How to do London on a student budget

Photo by Lucy Thornhill

Photo by Lucy Thornhill

I RECENTLY went to London for a gig and didn’t want to fall into the trap of spending ungodly amounts of money on things I didn’t really need. I am by no means a local to London or a regular visitor, but for those who may be wanting to hit the capital this summer but are slightly baffled as to how to go about it, I hope this helps. I found that you can, if you know what to look for, do London on a student budget.

Where to stay

If you are going to a gig at the o2 arena then staying in Stratford is a good idea. Victoria Docklands houses a cluster of lavish hotels and you are still not very far away from the o2; it won’t take more than ten-fifteen minutes to get there. We stayed in the Ibis at Victoria Docklands and got it for £30 each which was an absolute steal. Upon checking out the current price for a room there p/p would have been £230. If you are wanting to stay more central there are various youth hostels dotted about the center including Oxford Street and St Pancras. Check out the YHA website for more details http://www.yha.org.uk/places-to-stay/london. If you are wanting to explore some other parts you may not have been to or just want to not be right in the middle of it all there is a Holiday Inn in Camden. As well as this, there is also an Ibis and a Premier Inn in Greenwich. There are more than enough rooms available but booking in advance is essential to get a discounted price. Some places may offer a student discount too so check the NUS discounts page.

What to do

Oxford Street obviously is a hot-spot for tourists and it is so easy to spend the whole day pottering in and out of the shops or even spending a few hours in Primark is more than easily done. There is a surplus amount of cafés and restaurants along Oxford Street and the side streets. This is a great opportunity for people watching and just soaking in the atmosphere. Oxford Street is a short walk from Bond Street and Oxford Circus tube station is not far from Carnaby Street, offering yet more shopping opportunities away from the hustle and bustle of busy Oxford Street. For something less mainstream and more relaxed but still slightly touristy head to Camden Market. With a variety of stalls catering for a variety of different needs, some slightly more peculiar than others means that you will find some really individual items that you won’t find anywhere else. Camden is also home to Rokit London, a vintage shop, and not overly priced (http://www.rokit.co.uk). We were approached by a man asking us if we wanted to go on a punting trip down the canal and in such beautiful weather of course we said yes. The gentleman played his guitar and sang to us while we relaxed on a boat they brought from Cambridge and soaked up the sun and some unusual trivia about London and Camden itself. For £10p/p this was an adventure I would highly recommend to anyone considering going to Camden in summer (http://themusicboat.co.uk ). There are plenty of bars and restaurants as well as food stalls by the canal so if you want to just sit and people watch with a nice glass of wine you can do so. If you don’t want to spend your life shopping in the heat then maybe something more cultural will take your fancy. The Cutty Sark in Greenwich is a short tube ride from anywhere on the Jubilee line. The Cutty Sark will spark your historical interests and, once again, will hopefully not be as busy as Oxford Street at peak times.

Photo by Lucy Thornhill

Photo by Lucy Thornhill

Where to eat

The weather was so hot when we were there that we just weren’t that hungry but constantly dehydrated. Even if the weather isn’t really hot make sure you keep up your fluid intake to avoid dehydration because just travelling across London is tiring. We just bought a sandwich in a local shop when we were hungry and some pastries and fruit juice for breakfast so we didn’t have to pay for breakfast at the hotel. We ate at Wetherspoons in Camden on the canal as it was cheap and we could sit outside. You will not be stuck for something to eat there are good places everywhere. Check out trip advisor if you are wanting to eat out and need to book a table to compare and contrast the places available.

Travel

Getting to London: There are regular and fast trains to London from all over the UK. I got the night bus from home to London and it took 8 hours which isn’t ideal but we were there early enough to make the most of our day. Book well in advance if you want to get the train and use your rail card if you have one. From Aberystwyth by train switch at Birmingham – Journey 4 hours

Around London: With a student rail card an all-day anytime tube ticket is £5.90. If you are wanting to go to a few places then it is worth getting. The last tubes aren’t till after eleven and in some places don’t stop until after midnight. If you are going on a night out just check which night bus you need to take before you leave.

Total spent

The tickets for the gig, hotel and travel to London was all arranged in advance so all I actually spent in London was what I took for spending money (food, shopping, gifts etc) £180. The things aforementioned totalled £90. £270 for two days in London and a gig with one of my favourite artists, for me, is well worth it.