Where to stay
The Tower Bridge Apartments offer clean, modern and spacious accommodation option within Central London. I stayed in one of their one bedroom apartments. The lounge (in picture) was a decent size with a well equipped kitchen. Bedrooms are comfy with clean bedding.
Location is excellent: a short walk across Tower Bridge gets you onto the Underground plus a host of nearby bus routes will carry you into the heart of London. It’s central enough but still feels quite sheltered and peaceful. There are a few handy convenience stores just a stone’s throw away. With a handful of nice restaurants and pubs in the area, makes this is a handy base for a London trip with friends or family.
A night’s stay at one of the London Tower Bridge apartments starts from £84. Accommodation ranges from studio to three-bedroom apartments. For more information visit www.hoseasons.co.uk or call 0844 847 1100
Another great value ‘luxury’ accommodation option in London is the excellent Hoxton Hotel.
Hoxton’s motto is that ‘Budget Hotels don’t have to be boring’
You may have heard of their legendary £1 room sale-which is still a bit of myth to me as every time I have tried, I have failed. However, booking well in advance (6 months) can land you a room for a good price.
You walk into the hotel and it has all the trappings and style of a very chic boutique hotel. Nice minibar/bistro to the right , lounge area in the front rear where business travelers are tapping away at their Blackberry’s while to the left is the check in desk where is a friendly reception, quick check in and within a few minutes you are in your room.
The rooms have nice wood panelling, fridge with free bottle of water and milk-nice touch, Free Wifi , flatscreen television and a comfy double bed which you just sink into. Bathrooms have a power shower to get you going with excellent choice of complimentary toiletries- something you wouldn’t expect in a budget hotel.
I love Hoxton’s innovative complimentary, Pret on-the-move breakfast. You get a delicious mix of a Pret Smoothie, Yoghurt Pot and some fruit delivered to your door in the morning so you enjoy the luxury of breakfast in bed. Perfect start to your day in London.
For the Hoxton Hotel, book well in advance of 6 months to get the bargain price of £59 for the rooms there.
Where to eat
Bistro du Vin, London is the first restaurant-only from this hotel group and opened recently in Clerkenwell, Islington. It brings together the classic French cuisine and local ingredients that Hotel du Vin is known for with a cool London edge. Aperitifs are served in the bar area, where groups can casually sit and chat, before entering the main restaurant. Here diners can choose to eat at the central bar, watching the chefs at work and getting involved in a social atmosphere, or in a bit more tranquillity at one of the tables.
With high-quality ingredients and a speciality in steaks and seafood, dining here is not budget, but it is very well priced for the quality. Expect to pay about £30 per person for a starter, Plat Du Jour and a glass of wine. This is unpretentious, great value dining with all the frills and expert attentions of a sommelier and waiter in a classy, sumptuous surrounding.
To book a table visit http://www.bistroduvinandbar.com
Where to go shopping
Now shopping isn’t my forte as my friends will testify but I do love a good rummage through the charity shops of London, mainly for travel books and 1st editions.
You get more trash than treasure with charity clothes shopping but if you’re patient, in some places within London, you can discover some designer labels for a fraction of their high street price.
Top places to check out include the British Red Cross in Chelsea where designer donations include Emilio Pucci, Paul Smith, Vivienne Westwood and Catherine Walker.
Oxfam Boutique in Notting Hill has recycled fashion pieces from London College’s fashion students and vintage fabrics. It can get busy here so you’ll need sharp elbows and a sharp mind to negotiate your way around.
Arrive in Style
I travelled from Edinburgh to London on the East Coast train service , 1st Class where onboard I enjoyed Free Wifi, a complimentary light breakfast in the morning plus a lunch of sandwich and crisps, rounded off with cake. Beats the plane anyday.
Top Tip: On Weekends upgrade to 1st Class on East Coast Trains for little as £20-£25.
Check out www.eastcoast.co.uk for lowest priced advance bookings. Always book well in advance to get their best fares.
You can also visit my blog at www.europebudgetguide.com