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London on a budget: time to eat

Thursday, July 16, 2009
There's no denying London is a fantastic place, but it does have the reputation of being very expensive. To help you on your visit, Getaway sent Jason Dundas and the crew there to suss out the best ways to get the most from your travel dollar.


There's no doubt that London has some of the world's most expensive restaurants, but Jason went all out to find some places that won't break the bank and will fill you up with good food.

A good tip is to go to restaurants in the West End and South Bank. They are usually patronised by theatregoers early in the evening, so if you dine after 8pm, the evening specials should still be available.

Portobello Market goes straight through the heart of Notting Hill. It's been there since 1837, and has always dealt in fresh produce and tasty food. It's an interesting area with antiques and bric-a-brac, fashion, second-hand items — everything imaginable. There are loads of places selling food and drinks and it's a good idea to eat as you wander through the enormous market. The minute you sit down, it's going to cost you. It runs on Saturdays between 5am and 4.30pm.

Pret a Manger serves handmade natural food, avoiding chemicals, additives and preservatives. The caterer starts everything from scratch each day and any leftovers are given to charity. The menu changes constantly and food is healthy, delicious and affordable. Sandwiches start at around $3.50. Visit for more information.

A visit to Toptable is a fantastic idea. Visit the website ( to find restaurants across London offering up to 50 percent discounts. They have loads to choose from, covering a mass of cuisines.

If you fancy Belgian beer, mussels and chips, Belgo is the place to go. There are three venues in London to choose from. You eat at communal tables in the beer hall, or a more intimate restaurant and are served by staff in traditional monks' habits.

Belgo Centraal Beat the Clock will get you a great cheap meal from Monday to Friday — get there as close to 5pm as you can as you pay just £5 for your meal. At 6pm you pay £6 and so on. Great for an early dinner if you have plans for later — or you could make it a late lunch! Visit for more information.

Some extra tips

It's not the best idea to drive in London. Public transport is so good, and the city is made for walking, cycling or skating. There are two types of cabs: the traditional black cabs, which are more expensive, and cheaper mini-cabs. Jason was told that single females are advised to not hail a mini-cab off the street — it's far safer to go to a licensed mini-cab office.

When you first arrive, grab yourself a copy of Time Out London magazine. It's a great survival guide and covers just about everything you could want. You will also find free publications at tube stations — you can't have too much information about the sprawling city!

If you want to work in the UK, Australia has reciprocal arrangements there, and many other countries. If you're an Australian citizen, 30 years of age or under you can apply for a two-year visa. Get started at and follow the links to working holidays. You can also check out and for more information.

If you're a regular visitor or making a one-off trip to London, it's a good idea to add an Oyster Card to your London Pass. It will save you loads of cash on all London public transport. Buy online before you arrive and top up at tube stations, DLR stations or at London Travel Information Centres. Visit for more information.


Budget options across London.

Getting there

Emirates has fantastic, low fares to London. They're for a limited time, so visit or call 1300 303 777 for more details.

Prices correct at July 16, 2009.

For further information

Ph: 1300 303 777

London Pass

The London Bicycle Tour Company
1A Gabriels Wharf
56 Upper Ground
London SE1 9PP
United Kingdom
Ph: +44 20 7928 6838

Changing of the Guard

The Hoxton Hotel
81-83 Great Eastern Street
London EC2A 3HU
United Kingdom
Ph: +44 20 7550 1000

Best Western Shaftesbury
65-73 Shaftesbury Avenue
London W1D 6EX
United Kingdom
Ph: +44 20 7871 6000
Fax: +44 20 7871 6001

Imperial College London
South Kensington Campus
London SW7 2AZ
United Kingdom
Ph: +44 20 7589 5111

Venue Masters
Ph: +44 11 4249 3090
Fax: +44 11 4249 3091

Portobello Market
Portobello Road
London W10 & W11
United Kingdom

Pret a Manger
1 Hudson's Place
London SW1V 1PZ
United Kingdom
Ph: +44 20 77827 8000


Ph: +44 7813 2233

Roller Stroll

Tkts Theatre Tickets
Leicester Square & Brent Cross

National Theatre
South Bank
London SE1 9PX
United Kingdom
Ph: +44 20 7452 3400

Covent Garden
19 Short's Gardens
London WC2H 9AW
Ph: +44 20 7240 9731
Fax: +44 20 7836 3137

Cheapest Pint
Doggett's Coat & Badge
1 Blackfriars Road
London SE1 9UD
United Kingdom
Ph: +44 20 7633 9081

Australia High Commission
Australia House
The Strand
London WC2 B4LA
Ph: +44 20 7379 4334

Oyster Card

Visas: Visas are not required for Australians entering the UK for tourism for stays of less than six months. If you wish to work, you must obtain the appropriate two-year visa in advance.

Electricity: 220V with a three-point plug.

Time: The UK is on GMT between October and March. Between March and October it is on British Summer Time.

Currency: The British pound sterling.

International dialling code: +44.

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