In response to a recent tip there is no need to resort to McDonalds to eat at reasonable prices even in central London if you know where to look.
Many Italian and Spanish cafes have good lunch options at reasonable prices and can be found in sidestreets around central London especially Soho. Or, get the Time Out guide to eating in London and make a note of the cheap places!
There are good takeaway options from Chinatown, fresh fruit in Berwick Market (later in the day is cheapest), many cafes in the streets south of Warren Street station off Tottenham Court Road are cheapish and if you are really pushed, chain sandwich bars are a better bet than McDonalds!
If you want a flavour of traditional cheap London food look up a pie and mash shop or an old-style fish and chip shop. The cheapest and best takeaway food option in London is Brick Lane Beigel Bakery but it's not central.
Every morning this gorgeous piazza hosts a food market. I am not going to be able to do it justice. It is full of tomatoes, chillies, fruit, garlic, onions. But not as we know them. The bland unripe unseasonal rubbish that you find on the shelves of British supermarkets bears absolutely no relation to the stuff you can buy (for pennies) in Campo dei Fiori.
For a cheap lunch just come here early, buy a few tomatoes and some foccaccia, stuff them in your bag, and eat them at a Bernini fountain in nearby Navonna while laughing at the fessi (gullible ones) who have paid through the nose to eat tourist junk at the inauthentic cafes.
At Campo dei Fiori of course. Just north of the Jewish ghetto along the east bank of the Tiber
These are possibly the two best places to eat in Trastevere, and they're opposite one another down a small side street just north of Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere.
Augusto is a legendary restaurant with a very limited and traditional Roman menu. There are no frills here - you'll have to share a table with complete strangers, there's only house wine available, and the bill is scrawled on the tablecloth by a rushed waitress who doesn't make a fuss of tourists - but the food is great and punters flock here from all over the city for a proper Roman nosh.
Cassetta opposite lacks the charm and the history of Da Augusto, but the food is similarly authentic and (whisper it) even better. Both places are amazingly cheap, with a three course meal with a litre of wine costing about 30-40 pounds for a couple.
A small street just 20 metres north of Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere
Cheap & tasty fried noodles, udon or noodles soups - every which way (meat, seafood, vegetarian) - a massive, speedily served plateful for under 4 pounds.
Not to mention the charms of the Cutty Sark & Greenwich park on the doorstep. Top tip: don't order starters, very few people manage to finish their main courses as it is.
Address: 39 Greenwich Church Street
Phone: 020 8858 2688
Just next to DLR station Cutty Sark for Maritime Greenwich
Genius. Cheap DVDs, cheap music, cheap books, but it's not a secondhand store. It's like shopping online, but easier, because you really can browse around. If the world was a fair and just place, these are the kinds of prices we would normally pay. As it is, you'll just have to make do with places like Fopp.
1 Earlham Street, Covent Garden
Tel: 020 7379 0883
Nearest tube: Covent Garden or Tottenham Court Road
Just off Leicester Square, this is the cheapest indie cinema in London's West End (probably even the UK), with ticket prices at no more than £4, and as low as a quid all day Fridays! They show a great mix of top blockbuster and indie films just off their mainstream run, and also host special themed nights for cinephiles.
You'll find the Prince Charles Cinema at 7 Leicester Place, the street running north off Leicester Square (just up from the Haagen Dazs shop). Visit www.princecharlescinema.com/ to find out what's playing. Give them a call from 1-9pm on 020 7494 3654, and they'll guide you there!
Like Indian food? Authentic Indian?
The Indian Express in Hampton St, Hampton (bayside Melbourne) provides all that. There is virtually no room to eat in (it is a takeaway after all) but the queues for the takeaway say it all. People come from surrounding suburbs for their fill of Indian... it is that good!
Just off Totenham Court Road a bit north of the University of London hospital buildings is Drummond Street, which is full of Indian vegetarian restaurants. Chutneys is particularly good. Try the sev chat.
Euston and Warren street are the closest tube stations
If, like me, you're willing to forego the table service, live 'music' and belly dancers available on the Edgware Road - Beirut Express is the Lebanese cafe worth queuing for. Part of the Maroush restaurant stable, it consistently serves good food at reasonable prices.
You can sample a range of traditional mezze dishes (try: soujok, baba ghanoush, batata hara, moutabal, spicy lebanese salad), alongside the standard chicken or lamb wraps, fresh juices (mango works), finishing off with baklava and tea.
If you're determined to make it an (alcohol-free) all-nighter, the sheesha bar across the street has the latest 'licence' in W2. Follow the neon lights.
112-114 Edgware Road W2, Marble Arch or Edgware Road tube stations, www.maroush.com
London is very expensive. To make the most of your time here eat McDonalds and fill up on Apple pies and stuff. the prices are fixed so you can have a meal for about six pounds sterling. I have been charged £5 for a slice of pizza before now.
Everyone says that the best "frites" to be found in Brussels are at Maison Antoine on the Place Jourdan. I don't agree... they're overrated and you always have to queue for ages. Instead try the much less clichéd and much more tasty Frites Flagey at Place Flagey, just near to the hip Café Belga and the venue Flagey "factory of sound and images", a cinema and concert hall. Not only are the chips better, there is almost never a queue, there is service with a genuine smile (a rarity at Maison Antoine) and they are cheaper too!
Frites Flagey, Place Flagey
Tram 81, 82, stop Flagey
The best tapas in central London - a little family-run restaurant at the Wardour St end of Old Compton St. Excellent value. You'll have to wait for a table in the evening - but you can usually walk right in at lunchtimes.
63 Old Compton St., Soho W1
Very comfortable yet quiet small guesthouse set back amongst the bustling throngs of THE place to surf n party.
Lovely pool and agreeable price lets you spend extra bargaining for gifts and art in Ubud market.
poppies 1 kuta beach down an alley on your lefthand side sharp eyes needed to see a blue sign
A beautiful Victorian garden in the middle of Streatham Common. Queen Victoria visited for the now gone spa waters (is there a way they can be brought back?). Tranquil even at the height of summer, an oasis in the middle of south London. Plus, there is a lovely old-fashioned cafe run by quirky Italian old women.
Streatham Common - the nearest train station is Streatham.
This is a hostel, somewhat away from the tourist areas but still within easy walking distance of the sights. One of the main attractions was the free breakfast and dinner, with free wine, as well as free internet access. This forces the residents to mingle and make friends and creates a brilliant communal spirit. It is also very colourfully decorated, with decent bunk beds and big lockers (which is useful for backpackers). When I went it was almost entirely filled with Americans, whether that is a good or bad thing is up to you.
It is about 5 minutes from Termini station, on Via Principe Amadeo (I think). Details can be found on hostelbookers.com.
The best cinema in London, albeit with the very worst cafe/bar (dire food, miserable staff). Great for catching up on the classics of world cinema, sniffing out the work of upcoming filmmakers or attending one of the many film festivals.
National Film Theatre, Belvedere Road, South Bank, Waterloo, London SE1 8XT
Head for central London and then take a bus, any double decker, head for the top deck and sit at the front. You'll see the intricacies of London architecture and street life that you wouldn't see at any other angle. I've heard that these buses are being phased out which is a huge shame. So do it now while you have the chance.
On a clear day you can see the whole city, including a panorama from Ibrox stadium to Celtic Park. The spires of the west end and glittering city centre lie in between the stadia with the highlands providing a spectacular backdrop ( you can see at least 5 munroes from the Arrochar hills to Ben Vorlich at Loch Earn). Glasgow is a much more attractive city than it is often given credit.
Take a train from central station to Queens park, exit the station to victoria rd, turn right and you will see the gates of the park at the end of the road. Walk through them, straight ahead through an avenue of trees to the highest point in the park.
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