We chat to Cat Hughes, the mystery traveller behind TravelBite.co.uk's Secret London blog, to get the best travel tips direct from a local Londoner. Discover things you never knew about the UK capital - from obscure museums, to the tastiest cheap eats, and top tips for frugal backpackers...
Where’s your favourite spot to hang out in London?
My favourite hangout spot is in Clapham Junction. The area is full of great pubs, the Mess and Music Hall is my Favourite, they sell craft beer and cider. There are more restaurants than the Michelin man can eat in in a month and you can hang out at Battersea Park or Clapham Common.
The area is not that well known to tourists, it’s mainly locals who frequent the area. Just down the road from Clapham Junction station is Northcote Road, which on Saturday has a market and the street is full of independent stores and pretty cafés which do great brunch. In my humble opinion Tamra is the best and if it’s sunny have brunch in their sweet little back garden.
You’re grabbing a bite to eat, on a budget. Where do you go?
Street food is the best way to get food on a budget. The Truman Brewery in Brick Lane has the most choice and as the vendors are all vying for your money you can grab a bargain, plus you can eat it indoors!
There are other spots around the capital, Goodge Place has a few street food vendors and there are always random catering vans dotted around the City of London.
What’s your favourite night-time hangout?
My favourite night time hang out is Camden. There are plenty of places to choose from and many pubs have free gigs. I like the Worlds End pub, it might be a bit touristy but I’ve always had a good time there, if you want to see a couple of up and coming bands head to Dublin Castle, this was one of Amy Winehouse’s favourite bars and she has performed here too.
Tell us about an attraction we probably haven’t heard about before…
The Museum of the Order of St John, this is in Clarkenwell and is in a beautiful historic building. The Knights of St John came from Jerusalem and founded pilgrim hospitals in the area they then moved to Malta and many years later the order founded the St John’s ambulance service. The museum charts the history of the order and has a great collection of armour.
Another favourite attraction is St Dunstan’s- in-the-East, it’s a church that was bombed in the war but is now a peaceful garden, and best of all its free.
You have £20 and 24 hours in London… what will you do?
If it’s the summer and I was with a friend, I’d buy a good bottle of wine, some nibbles and go to Holland Park, sit in the gardens, listen to the summer time opera and people watch.
However, summers are fleeting, if I had £20 and 24 hours and it was too cold to sit in a park, I’d go to the Wallace Collection in the morning (free) grab some cheap street food, maybe catch a free lunch time classical concert in St Martin-in-the-Fields, in Trafalgar Square. Then either, walk along the South bank or cycle on a Boris bike (£1 for half an hour) through the City to East London and have a £2 farmhouse cider at Taylor and Mason, depending how much money I had left I’d haggle for a cheap curry on Brick Lane. (The best deal I ever managed to get was two courses and a glass of wine for £10)
Tell us your top money-saving tip…
If you have a smart phone, get Voucher Cloud, Qupe or Groupon. These vouchers will really save you money; you can get buy one get one free meals and cocktails, money off your food bill, theatre tickets, tours and clothes. If you don’t have a smart phone, but have access to the internet and a printer you can still access some of the vouchers.
What’s the best piece of advice you can give a backpacker travelling in London?
Walk around the city, it’s the best way to see it, not only is it free you’ll see all of London’s nook and crannies and it doesn’t matter if you get lost, you’ll see more and find the secret little places that you’ll brag to all your friends about. The best part of the capital to walk around is the City of London, when you just wonder around you pass parts that show you what London used to look like.
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