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Pinching pennies and pounds in London

YOUTH BEAT

March 23, 2003|Lucy Izon | Special to The Times

BUDGET travelers going to London this summer will find a new centrally located, inexpensive lodging and other ways to cut costs in one of the world's most expensive cities.

The former staff annex of the Regent Palace Hotel on Sherwood Street (a one-minute walk from Piccadilly Circus) has been turned into the nonsmoking, 608-bed Piccadilly Hotel (011-44-207-942-0555, fax 011-44-207-942-0565, www.piccadillyhotel.net). It offers budget travelers beds in dormitory rooms for less than $24, including continental breakfast. Beds in a room shared by six cost $23.57 each; four, $28 each; two, $36 each; and singles are $53. Rooms don't have attached bathrooms, but the hotel provides linens, a common room with television and, for $3.25 an hour, Internet services. It is within walking distance of the Soho district, theaters and restaurants.

This summer six London hostels affiliated with Hostelling International (HI) will continue to offer two budget-priced sightseeing and accommodation packages.

The City Sights Explorer Package combines a bed in shared rooms with a full English breakfast and admission to the London Dungeon, the London Eye, a pass for Original Tour London Sightseeing with a Thames River cruise, and a pass for the Underground valid during your package. The two-night package is $137, three nights are $194 and six nights are $323.

The History Explorer Package combines shared accommodation and full breakfast with a ticket to Madame Tussaud's waxworks, the London Planetarium, the London Dungeon, an Original London Sightseeing Tour and an Underground pass valid during your package. For two nights, the package costs $145; three nights, $202; and six nights, $330.

For details see www.yha.org.uk under "special offers." You can book through the YHA reservation service, 011-44-162-959-2708, or e-mail a participating hostel.

Three London HI hostels -- Rotherhithe, City of London and Oxford Street -- offer free volunteer-led walking tours two or three times each week. Get details on the hostels' activity boards.

The London Tourist Board has tips for stretching your budget on its Web site, www.visitlondon.com, under "Young London." The section has links for budget accommodations and restaurants, free events, attractions and music, discounted theater tickets and designer discount stores. For those who need inexpensive lodgings but don't want to stay in a hostel, the tourist board suggests the student residence at City University on Graham Street, where single rooms cost $64.

The London Tourist Board site also has information on backpacker hotels, such as the St. Christopher's Inns (011-44-207-407-1856, fax 011-44-207-403-7715, www.st-christophers.co.uk), which are like hostels but don't have a membership fee. There are five St. Christopher's Inns in London, offering beds from $19.

Another valuable source for budget-stretching tips, www.londonfreelist.com, is an independent site that is struggling to survive. It has 1,500 entries of activities and sights in London that are free or cost less than $5.

Lucy Izon is a Toronto-based freelance writer and author of "Izon's Backpacker Journal." Her Internet site is www.izon.com.

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