London is known for all its wonderful attractions and sights, beautiful buildings and fabulous restaurants. But it is also known to be an expensive city, to live in and to visit. But how much do you think you need for a fun, and busy day out? Armed with $150, which converted into £116.52 that day), last weekend Husband and I set out to see how much fun our $150 could buy.
First stop - Selfridges department store on Oxford Street. Oxford Street offers the best of shopping in London. Selfridges is a beautiful place to shop, and has a lovely food hall to boot. But you don't need to spend a thing. Just enjoy some window shopping. On the fourth floor, they have a Travelex desk. We picked up a Travelex Multi-Currency Cash Passport card. Basically you can order online (which is cheaper than doing it in the store), and get a debit card for the country that you're in. It's the modern-day traveller's cheques. There's a pin and you feel secure if you lose it. Also, you can put a certain amount of money on the card, which would be great when you're budgeting.
Second stop - after a morning working up an appetite wandering/shopping along Oxford Street, Chinatown is a great place to go next. You could take a bus or else walk (it takes about 20 minutes from Selfridges). There are over 80 restaurants to choose from. On our last visit, we went to Plum Valley for dim sum. It is a busy restaurant, and we were lucky to get a table at 2pm. But we had a lovely lunch, and only spent £26.
Third stop - The National Gallery is a great place to go to after lunch in Chinatown. It's only a 10-minute walk from Chinatown to Trafalgar Square. And after some touristy photos in the square, you can go inside The National Gallery for some culture. Inside, you will see paintings by well known artists such as Monet, van Gogh, Michelangelo and Vermeer. Like many museums in London, it is free to enter, though there are some special exhibits which you must pay for admittance.
Fourth stop - Leicester Square is our next stop. You will be feeling pretty tired after walking all over The National Gallery. But just walk about towards Chinatown and in less than 10 minutes you will be at a big screen cinema. You can sit down and relax, and watch a movie (or film, as the British say). Tickets will cost about £12.50 for one adult.
Fifth stop - Dinner time! After the cinema, you can walk to Soho (about 10 minutes) for dinner. Soho has loads of fab restaurants and bars. I had been dying to try Burger & Lobster for ages (there is one on Dean Street). There is no menu - just a choice between a burger, lobster or a lobster roll (each £20). Husband doesn't like seafood so he had the burger. I adore lobster, so that's what I had. And it was delicious so I will be definitely going back. With our mains and an alcoholic drink each, our bill came to £65.81. Then it was 10.30pm, and Husband and I started feeling tired (because we're middle-aged parents and we live in a perpetual state of fatigue), so we hopped on the tube home.
In the end, we spent £116.81 for our day out (which is about $150). If I included our travel on the tube, it would have added an extra £10. I am pleased that we were up to this Travelex challenge. We could of course have done a few more free attractions. Then again we could have spent more money. That's the beauty of London. You can really have a great day, no matter what your budget.
We were given a Travelex card for the purpose of this review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.