Budgeting For London? Here’s What You Won’t Expect

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London is a popular city, but it’s an expensive one too. Pints can pass a fiver and public transport will sap your allowance. With that in mind, there are still many great ways for guests of the spa hotels of London to save money during their trip. 

London is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe for good reason. It has history, atmosphere and world class entertainment. Much of that will cost you some money, which is why you build a budget before your trip. Knowing how much you plan to spend in London will help you work out what to do with your time here. The essentials are easy, dining out, travel and the appropriate clothing, but there are a range of unknowns that you’ll budget for as well. 

Whether it’s your first time or you’re a seasoned London tourist, guests of our London city hotel deals are already saving cash. But below you’ll find a roundup of things you might not remember you’ll have to cough up for, but can save money and time if you do so in advance. Afterall, you expect to spend cash on a holiday, but you don’t want to be cleaned out!

Airport Trains

Airport trains such as the Gatwick or Heathrow Express trains run every half an hour from train termini and airports. These trains run directly into the heart of London, providing speedy transport for those visiting the city. However, they can often be expensive if you book too late. If you can, try and book 90 days in advance for just £5 .50 tickets, or otherwise utilise other modes of transport such as London Underground services from Heathrow into central London. Guests of the Montcalm London City have plenty of options for their journey into the centre of the city, many of them cheaper than last minute Express trains. 

Day Trip Travel

Again, plan in advance for your day trip out of the city. Destinations such as Brighton, Margate and Oxford are popular day trip options, but will necessitate the purchase of even more train tickets. These can be expensive if you travel at peak times but if you book in advance can see you save money. Alternatives for your day trip travel are National Express or Megabus coaches which can be cheaper at short notice. However, these will require you to book in advance as spots on the coach are more limited than on a train. 

Visas

If you come from a country that requires a visa to enter the UK, then make sure that you organise this before your visit. A standard tourist visa to the UK starts from £100 and if you neglect to obtain one, then you could be subject to very large fines. 

Furthermore, vaccination passports are still necessary for entry into the country. If you’re planning on visiting the country and you have not been vaccinated against coronavirus, then you’ll need to provide proof of a negative COVID test to your airline or when you enter the UK. If you don’t you may be subject to quarantine measures, which will cost you a pretty penny in expenses. Before your trip, research the UK’s specific COVID and vaccination requirements for the country you’re travelling from. The rules per country are likely to continue shifting and changing as infection rates fluctuate globally.

Currency Exchange

Broadly speaking, London is a cash free city which means that you’ll be using your card for most payments. The problem with this is that because of the different interest and financial rates of your bank or card provider, you’ll be looking at exchange rates that vary wildly. On most card machines, you’ll be given the option to pay in your native currency or in your local currency. Local currency will allow you to pay in England for a better exchange rate. 

Data And Roaming

Data roaming charges will be higher when you’re in a foreign country, and this means that you’ll want to watch your data usage. Alternatively, find a temporary international data and roaming plan that will accommodate your needs in London and cut off any hefty bills that might accumulate otherwise. The Brexit deal in the UK means that people living within the EU can no longer use data for free in England, and if there’s no data plan on your current provider, then you can buy a pay as you go sim card for your trip to England. GiffGaff for instance, allows for free international roaming on several of their deals. 

Oyster Cards Cost

You won’t be spending a lot on them, but Oyster Cards do cost £5 to buy from your train or Underground station. If you’re planning to use a lot of public transport during your stay then we would recommend the Oyster Card as it will save you money in the long run compared to paying for each individual tube journey with your credit or debit card. 

If you’re a UK citizen, Oyster Cards will also allow you to link up your railcard, meaning that you can save up to a third on off peak tube and bus journeys. Oyster cards also enable you to purchase weekly or monthly travelcards for your stay in London, but we’d only recommend that if you plan on taking 3 tube journeys a day for six days in the week, which is the threshold for saving money on a travelcard. 

London Zones

London is made up of six rings or “zones” for public transport. If you're travelling to Zone 6 from Zone 1, you’ll be facing higher tube prices than Zones 1 to 2. Keep this in mind when you’re budgeting so that you don’t waste money on tubes when you could have walked for ten minutes over a zone threshold. 

Peak Time Trains

The hours between 06.30 am and 09.30 am and between 4 pm and 7 pm are peak times in London. These are the times at which prices for single tube journeys are increased due to the amount of people using public transport to travel to and from work at this time. If you are considering travelling on the London Underground between these peak time hours, remember that you’ll be paying more for a less comfortable journey.