By Anton Constantinou
With more than 30 universities and higher education colleges to its name, it’s no surprise that many chose to study in London. People come from all over to gain an education here, and relish in the culture that the city has to offer.
Being a multicultural capital, London is popular with international students, who arrive by the thousands to make this place their home. When they’re not buried under coursework, they’re out eating, drinking and exploring the city – on a budget, of course.
Yes, they may live under piles of laundry and go to bed at ridiculous hours of the day, but they’re also very proactive in discovering what’s around them.
Here is our international student guide to London:
Eat Out for under £20
As expensive as London’s dining scene may be, there are plenty of places to fetch a cheap meal, from street kitchens to well-known high street chains:
Address: 20 Sherwood St, Soho, London, W1F 7ED
Nearest train station: Piccadilly Circus
Located in the heart of Soho, this French Art Deco restaurant does an excellent Prix Fixe menu of two courses for £9.95 or three courses for £13.25. You’ll be hard pushed to find another brasserie nearby with better deals.
Address: 23 Garrick Street, London, WC2E 9BN
Nearest train station: Covent Garden
Who doesn’t love a good pizza? A simple Marinara at Pizza Pilgrims will only set you back £5.50, with other pizzas on the menu equally well priced. The restaurant has total of six branches in London and offers a speedy Deliveroo service.
Address: 40 Doric Way, Kings Cross, London, NW1 1LH
Nearest train station: Euston
You don’t have to break the bank to enjoy nice Malaysian food in London. A typical flatbread at Roti King is filling, nutritious and will set you back no more than a fiver. For an extra £3, you can follow up with a Sweet Canai for desert.
Herman ze German
Address: 19 Villiers St, London, WC2N 6ND
Nearest train station: Embankment
Fill that hole in your stomach with a hot dog from Herman ze German. A regular bratwurst in a roll with fries costs £7.95 and will keep you going for hours. Why not add sauerkraut or gherkins for an extra 50p?
Address: 52 Poland Street, Soho, London, W1F 7NQ
Nearest train station: Oxford Circus
Comptoir Libanais is a great shout for anyone who loves Lebanese food. The typical approach here is to share dishes, and, for that reason you can make some excellent savings. A hearty mezze platter for two is £16.95 and includes falafel, grilled halloumi, hummus and baba ganoush. What more could you ask for?
Indian Veg Bhelpuri
Address: 92-93 Chapel Market, London, N1 9EX
Nearest train station: Angel
Indian Veg Bhelpuri is more than just a curry house. It’s a great value all you can eat buffet serving tasty, hearty stodge for less than a tenner a person. Don’t be fooled by the simple café setting. This veggie eatery has a character of its own, with educational newsprint on the walls. It’s also a BYOB, meaning you can bring along your own alcohol.
Open Kitchen – Hoxton
Open Kitchen is a training restaurant in Hoxton run by hospitality students. The food may be cheap, but the quality certainly isn’t. All meals are beautifully crafted, using fresh, quality ingredients. A starter and main will only set you back £12. The restaurant is only open during term time, so check before you book.
Address: 40 Hoxton St, London, N1 6LR
Nearest train station: Hoxton
Address: 159 Brick Lane, London, E1 6SB
Nearest train station: Shoreditch High Street
A wicked student haunt, open 24 hours a day and serving the best bagels in London. Beigel Bake has been around since 1974, and remains relatively unchanged in terms of its shop design. Pop along for a bargain in a bun.
Shop For less
Students love a discount, especially when it comes to clothes shopping. But you don’t have to stay off the high street to hunt down affordably priced garments.
Go Second Hand
London is brimming with great charity shops, selling everything from designer labels to accessories. Some of the best include FARA, Traid, Octavia Foundation, Mary’s Living and Royal Trinity Hospice. Many lie in leafy areas like Richmond and Highgate, but you’ll also run into them in Shepherd’s Bush and on Holloway Road.
Vintage stores are just as brilliant for second hand gems. Two of our personal favourites, One Of A Kind and Retro Woman, sit side-by-side in Notting hill, and offer quality clothing for amazing prices.
Just a short walk away from them is the world-renowned Portobello Road Market, with its various fashion stalls. Many of the clothes sold come from top designers and can be fetched for peanuts.
Alternatively, you can visit Spitalfields Saturday Style Market in Horner Square, popular for its ethically made goods and live music. Head there between the hours of 11am and 5pm.
Go For Tea or Coffee in a Study Space
If there’s one thing students in London know a thing or two about, it’s cosy cafes. These homely hovels make perfect study spots, and provide a great alternative to a busy library.
For the ordinary visitors among us, they’re a nice place to enjoy an afternoon cup of tea of coffee:
Bea’s of Bloomsbury
Address: 83 Watling Street, London, EC4M 9BX
Nearest train station: St. Paul’s
Worth a visit for its duffins (doughnuts + muffin) alone. Part of a chain of cafes, Bea’s has yummy cupcakes and JING Tea. The Watling Street cafe is ideally located right opposite St. Paul’s Cathedral and offers cushioned booths and free Wi-Fi.
Address: 183 Euston Rd, Kings Cross, London, NW1 2BE
Nearest train station: Euston Square
A quirky museum with a lovely café, library and reading room. The library is roomy and well-lit, while the reading room boasts paintings, sculptures, sofas and books. The café itself does salads, as well hot specials and loose teas. What better place to take the edge off your visit to London.
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Address: 107 Charing Cross Rd, Soho, London, WC2H 0EB
Nearest train station: Leicester Square
The Charing Cross Road branch of this world-famous bookshop has a lovely café on the fifth floor with hot desking facilities, free Wi-Fi and tasty pastries. Foyles Cafe overlooks Soho and has a relaxed atmosphere that leaves you feeling inspired.
Bloomsbury Coffee House
Address: 20 Tavistock Place, Kings Cross, London, WC1H 9RE
Nearest train station: Russell Square
Now to a basement café in Tavistock Place. A staple amongst UCL students, Bloomsbury Coffee House has plenty of plug sockets, free Wi-Fi and tremendously good coffee. The food there is also delicious.
Paperchase – Tinder Box Espresso Bar
Address: 213-215 Tottenham Court Road, Fitzrovia, London, W1T 7PN
Nearest train station: Goodge Street
A stationary store that doubles as a coffee shop. The Tinder Box Espresso Bar on Tottenham Court Road is cool, quirky and does some of the best milkshakes and iced coffees in London. You can go there to work, or simply watch the world go by from its floor-to-ceiling windows.
Party Like An International Student
Address: The London Pavillion, 1 Piccadilly Circus, London, W1J 0DA
Nearest train station: Piccadilly Circus
Easy to get to and busy most nights of the week, The Piccadilly Institute is a main stay for students in central London. It offers awesome happy hour deals, glitzy décor, and various themed rooms for you to hang out in.
Address: 21-25 St John’s Hill, London, SW11 1TT
Nearest train station: Clapham Junction
It might be loud and cheesy inside, but that’s what makes Clapham Grand such fun. The former Victorian music hall hosts weekly club nights, live music and comedy. Being a large venue, it can easily accommodate big groups, which makes it popular with young people. Students love for it cheap drinks and chart music.
Address: 29 St Martin’s Lane, London, WC2N 4ER
Nearest train station: Charing Cross
A conveniently located pub in central London, just off Leicester square. Chandos is the place to go for cheap pints, great banter and comfy sofas. No surprises then that you’ll regularly find students there.
Address: 3-5 Rathbone Place, Fitzrovia, London, W1T 1HJ
Nearest train station: Tottenham Court Road
The Roxy is a popular hang-out spot in Fitzrovia, known for its cool parties and affordably priced cocktails. This no frills basement bar is open six nights a week, with happy hour deals running Monday to Friday, 5:30pm to 8:30pm, and on Saturday between the hours of 6:30pm and 10:30pm.
Address: 1A Camden High St, Kings Cross, London, NW1 7JE
Nearest train station: Mornington Crescent
A must-visit concert venue, home to some of the best gigs in London. Everyone from Prince to the Rolling Stones has played here, and new acts are appearing on its lineup all the time. KOKO can accommodate an impressive 1,500 people and remains at the forefront of contemporary music.
White Post Café
Address: Schwartz Wharf (Building 4), 92 White Post Lane, London, E9 5EN
Nearest train station: Hackney Wick
Forget Shoreditch – Hackney Wick is the place to be these days. Nestled between its industrial buildings and graffiti clad walls is the uber trendy White Post Café, which has a bohemian, hipster vibe about it. Think cheap drinks, awesome DJs and cultured screenings – all the stuff which students go for in an artsy drinking den, essentially.
If you like the above, then you’ll love some of these other student nights in London.
Download the Right Apps
Check out our Best iPhone and Android Apps article for London article for tips on how to master the city like a true scholar. Top downloads include Tube Map, Dice and Street Art London.
Don’t Just Stick to Trains
If getting around London by train is a bit of nightmare, you can always do as students do and cycle, walk or bus it. Click here for some great alternatives to the Tube.