Sitting slap bang in the heart of the West End, Leicester Square is a major tourist trap and the last place you’d expect to find a bargain on your holiday break or evening out. But fear not, you can find value for money here if you know where to look.
Most of the entertainment in the area is based around the many cinemas, but they can be pricey for what you get. To save a few quid you can attend at off –peak times, team up with a friend for Orange Wednesdays, try a lastminute.com Vue standby ticket, or watch a cult classic at the Prince Charles.
Leicester Square is famous for discount theatre tickets too but if you’re visiting for the first time, be warned. Some of the ticket booths in the area are overpriced and dodgy. The only official outlet is the TKTS booth that looks like a small hut backing onto the grass in the Square, selling on-the-day tickets. Turn up early to get the pick of their options for that afternoon or evening, or try a reputable ticket sales website such as lastminute.com for different deals and a wider range of available dates.
If you’re peckish or thirsty be very careful as nearly everything nearby is poor quality and seriously overpriced. Try the branch of Wagamama downstairs at 14A Irving Street for a westernised take on Japanese fast food in bustling surroundings, or head one or two streets in any direction for a good deal. Walk North for dim sum or set price meals in Chinatown, or keep walking for tea and cake in Soho.
Gaby’s Deli at 30 Charing Cross Road looks scruffy from the outside and isn’t great for anything complicated, but is reliable if you want coffee and pastries or falafel and salads and is cheapest if you opt to take away rather than sit in. If you’d prefer something more refined then remember that you’re only a stone’s throw from a variety of fabulous West End bistros and restaurants.
Should you fancy a stronger tipple on the Square itself, avoid the barn-like, characterless chain pubs and the overstuffed hotel bars, and head instead for the petite and relaxed Cork and Bottle in the basement of 46 Cranbourn Street. There’s a varied wine list with a relatively small price mark-up considering you’re in the heart of Central London, and it’s a pleasant place to round off your evening.