We know our readers love cheap travel, so this time we’ve gone international.
In honor of the new direct flight from Denver to London on United Airlines’ Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, 303 Magazine’s cheap travel guide writer went all the way to the United Kingdom and back for first-hand tips and recommendations on how Denverites can visit London and not break the bank. London is one of the most expensive cities in Europe—so much so that in 2015, it was publicized that this man was commuting to London from Barcelona every week for work instead of living in the city. But don’t rip your hair out just yet. You can still visit. Meghan Markle and Prince Harry tie the knot on May 19, so there’s still time to book that ticket. London is clearly calling.
You’re in luck. London made our list on The Best Cheap Flights We Found Out of Denver in 2018 which means that round-trip airfare is as low as $430. Airlines such as Norwegian Air, British Airways, Lufthansa, Virgin Atlantic, United, American Airlines and Finnair typically have great deals, and if you want to fly direct on the Dreamliner for a no-hassle journey, make sure you check out United’s website. Purchasing your flight on a weekday (Tuesday is best) for a trip during low season (October is London’s low season) will ensure that you’re getting the best bang for your buck.
To find cheap flights from DIA to London, click here.
For unlimited travel in London once you’re there, make sure you purchase an Oyster Card or a Day TravelCard at the nearest Tube Station. Trust us, you cannot walk this city. An Oyster Card only costs £6.60 for one day (£5 fee for the card) to travel between zones 1 and 2 (all the main sites in the city are in these zones) and you can reload it each day to ride the bus, tube (underground subway), tram, overground and more. A Day TravelCard will cost you £12.30 by comparison, but will also get you where you need to go via underground, bus and more. For more information, visit the Transport for London website.
Palmer’s Lodge Swiss Cottage
Where: 40 College Crescent, London
Cost: Starting at $28.60 per night
The Lowdown: As far as hostels go, the Palmer’s Lodge Swiss Cottage ain’t so shabby. This British mansionette is continually ranked as one of the best hostels in London, with Victorian charm to boot. Featuring a restaurant, bar and a decorative atmosphere with salvaged antiques, Palmer’s Lodge is a cozy refuge for those who might be afraid of dormitory-style sleeping arrangements. There are single sex and mixed dorms along with private rooms, and they’re all cheap.
Where: Holland Park, Holland Walk, Kensington, London
Cost: $30 per night
The Lowdown: Once visited by Sir Walter Scott, Lord Byron and Dickens, the Safestay hostel in Kensington near Holland Park is a cheap traveler’s paradise. Renovated with a mid-century modern vibe, this three-building property dates back to 1605 and overlooks scenic Holland Park. With a private courtyard, this historic hostel has antique English charm on the outside, and the fully renovated and urban atmosphere you crave on the inside. There is also another Safestay hostel London location (with the same killer prices) in Elephant and Castle.
Where: Brick Lane Market, 91 Brick Lane, London
The Lowdown: London is a vibrant city that’s always hustling and bustling, but if you’re looking for a quirky yet historic part of town, Brick Lane is where you must go. This street runs from the Bethnal Green to Whitechapel neighborhoods of East London and features eye-popping street art, food vendors and antique stores along a cobbled road lined with brick and mortar buildings.
The British Library
Where: 96 Euston Rd., London
The Lowdown: If there’s one thing the British love more than tea, it’s books. The British Library near King’s Cross St. Pancras station features an extraordinary collection, but the King’s Library collection (also called the Enlightenment Gallery) is actually worth a couple shots on your camera since it’s so majestic. Assembled by King George III, this book collection features over 65,000 volumes preserved behind glass mostly obtaining to the Age of Enlightenment. We wish all libraries looked this cool.
Banksy Art Sites
Where: Various locations in London. Banksy’s ‘Designated Graffiti Area’ at 83 Rivington St., London
The Lowdown: If you haven’t heard of Banksy, it’s the nickname for an England-based graffiti artist who still remains completely anonymous (although people have their guesses). His street art exhibits satire and dark humor and comments on politics, social injustice and other controversial topics. The art, which is not elaborate, features a unique stenciling technique, and many other street artists have imitated the Banksy style (such as the Bambi one shown above). In London, there are still many original Banksys you can find on buildings, streets and alleyways, and the anonymous artist has become so famous he or she even earned a “designated graffiti area” from the city that you can visit. Try to spot all the Banksys in London as you walk around.
Where: Camden Lock Place, Camden Town, London
The Lowdown: While exploring Camden Market, a store owner inquired if this was our second time in the city. “Nobody comes to Camden Market on their first trip to London,” was his remark—and it’s a real shame—because they should. All of the young people in the city have clearly mapped this marketplace as the ideal hangout spot, and this place was pumping on a Sunday. As one of London’s first-ever crafts and antique market, Camden Market was made popular by artisans and traders who used the walkways adjacent to the locks along Regent’s Canal to sell their antiques, handmade jewelry and more. Today, this marketplace is filled with one-of-a-kind souvenirs, authentic food from around the world, handmade trinkets and street musicians. You will never get bored here.
Columbia Road Flower Market
Where: Columbia Rd., London
The Lowdown: Open only on Sundays, the Columbia Road Flower Market is absolutely beautiful in the spring and summer. Columbia Road in East London is filled with Victorian-style shops that sell vintage clothes, antiques, cupcakes, art and jewelry. These independent stores come alive when buckets of beautiful flowers, trees and plants line the street and are sold to wandering shoppers.
David Bowie Memorial
Where: 463 A23, Brixton, London
The Lowdown: It’s free to pay tribute to the late singer-songwriter and actor, and before the official David Bowie Memorial (a lightning bolt-shaped structure three stories tall) is resurrected, fans are leaving flowers and messages to their icon beneath a street art mural in his native Brixton neighborhood of London.
Where: 2 Abbey Rd., London
The Lowdown: The Zebra Crossing at Abbey Road is where The Beatles shot their iconic cover photo for their album Abbey Road, and you can take your own street crossing photo for a memorable London Instagram post. The crossing is free to visit, but make sure you’re careful about cars and let other tourists get their shot too. Abbey Road Studios, the famous recording studio, is also nearby and is worth a visit.
Where: 231-233 Baker St., Marylebone, London
The Lowdown: If a picture on Abbey Road didn’t satisfy your Beatles craze, you’ll be happy to know there is a legitimate merchandise store with everything relating to the popular band. Featuring new and original 1960s Beatles vinyl, autographs, memorabilia and more, the Beatles Store is fun to peruse if you want a break from average souvenir shops.
Earl’s Court Police Box
Where: Earl’s Court Rd., Kensington, London
The Lowdown: Fans of the BBC British sci-fi television program Dr. Who can completely geek out on a trip to London by visiting a real-life TARDIS right outside the Earl’s Court underground station. This blue police box was refurbished by the Metropolitan Police and is a great place for a photo op. It’s safe to say that this police box probably doesn’t time travel though.
Harry Potter Walking Tour
Where: Meet your guide next to the Statue of Winston Churchill in Parliament Square
The Lowdown: Didn’t receive your Hogwarts letter in the mail yet? This walking tour in London is the next best thing you’ll find outside of the wizarding world and it’s completely free. See locations and sites featured in the Harry Potter film series such as Leadenhall Market (the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron), Cecil’s Court (Diagon Alley) and many more places. Harry Potter fans should also make sure they stop at Platform 9 and 3/4 at King’s Cross St. Pancras station to take a photo with the cart mysteriously vanishing through the wall to the magical platform.
Where: Swain’s Lane, Highgate, London
Cost: £4 per adult for East Cemetery, £12 per adult for guided tour to West Cemetery
The Lowdown: If you’re looking for a quieter time in the city, this might seem a tad macabre, but Highgate Cemetery is worth a visit. Located in North London, this eery yet beautiful burial ground is where roughly 170,000 people are buried in around 53,000 graves across the West Cemetery and the East Cemetery. Majestic mausoleums and tombs are mostly above ground, and many famous people such as Karl Marx and George Eliot have been laid to rest here. The cemetery also holds a potted cedar tree, which was named the world’s largest potted plant.
The House of Dreams Museum
Where: 45 Melbourne Grove, East Dulwich, London
Cost: £5.00-£10.00 for open day adult ticket
The Lowdown: Created by textile designer and art director Stephen Wright, the House of Dreams Museum might just be London at its quirkiest. Wright, who has lived in the house since 1982, began secretly decorating his house in 1998 in honor of his late partner and parents. The house, which is intended to reinforce the themes of dreams, life and love is only open for several days each year, but if you happen to be around for an open day, it’s the most colorful, eccentric attraction you’ll find in London.
Where: Kensington Gardens, London
Cost: £14.40 per adult
The Lowdown: You probably won’t see Meghan or Harry while you visit this charming palace in Kensington Gardens, but it’s definitely worth a look around anyway. The palace has recently opened a new Diana: Her Fashion Story exhibition, which features dresses worn by the late princess throughout her life living as a royal and has other exhibits such as one on Queen Victoria called Victoria Revealed. Harry and Meghan will soon live at Kensington Palace Cottage after they marry, which is where Diana herself used to reside.
London Luxury Quarter
Where: 181 Piccadilly St., St. James’s, London (Fortnum & Mason)
The Lowdown: If you thought Macy’s was cool, wait till you check out Fortnum & Mason. This British department store located in Piccadilly is absolutely stunning and sells an array of luxurious gifts such as wine, famous teas and coffee, gourmet chocolate, biscuits and more. This area of the city known as the London Luxury Quarter is a popular place to window shop and buy quality British souvenirs (if you can afford it) and peruse shops that hold Royal Warrants (meaning they have supplied goods or services for at least five years to the royal families in the UK). Popular stores in this area to check out include Floris (where the queen buys perfume) and Gieves & Hawkes (a royal tailor that also created Michael Jackson’s famous military jacket).
Portobello Road Market in Notting Hill
Where: 306 Portobello Rd., London
The Lowdown: Portobello Road Market prides itself on being one of the most famous antique markets in the world, and that is probably true. With over 1,000 vendors selling every kind of antique imaginable, this colorful road in the heart of the Notting Hill neighborhood fills with shoppers purchasing produce at fruit and vegetable stands, secondhand goods and clothing. If you’ve ever seen the famous Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts movie (Notting Hill), then the Travel Bookshop is definitely worth a quick peek.
Where: Kensington Gardens, London
The Lowdown: Kensington Gardens is a gorgeous place to walk around after you’re done visiting the palace, but the Serpentine Galleries located in Hyde Park is worth the time as well. This free modern and contemporary art museum consists of two galleries called the Serpentine Gallery and the Serpentine Sackler Gallery, which are a five minutes’ walk of each other. Many of the installations are outdoors, making this the perfect place for some peace and quiet.
The Sherlock Holmes Museum
Where: 221B Baker St., Marylebone, London
Cost: £15 per adult
The Lowdown: Next door to the Beatles Store you’ll find the Sherlock Holmes Museum. Fans of the books, TV series or movies will remember than detective Sherlock Holmes resides at 221B Baker Street, which is exactly where you can experience the flat where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional character resides. This Victorian-style apartment is a unique museum that pays tribute to London’s literary past.
Where: Tower Bridge Rd., London
The Lowdown: We know it’s a common tourist attraction, but don’t miss a chance to enjoy a free walk along the River Thames and then across this beautiful bridge. Built between 1886 and 1894, Tower Bridge is an iconic symbol of London, and it’s absolutely priceless.
Word on the Water
Where: Regent’s Canal Towpath, King’s Cross, London (Word on the Water)
The Lowdown: There are many bookstores in London, but this one is actually on the water. Word on the Water is a little boat filled to capacity with as many books as it can fit before sinking is inevitable and is docked at Regent’s Canal Towpath. This floating bookstore hosts poetry slams and live music performances—making it an original sightseeing stop.
Food and Drinks
AIDA Shoreditch (Coffee)
Where: 133 Shoreditch High St., Shoreditch, East London
The Lowdown: England’s national flower is the Tudor rose, so it’s no surprise that a trip to London will promise rose-flavored teas, jams and other foods that contain the sweet floral. AIDA is a clothing and home goods store in the Shoreditch neighborhood of London, but it also has a unique café that serves a rose latté—and it’s actually pink. Don’t leave London without trying a cup of this truly British brew.
Cereal Killer Café (Breakfast or Brunch)
Where: 192A Brick Lane, London
Cost: Under £10
The Lowdown: Your favorite easy breakfast fix has its own café. The Cereal Killer Café is located in Brick Lane Market (there’s another smaller location in Camden Market too) and features more than 120 different cereals to choose from (crazy, right?) plus your choice of various kinds of milk and toppings. This colorful, eccentric eatery is definitely one of a kind — and like cereal should be — it’s cheap.
DUM Biryani House (Lunch or Dinner)
Where: 187B Wardour St., Soho, London
The Lowdown: Named one of the best Indian restaurants in London, DUM Biryani House is worth a visit to the Soho district. With main hit menu items like fried yogurt patties, kebabs and biryanis mostly all under £17, this tasty Indian haunt will help you save money on lunch or dinner and treat you to some of the best spicy and seasoned food London has to offer.
Melt Room (Late Lunch)
Where: 26 Noel St., Soho, London
Cost: Under £10
The Lowdown: Grilled cheese might be American, but the British take their own spin on it at the Melt Room. Featuring delicious melts and funky grilled cheeses that will warm your heart after a long day in the cold London rain, the Melt Room is a cheap fast-food option for lunch or dinner, or for when you’ve really just lost track of time and are starving. Make sure you try their rainbow-colored grilled cheese.
The Old Coffee House (Drinks and Late Night Bites)
Where: 49 Beak St., Soho, London
Cost: Under £10
The Lowdown: It’s rather ironic, but the one thing The Old Coffee House doesn’t serve is coffee. Serving British favorites such as ale pie, sausage and mash and of course, craft beer, this historic pub that was licensed in 1772 in Soho has the cozy atmosphere you crave when you visit London, and cheap morsels to last for another pint.
Poppie’s Fish and Chips (Lunch)
Where: 6-8 Hanbury St., London and other locations
Cost: Under £20
The Lowdown: You’re in London for crying out loud, so make sure you get some fish and chips. Fried fish goes best with chips (we call them French fries) doused in salt and vinegar, and you can get it pretty much anywhere in the city, but Poppie’s Fish and Chips has a reputation for making it best. You’ll definitely leave full, and you won’t pay that much either.
sketch (Tea and Dessert)
Where: 9 Conduit St., Mayfair, London
Cost: Under £25
The Lowdown: You’ll need to dress up for this one, but if you want to experience a real London tea, sketch is the place to go. Dubbed the most Instagrammed restaurant in London, this whimsical and eccentric 18th-century townhouse tea room serves dainty desserts such as macaroons, tiramisu and white wine biscuits. The colorful, quirky atmosphere makes for a unique photo op, and make sure you check out the bathroom since it might actually be the weirdest our writer has ever experienced. Reservations recommended.
For more information, deals and visitor guides to London, check out visitlondon.com.