Groupon, groupoff: On becoming a travel discount master (mistress?)

We leave for London in a week! A week! Don't know whether to get really excited or to throw up about leaving my babies. It maybe kind of helps that little Loki has been a lot like this lately:

adorable but also dangerous and maybe slightly deranged

When I started dreaming about this trip, I signed up to receive notifications of London and Liverpool deals through Groupon.co.uk, Livingsocial, and Wowcher. And then my inbox exploded so full of offers for afternoon teas and Brazilian waxes that it was insane. Also alcohol. Sooooo very much of alcohol.

But it was worth it, because I have scored some really great deals for things. I did have to use some self-control, though. It would have been easy to buy a ton and then basically have our entire schedule dictated by needing to use up the Groupons we'd paid for. So I really only chose things that were actually on our list. I also spent a lot of time on Yelp and Tripadvisor to make sure that the restaurant/experience/whatever was worth choosing.

I installed the Ebates button into my browsers so it could remind me when I'm on a site where I can get cash back. (For example, 6% back at Livingsocial.) So that happened too. And here's what I've got so far!

Groupon for London Fish & Chips in Covent Garden (yes, it looks like a weirdo chain but actually has great reviews)

This wasn't actually on my list, because I didn't know about it. But it looks fun.
Groupon for the Liverpool Big Wheel

Groupon for an afternoon tea.

I've never done the tea thing, but decided that a civilized afternoon tea in London is a thing I probably should do in my life. Also it's pretty much my birthday. So there. I spent, no lie, at least a month researching afternoon teas and checking out every Groupon/Livingsocial/Wowcher/whatever that came my way. I agonized. Agonized, I tell you. My salvation finally came through Christin, a lovely blog reader living in London (lucky!) who was also looking into afternoon teas. She sent me a link for the Wellington Afternoon Tea at the Wellington Lounge in the InterContinental Park Lane Hotel and the heavens opened and I may have started sweating. 

You guys. This tea. Go read about it right now I am not even kidding. 

And while I enjoy my afternoon tea, I can think about the part where I am sitting exactly on the site of Queen Elizabeth's childhood home, where she lived with Colin Firth until they moved into Buckingham Palace. Which turned out to be a good thing, since the house was destroyed during the Blitz of London. So, um, I guess thanks for that, Wallis Simpson?

Colin Firth not shown.

Except yay, there he is!!
Seriously. If this thing turns out to be a disappointment, I may level the building a second time.

Picture: Tolga Akmen/REX
2 for 1 Tower of London entry. (Why thank you, 2for1 London.) The red ceramic poppies filling the moat are a special installation to commemorate the 100th anniversary of WWI. Each poppy represents a British military fatality, and there will eventually be almost 900,000 poppies covering the moat.

image source Porters Restaurant

2 for 1 dinner at Porter's English Restaurant in Covent Garden. I'm leaning toward the chicken, mushroom, and bacon pie myself.

image source Porters Restaurant

And a dessert. Because culture.

2 for 1 Thames sightseeing cruises

Discounted Beatles London Walking Tour (You'll never guess who needs to see every single Beatles site in London. But I found the tour and the discount because I am awesome.)

Discounted tickets to see Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense. But before we get too excited, is Matthew Macfadyen still playing Jeeves? Answer:

But that's ok. It will still be delightful.

And then there are the things I'm just going to have to suck it up and pay full price for:

Matilda the Musical

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime

The private taxi Beatles tour of Liverpool

Warner Brothers "Making of Harry Potter" Studio Tour

All the foods at Borough Market. (Pssst. Click on this link, but don't let the people around you hear the sounds you are about to make.)

And of course we are going to hit museums and the British Library and walk all over the place, but do any of you have some spots we should consider? Tell me now before I miss out and hate myself forever!


Cathy said... [reply]

I've actually been to the T of L and have seen the Crown Jewels. Very fun.

Cathy said... [reply]

Also have done 2, count em, 2 teas this week! In Florida! I guess it's all the rage.

Bridget said... [reply]

Sounds AMAZING. It looks like you already have good tours set up, but we did a Fat Tire bike tour in Berlin and it was one of the favorite parts of our whole trip. They do London, too. You probably already know all of this.

Again, your trip looks amazing. While I was up in the middle of the night with my own 11-month-old, I was reading the description of the afternoon tea and in the morning I thought it was some kind of wonderful dream. ENJOY!!!

Ashley Miller said... [reply]

Go early in the day to Borough Market before mountains of brownies are gone. They are delicious, as was the ostrich burger I had there. Tea at the Kensington Palace Orangery (near Hyde Park) was delightful, or if you've had your fill of tea but are in the area, Taza on Queensway has good and cheap schwarmas (sp?). Museums are free, but you have to pay to get into the churches, unless you go for a service. I highly recommend Evensong at St Pauls Cathedral. If you feel like paying to stay and walk around, the extra cash is totally worth it to go to the top of the Golden Gallery, especially on a clear day. The views are incredible. Also, super jealous. Have a great trip!

Liz Johnson said... [reply]

I promise I am not a stalker, but I am THISCLOSE to buying a ticket to London so that I can rock-paper-scissors GH out of your afternoon tea and go with you. Because ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!

Beth said... [reply]

Ooh, the Jack the Ripper walking tour from Ripping Yarns is AWESOME, because the guides are all Yeomen of the Guard at the Tower. We went the night before our trip to the Tower, and found our walking guide and got a picture of him in his uniform too. Super fun.


His name was Barney (he's the last one on the list.)

Nemesis said... [reply]

Cathy (Mom), you still need to send a picture of the Florida hats . . .

Bridget, I remember you saying you really liked the Fat Tire tours but I hadn't looked them up yet--will go do it!

Ashley Miller, I have seen photos of these brownie mountains. They look so majestic. And THANK YOU for the reminder about Evensong--I'd been thinking about that!

Liz Johnson, if you show up GH will totally be out on the curb. He's not even going to APPRECIATE it but who else could I take, you know??

Beth, off to check them out! I bet GH would love a Jack the Ripper tour too . . .

Lady Susan said... [reply]

This looks amazing and I am so envious! Have a great time. I expect a full report on your return!

goddessdivine said... [reply]

Score on the Tower of London tickets! I paid like 22 pounds (pounds! not dollars...) for just me when I was there a few months ago. But it was totally worth it. So much to take in there. And enjoy the tour from one of the Beefeaters. They are fantastic.

Here's a few other thoughts, but I'm sure you've either thought of them or done them before:

1. Visit Harrod's Food Court. They have food from all over the world and it can be fun to try a bit of this and that (since I know how much you like food).

2. Portabello Market in Notting Hill? Way fun and a cool cultural experience.

3. A show at the Globe Theater. the "groundling" seats are the cheapest, and if you get there early and rush to the front you are right at the edge of the stage. The actors are practically right on top of you. ;-0

4. If you have a chance for a day trip, Bath and York are fabulous.

Have a fantastic trip. Can't wait to see your pics and hear your adventures.

MBC said... [reply]

I second the recommendation to go to evensong either at St. Paul's or Westminster Abbey. It's one of my favorite things to do in London. There are also often free concerts at lunchtime at St. Martin-in-the-Fields. I've never been, but I went to one of their night concerts, and it was beautiful and wonderful.

Kelly said... [reply]

Fabulous! We're going to London with our choir next April and now I have Ideas. In addition to going to The British Museum, which I have never done.

(Speaking of Evensong, we'll be singing Evensong in both St. Paul's and Westminster Abbey. How amazing is that?!)

Kelly said... [reply]
This comment has been removed by the author.
Missy W. said... [reply]

this trip is going to be EPIC!

Natalie said... [reply]

I second:
St. Paul's Cathedral and Westminster Abbey. Totally worth it.
Notting Hill
Borough Market - yum!
Quick lunches on the go - Pret a Manger
Thornton's chocolate

You will love it. We spent three days in the country which was also totally incredible. You really can't go wrong. :)
Natalie (Amy's friend...aka You bought my Corolla that one time.) :) And a reader. :)

AmandaStretch said... [reply]

Everyone has made fantastic suggestions. Also, stroll through Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park. I got caught in the rain on my first last day in London there and it couldn't have been more perfect.

Also, the Beatles walking tour was fun, even if you're not a diehard fan.

Have a great time!

Mad Hadder said... [reply]

Madame Tussaud's and Camden! Do Not Miss CAMDEN!! Got that?

rachfishop said... [reply]

I'm probably far too late to be posting this but have just found your site!

I'm kind of a local (I live on the outskirts of London). Walk as much as possible. You can see a lot of the 'big' sites in a couple of hours (Big Ben, Whitehall, Leicester Square etc). The other area which is well worth a walk around is Whitechapel / Shoreditch / Spittalfields. This is a very fashionable area of London right now but 100 / 150 years ago it was one of the worst slums in the country. Jack the Ripper's territory. Go down Fournier Street and it's like going back in time. And the streetart round there is amazing.

BTW, When you're in Borough Market, pop into the big church that you can't miss just behind the market. It's Southwark cathedral, where Shakespeare went to church. There's an open excavation on view showing layers of the cathedral's history going back centuries.


Lippy said... [reply]

Hey there. I was browsing through my old computer and came up with all the links to my favorite Blogs. I noticed you hadn't written in quite a while. Are you blogging somewhere else, or perhaps on Facebook? I'd love to catch up!

I have a blog that I started when I was diagnosed with cancer:

Maybe see you there?

Jimmy aka Lippy

Lippy said... [reply]

Hey there. I was browsing through my old computer and came up with all the links to my favorite Blogs. I noticed you hadn't written in quite a while. Are you blogging somewhere else, or perhaps on Facebook? I'd love to catch up!

I have a blog that I started when I was diagnosed with cancer:

Maybe see you there?

Jimmy aka Lippy

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Lippy said... [reply]

This will probably seem crazy, but I revived an iPad that I haven't used in years. When I opened the browser, the first page that opened up was your blog! I reread so many entries and I remembered why I loved reading you. I see you're inactive here but if you have another blog somewhere, I'd love to see it. I got here via Kristen (The Water Cooler blog) She and I keep in touch via Facebook. If you'd ever like to connect there my link is Facebook.com/Jimmy.reilly No hard feelings if you'd rather not do that, but like I said, if you're blogging somewhere, I'd love to follow it. Take care and thanks for some good memories (and laughs) - Lippy
Aka Jimmy

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