London on a shoe string

London the most multi-cultural and vibrant cities in the world is one of the most expensive places to live or visit, surpassing even New York and Tokyo. High prices can be found everywhere, sometimes even I feel embarrassed by my own fare prices, although admittedly not very often.

For those with more sense than money and without bottomless pockets here is how to spend less and get more in the Capital.

Thrifty Thespians

Don’t buy from touts or always believe in the cut price theatre ticket sellers are cheaper. The TKTS kiosk run by The Official London Theatre Organisation in Leicester Square is open every day. Outside is a list of what’s on offer. Many are returned and unsold tickets for that evening’s performances at half price.

If even half price West End prices are too much and you fancy watching a work from England’s greatest playwright performed in a unique setting, then for £10 become a Groundling at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. You will be near the front but it is standing room only; or queue up outside the Royal Opera House for a chance to purchase one of that day’s allocations of only 67 discounted seats.

Don’t be taken for a ride

I can’t say that I’ve ever been into extreme sports but if you get a thrill from a white knuckle ride weaving in and out if traffic in London’s West End then a rickshaw ride is for you. The vehicles and riders are not officially regulated so check out the price before you climb aboard and haggle, haggle, haggle.

Finding your way back to the hotel at night can be daunting. Consider getting a Licensed Black Cab, they are not are expensive as you might think. Some cabs take up to 6 passengers, so consider this: the fare from the West End to Bayswater (where many mid-priced hotels are to be found) at night is approximately £20, split 6 ways, not much more than you might have had to pay in bus fares; and if you travel during the day it is considerably cheaper.

Sky high prices

If you have a head for heights and want to see the London skyline, you could join the queue at The London Eye, it is a unique experience, or you could wait forThe Shard to open its doors at £25 for the highest view in London. Alternatively head for The Monument built to commemorate The Great Fire of London. No queues and a great view, and when you have come down you receive a certificate to say you have climbed its 311 steps.

Lunch for less

If your idea of a lunchtime snack is chargrilled crayfish on a bed of handpicked rocket that has been lightly tossed in a basil vinaigrette dressing wrapped in stone-ground bread head for a sandwich shop with a French sounding name. But for a budget lunch Covent Garden and Soho have numerous small cafes that will prepare an economical sandwich while you wait. Do you fancy yourself as a cabbie? Head off to one of the Green Cabmen’s Shelters.

You can’t sit inside (only cabbies are allowed to do that), but some have outside seating and you might persuade a driver to take your picture behind the wheel of his cab.

Watering down the cost

Want to take the weight off your feet and join a tour? London grew up alongside the River Thames, and many of its tourist sights are to be found on the water’s edge. For little more than the price of a bus fare you can travel by River Bus operated by Thames Clippers from Embankment Pier to Hampton Court. The boat doesn’t pass The Houses of Parliament so take your pictures first from Westminster Bridge before taking a 10 minute stroll along the river to start your river cruise.

And finally . . .

London might be a big sprawling giant of a city, but many if its ‘sights’ are in close proximity to each other. Get a map and walk, walk, walk. And when you have had enough hail a cab, ask the driver you might get tales and anecdotes about London for free.

Knowledgeable mnemonics


Knowledgeable mnemonics


By taking the first letters we have created:


The four streets that go from St. Leonard’s Terrace to South Kensington Junction – Walpole Street, Anderson Street, Sloane Avenue and Pelham Street.


Chelsea, Albert and Battersea Bridges.


The three respective roads they lead into said bridges – Chelsea Bridge Road, Oakley Street and Beaufort Street.


The following mnemonics can be used to help you remember the orders of certain London-based features.

We Have Water Below Moving Soft London Turds

Bridges across the Thames from west to east – Westminster, Hungerford, Waterloo, Blackfriars, Millennium, Southwark, London, Tower.

It was fortuitous that when they renamed the old Globe theatre in Shaftsbury Avenue to the Gielgud it didn’t spoil the mnemonic: Little Apples Grow Quickly Please; five theatres on the north side of Shaftesbury Avenue: Lyric, Apollo, Gielgud, Queens, Palace, and if you prefer, with a greengrocer’s apostrophe ‘s at the end you get the Shaftsbury Theatre.

Good For Dirty Women

Soho streets running north to south – Greek, Frith, Dean, Wardour.

London never admits court members bearing arms

The old gates of the City west to east Ludgate Newgate Aldersgate Cripplegate Moorgate Bishopsgate Aldgate.


The Dirty Dozen The twelve streets from Regent Street to Charing Cross Road that get you across Soho – well before they started CrossRail – Great Marlborough Street, Noel Street, Berwick Street, D’Arblay Street, Wardour Street, Hollen Street, Great Chapel Street, Fareham Street, Dean Street, Carlisle Street, Soho Square, Sutton Row.

Best apps for London

[T]here was a time when passengers sitting in the back would strike up a conversation: “Did you see the game last night?” – No, I didn’t; “Will Arsenal win the cup?” – No, it won’t; “Have you had a good night?” – No, I haven’t. Usually repetitive but it did at least make the day more interesting.

Nowadays all I see is a blue ethereal glow illuminating my passenger’s face as they check out their phone, sometimes we go past their house so engrossed are they surfing, tweeting or e-mailing.

So as a service to everyone who spends more time on their phone than is healthy I have researched the best London apps:

London Pub Crawl


Jono and Troy have dedicated their time to find the best pubs, in their selfless pursuit for excellence they have produced a handy guide to all the best boozers, with location maps and reviews.


London Tube Map


I got fed up with trying to read the Underground map in the dark with station’s names printed in 4pt. This simple app displays a legible map, even if it does have annoying but necessary adverts.


London’s Best Coffee


With our coffee consuming culture this has got to be a must have for Londoners. There is more information about coffee houses than you could possible ask for, with over 150 independent cafes and stalls reviewed.


Black Plaques London


This is a personal favour of mine. Open it up and a map of London is showered with black pointers. Touch one and a narrative pops up telling of one of the dark moments in the Capital’s history, complete with photos and locations. You will learn a lot from this app currently offered at half price.


London Taxi Meter


I don’t know how they have done this but it works. Instead of asking a cabbie for an estimate of the fare, this little app calculates the price taking into consideration the time of day and what tariff is applicable.


Taxi Connect


Stuck in the back of beyond and in need of a cab? You could stand forlornly by the kerb waiting for one to come along or better still book a black cab from Radio Taxis.


Cabbie’s Mate


This one doesn’t come cheap and you at 1.56GB you should run it on an i-pad. But many cabbies are using this software (usually in a sat-nav device) and swear by it. Not only does it show the classic A-Z map it has thousands of places, clubs, stations and hotels, stored in its memory. Once you have selected your destination it draws a blue line along the map. There is also a standard Tom-Tom type sat nav.



British Film Locations


Based on British movies, this app shows you some of those memorable filming locations and let’s you photograph them (better if you are in the picture) great for some brilliant memories of London, particularly if you are a film buff.


Famous London


Famous London – See the stars! Discover London’s famous places! Don’t waste your money on expensive tours, well may be mine. This app is your guide to the glamorous side of London. John Lennon’s flat, Mick Jagger’s House, David Beckham’s childhood home, Freddie Mercury’s last mansion, Jimi Hendrix’s pad, Amy Winehouse’s home or the Bee Gee’s house.