Newsletter sign up

The best of London on a budget

By | Blog | No Comments


If you’re planning a trip to the big city but you don’t have stacks of cash to spend, there are plenty of ways you can maximise the bang for your buck and make sure you get the most out of your trip. While it may seem that visiting London is inevitably expensive, there are lots of ways you can economise without skimping on the experience. This makes a budget break possible, or even gives you the chance to splurge on a special treat during your visit.

Take a look through our guide and get the best of London for a fraction of the price.

Free events

London is surprisingly awash with free events and there are lots of things you can see and do that won’t cost you a penny out of your budget for your break. From museums to markets, cabaret to walking tours, there’s plenty to keep you occupied without needing to open your wallet.

Across London, you will find some of the most cutting edge modern art on display for visitors to tour the exhibits and get a feel for what’s hot in the art world. The White Cube Gallery in Bermondsey, frequent hosts to modern art darlings Gilbert and George have a regular programme of interesting and thought-provoking artwork and is free to visit. The current exhibition by painter Julie Mehretu is a set of pieces infused with political commentary and brings the Arab Spring into the heart of London.

white cube gallery

Bermondsey’s White Cube Gallery

In the wake of the recent Chelsea Flower Show, the Chelsea Fringe Festival will take over Battersea Power Station in the first week of June with such eclectic activities as knit your own vegetable classes and a two-day gin bar in a botanical garden. There are plenty of activities for all the family set against the breath-taking backdrop of the Art Deco power station, which is only rarely open to visitors.

Cheap eats

One of the main drains on the purse when visiting London is the cost of eating out for every meal. However, savvy travellers know where to go to get their budget nosh and make sure they are saving their cash for more interesting things.

London’s plentiful markets have lots to offer in the way of affordable fare for visitors to the city. You can often grab a bacon sandwich for a couple of quid and eat it on the hoof as you see what you wanted to see. However, if you’re looking for something a little more refined, you don’t have to pay that much more. Fizrovia’s tempting Honey and Co. café is an Israeli-run eatery offering Middle Eastern food at very reasonable prices. Brunch of baked eggs or sabich – a pitta with roasted vegetables, egg and tahini – will set you back around £6.50 in very pleasant surroundings.


Chinatown is a great place for cheap, tasty food

If you’re saving yourself for dinner, there are plenty of ways to dine inexpensively in the city. One way is to check the website Top Table and find the restaurants that are offering reduced price deals. Around Chinatown you could opt for an authentic Cantonese all you can eat buffet for less than £15 per head and get the experience of great Chinese food at a fraction of the price.

Getting around

The cost of getting around London can mount up when you take into account each of the individual fares to get you from A to B using buses and Tubes. However, places are much more walkable than most people realise. Get a good street map of London and walk to what you want to see instead of getting public transport. You’ll never know what you might see along the way.

Another inexpensive way of getting around is using the cycle hire scheme. The blue bikes, parked at docking stations around the city, are £2 to access for 24 hours and the first 30 minutes of any release is free. There are lots of well-signposted cycle-ways to keep you out of traffic too.


There are plenty of ways to maximise your enjoyment of London while minimising the cost. Make a few canny savings and your break could be more affordable than you thought.


Image Credits: Epha3 Lab and az1172

London’s Soho District – a Hub of Theatres and Entertainment

By | Blog | No Comments


Located in the heart of London, Soho is a thriving hub of entertainment of all kinds. Historically, the area has had something of a shady past, but in recent times the district has become a major draw for Londoners and tourists alike, seeking theatrical entertainment and some of the city’s finest entertainment.

soho palace theatre

Soho’s famous Palace Theatre, just one of a number of entertainment venues in the area

The growth of Soho

Back in the 19th and early 20th centuries, Soho was famous for all the wrong reasons. Rather than the kind of above-board entertainment for which the area is now rightly well-known, Soho was a notorious destination for people seeking entertainment of an altogether less family friendly variety. Brothels and other accoutrements of the skin trade were plied from the many shops and bars in the area while bawdy shows took place in a number of the theatres and music halls in the area.

Pre-theatre entertainment

While the Palace Theatre is the jewel in the crown of the performance venues in Soho itself, there are plenty of other ways in which visitors can find entertainment in the district while visiting. The area has become well-known as a destination for drinkers and diners, offering up-market restaurants and bars for the well-heeled visitor. The area makes the perfect place to stop for a pre-theatre drink or dinner.

As a centre for media and the arts, the area is often thronging with media types enjoying long lunches or post-work drinks. Soho is the home of many film and television companies and is served by Sohonet, a super-fast fibre optic communication system that connects the visual effects and post-production companies that have sprung up in the area with the UK’s biggest film and television studios in Shepperton and Pinewood as well as production centres across the globe, allowing work to be done on the product of filming done out of town without the need to transport film from one location to another.

The area is also well-known for its gay-friendly atmosphere. As London’s unofficial gay village, Soho has a range of gay bars and clubs that offer an experience for just about every taste. Wherever a gay couple may choose to eat or drink in the area, they will be welcomed openly without as much as a raised eyebrow.

Visiting the theatre

Although the Palace is the main theatre actually situated within Soho, London’s West End surrounds Soho and is easily accessed from any of the bars and restaurants in the district. Nearby Covent Garden has a large number of big-name theatres with popular plays and musicals on offer throughout the year.

soho theatre

The Soho Theatre

For something with a little more variety, the Soho Theatre offers a varied programme of cabaret and comedy as well as theatrical productions. On the fringes of Soho you will also find the Prince Edward Theatre, arguably the most stylish of Soho’s venues with its art deco styling, which shows a programme of hit musicals throughout the year and is currently hosting Jersey Boys before taking on Miss Saigon in May 2014.


A thriving destination for entertainment of all kinds, Soho is a vibrant and exciting place to visit during any stay in London. All kinds of tastes in theatre, music and dining are catered for, and you could not hope to find anywhere in London that is more laid back and easy going. Whether you’re going out in Soho or starting out here before heading further up west, it’s a great place to get any London party started.


Image Credits: Wikipedia 1 & 2

London Helicopter Tours – Great Views over London

By | Blog | No Comments


As people look for new ways to see the sights of London, a number of different ways of exploring the city have sprung up and the pleasures of sight-seeing can now be experienced from many different angles. The traditional bus tour has been supplemented by walking tours, river cruises and even a tour that encompasses both without changing vehicle! However, there are few more unique ways to see London’s biggest points of interest than by flying overhead on your own helicopter tour.

Taking to the skies over the city on your own personal tour gives a once in a lifetime experience for long-time London lovers and newcomers alike.

Size and scale

One thing it’s very hard to get a feel for at street level in any city, London included, is the scale of the place and how the various parts of it inter-connect. Walking through the winding streets can leave the visitor pleasantly lost and with aching feet, but with no real idea of the amount of distance that’s been covered in the process.

The public transport system is no better at helping people gauge places in relation to one another, as London Underground maps present a schematic rather than proximity and buses and taxis snake around the city to find the most expedient way from one place to another rather than joining the dots.

Taking to the sky can help give a real sense of perspective to the city and spot sights in relation to one another.

A different perspective

There are, understandably, parts of London that look a good deal different from above than they do from the ground. What can close up feel incredibly densely packed with buildings can suddenly take on a more spacious air when viewed from high above the streets.

Taking a flight over the London Docklands reveals a very different picture to the one seen from the ground. While it can feel somewhat claustrophobic to be amongst the high-rise buildings around Canary Wharf and Canada Water, from above the area is an archipelago of small islands that look spaced out and almost Venetian.

london docklands above

London’s Docklands viewed from above

The same is true around the Royal Parks. The densely-packed districts around Hyde Park, Green Park and others can be deceptive and few people explore the parks sufficiently to appreciate their true scale. A tour at dusk can bring the space into sharp relief as the dark patches contrast with the bright street lights in the surrounding areas.

A glimpse of the unseen

There are parts of the city that simply can’t be seen without taking flight and viewing them from above. The expansive grounds of Buckingham Palace are only seen by a select few every year who are invited to join the Queen for one of her garden parties. The perimeter of the palace is surrounded by very high walls that don’t permit the casual glance at the Monarch’s back garden. Taking a helicopter tour will give the opportunity to see sights that few have witnessed first-hand.

queens backyard

A sneak peek at the Queen’s backyard

It’s also possible that the tour will show other things that few on the ground will be aware of. At the top of some of the high-rise buildings in the centre of London, manicured gardens and even swimming pools and hot-tubs can be seen, showing a different side to the city than most ever see.


For a different perspective on the sights of London, taking a helicopter tour will introduce a whole new point of view. Giving a real appreciation of space and scale, an aerial tour can also offer passengers the chance to get a glimpse of an unseen London.


Image Credits: Tab59 and James Cridland

Support London’s Air Ambulance

We are delighted to support London’s Air Ambulance, helping to extend the reach of their lifesaving missions across London. The London Helicopter will match your donation to double its impact.