Saturday, 30 July 2011

Day 28: Accommodation in London

Beit Hall, Imperial College
I am going to rhapsodise a little about our accommodation, because I think we have found one of the best deals in London.  That is not to say that it is cheap as such, but relatively speaking, it is very cheap indeed for central London and the height of the tourist season.

We are staying at Imperial College in South Kensington, which lets out its student rooms for short stays from July to September.  We have been given a perfectly adequate ensuite twin room, are entitled to a HUGE breakfast every morning, and because we booked online, we even have free access to the college swimming pool, sauna, and gymn.  All for £48.50 per night.  (I admit it: it hurts a bit.  But was all paid for while I was still earning.)

Another big advantage is the area.  South Kensington is not only elegant and lovely, but it has three great and free museums: the Victoria and Albert, the Natural History Museum, and the Science Museum.  Today we visited the Natural History Museum, whose interest for me was more in the architecture than in the exhibits.  I was charmed by the stone monkeys climbing the interior arches, and the pterodactyl grotesques peering down at the queuing crowds outside.  I was also delighted to purchase an elephant painting-by-numbers in the gift shop for only £4: a substantial-looking present for my 8 year old nephew come Christmas.  You gotta buy these things when you see 'em.

The old turbine hall at
the Tate Modern
We also took a Tube into town this morning, and had a wander round the Tate Modern: another free attraction.  (Unfortunately, their cafe is horribly expensive.)   I rather loved it, though I have no pretensions to artistry.  They also seemed to be very geared up to children, with plenty of activities for them to do.  We spent over two hours there, and left without seeing everything, as we were becoming very leg-weary indeed.   I also loved the Millennium Bridge, a footbridge which stretches between the Tate Modern and St Paul's, making it easy to wander from one to the other, and allowing for some stunning views of the Thames.  In fact, one of the main pleasures of London on a good day is simply walking around.

We did try to go into St Paul's Cathedral, but the entrance price for adults is now £14.50 each!  I know these places have massive overheads, and don't really blame them, but it does seem a shame that a church should be so closed off to poorer people.  Though again, I am not personally claiming to be poor: after all, we have allocated some money for a show tomorrow night, which will cost considerably more!  (Which shows where my rather shabby priorities lie.)  Actually, we could have come back to the Cathedral at a later time, and attended  a church service for free - perhaps the Choral Evensong which they hold at 5pm every weekday.  That way we would not only have seen the cathedral in all its glory, but also would have experienced it in the way it was meant to be experienced, with some sublime music to boot.  But Friend Claire wasn't too fussed, I have visited before, and the timing just didn't fit.
Friend Claire and I: Reflection Inception

So now I am back in my comfortable room, and blogging away quite happily, having purchased 3 days worth of internet access for only £5.  Add up all the spending, and it is rather nasty.  But still, it was a 'cheap' day considering what we could have spent, and so I am relatively content.  Tomorrow will be the biggie. 

Day Ticket for Tube: £6.60
Lunch: £4.10
Snack: £2.40
Dinner: £10 (splashed out a bit in a restaurant)
Gift for nephew: £4
Internet Access: £5

Total Expenditure = £32.10

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