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Originally published on Tuesday, 13th November 2012

Cheap 'n' Chic


Mo' money, mo' problems

If you’re tightening the purse strings before Christmas but don’t want to compromise on the high life, we think we might be onto something. We generally shiver at the word ‘budget’ and flinch at the word ‘bargain’, but it seems London’s top tier establishments are getting involved in a little B word action themselves. Read on to find out how to do cheap chic, whether it’s dining out, theatre, art or travel. 

The set lunch phenomenon is nothing new – think Hakkasan’s weekend menu and Sunday lunch at The Ivy – but a crop of London’s best restaurants have jumped onto the “meal deal” bandwagon quicker than you can say menú del día. From this month, Nobu London will offer a pre-theatre bento box with all their best bits for £65 – sea bass, black cod, beef toban and a sushi selection – while [Bocca di Lupo’s weekend offerings include intricate one-dish meals. For Sunday lunch, it has to be Boundary where you can have rock oysters followed by a roast with all the trimmings for less than £25. Or, go for the epitome of cheap ‘n’ chic: caviar and chips for £40 at Boisdale.

For a bit of art with your food, head to Sketch for a 3-course lunch in the Library and Lecture Room. It includes entry into the current Bronze exhibition, a celebration of – you got it – bronze masters from the past 5000 years. Not feeling hungry, but missed out on this year’s Affordable Art Fair? New Blood Art is always a good bet for purchasing original pieces at reasonable prices. Or simply get involved in the Art Fund’s National Art Pass, which gives access to over 200 museums and galleries, and 50% off major exhibitions (for an inoffensive £37.50).

Theatre aficionados need to look sharp. The Royal Court offers reduced tickets on Mondays, and now the notoriously booked-out Donmar Warehouse is following suit: at 10am every Monday, they will release tickets for the front row of the stalls and circle for just £10 (for performances two weeks later). Easy.

On the travel front, there’s Kex in Reykjavik – part-Soho House, part-Bauhaus in style – for a chic hostel option, The Pod Hotel in central New York for podtastic, hi-tech hotelling, or the homegrown, recently opened boutiques La Suite West (the creation of famed designer Anouska Hempel) and Portobello House for some West London fun without the price tag.


Nobu London, pre-theatre Omakase Bento Box, available from 6-6.45pm, 1st Floor, The Metropolitan Hotel, 19 Old Park Lane, W1K 1LB, £65

Sketch and Bronze exhibition lunch offer, until December 9, 9 Conduit Street, W1S 2XG, £49

Barclays Front Row Tickets at the Donmar Warehouse, Mondays at 10am, 41 Earlham Street, Seven Dials, WC2H 9LX, UK, £10

La Suite West, 41 - 51 Inverness Terrace, W2 3JN, doubles from £135 per night

Portobello House, 225 Ladbroke Grove, Notting Hill, W10 6HQ, doubles from £110

by JC


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