London Hacks: Londonist Readers Give Us Their Savviest Tips

By Londonist Last edited 10 months ago

Last Updated 17 July 2023

London Hacks: Londonist Readers Give Us Their Savviest Tips

London's a formidable metropolis, and navigating it can be made far more comfortable with a few hacks up your sleeve. We asked Londonist readers for theirs, and you really came up with the goods. Here's our pick of the bunch:

Toilet hacks

A view looking down the timbered mezzanine levels of Liberty
Liberty: come for the toilets, stay for the stunning beamage. Image: Joanne Wan via creative commons

"I often use the museums' toilets because they are frequently cleaned."

"If you need the loo, walk into any posh hotel like you mean it, and use theirs. So much better than any alternatives."

"Confidently saunter in to the nicest nearby hotel to use the toilets, swankier the better, never questions asked and always better than other public or pub toilets."

"The Royal Festival Hall — can use their WC — same with the BFI as well."

"Toilets in the Barbican Centre! And the wonderful library there. Lots of up to date papers and magazines to read in comfy chairs and the staff are so helpful."

"Selfridges and Liberty have the best toilets if you’re stuck in that area."

"Best toilets in central London? National Theatre."

"Best public toilets can be found in casinos."

Transport hacks

A New Routemaster passing a building with reflective surfaces
Hopping on the number 24 is a darn sight thriftier than doing a sightseeing bus. Image: It's No Game via creative commons

"Bus line 24! All the best places to sightsee."

"Get the bus 9 and 11 for all the tourist places, better than an open top bus."

"Get the number 11 bus if you want a sightseeing tour rather than wasting money on the official tour buses."

"Never follow the signs to the Victoria/Piccadilly line at King's Cross. Follow signs to Hammersmith and City till you get to the old ticket hall then go from there. Avoid the never ending tunnel of doom."

"Changing lines at Green Park tube. Come up to station level, then go back down, using the escalators. It saves walking what seems like miles."

"Knowing which part of the tube to board based on Citymapper suggestions! saves a tinyyy bit of time commuting."

"Uber boat from/to Canary Wharf - Battersea power station. Almost one hour tour for less than £10. On a sunny day — amazing!"

"Take a narrow boat from Camden Lock to Little Venice. Cheap as and passes through London Zoo, highly recommended for everyone." (We're on board with this one)

Money saving hacks

People singing in the choir at Westminster Abbey
See Westminster Abbey for free during Evensong. Image: Catholic Church England and Wales via creative commons

"Visiting exhibitions at Sotheby's and Christie’s auction houses — there's no charge, great art, and they are seldom crowded."

"Westminster Abbey at Evensong." (You can do this at St Paul's too)

"TKTS Booth in Leicester Square for reduced on the day theatre ticket!"

Drink hacks

Close up of an Egyptian themed bench
Who needs a pub garden when you've got an Embankment bench. Image: Stéphane Goldstein via creative commons

"Take a reusable cup and a keyring bottle opener. That way you can buy a bottle of wine, cider or beer from a supermarket and sit on one of the benches on the Embankment and enjoy a cheap drink and an amazing view!!!!"

"Instead of working in a cafe or co-working space, go to a fancy hotel bar and order a cocktail. Many will keep you in snacks and wi-fi for the afternoon in a much nicer environment and with better loos."

"Waitrose Wine Bar in King's Cross AND they do live jazz on a Thursday. PLUS if the weather is nice it has a lovely outdoor space to sit in."

"Refilling (free) drinking water at Pret."

"Lower floor of One New Change shopping centre near St Paul's Cathedral — free toilets and water fill station both still and sparkling water available."

"Use Refill app - gives details of free water stations in London"

Sightseeing hacks

People standing over the Meridian Line
No need to pay to straddle the Meridian Line. Image: Londonist

"Best picture of Big Ben is through palms and roses in St Thomas' Hospital garden."

"The Sky Garden is free to go up (booking required) and provides the same if not better view of London versus paying for The Shard!" (We know another stunning free rooftop for great central views too)

"Royal Festival Hall has a great balcony to have a drink on, people watch, and take a breather from crowds on the South Bank, even if you're not watching a show."

"If visiting as a family, buy a Family 2 Adult Membership from Royal Palaces for £110. With it, you can visit Hampton Court, Tower of London, Kensington Palace, and Banqueting Hall for free (two adults and six children)."

"You don't have to pay to stand on the Meridian Line at Greenwich Observatory, there's a gate you can walk through for free" (Or visit one of London's other points on the Meridian Line)

Other hacks

A tea tray in front of a great view of St Paul's and the Millennium Bridge
Consider signing up to the Tate's Members Bar for super special views. Image: Londonist

"If you work in the City you can join City of London libraries and access Barbican and Shoe Lane libraries. This is fairly niche but I read a lot and I love having a little walk to them both from the office."

"Hang out at the British Library. Cool in summer plus free wi-fi and toilets. Good place to wait if getting the train."

"If you're going to be in London for a few weeks it is worth it to become a member at an art museum. They have private member cafes. The Tate Modern Members Bar has a lovely view of St Paul's and nice lunch."

"Waitrose does the best ginger fudge you'll ever taste. Don't use those strange American sweet shops."

"Don’t discourage your daughter when she says, at age five, that she's going to live in London someday. Then visit her often as she'll know all the best deals and places to go."

"Wearing my deerstalker cap when I land at Heathrow, so people think I am a local."