20 Secret Bargains of London
Insider tips on how to save cold cash in Cool Britannia's red-hot capital
Walk this way
At the tourist office, pick up the map to the "London Silver Jubilee Walkway," a 12-mile circular walk marked by 400 silver discs set in the sidewalk and taking in great local views and landmarks. Alternatively, consult the "Around Town" section of Time Out for info on the many guided walks available, and choose your theme, be it spooky, regal, or downright titillating. The best guides work for Original London Walks (7624-3978, walks.com, charging £5 ($7.25) for two hours.
Fishin' & chippin', mate
At its best, Britain's national dish can be a revelation (though the English lament that their "chip shops" aren't what they used to be). Top-notch chippies charging £4 to £6 ($5.75 to $9) include: Brady's (513 Old York Rd., SW18; train: Wandsworth Town or buses 28 and 44); Golden Hind (73 Marylebone Ln., W1; tube: Baker St. or Bond St.); Fryer's Delight (19 Theobald's Rd., WC1; tube: Chancery Lane, Holborn); Fish Central (149-151 Central St., EC1; tube: Angel, Barbican); and Costas Fish Restaurant (18 Hillgate St., W8; tube: Notting Hill).
Tubing it into town
If you land at Heathrow Airport, buy a Travelcard (see above) at the airport's tube (Underground) station and get on the dark blue Piccadilly Line, which cuts through town from west to east; a single ride from airport to city center costs £3.50 ($5). Or pick up the A2 bus for £7 ($10.25) each way, £10 ($14.75) round-trip from bus stops outside all four Heathrow terminals (they are well-signposted); it will take you west through town to Kings Cross with regular stops at downtown points such as Kensington, Marble Arch, and Baker St. The costher but more elegant Heathrow Express train (heathrowexpress.co.uk) zips fast and direct from Terminals 2 and 4; follow Heathrow Express signs in all terminals, to Paddington Station in 15 minutes for £12 ($17.50) each way - which is still cheaper than a o40/$59 taxi, as well as gratifyingly short after an all-night flight in from the colonies; at Paddington, taxi dispatchers can often match you up with passengers going in the same direction, saving money on cab fare. Relatively few U.S. flights land at London's other airports; the cheapest way into town from the next-most popular, Gatwick, is the hourly Flightline bus service to Victoria Station for £11 ($16) round-trip.
Dinner for a tenner (or less)
Some of the cheapest food in town is ethnic. Centrale (16 Moor St., W1, tube: Leicester Square or Tottenham Court Rd.) and Pollo (20 Old Compton St., W1, tube: Leicester Square) in downtown Soho have Italian main courses for around £5 ($7.50) a head, as do the ubiquitous chains, Bella Pasta, and Spaghetti House. Topkapi (25 Marylebone High St., W1; tube: Baker St., Bond St.) and Sofra (1 St. Christopher St., W1; tube: Bond St.) do tasty Turkish fare starting at £7. Moroccan Tagine (95 Golbourne Rd., W10, tube: Ladbroke Grove) features Moroccan entrees for under £7 ($10). Bhelpoori House (93 Chapel Market, N1, 7833-1167; tube: Angel) is London's cheapest all-you-can-eat Indian spot at £3.50 ($5) per person. Sushi-Hiro (1 Station Parade, Uxbridge Rd., W5, tube: Ealing Common) has some of the best sushi in town, with set lunches that start at £5 ($7.50). For more restaurant details and recommendations, call Restaurant Services (8888-8080), which will also book for you. You might also check out the London dining article in BT's September/October 2000 issue.
A jolly good clubbing
Nightclubs can be madly expensive, but early in the week prices drop; for example, the jazzy beats and funky hip-hop of Bar Rumba's "This!" on Monday nights costs £4 ($5.80; 36 Shaftesbury Ave., W1, 7287-2715; tube: Piccadilly Circus). For a trendy crowd jumping to barroom favorites (from rock and roll to current chart-toppers Morcheeba) go for "8 Ball" at The Elbow Room on Tuesday nights, free before 10 p.m., o1 after (89-91 Chapel Market, NW1, 7278-3244; tube: Angel). The Dogstar buzzes every night of the week and is always free (389 Coldharbour Ln., SW9, 7733 7515; tube: Brixton), as is the funky Herbal (12/14 Kingsland Rd., Shoreditch, E2, 7613-4462; tube: Old St. (Take the Hoxton Square exit and walk to the end of Old St.) Lots of smaller pub venues have up to four good bands in a night, the beer is cheap, and entrance is between £3 and £5 ($4.35-$7.25). Who knows-you may catch the next Morcheeba! The best venues for rock are: Archway Tavern (often free entrance before 10 p.m., Archway Roundabout, N19, 7272-2840; tube: Archway); Water Rats (328 Gray's Inn Rd., WC1, 7436-7211; tube: Kings Cross); Lil' Backyard Club at Fitz & Firkin (240 Great Portland St., W1, 7387-0221; tube: Great Portland St.); The Monarch (49 Chalk Farm Rd., NW1, 7916-1049; tube: Chalk Farm); and Dublin Castle (94 Parkway, NW1, 8806-2668; tube: Camden).