windows for an extended outdoor dining area. It’s a mediterranean restuant, that also offer a wide variety of breakfast and brunch food, from a full english, to Pancakes and maple syrup, fruit bowls, and eggs benedict! I usually go for my favourite, Eggs Royale (an english muffin topped with salmon, poached eggs and hollandaise sauce with a Mediterranean salad on the side). They also do great coffee so I got my usual caramel latte with my brunch all for less than a tenner. And if you fancied making it a boozy brunch and adding some Prosecco to your meal, your still probably looking at no more than £15 per person.
A Walk and a Swim in Hampstead Heath • Total Spend: £00.00
One of the best things about London is it’s parks – they’re totally free and so beautiful! Of all of them Hampstead Heath in the North West of London is my favourite. This huge hilly area covers nearly 800 acres of land and offers one of the best views of the City of London. There are woodlands, playgrounds, ponds and even a lido – all completely free to use. This is what sets it apart from the Parks that are more central, like Green Park and Hyde Park, which charge you money just to use the deck chairs or go on the lake, not to mention the over-priced coffee shops and food vendors. Hampstead Heath is a perfect spot to go if your on a budget. I often go there and spend hours just walking around, taking photos, enjoying the views and feeding the ducks. And if your headed there on a Sunny day then don’t forget your towel and swimsuit and jump in that lido. (Pssst, if you’re a movie buff, you may recognize some areas of the Heath from scenes in the 1999 movie Notting Hill, which starred Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant).
Coffee and Cake at The Attendant • Oxford Circus • Total Spend: £6.10
In Central London, not far from the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street, there is a quiet little road called Foley street where there once lived an underground loo. Built in the year 1890 this Victorian toilet was open to the public for over 70 years, allowing them to pop in for a wee whilst shopping. That was until the mid-1960’s when it became dormant, and it remained so for over fifty years, until early 2013 when a couple of Londoners (also known as Pete Tomlinson and Ben Russell) decided to restore the old loo and turn it into a quirky café. So if you fancy doing something completely unique, that won’t break the bank, pop into The Attendant for a cup of coffee and some nibbles. I had my first visit there last week and I loved it. You walk down the stairs and are immediately greeted by a little corridor that has been written on and scribbled at, much like a real toilet. The café itself has tiled walls, old-fashioned hanging lights and toilet tanks for decoration. For coffee and nibbles I had a latte (obvs) and a salted caramel brownie that not only melted in my mouth and nearly made me foodgasm at the
urinals table, but it was actually a pretty generous size too. My latte was £2.80 which is reasonable for London and the brownie was £3.30.
A Spectacular View at The Sky Garden • Fenchurch Street • Total Spend: £00.00
So this may place not be a hidden gem, as it’s at the top of one of London’s newest and highest buildings. And a little confession, I haven’t actually been here yet, as I’m not booked to go until next week. BUT, the reason the Sky Garden wins a place on my Hidden Gems list, is because unlike its competitor, The Shard, which charges £35 per person just to get in, a visit to the Sky Garden with it’s spectacular view is absolutely free. You just have to head to skygarden.london and book in advance. And according to a few of my friends who have already been, it really is a gorgeous place to visit, with an unbelievable view showcasing an incredible shot of London. I can’t wait to visit!
(images c/o The Sky Garden)
Drinks and Live Theatre at the Jetty • Greenwich • Total Spend: £21.25
As great as it to head to a West End Show or go to the O2 and see a show, it’s bloody expensive. Why not head around the corner from the O2, just a five minute walk, to the Jetty; a platform sat on the River Thames that offers design, art and pop up entertainment, not to mention fantastic views of the Emirates Air Line. I went along to an immersive Play called The Heartbreak Hotel that is showing until late September. My ticket was only £10 plus a £1.75 booking fee. Not bad considering a show on the West end or a concert at the O2 will cost you around £70! Arriving at the Jetty, I opted to prepay £4.50 for some post-play Prosecco with the cast, and then I headed into the pop-up bar and spent a further £4.50 on a cider. Food can also be ordered. The play began at 7.30pm and involved the whole audience walking from room to room of the ‘Hotel’ learning more about its visitors, it’s regulars and getting involved in some of the scenes. It was a hilarious play, with a great cast and afterwards we got to have a little party and a dance on the roof with our pre-paid Prosecco, enjoying the sunset. If you can’t make the Play there is always something to check out at the Jetty, including live music every night; it’s a must for those that love the arts and the theatre and appreciate a cheap night out.
My total spend for all these activities amounts to exactly £37. Meaning you’ve got £3 left over to add to your travel expense, grab another coffee, or buy yourself another cheeky drink!
I hope you like my Hidden Gems and if you’ve been to any of these amazing places, or are planning to go there, I would LOVE to know in the comments below. If you’d like to check out the FULL bloggers travel guide, which includes my home city of Liverpool – woop woop – you can check it out HERE.