Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

Your guide to the perfect London vacation

Here are London's go to places to eat, stay, and more

Not only is travel fun and exciting, but it also comes with many scientifically-proven health benefits! These benefits can positively impact your mind and body as you take a few days off of work and your daily routine to engage in some well-deserved London travel.

London has so much to offer, including fashion, art, music, cuisine, and an extensive history of buildings, museums, and jaw-dropping architecture. Whatever your taste, budget, or cultural persuasions may be, London can meet them. 

A telephone booth and cars on the streets of London.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

London has also been found to be a great place to travel if you want to reduce stress and anxiety levels, enhance your quality of life, and improve life expectancy, so pack a bag and book your flight!

This article can help you plan a budget-friendly trip and make the most of your stay in this great city.

Where to stay

Make your London experience unique by choosing among the best hotels and hostels that the city has to offer. After a long day of exploring, you want to rest easy in a clean, comfortable, and stylish room!

Intercontinental London – The O2 – IHG 

Intercontinental London - The O2 building.
The O2 – IHG. Image used with permission by copyright holder

If you’re looking to treat yourself to high-end hotels, this is a great place to get started. This luxury hotel boasts a great location only eight km from Big Ben and Trafalgar House and nine km from Buckingham Palace! And, if you’re lucky, your room could be overlooking the Thames. It also boasts spacious rooms, delicious breakfasts, friendly staff, and a spa!

  • Nearest Airport: London City Airport
  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Distance: 6 miles

Assembly London

Hotel room at Assembly London.
Assembly London. Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Assembly London is a West End elegant hotel with a celestial setting next to Leicester Square. Its rooms are simple and comfortable, and its being budget-friendly doesn’t mean it compromises on quality, convenience, and utmost satisfaction. Also located within its environs are theatres, bars, restaurants, and clubs that will give you an ecstatic experience.

  • Nearest Airport: London Heathrow Airport
  • Time: 41 minutes
  • Distance: 16 miles

The Zetter Hotel

Main room at The Zetter.
The Zetter. Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Zetter Hotel is a fun hotel in Clerkenwell with beautiful, colorful designs and locally stimulating amenities. The rooms within incorporate a design of primary colors, botanical patterns, dark tints, and thick carpets. It also offers a matching chilled atmosphere and excellent food. Just in case you don’t want to eat in, it is within a walkable distance of several places, including many great restaurants and markets.

  • Nearest Airport: London Biggin Hill
  • Time: 58 minutes
  • Distance: 20 miles

Astor Hyde Park 

Main room at Astor Hyde Park Hostel.
Astor Hyde Park Hostel. Image used with permission by copyright holder

London may be expensive, like any other big city, but it has plenty of more cost-effective hostels. The Astor Hyde Park Hostel is one of them!

This hostel is positioned in a beautiful neighborhood in London, and it’s a minute from Hyde Park. It is surrounded by great museums, pubs, and some of London’s best bars, clubs, and restaurants. It is also a short stroll from transport connections, making it easy for you to get direct trains to Heathrow Airport and all of London’s attractions.

  • Nearest Airport: London City Airport
  • Time: 46 minutes
  • Distance: 11 miles

What to eat

One of the best parts of traveling is trying various foods! Every big city has multiple vendors, restaurants, and hidden spots waiting to be discovered by you on your next trip. London, England is no exception when it comes to flavorful, diverse dishes, so be sure to try the restaurants we recommend below!

“$” = budget-friendly or cheap

“$$” = average

“$$$” = expensive

Core by Clare Smyth

Main room at the restaurant Core by Claire Smyth.
Core by Clare Smyth. Image used with permission by copyright holder

Fine dining is one of the score points of any big city, and London isn’t any different. This luxury place has no less than three Michelin stars! From the steamed crab to the lamb carrot to the linguine, guests rave about how delicious the food here is. If you don’t mind pricey but divine meals, this is a great place to be.

  • Best for dinner
  • $$$

Paradise by Way of Kensal Green

Dining room in Paradise by Way of Kensal Green.
Paradise by Way of Kensal Green. Image used with permission by copyright holder

If you’re looking for a moderately priced restaurant that doesn’t hold back on quality service, this is a good place for you. The ambiance and interior decor are beautiful, and the food is excellent and inclusive, with vegetarian dishes included on the menu. There’s also a bar and a pub in the building.

  • Best for brunch, dinner, and drinks
  • $$

Fishcotheque

The restaurant Fishcotheque.
Fishcotheque. Image used with permission by copyright holder

Fish and chips are a common British delicacy, and this is one of the best spots to have them at. The service is excellent, and the staff is friendly. It is also convenient because you can eat in or have your food delivered to your location!

  • Best for lunch and dinner
  • $

Kappacasein’s Raclette

Vendor at Kappacasein's Raclette.
Kappacasein’s Raclette. Image used with permission by copyright holder

You will love to stop by London food markets to try out tons of delicious food on a budget. A stop at the internationally-famous Borough market situated at the heart of London Bridge is an introduction to an unending offer of options suitable for any diet. 

Kappacasein’s raclette is made and sold in the Borough market, and this is made with cheese and potatoes. The cheese is toasted into delightful brown crust forms, which are then scraped into your plate of potatoes. Make sure this place is on your list of stops so you can savor the delicious aroma and even more delicious food.

  • Best for breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • $

What to do

No matter your budget, there is plenty you can do in London! The big, thriving city has much to offer, so take a look at our recommendations below, and don’t forget to also ask the locals!

Shop at Harrods

Harrod's department store in London.
Harrod’s. Image used with permission by copyright holder

Established in 1834, this store has undoubtedly stood the test of time. You can truly get it all at Harrods, from hard-to-find perfumes to the latest designer releases and gold bars. You can even get a personal shopping service if you’d like. So, if shopping till you – or someone else – drops is part of your itinerary, and the budget is no biggie, this is definitely for you!

Get to the London Eye

The London Eye.
London Eye. Image used with permission by copyright holder

With VIP treats of luxury chocolate and champagne and a whirl in the pod, the London Eye is more than just a large Ferris wheel. It is, after all, the largest observation wheel there is. It’s open all year round, takes 30 minutes to complete a trip, and you can book a ticket or buy one in person the day of. Many believe that a trip to London is incomplete without a ride in the London Eye. So why not get on and find out how true that is?

Visit the theatre

Theater in London.
London’s West End Theater. Image used with permission by copyright holder

You would love a ticket to the London West End theatre, which stands out as one of the best in the world. It hosts a variety of thrilling plays, musicals, classic comedies, operas, and dance shows. Book a seat at a fascinating time to spice up your visit.

Take a cost-free walking tour

The skyline of the City of London at dawn in London, England, U.K.
Photo by Pierre Blaché, licensed under Creative Commons, and made available by Wikimedia Image used with permission by copyright holder

A cost-free walking tour is one of the best ways to learn about a city on a budget. You can hang out at Trafalgar Square and stroll around while admiring its fountains and famous monuments. It could also be a great place to people-watch and observe the London life. If you want to continue saving your dollars after the walking tour, get a few recommendations from your tour guide for the best free museums!

How to save money on your trip to London

A look inside the Morris Museum of Art in Augusta, Georgia.
Andrew Davey/The Manual

Being in a big city means that a time in London can have you digging deep into your pocket. The city can be quite expensive, but the good news is that you can visit on a budget and still have a fantastic time.

Experiences

Start off your trip by visiting the free museums. Most London museums are open to the public at no cost, and you can create incredible memories by visiting them. A few to check out are the Museum of London, the Natural History Museum, the British Museum, the Tate Modern, and the National Gallery.

You can also simply walk around and explore! There is no better way to truly learn about the culture of a city, and London is a big place with beautiful historic buildings. You can pick up free maps from any of London’s tourist information shops and show yourself around.

Hotels

Because of the size of London, there is an endless amount of accommodations to choose from. This means that you have various hotels and hostels to pick from if you are trying to save a few bucks. If none of our recommendations from earlier are exactly what you are looking for, click the link below to explore your options further.

Vehicle rentals

While London does offer many modes of public transportation, you may find having a rental car to be the most convenient for you. Luckily, you can get a reliable vehicle for as low as $29 a day!

Christine VanDoren
Christine is a certified personal trainer and nutritionist with an undergraduate degree from Missouri State University. Her…
This is the best time to visit Iceland
The best time to visit Iceland depends on what you want to do and where you want to explore
Gullfoss Falls Iceland during midday.

Iceland is one of the most fascinating countries in the world: an oversized island of fire and ice between North America and mainland Europe in the North Atlantic. While this island is somewhat larger than Ireland, Iceland is the most sparsely populated country in Europe, which means Iceland abounds in open spaces and natural wonders. And with Reykjavík as its cultural center, Iceland touts additional great lures, from a thriving art and music scene to intriguing cuisine and colorful architecture.

One of the country's greatest features has to do with its positioning. Being so far north, Iceland is treated to wildly long days right around the summer solstice. The weather tends to be cool and wet, but it's compensated for by the hyper-extended days. During June, the sun there tends to set around 23:00 (or 11 p.m.) and come up around 4:00 (or 4 a.m.). It's prime time to cross things off your Nordic bucket list, like driving around the whole country via the gorgeous Ring Road or trekking up north to dip in the restorative waters of Mývatn. But when is the best time to visit Iceland? Keep reading and we'll give you a guide.
What happens in a year in Iceland?

Read more
It’s not just Lake Como: 6 beautiful Italian lakes to add to your bucket list
Add these lakes to your itinerary
Lake Garda

Italy, with its rich history, beautiful landscapes, and world-famous cuisine, has long been a favorite destination for travelers seeking an unforgettable experience. Amidst its picturesque scenery lie some of Europe’s most captivating natural wonders– the Italian lakes. Whether you are relaxing by the water or embarking on a scenic hike, the lakes in Italy provide a gorgeous backdrop. These are just a few beautiful Italian lakes to add to your bucket list.
1. Lake Garda

Location: Northern Italy
Where to stay: Popular towns to stay in include Sirmione, Bardolino, and Malcesine.
How to get there: Lake Garda is easily accessible by both car and public transportation. Major airports such as Verona Villafranca Airport and Milan Bergamo Airport are within driving distance, and train services connect nearby cities like Verona and Brescia to the lake’s shores.

Read more
These are our favorite all-inclusive golf resorts for a dream vacation
Enjoy a luxurious golf experience
Golf resort

Are you ready to tee off on a luxurious golf getaway? Look no further! We’re taking a look at the best all-inclusive golf resorts, where luxury meets leisure on the greens. All-inclusive resorts offer a wonderful blend of incredible accommodations, championship courses, and luxury amenities. Whether you are a seasoned professional or are just looking to enjoy world-class facilities, all-inclusive resorts have something to offer you. Let’s dive in. 
Sandals Emerald Bay, Bahamas

Sandals Emerald Bay is located along the gorgeous shores of Great Exuma in the Bahamas and is one of the best all-inclusive golf resorts in the world. This stunning resort boasts a championship Greg Norman-designed golf course, which also claims the title of the longest golf course in the Caribbean. Six of the holes on this 18-hole course are situated on their own peninsula, providing players with stunning views.

Read more