I have always said if you are ever bored living in London you are doing something wrong.
Everyone says it is very expensive to live and go out in London, but I completely disagree. It will cost you as much as you want it to (as long as you don’t get your arm twisted by your mates too much to go to the pub every Saturday).
Here are a just a few of my tips that will help the budget conscious right up to the ready to blow out the budget and live poor for the rest of the month. And it really is just the tip of the iceberg, which shows in itself that there’s just so much to do in London – it really does cater for every taste and all budgets.
So here goes.
London and the UK offer free admission (they do ask for a donation, but this isn’t forced upon you) to all 14 National Museums, ranging from the National Gallery to the Science Museum to even the Imperial War Museums.
The British Museum, near Holborn station, is by far my personal favourite. I have spent far too many hours in the museum getting lost and finding new things. If you like history you will LOVE this museum. The Rosetta stone is located here along with 1000s of ancient Egyptian artefacts and statues (there is more in the British Museum than the Cairo museum). Go and have a look and lose yourself for hours here.
Food markets in London are absolutely amazing! Whether it be Borough Market near London Bridge tube station or Broadway Market near Bethnal Green tube station (there are other overground stations closer). Some of the food on show is absolutely incredible. Seeing the range of food, from the cheeses to breads to the fresh produce sends the senses into overdrive. My favourite part is all the free testers :-). Spending a few hours strolling through the markets on the weekend is a great way to soak up a true London atmosphere.
Around London you will find so many markets, with more than just food. Portobello Road Markets near Ladbroke Grove or Notting Hill Gate tube station is a very cool place to go and have a look around. There is quite a variety of things to see and buy – the antiques section is very cool to see and the fashion market has some interesting pieces.
Camden Markets near Camden Town station is also another must see. While it has quite a big foodie area, it has a very big artistic and alternative fashion market stalls.
The Pub Scene
As you can probably imagine, the pub scene in London is extensive, and brilliant, from very old to very contemporary, big to small, spit and sawdust to flash the cash. So, it really depends on what you’re looking for. So a couple of my suggestions:
My favourite classic pub with a history is the Ten Bells (Aldgate east station) which was originally established in the 18th century. It has links to Jack the Ripper with two of his victims supposedly drinking at the pub before they were murdered.
If that isn’t your scene I would recommend going to the BrewDog Brewery in Camden.
BrewDog is now a big boutique beer company in the UK and its brewery has 13 of its own beers on tap along with normally about 5 guest drafts available.
We are very lucky in London to be blessed with 1000s of high quality restaurants (and probably double that of horrible ones). Depending on your food taste there is such a range that I challenge you to find a cuisine not on offer in the capital.
If you are budget conscious and enjoy a curry (Britain has some of the best Indian curry restaurants in the world) have a look back down east London way around Brick Lane (Aldgate east station). You can either walk down the lane negotiating with each restaurant trying to get the value you want. I generally ask for rice, a curry, a naan and 2 pints for around £10 – £12 (ladies if wine is your thing push for a bottle if there are two of you). Alternatively if negotiating isn’t your thing go to Tayyabs, it is BYO (there is a Tesco around the corner) and their curries are amazing, but make sure you book as it is very popular and is always busy.
If you have a big budget to spend and you want some AMAZING views of London have a look at Sushi Samba near Liverpool Street station. This is a Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian cuisine and it’s located on the 38th and 39th floor overlooking London. If you can’t get a window seat go on to the outside bar and have a look at the view. You will need to book this in advance (generally at least a 3 weeks).
One of all Londoners favourite things seem to be on the weekend is a bottomless brunch. When you wake up after a big night on Saturday and you have a bottomless brunch to go to, it first brings a blood draining thought of “I’m not drinking today”. Then you arrive and everyone seems to be in the same boat. One thing leads to another and your “Sober Sunday” is no more.
One of my favourites is the Dead Dolls House near Highbury & Islington station (I am a bit bias as I know the owner, however Timeout does agree with me). The menu on offer is great and the bottomless cocktails are Bloody Marys and Mimosas. You can certainly get your money’s worth and I’d definitely suggest googling vouchers for these guys as you can normally find something around 50% off.
The Breakfast club is another London favourite for brunch, at last count there are 10 locations around London. Whether you are North, South, East or West there will most likely be one around 30 minutes away on the tube. Unfortunately you cannot book at these places and you do have to line up which can be painful with a hangover but take a bottle of water with you ;).
London has so much to see and do this doesn’t even scratch the surface. If you are not sure where to start find a Weatherspoons pub, have a cheap pint and plan your day out.
And if all else fails, and you are ready for a break jump on a plane and head over to Europe, most of you only have a short time in the UK so make sure you take full advantage of it. More on that in future blogs.
I hope that whistle stop tour of some of my favourites places in London gives you a flavour for this great city. But no blog can ever really do it justice – you have to just be here. And it’s never been a better time for professionals from Australia and New Zealand to experience London – the job market is buoyant, and there’s a shortage of skills. Good news for you.
But we know it’s not a simple thing, deciding to move yourself to the other side of the planet, which is why we created our My UK Move offering where you’ll get your very own experienced personal relocation assistant to take you from that first ‘I’ve always thought about it’ conversation to helping with your bags into your new London pad.
Plus I’m always on hand for a chat, just get in contact – you never know, I could be buying you a beer in the Ten Bell very soon!
Written by Arron Mac Vitie – our Kiwi BDM