Celebrating the Royal Wedding in London doesn't wed you to exorbitant spending. You can have a jolly good time taking in the feel-good vibe of Prince William and Kate Middleton's April 29 union without coughing up the crown jewels.
If you're looking for cheap traditional lodging, forget local. "Hotels in London are going to be booked out," Lonely Planet travel editor Tom Hall told WalletPop, "but you can still snare rooms for the period over the Royal Wedding in places like Brighton, Oxford and Cambridge, all lovely destinations in their own right and around an hour from the procession route."Britain native Tim Read, who now calls Brooklyn, N.Y. home, recommended staying on the outskirts at Premier Inns, Travelodges or Easyhotels. "They are pretty much no frills, but they are clean," he said. Or you can go further down-market and remain in London at a youth hostel. WalletPop found places fairly close to the procession route for as low as $44 a night at hostelworld.com. If you're a little longer in the tooth than "youth," remember that 20% of Hostelworld guests are between 31 and 40 years old, HostelWorld spokeswoman Aisling White told WalletPop.
Trading homes is an option, but you'll have have to live in an appealing city for foreigners to seal the deal. A six-bedroom in Kingston-Upon-Thames, a 25-minute train ride from central London, appeared to be available at the time of this writing at homeexchange.com. There were others as well. (You'll have to pay a small subscription fee.)
For cost-efficient transport, shell out the £27 to £71 ($44 to $115) you'll need for a week-long unlimited Oyster pass that covers the Tube (subway), bus and rail in Greater London. Individual rides get expensive in London's nutty zone system.
Takeaway is the way to go for inexpensive meals. Fish and chips and kebobs are easiest to eat on the go. Indian is ubiquitous and delicious but a bit messy for Royal-chasing on the big day. Get your low-cost eat-in curry fix in Brick Lane. (Don't tip at any restaurant unless the bill specifically says that the service charge is not included.) Cheaper yet is stuffing your backpack with nibbles and drink from convenience supermarkets such as Tesco, Sainsbury's, or Waitrose away from central London. Lines will be too long closer to the Abbey.
As for the ceremony itself, you'll have to assume your place among the peasantry along the 1 1/2 mile parade route between Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace. The carriage procession afterward will strut by with all the expected pomp and circumstance. Best news of all: It's free. A journalist pal in London tells me you'll have to camp out for the best spots. Otherwise, you might want to think about making one of those makeshift telescopes with milk cartons and mirrors to see over the masses. Try to get near Buckingham Palace to take in the iconic moment of the new princess blowing a kiss from the balcony.
WalletPop has you covered on the keepsake front, too. Sort of. Since you'll want to stay light on your feet and wallet, we would have suggested the traditional tea towels, or plate-drying wipes, emblazoned with the happy couple. But fuddy-duddy Buckingham Place has tried to ban them in the name of good taste. Anyway, why not take care of the souvenirs beforehand? You can buy thimbles with a picture of the royal couple on eBay right now for £2 ($3.24) apiece. If you simply must have tea towels, we'll wager that a few rogue vendors might be offering them away from the route. Then you'll be able to dry your dishes just like the prince and princess!
Enjoy the wedding. God Save the Queen. You Save the Money.
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