London may no longer be the most expensive city in the world – a recent survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit ranked it 17th – but we can still say, without a shadow of a doubt, London is not cheap. For students this poses many challenges. There are many bonuses to be a student in London – free world class museums and galleries, the UK’s best nightlife and good job prospects – but the extra pressure placed on a student’s finances means many students can’t always enjoy all that London has to offer. But here are a few suggestions has you can make the most of the British capital without spending your entire interest-free overdraft.
London hotels are known for having small rooms and being overpriced. However, not all hotels come with miniature rooms and giant prices. A good way to stay in a flashy London hotel without the corresponding price tag is to book a stay on a Sunday night as most people book weekend breaks from Friday to Sunday morning. Alternatively, you could stay in a business hotel over the weekend and enjoy a reasonable rate including breakfast. Another trick is to book right at the last minute. You can get 10% off a stay at one of Millennium Hotel’s London hotels if you book no more than a day in advance and this includes breakfast.
Despite what some people say about British food, London has some of the world’s best restaurants. Heston Blumenthal’s new offering ‘Dinner by Heston’ in Knightsbridge was recently voted the 9th best in the world and this is just the tip of London’s vast culinary experience. A good way to keep prices down at flashy restaurants is to avoid alcohol. The wine list may be longer than you are tall, but you should steer clear if you don’t want to end up doing the dishes for the entire restaurant at the end of the night. A lot of restaurants make their biggest profit margins on the alcohol. To keep food costs down book your table in advance and make use of set menus and lunchtime offers using sites like Top Table. Also look for special offers in the broadsheet papers and Time Out London.
There is actually a lot to see and do in London that costs nothing. National museums including the Natural History Museum, Science Museum and V&A offer free general admission. There’s also the South Bank Centre and Barbican Arts Centre, which often show free exhibitions and are free to visit. If you want to go to a theatre show, be prepared to pay a premium – book your tickets in advance and go to a matinee showing to get the best value tickets.