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Some places have such a fearsomely expensive reputation it’s enough to put you off going if you’re not feeling particularly flush. But there are always ways and means for a dedicated bargain-hunter to save some cash – check out our suggestions for helping your money go further in four of the world’s most expensive cities: Copenhagen, Tokyo, Sydney and New York.
It’s not easy to find a cheap hotel room in Copenhagen but there aresome bargains to be had. The Wake Up chain, for example, has small but smart rooms at very competitive rates. In January, double rooms start from around £59 per night at its Carsten Niebuhrs Gade and Bernstorffsgade properties, or from around £70 at the very central Borgergade
With dinner from £280 a head, nomais never going to be a budget option but many alumni of the city’s most famous restaurant have gone on to open up their own places where you can eat well without a scary price tag. Among them are Hija de Sanchez in Vesterbro, turning out top tacos for around £5 a pop, and Bæst, in Nørrebro, serving excellent pizzas from around £12. In addition, several Michelin-starred restaurants have spin-off ventures, where the food’s still good but you pay a whole lot less. At two-Michelin-starred Kadeau the set menu will set you back around £230 but its cool new sibling, Roxie, in Hotel Herman K, offers an excellent tasting menu for a more affordable £64.
Still too much? Then check out the street food markets and food courts that have sprung up in recent years – at places like The Bridge Street Kitchenand Tivoli Food Hall you can fill up for less than a tenner.
Want a workout but staying in a hotel with no gym? No problem: instead of forking out for entry to a local gym, take advantage of all kinds of free fitness facilities dotted around town, from the climbing wall at Bananna Park in Nørrebro and trampolines in the pavement at Havnegade to the outdoor training machines at Amager Strandpark and the rooftop fitness area at Konditaget Lüders in Nordhavn.
Ueno and Asakusa are good areas to find budget accommodation. At Ueno Touganeya Hotel, for example, close to the JR station in Ueno, you can get double rooms from around £67 a night. Or check out Toyoko Inn, a budget business hotel chain with several properties around town, including the Tokyo Shinjuku Kabukicho with doubles from around £66.
Ideally, you’d get your sushi fix at high-end sushi bars, where everything is prepared to order, but you’ll save money if you head for a kaiten(conveyor belt restaurant) instead. Look out, too, for standing-only joints near stations, where you can fill up with a bowl of cheap noodles, and on weekdays join the office workers who pick up low-cost lunches from the food trucks outside the Tokyo International Forum.
Skip the £130+ taxi fare from the airport and take a train into the city centre instead. The JR Narita Expressto Tokyo Station takes 60 minutes and costs about £20 one-way or £27 for a N’EX Tokyo round ticket (valid for 14 days). A bit slower but even cheaper are the various shuttle buses, with one-way fares from around £6.
Your hotel might not have a pool but there are plenty that do and are prepared to let non-residents dive right in. You’ll have to pay, of course, but you can keep costs down by getting your timing right. Swimming at the Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyoon a weekend morning will cost you £47; go after 3pm on a weekday and it’s just £27.
Want a bird’s eye view of the city? Instead of forking out for Tokyo Toweror Tokyo Skytree, head to Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Shinjuku or Bunkyo Civic Center in Suidobashi, where you can soak up far-reaching vistas for free.
Before you leave home, join the YHA(£15-£20 a year for over-25s). It doesn’t matter if you’re 95 and your bunk-bedding days are long gone – flashing a YHA membership card in Sydney can bag you discounts on all sorts of stuff, including car rental, cinema tickets and cookery classes.
Climbing Sydney Harbour Bridgemay be an unforgettable experience but it’s certainly not cheap – you’ll pay just shy of £170 and aren’t allowed to carry a phone or camera with you. For a cheaper option, visit the Pylon Lookout in the south-east pylon instead. You still get a bit of a climb (200 stairs to the top) and you still get great views, but you pay just over £8, can take as many pix as you like, and there are three levels of exhibitions covering the history of the bridge.
Save money on transport by getting an Opal card. The card itself is free and you just load it up with money, from a minimum £5.60 to a maximum £67, then use it to travel by bus, train, light rail and ferry within Sydney and further afield. It works out cheaper than paying for individual journeys and there’s a maximum charge of £8.80 a day or £1.50 on Sundays, no matter how many trips you take. Bargain.
Backpacker-friendly Sydney is full of hostels, many of which have private rooms as well as dorm beds. At the lively Wake Up! Sydney, close to Central Station, for example, a simple ensuite double can be yours for around £86 a night. If you’d prefer to upgrade to a hotel, good options include the recently refurbished Vibe Hotel Rushcutters with elegant interiors, a rooftop pool and doubles from around £82 a night.
You could pay £20 a head for a walking tour with a professional guide – or save money by getting in touch with Big Apple Greeter. Founded in 1992, it’s a programme that matches up visitors with one of 300+ volunteers, who’ll happily show you round their neighbourhood for free.
If you’re sightseeing around Lower Manhattan, look out for the red Downtown Connection buses. They loop between the South Street Seaport and Battery Park City, run frequently throughout the day and are completely free to use. Also free is the Staten Island Ferry, which gives great views of the Statue of Liberty en route to and from Manhattan – and spares you the cost of a Circle Line cruise.
If you’d rather take to the water under your own steam, check out the Downtown Boathouseat Pier 26. From May to October volunteers at this non-profit organisation offer free kayaking sessions at weekends (and on weekday evenings in peak season).
Many museums have certain days or times when you can get in for free. At the Museum of Modern Art(MoMA), for example, the usual entrance fee of £20 is waived on Friday evenings from 4pm to 8pm, while the 9/11 Memorial Museum (usually around £18) is free after 5pm on Tuesdays; they hand out the tickets from 4pm and it’s first come, first served.
A good option for budget accommodation is Pod Hotels, a mini chain of four properties. Sure, the rooms are small but they’re contemporary, well-designed and very reasonably priced; book now and you could bag a double bunk room at the Times Square Podfor £75 a night in January or at Pod 39 in Murray Hill for just £60.