Life in London can be expensive but it all depends on your spending strategies. In all likelihood, being close to London veterans who have been there for a long time can make things easier. This can help you to avoid the high cost of hiring hostel dorms that can cost as much as £120. Yet on the face of it, the hotels are always overbooked and if you do not do the booking in advance, you may miss a place to stay. A plausible alternative is to go for advanced booking. Majority of the hotels are also able to offer discounted rates for visitors who will spend more than one day. You can find excellent web deals on websites such as www.lastminute.com
If you intend to eat out, planning and budgeting is of great significance. The wide variety of cheap eats can also be tempting. Nonetheless, this does not mean that the cost of food in London is low. For instance, a good sandwich can cost as much as £3. A decent and reasonable meal can cost over 10 pounds. If you want to enjoy a good meal accompanied with wine, you have to part with £80 and the amount can even double if you are hanging out with a friend or spouse. This cost is definitely going to be higher if you opt for the leading establishments where a meal for two can cost more than £150.
There are plenty of places to tour in London. Nevertheless, getting around is costly unless you have other calculated strategies such as having an Oyster card. This card will greatly influence the amount you will spend while getting around the city. It can reduce the cost of public transport by a big margin. It is possible to get an Oyster card after you have arrived or book it even before the travel date. Order one at home before you travel; see the VisitBritain Shop.
Taking a boat trip in London is a very exciting experience. The boat trips are usually characterized with guides and drivers who expect tips from customers. The decision whether to give a tip solely rests with the customer. Most people give tips of less than 10%, which is considered a reasonable amount.
Just like the cost of food, entertainment cost is also expensive. Gone are the days when cinema tickets used to go for as little as £10. Presently, those in the West End start from £20 and the cost can go as high as £150. This is a clear indication that with less than £10, it may not be possible to watch a good cinema unless you get offers that are hard to come by. With lots of luck, you can get competitive rates from renowned places such as Independent and art house cinemas. However, if your dream is to enter the big name gigs, be prepared to spend between £20 and £120. These charges exclude any refreshments. A discussion of entertainment in London cannot be complete without mentioning clubbing. Popular joints such as Fabric charge not less than £20 as entry fee.
A cursory examination of the cost of life in this city also reveals many surprises. For instance, museums that are funded by the state do not charge any fee. Indeed, this is your best chance to access amazing exhibition spaces at no cost. You can tour all the galleries free but it is advisable to make a small contribution that will be used to run the museums. Notable sights such as the Tower of London charge £16 or less. The tower accords visitors the chance to see beautiful sceneries of the city of London. Famous attractions like the Madame Tussauds also charge a reasonably affordable entry fee.
When and where to give tips
Most of the restaurants in London are relatively affordable. The addition of discretionary service charge to your bill can be an extra burden. Most of them expect customers to leave a tip of 10% or more if the services were satisfactory. However, if a service charge is going to be included in the bill, there has to be a prior advertisement notifying the customers. Most of the hotel and bar attendants will always expect you to tip them after a good service.
United Kingdom is a member of the European Union but it is yet to sign up for the Euro. This means that the sterling pound is still the legal currency that is used in the country. Apart from the £5 note, other denominations include £10, £20 and £50. You can also get sterling pounds in coins.
Without ATMs, life in London could be very difficult. They are simply the way of life and this becomes evidently clear on Saturday nights. You will witness long queues to the ATM machines as revelers struggle to load their pockets for the night outs. The good advantage is that most of the ATM machines are able to accept all cards as long as they are tied into the Cirrus, MasterCard, Maestro, or Visa systems. Banks in London are very flexible because they allow customers to use their ATMs on other bank ATMs at no extra cost. The only exception affects visitors without a UK high-street bank card because they are surcharged for cash withdrawals that they make. This is the reason why it is advisable to get information from your bank before using your ATM in London. In addition to this, be aware that ATM machines that are not run by banks charge a fee of £1.50 or £2 for every transaction you will make. These types of ATMs are located in shops and malls.
Just like other cities in Europe, London is prone to ATM frauds. If you notice any unusual devices around the ATMs, be as vigilant and observant as possible. Even though majority of the machines are tamperproof, fraudsters have also advanced their means of stealing and this is why extra caution is needed.
The process of changing money
When in London, choose a safe place to change money. Local post office is the probable choice because there are no commission charges. Apart from travel agent chains, you can also get the same services from high-street banks and bureau de change outlets. If you compare the various rates offered and the commission charged, it will be easy to make a reasonable decision.
London is the centre of many business transactions in the UK. The city is filled with good entertainment joints to hang out. There are a variety of shopping malls, camping sites, nightclubs and national parks where millions of visitors flock to enjoy their holidays. If you plan well, you will have a great time in London.