(Excellent) things to do in London when you're broke
February 10, 2017 8:48 AM   Subscribe

Tuesday 21st Feb is my 10th wedding anniversary, and my wife and I have lucked in to having a babysitter for the night. However, we have been having a mixed year in terms of money, and can't quite bring ourselves to do something indulgent...

In the past we have gone to restaurants or shows, and we did book Bob Bob Ricard, but then panicked and cancelled it. Can you recommend luxurious or indulgent things, which are actually affordable? Or free!
posted by fizban to Food & Drink (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
The National Gallery and the British Museum are free. The spoils of the world, laid at your feet.

It is sometimes possible to get rush tickets to the theater.

London is *&(*& expensive, though.
posted by praemunire at 8:53 AM on February 10, 2017 [5 favorites]

The British Museum all the way. Then off to the London Review Cakeshop for luxurious tea and cake.

YMMV if you don't enjoy looking at books you have no intention of buying. For me, it's often preferable to buying the damned things.
posted by mushhushshu at 9:11 AM on February 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

Where in London, and do you have any budget? Time Out often publishes a list of cheap/free things to do. There are some good restaurants that you could try for a date night out and come in at a reasonable price per person (Dishoom, Babaji, Franco Manca). Where do you work? Lots of places have NHS staff discounts. My trust often has discounted tickets (£5-20) to classical music, ballet, etc.
p.s.: Happy 10th anniversary!
posted by stillmoving at 9:20 AM on February 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

The National Theatre does £20 tickets for shows the upcoming week, released each Friday morning.
posted by corvine at 9:25 AM on February 10, 2017

How about an evening at Spa London doing the thermal spa experience?
posted by teststrip at 12:39 PM on February 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

(Apologies if I'm preaching to the choir or otherwise imagining that you may not know about these things. I was just in town and had a great, low-budget time after working hours.)

Go to the Royal Vauxhaull Tavern for a night like Duckie or Bar Wotever. Luxuriate in having a babysitter (truly the most luxurious anniversary win imaginable) and have cheap pints and laughs in a queer-and-inclusive cabaret scene that may not exist much longer, despite its historical listing.

Just around the corner you can have a very affordable homemade meal at the bohemian Bonnington Cafe. Have a stroll through the neighborhood.

Is Pale Blue Door still happening?

Dinner at Mildreds isn't cheap, but it won't break the bank, either. The food is delicious (I came home with their cookbook), and they make surprisingly decent cocktails.

Happy anniversary!
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 1:11 PM on February 10, 2017

London Science Museum, always free, always excellent.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 1:36 PM on February 10, 2017

How about a cocktail in the bar at the Shard? You don't need to book, and cheaper than a Shard ticket. I've not done this, but lots of friends have. There's also bars in the Sky Garden, but not sure how it works...

Brasserie Zedel if you want to dine in art deco interiors (doesn't have the intimate booths though).

The only museum that I could find that opens late on a Tuesday is the British Library, which does have the maps exhibition on.
posted by Helga-woo at 1:58 PM on February 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

Seconding the Shard cocktails. The bar in the hotel bit is nicer and higher up than the one in the restaurant. Cocktails weren't cheap - £18 - but if you consider this an entrance fee it doesn't seem so bad. Get there early, before after-work types move in. As your anniversary is a Tuesday in February it shouldn't be too busy but for future readers of this post, at weekends and on sunny days I wouldn't bother! We did this for my friend's birthday and then went to a nearby Pizza Express for food afterwards (which was cheap enough to compensate for the cocktail money).
posted by intensitymultiply at 3:38 AM on February 11, 2017

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