Stylish sur­round­ings worth ev­ery penny...

ROB IRVINE works out the best ways to save on travel so that you can en­joy a taste of lux­ury in Lon­don

Macclesfield Express - - TRAVEL -

THE trick with Lon­don is to spend as lit­tle as pos­si­ble on the jour­ney so that you can splash out a bit more on ac­com­mo­da­tion.

An open re­turn in stan­dard class from Manch­ester Pic­cadilly to Lon­don is now an eye-wa­ter­ing £321. But book ahead for a Fri­day af­ter­noon trip, re­turn­ing home the fol­low­ing evening, and the price plum­mets to £54.50.

Travel with a loved one and you can bring this down to £36 per head if you in­vest in the new Two To­gether rail­card.

On ar­rival make your way by bus – more on this later – down to The­atre­land and en­velop your­selves in the de­lights of the sump­tu­ous Wal­dorf Hil­ton ho­tel.

This, as they say, is a bit posh. It dates back to 1908 and re­tains all its Ed­war­dian grandeur while in­cor­po­rat­ing the com­forts of to­day.

Our re­cently re­fur­bished room re­ferred to another era, the art deco style of the 20s, com­plete with black and white pho­tos from the first golden age of Hol­ly­wood.

The ho­tel is in Ald­wych and if your aim is to take in a show then this is the per­fect base with Drury Lane and Shaftes­bury Av­enue close by.

But the theme for our trip was fine art and fine beer.

Take a short stroll down to the bank of the Thames then along to the Mil­len­nium Bridge and over to Tate Mod­ern where the mag­nif­i­cent Matisse – The Cut-Outs is run­ning un­til Septem­ber 7.

This is a fan­tas­tic in­sight into his del­i­cate later works when Matisse, too ill to paint, found a way to cre­ate stun­ning works of art with coloured pa­per and scis­sors.

Later this year Tate Bri­tain, also not too far away, is show­cas­ing the later works of Turner.

And Tate has just an­nounced its ex­hi­bi­tions in Lon­don for 2015 with ret­ro­spec­tives of the works of Alexan­der Calder and Barbara Hepworth mak­ing the head­lines.

Another way to save a few quid if you are a reg­u­lar vis­i­tor to ex­hi­bi­tions is to ac­quire the Art Fund card. This gets you a size­able dis­count on en­try to the Tate’s ex­hi­bi­tions.

And it will also give you free en­try to the Cour­tauld gallery which is two min­utes’ walk from the Wal­dorf and con­sid­er­ably less crowded than the Tate. Manet’s A Bar at the Folies-Bergère is the star of their per­ma­nent col­lec­tion.

As for fine beer, I am a re­cent con­vert to the world of craft beer which ap­pears to be a bit like real ale but with bub­bles as the beer comes in kegs.

Brew­ers in the United States, no doubt sick of taste­less Bud, have led the way but there are also some su­perb craft brew­ers back home.

And that ex­plains why trendy young things in Hol­born are knock­ing back pints of Magic Rock from Hud­der­s­field. We headed up Drury Lane then along High Hol­born to join them at the Hol­born Whip­pet.

Like most bars in Lon­don on a Fri­day night the place was heav­ing with what seemed an im­pen­e­tra­ble crowd squeezed into a small roped area out­side.

But Lon­don­ers have learned how to cope with the crush and even when it ap­pears to be six deep at the bar the drinks are never long in com­ing.

There was a sim­i­lar throng out­side the Craft Beer Com­pany in Covent Gar­den which of­fered a huge range of draught beers.

So in a merry mood we re­turned to the more re­fined but far from aus­tere sur­round­ings of the Wal­dorf bar and did the cor­rect thing by switch­ing to cock­tails.

The list abounds with clas­sics such as Old Fash­ioned and Sazerac. Then we headed for an ex­cel­lent din­ner in the ho­tel’s Homage Grand Sa­lon res­tau­rant.

So what didn’t we have time to do?

Well there was no squeez­ing in af­ter­noon tea.

And de­spite pack­ing our kit we never made it to the pool and fit­ness club which ho­tel guests have ac­cess to.

It would have been great to try one of the Wal­dorf’s fa­mous pic­nic ham­pers. St James’ Park, Vic­to­ria Em­bank­ment and Tem­ple Gar­dens are close by for al fresco dining.

But all too soon it was time to leave. We thanked the concierge for of­fer­ing to get us a cab and headed to the bus stop for a cheap trip back to Eus­ton.

So my part­ing money sav­ing tip is to in­vest in an Oys­ter card at any un­der­ground sta­tion but go nowhere near the over­crowded Tube and make your way round Lon­don on the top deck of a red Lon­don bus. Just £1.45 a ride – what a bar­gain! ROB stayed as a guest of the Wal­dorf Hil­ton in Ald­wych, Lon­don WC2B 4DD. Room rates are from £239. For more in­for­ma­tion or to make a book­ing call 0207 836 2400 or visit wal­dorf.hil­ton.com

●● The Wal­dorf Hil­ton in Lon­don dates back to 1908 and is the per­fect base to explore the cap­i­tal’s The­atre­land

●● The ho­tel’s Homage Grand Sa­lon restau­rants

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