I get a LOT of questions asking how I afford to do so many fun things. “You are always eating out”, “how can you afford to be doing all those things”. I am not a secret millionaire (I wish), but I have found a way to be able to get the most out of London without spending an arm and leg (and probably a neck and back in this expensive city).
But fear not. My secret is out! I’m going to share with you some of the ways I manage to eat, explore and get the best out of the London on a budget.
When I want to find a complete variety of fun things to do, there are certain apps and website I use to get my imagination flowing. YPlan and Fever have everything from discount cinema tickets to immersive theatre experiences to boozy brunches to boat parties. You can tailor the app so it finds the best activities to suit you; diningout/drinking/theatre/music/comedy/anything else you can probably think of. They will provide you with discounted vouchers to a lot of places and also give you a great list of FREE stuff you can do. Both these apps are totally free and I have used them for a huuuuuge range of activities and also on a regular basis so I can afford to go to the cinema in London (without having to take out a bank loan).
Time Out is amazing for providing information for all the best things to do in London. It is updated regularly so it is always worth checking if you need some inspiration. I love the lists it provides of the top things to do seasonally. I strongly recommend signing up to their mailing list for regular discount vouchers. I have got some INSANE deals from them. You can dine at some of the top restaurants in London often paying a fraction of the price. I recently purchased an afternoon tea voucher which had over 50% off which I plan to use in August.
This leads me onto another thing: getting deals in advance. If you see an amazing deal, check the small print as often they are valid for several weeks or sometimes even months after purchasing. Realistically you aren’t going to be dining out at top London restaurants on a regular basis, even if they are discounted. So if you know you’re either visiting London soon or if you live here but have a anniversary or special day you want to plan, snap up these vouchers when you have the money (hello pay day!) and then on the day, you are financially stress-free!
If you are someone who likes eating out a lot, (like me) you don’t want to be spending £25- £30 a head for a quick mid-week bit out. I cannot recommend signing up to email mailing lists to restaurants enough! I know when we get offered to sign up to emails, it’s instinctive to tick the ‘opt out’ box. But don’t! You will receive great deals which will mean date night just got a lot more affordable!
Obviously there are times in the year where restaurant prices don’t drop. December and Valentines Day are the busiest time of year for restaurants, so they don’t need to offer discounts, especially at higher end restaurants. So how can I afford to go out without spending a fortune at these peak times? I always see if the restaurant serves breakfast! Breakfast is a far more affordable option for dining out. I have eaten at places such as The Shard and Duck and Waffle and many of their breakfast options don’t differ that much in price to standard chains. They will add on a 12.5% service charge (but then again so does Bill’s) but scrambled eggs on toast will not break the bank wherever you go. HOWEVER, refrain from getting the ever-so-tempting mimosa as alcohol is usually where high end restaurants really make their money. So start your day with a bit of indulgence (without then £100 dinner price tag) and have the Instagram of dreams! #ladieswhobruch #birthdaybreakfast #breakastdate.
Seeing a show in the West End can be extortionate. My best advice is to shop around. I use a verity of websites including Discount Theatre, lastminute.com and the app TodayTix as these can offer some great bargains for certain shows. If you are in London you can great deals from TKTS which is the ONLY concession you should buy from in London (the rest are dodgy AF). But where I often find the best deal, is actually going to theatre on the day and seeing what they have to offer. I know this feels risky but if you are going to see a show on a weekday, (unless it has just started its run or has a mega-celeb in it) it is highly unlikely that the show will be sold out. Some theatres also offer ‘day seats’ which are some of the top seats held back for a cheap price on the day.
Also if you are feeling lucky enter the various ‘ticket lotteries’ which allow you to enter a draw to win front row tickets for a VERY cheap price (usually around £15 mark). Aladdin have one via their website, Book of Mormon have one you can do at the theatre and TodayTix app usually have several depending what is on, including Dreamgirls (WHICH I ACTUALLY ONE TICKETS TO). Remember, someone has to win, so why not you?!
Finally, as I mentioned before, there are so many things to do in London for free. It is incredible that most of the museums and galleries have no entry free. If you want to giggle, you don’t need to spend a fortune at The Comedy Store. There are so many free comedy nights around London. Top Secret Comedy Club on Drury Line has various free comedy nights during the week, from stand up to comedy improv. Angel Comedy also have very popular free stand up nights. You never know you may even see someone famous testing out new material! TimeOut have a great list of free comedy in London which you can check out here.
If you have managed to get to the end of this post you are a CHAMP as this was a lot longer than I originally intended! But hopefully this gives you more of an idea of how to find fun things to do in London without having to sell your soul. My biggest advice is to do your research and shop around or the best deals.
What are you top tips for getting the best out of the city on a budget?