Author Topic: Mustachian tourist in London/England?  (Read 8210 times)

puglogic

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Mustachian tourist in London/England?
« on: June 20, 2016, 09:35:34 PM »
Hi all,

My first vacation in several years will be England in September.

I found a great cheap (and well-reviewed) AirBnB and a decent airfare.  But what else should I be thinking about in terms of money-saving moves?  I know about the Oyster Card for rail travel, which seems on paper to be a good deal.  Any insider tips on eating/drinking, travel, enjoying one's self without breaking the bank?  Anything to stay away from?

Thanks,
pug



Exflyboy

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Re: Mustachian tourist in London/England?
« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2016, 10:26:33 PM »
If you want to see other parts of he country it will cost an arm and a leg to do that by train.. But the trains are cool because the fast ones run between 125 and 140mph.

To get cheap tickets you can Google "cheap train tickets" and you'll see that every day or so there will be one train that is incredibly cheap comparitively speaking. You can book them about 12 weeks in advance from here in the US.

The cheapest way to see the countryside is to rent from Enterprise, car rentals are fairly inexpensive, they will even come pick you up.

elaine amj

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Mustachian tourist in London/England?
« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2016, 10:36:10 PM »
I actually found the Travelcard to be cheaper because it gave me 2-4-1 admissions to various attractions, including the Tower of London. I think that alone covered the cost of our upgrade to the Travelcard. It was worth the effort.

We enjoyed Poundland (their dollar store)for some basic supplies and cheap souvenirs.

The free museums were all amazing - also enjoyed exploring a couple of the smaller ones.

If the Tower of London is on your list, they had really good scones! The scones (and other baked goods) at Harrods were also crazy cheap although the store as a whole was insanely crowded and their other prepared food prices were $$.

For theatre, bargain...then haggle some more. We saw some good prices online for War Horse so the day before, we went down to the theatre. The guy quoted us a price beyond what we were willing to pay.  He then suggested we visit him at one of the half-price places a couple of hours later. So we had a nice lunch, wandered around, then went to where he told us. However it turned out he was not there. The guy at the half price booth actually said we would get a better price at the theatre itself. About to give up, we gave it one last shot and went back to the theatre. This time - some AWESOME tickets were available - for the show that evening (not the next day like we had hoped).

It was a steal of a price - something like 10-20 for the first row on the balcony.  We grabbed the tickets and made our plans to return that evening. It was a fabulous show!!!

If u ever take a cab, make sure you do NOT take a black cab - their prices are outrageous. (We got stuck with one once even though I had asked the hotel staff to get me a regular taxi).

Afternoon tea is breathtakingly expensive. But I REALLY wanted to do it. I spent forever on Groupon, etc. My initial plan was to splurge on tea for the girls only at Kensington Palace - but logistics were not working out. Our family of 4 ended up going to Fortnum and Mason's to have tea in the Parlour (their ice cream spot) as it was much cheaper 20+ vs 40+ in their "real" afternoon tea location. Our waiter was also incredibly gracious when we asked if we could split ONE tea between the 4 of us. Both my kids were very impressed in the whole experience. And the Parlour offered tiny ice cream cones with their tea.

Later in the trip, we were in Wales and found a small boutique hotel - Gliffaes Hotel - serving afternoon tea buffet style for around 15 per person - which is super cheap. Their scones were the best we had out entire visit to Great Britain. YUM!! Buffet style meant we could actually fill up as a late lunch. We loved Wales.

London has some of the best Chinese food around. Also some of the best Indian. Ethnic food is also usually a bit cheaper.

Have a fab time!!



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« Last Edit: June 20, 2016, 10:45:11 PM by elaine amj »

elaine amj

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Re: Mustachian tourist in London/England?
« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2016, 10:48:32 PM »
Oh and car rentals were not as $$ as I expected. Compare prices - it worked out cheaper for me to rent from a location close to Heathrow airport. It was a hassle, but worth the effort to travel across the city for the $$ savings.

We downloaded Tripadvisor City Guide to our phone. Worked well, even without wifi. I loved the compass feature which points u in the right direction.

If u have an unlocked phone, buy a prepaid SIM there or consider getting a Truphone SIM (can also be used in the US).


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Rubic

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Re: Mustachian tourist in London/England?
« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2016, 10:43:14 AM »
Definitely check out the British Museum -- it's free -- and the Elgin Marbles in particular:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elgin_Marbles

JoJo

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Re: Mustachian tourist in London/England?
« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2016, 11:07:31 AM »
If you're spending alot of time in London and want to do alot of the big ticket items, check out the London Pass (can get Oyster Card thru this too, not sure if at a discount or not)

https://www.londonpass.com/

KCM5

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Re: Mustachian tourist in London/England?
« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2016, 11:16:03 AM »
Definitely check out the British Museum -- it's free -- and the Elgin Marbles in particular:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elgin_Marbles

Yes, for best use of time, just spend it all at the British Museum. Add the Portrait Gallery and you're good to go!

Also, as was alluded to above, airfare is often cheaper than train travel. So if you're going up to Edinburgh or something, check out the flight costs. For train, cheap day return tickets can be quite reasonable if you want to get out of the city a little ways.

Lake161

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Re: Mustachian tourist in London/England?
« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2016, 01:19:14 PM »
Make sure your airbnb has kitchen facilities. Eating out will kill your budget. We are in the Yorkshire Dales right now and our biggest expense is food, not lodging (traveling with non-Mustachian in-laws who want to spend 15 per person on pub lunches every day.). Luckily hiking is free.

Trudie

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Re: Mustachian tourist in London/England?
« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2016, 02:05:57 PM »
If you are going to be visiting many National Trust Sites around the UK consider a membership to the Royal Oak Foundation:
https://www.royal-oak.org/

It allows you as an American to support the work of the National Trust and therefore get into most NT sites free or at a discount.  The list of NT properties is huge and may include some things you've never considered:
http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/


puglogic

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Re: Mustachian tourist in London/England?
« Reply #9 on: July 08, 2016, 02:29:26 PM »
Thank you so much, everyone!

I admit I am clueless about SIM cards.  I use Republic Wireless and haven't any idea where to get another SIM card, what to look for, or how to install it.  Any online resources for that sort of thing?   (it's hard when you don't even know what to Google.....)

BMEPhDinCO

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Re: Mustachian tourist in London/England?
« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2016, 01:34:46 PM »
Thank you so much, everyone!

I admit I am clueless about SIM cards.  I use Republic Wireless and haven't any idea where to get another SIM card, what to look for, or how to install it.  Any online resources for that sort of thing?   (it's hard when you don't even know what to Google.....)

Fun trip ahead!  I just got back from a similar one in May and also use RW so I wanted to address this. I did find it much easier to take an old (unlocked) phone with me in addition to my RW one.  I bought a cheap sim card from O2 (Around $15-18) with minutes, some data, and texts for 1 month. Sim cards are basically the same price at several carriers, O2 had good service in the city and in the country, which we needed.  They can be just a one time use and need to be used in an UNLOCKED, UNIVERSAL phone (I had a galaxy s2). You install it by popping out the old one in the phone and putting it in, they can help at the store.  Just don't do that to your RW phone, it is NOT one that can be used with any SIM card.  I then used the RW phone on WIFI only at the Air BnB we stayed at to keep in touch with family - I did get my texts every night, but if you are off wifi for more than 2 nights, you might not get them.  I also had no problems calling people with the phone on wifi and they could call me.  So the dual phone worked well for me.  If you don't need internet and phone during the day all the time (and there's plenty of free wifi around London proper), then just use the RW phone on wifi and download the Here app for maps - it worked great once it kicked in.
ANOTHER OPTION: since RW is changing to new phones anyway, consider getting a Nexus 5X from Project Fi (around $200-250) and use that service while overseas, then bring the phone back to RW when you return (or not, if you like PF better).

Oyster cards - good to use, but be aware that you can only get the money back on them after they have been active for more than 24 hours AND there's a minimum still remaining on them.  You can do it at the airport (LHR) but build in time, it's only at T2 so you'd have to get off there, do the refund, then take the underground walking or bus to get to T3 or T5 (most international flights leave these).

Also make sure your credit card has a chip AND PIN - get one from your bank if need be.  Make sure to register them and use a card with NO Foreign transaction fee.  Bring a debit card too, many of the cheaper shops still use cash - ATM is best to get the cash, the airport is fine to do so.

If you plan on getting a car, don't drive it in London proper - there's another fee added on once you cross into the boundaries and it is not cheap - park it outside of them or just rent for the day (the tube takes you close to car hire locations out of London).

Food - go out of the tourist center to find cheaper options, go during the "happy hour" times to score deals - plan eating at odd times instead of paying surge pricing for proper supper times.

If you have any other questions (or would like to discuss buying MY oyster card (I have 2) and giving me the amount left, feel free to send me a private message).

Have a great trip!

SilveradoBojangles

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Re: Mustachian tourist in London/England?
« Reply #11 on: July 11, 2016, 02:20:09 PM »
I'm headed to London and Oxford for a week in September, so I'm exited to see what other tips people have. Also, in terms of museums, I've done all the big ones before. Any smaller/less well-known museums or collections I should seek out? I like decorative arts as well as painting. Thanks!

BMEPhDinCO

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Re: Mustachian tourist in London/England?
« Reply #12 on: July 11, 2016, 02:21:27 PM »
@Silverado, check out the Wellcome collection - and the Dennis Sever House - both different and fun.

UKfire

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Re: Mustachian tourist in London/England?
« Reply #13 on: July 11, 2016, 03:00:14 PM »
If you're travelling inter-city by train in the UK it can sometimes be possible to buy what are called 'split tickets'.  By using the online sites such as www.virgintrains.co.uk  you can test the different combinations; for example, you might want to travel from Chester to London Euston.  Depending upon the time of day it can be cheaper to buy a Chester to Nuneaton ticket & a Nuneaton to London Euston one because they might fall either side of the peak travel line.  I regularly used this combination when travelling to London for work each Monday morning saving c20.  Occasionally, just by chance, my seat booking would be the same!  Otherwise I might have to move to my 'new' seat booking!  I recently bought split tickets both ways from Chester to Edinburgh saving around 10% but it can often be much more.

Ad break coming up: Originally the Roman City of Deva, Chester is a great place to visit within easy reach of Liverpool, Manchester, North Wales & the Lake District all also linked with a good motorway network.  Get in touch if you're coming to Chester we might be able to accommodate at Mustachian rates!

I haven't used this site but wanted a reference for you:

http://www.splitticketing.com

Legal notice: Split Ticketing IS legal!
« Last Edit: July 11, 2016, 03:16:29 PM by UKNortherner »

UKfire

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Re: Mustachian tourist in London/England?
« Reply #14 on: July 11, 2016, 03:23:40 PM »
I'm headed to London and Oxford for a week in September, so I'm exited to see what other tips people have. Also, in terms of museums, I've done all the big ones before. Any smaller/less well-known museums or collections I should seek out? I like decorative arts as well as painting. Thanks!

I haven't used it myself but there's a good point to point bus service operating between Oxford & London.

Just looking I think there's more than one company:

http://x90.oxfordbus.co.uk/timetables-fares/

And

http://megabus.com

tonysemail

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Re: Mustachian tourist in London/England?
« Reply #15 on: July 11, 2016, 03:43:50 PM »
following

cerat0n1a

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Re: Mustachian tourist in London/England?
« Reply #16 on: July 12, 2016, 04:55:10 AM »
I'm headed to London and Oxford for a week in September, so I'm exited to see what other tips people have. Also, in terms of museums, I've done all the big ones before. Any smaller/less well-known museums or collections I should seek out? I like decorative arts as well as painting. Thanks!

I haven't used it myself but there's a good point to point bus service operating between Oxford & London.

Just looking I think there's more than one company:

http://x90.oxfordbus.co.uk/timetables-fares/

And

http://megabus.com

Most Oxford locals seem to use this one:

http://www.oxfordtube.com/

Oxford is another place (like London) where you're better off avoiding the car if possible.

Noodle

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Re: Mustachian tourist in London/England?
« Reply #17 on: July 12, 2016, 10:33:29 PM »
I visited a number of years ago, and was surprised how much cheap/free entertainment was to be had given that I had been told London was very expensive.  Not sure what you consider the big museums to be, but the Tate Museums (Modern and Gallery), V&A, Museum of London, National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, and Imperial War Museums and Sir John Soane's Museum are all free and very well done (sometimes they have special exhibits with a fee.) English Heritage is the other big heritage network (along with the National Trust) and it might be worth getting a membership...plus their work is very worthy of support as government funds for museums and historic sites are being cut. Lunches were mostly sandwich picnics--we found good inexpensive sandwiches lots of places (and then you could have English sweets for dessert which were an adventure in themselves.)

FrugalFan

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Re: Mustachian tourist in London/England?
« Reply #18 on: July 13, 2016, 06:08:24 AM »
Following! Heading there on Saturday! We actually pre-purchased some train tickets online for our 3 major destinations and found the prices to be quite reasonable. There did seem to be a lot of variation in price based on departure time but there were always one or two cheap options midday. It came to just over 100 pounds total for a family of four - much cheaper than renting a car for those three travel days.

I don't understand how Oyster cards work though. I will have to look into that some more.

SilveradoBojangles

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Re: Mustachian tourist in London/England?
« Reply #19 on: July 13, 2016, 10:29:29 AM »
@Silverado, check out the Wellcome collection - and the Dennis Sever House - both different and fun.

These are great suggestions, thank you!

tonysemail

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Re: Mustachian tourist in London/England?
« Reply #20 on: August 09, 2016, 12:15:51 AM »
Oyster cards - good to use, but be aware that you can only get the money back on them after they have been active for more than 24 hours AND there's a minimum still remaining on them. 

The other thing to know is that the maximum refund is 10 pounds.
It's a pay-as-you go card and there's no need to load it with more than that.
Also, kids ride free in subway.

I got back from europe last week.
I found this book to be a superb resource for planning our trip.
It really highlighted the can't miss parks and other kid friendly things.
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13218813-let-s-take-the-kids-to-london

sparkytheop

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Re: Mustachian tourist in London/England?
« Reply #21 on: August 09, 2016, 04:15:17 AM »
Since you're going in September, it's too late for tickets, but for a future trip, do The Ceremony of the Keys.  The Beefeaters are funny guys, the event is free, photos allowed before and after the ceremony, but not during (can get some good night shots, but time after the ceremony is quite limited).

When I did it a few years ago, you could only request tickets by mail, now you can order them online.  But, you have to really plan in advance.

http://www.hrp.org.uk/tower-of-london/whats-on/ceremony-of-the-keys/

For transportation, as mentioned above, if you buy travelcards from a national rail station, you can use two for one vouchers at many locations.  When we did it, we just had to show our travel card (bring a passport sized photo with you for the card), which was good on the underground.  We didn't have to show that we took a train to get there.

https://www.daysoutguide.co.uk/faqs



velvethammer

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Re: Mustachian tourist in London/England?
« Reply #22 on: August 09, 2016, 05:12:30 AM »
Following.

We are headed to London in March with our 8 and 10 yo's.  Thanks for the suggestions/info!

wespellitmoustache

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Re: Mustachian tourist in London/England?
« Reply #23 on: August 09, 2016, 06:47:47 AM »
@Silverado, check out the Wellcome collection - and the Dennis Sever House - both different and fun.

If you do go to the Wellcome collection, try one of the UCL (University College London) Cafes behind it for a cheap lunch. I left uni a while ago but whenever I'm in London I get a panini/hot meal there as you can just walk in and take advantage of the sweet student prices (even if you're not a student!). You can google the Uni map which shows all the bars/eateries. The Wellcome cafe itself is pretty reasonable too...for London.

My favourite ever place to eat is just down the road off Tottenham Court Road - Sagar Veg vegetarian indian restaurant. Super cheap and they do a lunchtime meal. There's a few of this style restaurant dotted around. Quite often you can get their 'curry of the day' with accompaniments for around 5-7 quid depending on location...not bad for a sit down meal. Die hard carnivores might not be impressed, though - if you love a good steak Hawksmoor (the Spitalfields one is extra cool) is amazing.

I've lived 20 mins from central London all my life (and right in the centre for two years) and only last year took a hop on, hop off bus ride with a boat trip down the Thames. Can't tell you how much it is but I found it so much fun and I remember thinking it was reasonable.
« Last Edit: August 09, 2016, 09:47:36 AM by wespellitmoustache »

mbl

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Re: Mustachian tourist in London/England?
« Reply #24 on: August 09, 2016, 07:14:07 AM »
We stayed in an AirBnb duplex in West Hampstead.    A 5 minute walk to the tube.  It was really beautiful, brand new, very, very modern and on a quiet street.  We did breakfast there each morning and made supper there a number of nights.

I'll leave it to others to cover the museums and other more well known spots.  I know that the museums are world class but if you're interested in a few out of the way, less touristy type things, these were great fun.   Some were expensive but I'm just including them if they were memorable.

1. Take a walk down Brick Lane.  Lots of cool vintage shops.

2. Have fish and chips at Poppies:
Spitalfields
6-8 Hanbury Street
London
E1 6QR
Tel: 020 7247 0892

Also, stop at the Spitalfields market.

3.  MUST SEE:  Borough Market in Southwark(pronounced South-uck)
  A fabulous bazaar of food stands.  Try the Scotch egg....really good.

4.  See the Sky Garden in the walkie talkie building at 20 Fenchurch Street. 
     Admission is free but you need to go online and reserve tickets.  The view is breath taking...
    https://skygarden.london

5. Across from Big Ben on the other side of the Thames, is the St. Thomas hospital.  Have lunch in the cafe in the old part of the hospital.  Very cool as you can walk around a bit an see the vintage portions of the old hospital.  Go outside and stand on the promenade and take in the view of Big Ben and the river....great vantage point.

6. Highgate cemetery.   highgatecemetery.org
    There is a resident fox who wanders around....tame as any house pet...it's funny when you see him.

7.  I'm a rider so of course wanted to ride in Hyde Park with the Hyde Park stables group.  It was truly a great experience.  Rode an Irish Cob and had a great time.  Also visited  W & H Gidden to check out the riding apparel he had....lovely custom items:
                                                               16 Clifford Street,
                                                          off New Bond Street,
                                                        London W1S 3RG, England

8. Kensington Gardens:  the Round Pond is filled with Her Majesty's swans.  Lovely walk from there past Kensington Palace and on to the Albert memorial which is really something magnificent to see.

9.  We did the Fortnum and Mason's Afternoon Tea in the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon.   Tres bonc baby.   It was very expensive and worth every pound.

10.  Had dinner at the Duck and Waffle at 110 Bishopsgate.   The view at night was also phenomenal.   Food was fantastic.  My DD is a food stylist and wanted to check this out.   We went with some friends who live outside of London but work there.  After we went to the Shoreditch House which is a private club....a whole other cool experience.

11. Spent a day down in Brighton Beach.   It was great fun.  The food on the promenade wasn't too bad.   Got to see little sea food carts selling cockles and mussels.  :)  and of course ice cream cones with a chocolate flake in it.
« Last Edit: August 09, 2016, 07:43:05 AM by mbl »

FrugalFan

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Re: Mustachian tourist in London/England?
« Reply #25 on: August 09, 2016, 07:19:32 AM »
We just got back from our trip to London/England. To OP - renting a flat is great because we definitely found our major expense to be food. Eat at home as much as you can or buy grocery items and have a picnic! It might seem wasteful to buy some grocery items you might not finish, like jam or peanut butter, but it is still way cheaper than buying a comparable meal at a restaurant. You can bring a packed lunch to most venues and eat in the garden (most museums have an outdoor garden area). Most of the major museums in London are free. They are least busy at opening times and they all open at 10 AM, so I suggest showing up at 9:45 and you'll be a the front of the line.

Oyster card was great and easy to refund at the airport rail station at the end of our trip.

If you plan to do any travelling within the country, the rail system is great. We bought a Friends and Family rail card upon arrival and it paid for itself on the first trip. For those travelling with children, they can ride for free but buying a ticket guarantees their seat. However, an unusual peculiarity of the Friends and Family rail card is that the price was always lowest if we purchased tickets for two adults and one child (as opposed to just two adults or two adults and two kids).

crazy jane

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Re: Mustachian tourist in London/England?
« Reply #26 on: August 09, 2016, 09:09:06 AM »
I lived there for several years and when I go back to visit friends I spend my days doing London Walks. Many options and pub walks. I also always make a day out of a trip to Camden Market. Like the above poster said Burrough Market! Go for lunch and on an empty stomach. The grilled cheese/ploughman's lunch will have long lines, but great food. Have fun and walk through the parks.

Holland Park is my favorite.

Don't eat in the tourist areas.

Buskers in Covent garden are always entertaining.

dreams_and_discoveries

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Re: Mustachian tourist in London/England?
« Reply #27 on: August 09, 2016, 11:15:03 AM »
Even living in London, I love exploring as a tourist - there is so much that is free, or really low priced to see and do.

tonysemail

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Re: Mustachian tourist in London/England?
« Reply #28 on: August 15, 2016, 01:54:07 PM »
thanks for the recommendation for Burrough Market.
my wife really enjoyed her lunch there :)