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Luxury Travel for Less in New York and London

September 14, 2010

LONDON AND NEW YORK, USA — As the two cultural nerve centers of the English-speaking world, London and New York are like two peas in a pod. The two cities may not talk the same talk–New Yorkers say tomáto, Londoners say tomahto–but we’d say they walk the same walk. Superb theater, to-die-for restaurants, stylish hotels, world-class museums: both share all the trappings of hip, modern urbanity.

Of course, all this cultural richness comes at a price–both cities are notoriously expensive places to bed down for a stretch. But if you know a few secrets and plan a little in advance, you can experience the crème de la crème of London and New York without spending too much of your own cream. Here are The Purple Passport’s hottest tips for luxury travel for less:

Hotels
For hip hotels at reasonable rates, our money’s on The Hoxton in London and The Jane in NYC. But don’t overlook pricier options without doing a little research first. Many luxury hotspots offer seasonal specials, and posh properties in financial districts can make for great deals on the weekends.

Meals
If breakfast isn’t included in your hotel rate, NEVER eat it at the hotel. There is almost always something better and cheaper right down the street–plus, you get to wake yourself up with a bit of morning air and the bustle of the city coming to life. To sample some of the most exclusive (translation: expensive) restaurants, opt for prix fixe menus at lunch, as offered at New York’s Jean Georges and Gotham Bar & Grill, and London’s The Square and Bocca di Lupo.

Transport
Renting a bike at one of the cities’ many kiosks can be a cheap and convenient way to get around these dense urban centers (not to mention an ideal way to burn off that morning scone). For journeys farther afield, invest in subway transport packages–the London Tube’s Oyster Card or NYC’s unlimited Metro cards.

Entertainment
In London, most museums are free, but in NYC, it pays to look out for freebie days or discounts, like Target Free Fridays at MoMA, Friday nights at the Whitney, or Saturday nights at the Guggenheim. Give your regards to Broadway and the West End by scoring day-of discount tickets to shows, either at theater box offices or at New York’s TKTS or London’s Leicester Square booths. Summer travel brings the bonus of free outdoor concerts like NYC’s River-to-River series and the NY Philharmonic/Met Opera in Central Park, while London offers free concerts year round at the National Portrait Gallery and other famed sites. Check local pubs like Time Out New York and VisitLondon.com for events during your stay.

Rachel Levin contributed to this post, which was also featured on cheap Oair’s blog.

Check out our full-form mobile travel guides, The Purple Passport to London and The Purple Passport to New York City, to read more about our top picks for these cities!

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