London, it’s one of the most visited cities in the world. It is quite rightly acclaimed for everything from its rich culture and history to its fantastic food and unforgettable nights out. The old and the new blend as seamlessly as the multitude of cultures that can be found in this international city. Like The Melita, London is all about family and culture, so it’s no secret that London is a big destination for family vacation.
A day in London could start with a sumptuous English breakfast at The Melita, followed by a trip to the Tower of London. Lunch at an authentic British pub followed by a trip to the London eye, rounded off with an evening meal at a top local restaurant nearby. You’ve had a fantastic day but the chances are you’ve also had a pretty expensive one. If there’s one thing that London is criticised for it’s the cost of things. A round of drinks in a London bar could cost you the same as a three course dinner for a family of four in other parts of the country. A day out at a London attraction could cost over £100 in entrance tickets alone.
Activities in London needn’t cost the Earth, however. Of course, if you want to see the major attractions and eat at the best restaurants then you’ll have to accept that these are going to come at a cost, but there are also plenty of freebies to be had! Intersperse these with the more expensive items on your to do list and our affordable rates, you could save yourself a hefty amount.
Fortunately the Melita hotel’s great location makes it the perfect hub from which to start your exploration of London, no matter what you plan to spend!
This is the obvious place to start. Visiting one of London’s many museums not only lets you see a world famous institution, it lets you do it whilst leaving your wallet tucked away in your pocket.
Whatever your interest and whatever your age, London is guaranteed to have a museum that you want to see. If you have kids then the National History Museum and the Science Museum are both must sees. These are near South Ken tube just 2 stops away. The former is famed for its dinosaur and animal exhibitions, creepy crawlies and creatures of the deep. The latter is button heaven, a museum where children are encouraged to touch, as well as push, pull, prod, poke and twist.
The British Museum is one of the oldest museums in the world and has one of the vastest collections. It has collected pieces from all over the planet, from countries such as China, Iran and Greece. Some of its most popular exhibits are the Egyptian ones which include mummies and the museums most visited object, the Rosetta Stone.
If art is your thing then London is home to some of the best galleries in the world. The National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery and Tate Britain (just 5mins from away from us!) provide more traditional exhibitions, where as if your taste is more contemporary then the Saatchi Gallery and Tate Modern will be more to your liking.
London has few tall buildings compared to most major cities which means that the tall buildings it does have will offer fantastic views for miles around. However, these buildings are either inaccessible as they are only for the use of the people that work in them, as is the case with the Gherkin; they only offer you a view if you are prepared to eat in an expensive restaurant, as in Tower 42; or they want to charge you a fortune just to see the view, as in The Shard. The UK’s tallest building will charge you over £30 on the day to see the view.
The one exception to the rule is the Sky Garden at 20 Fenchurch Street, the building commonly known as the Walkie-Talkie. The Sky Garden offers perhaps the best views of anywhere in London, day or night you can enjoy the spectacular sights from one of London’s highest points and all completely for free. If you do want to spend some money then there is a bar and two restaurants that give you the opportunity to extend your experience.
Other places that offer views of the capital for free include Primrose Hill on the edge of Camden, Parliament Hill on Hampstead Heath and the Greenwich Park, Royal Observatory.
London has some very unique markets scattered about the city. To visit the markets is of course completely free but to come away without spending any money is very difficult indeed. If you want to make it a completely free activity you have to be strong!
Borough Market is London’s oldest food market having been in existence for over 1,000 years. It is a foodies dream with hundreds of stalls selling food to eat right away or the ingredients to make something special when you get home. The noise, the smells, the sights and the knowledgeable people make this perhaps the hardest market to walk away from empty handed.
A covered market with stalls selling everything from arts and crafts to traditional market food stalls, Spitalfields Market has been around for 350 years. Now with a more modern feel to it you can find top independent fashion designers displaying their wares here as well as well known cafes, bars and restaurants.
Brick Lane Market is a celebration of London’s multiculturalism. This market defines the term ‘bric-a-brac’ selling everything you didn’t know you needed from clothes to furniture, all at vastly varied cost and quality. Brick Lane is also synonymous with Asian cuisine and the market also offers all manner of exotic spices.
Didn’t know London had farms? It does and some of them are completely free to visit. The Hackney City Farm has been established for more than twenty years and was originally set up to give children in the inner city a chance to get up close to animals they might not otherwise get a chance to see.
The Spitalfields City Farm is the nearest farm to London’s square mile. It is set over 1.3 acres of land and is a great place to meet and learn about animals.
If you prefer your wildlife a little wilder then of course London is covered in parks, but you might be limited to the odd squirrel or swan, if you’re into pigeons and seagulls then you’re definitely in for a treat. However Richmond Park has that little bit extra. It is the largest of the Royal Parks, a National Nature Reserve and an area of conservation. The herds of Red and Fallow deer that call the park their home will certainly make your day if you catch sight of them.
The UK has exported some of the most popular musical acts in history and London is at the epicentre of that scene. There are numerous pubs and clubs all over the capital where you can see all kinds of up and coming acts and a lot of the time entrance is free. But standing in a pub or club without a drink is tough, if you want to see something that you don’t need a pint for then there is certainly a lot more going on.
See a free classical concert at St Martin-in-the-Fields near Trafalgar Square. You can get there by hopping on the 24 bus from right outside our front door. Visit at lunchtime and you’ll see a wide range of pieces performed on all manner of instruments.
Trafalgar Square itself is the most famous place to see in the New Year in the capital but it is also host to a number of events throughout the year. You may get to see a musical concert, a bit of theatre or a political rally. If it’s something dull like the latter the good thing is you haven’t paid and you can just walk on by!
The Scoop is a relatively new free venue in London and most Londoners would know it by sight but not by its name. It’s located at the foot of City Hall and hosts concerts and all sorts of events all year round.
If this is what you’re looking for then London has it by the bucketload. Just wander round with your eyes and ears open and you will come across it. If you like your eccentricity to have a little bit of formality around it then there are some things to look out for.
Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park is a beacon for free speech. We recommend you walk there from the hotel (approx. 20mins) and go via Peggy Porschen on the way for a little treat. You will hear everything from the interesting to the dull, from the revolutionary to the downright outrageous. The good thing about Speaker’s Corner is that if you want your say, you can have it. Think of it as Twitter for a bygone age.
If there’s anything that sums up British eccentricity it is the reverence in which we treat our royals, there is no better example of this than the Changing the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace, our neightbour. This 45 minutes of free pomp and ceremony is not to be missed.
After your frugal but exciting day, come back to the Melita hotel for a well earned rest, before starting all over again tomorrow!