23 needlessly expensive things to do in London

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“A fool and his money are soon parted” goes the old saying and perhaps they should put this up on signs as you arrive into London. Yes, we’ve covered some fantastic and practically free things you can do in London, but it’s time we showed the other side of the coin.

In much the same way that people only read Fifty Shades of Grey so that they can say they’ve done it, people who are either extremely wealthy or terrible with money will waste oodles of cash on sheer nonsense. They derive no real pleasure from these things other than a vague sense of ego massage, merely wanting to have a good story at their next lads night out at their local all-you-can-eat Pizza Hut. Penniless commoners, you may read this article, but you’ll still just have to make do with Instagramming your Starbucks coffee through a sepia filter before posting it up with the hashtags #lovinglife and #perfectday, sighing morosely after you hit send.

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Drink a cocktail

The Playboy Club’s bar is hosted by master mixologist Salvatore Calabrese, a man seemingly obsessed with creating cocktails out of the oldest spirits he can get his hands on. Much of the regular bar menu has eye-popping prices as well as special events where the cocktails are even older and more expensive. Calabrese set a world record with Salvatore’s Legacy, a cocktail that uses spirits from the 18th century and costs around £5,500. Patrons had better hope they’re drunk after one glass because their wallet’s likely to be empty pretty quickly. Movida in Mayfair is also known for making ludicrously expensive cocktails, but only because they seem to think putting a diamond ring into a drink is a reasonable substitute for an olive.

Eat soup

Kai Mayfair, a Chinese restaurant in, funnily enough, Mayfair, had a variant of Buddha Jumps Over the Wall soup, which at £108 was considered one of the most expensive in the world. The name may sound very jolly, but it’s made with shark’s fin, a notoriously controversial ingredient due to how it’s harvested. If you ordered it, people not only thought you were a berk with too much money, but they also thought you couldn’t care less about the environment. These days, Kai Mayfair has an abalone soup that costs a measly £55, which suddenly sounds like a bargain in comparison, especially since abalones are expected to become extinct in the next century or so.

Eat cake

Some of the cheapest kitchen ingredients are wheat, flour and eggs, and yet the creation of cakes is treated as an artisanal affair. If you’re lactose intolerant, a celiac or can’t help visualising that eggs are just unfertilised chicken ova, then no price tag will make cakes seem appealing, of course. There are a myriad of luxury cake masters in London, but most amusing is how fancy restaurants charge you for bringing your own birthday cake – the most expensive is £9 per person at the Savoy.

Have a coffee

Originally from Indonesia, wild kopi luwak coffee is prized as the world’s most delicious and expensive coffee. But in that country, at least it’s affordable. In London, the huge importation costs whacked on top means you really do feel like you’re paying for a load of s***. Sure, they say they need to make sure it’s properly gathered without animal cruelty, but why must they transfer the cruelty into their prices instead?

Get a haircut

Two of the world’s most expensive hairdressers, Stuart Phillips & Lee Stafford, have their salons based in London. Perhaps we should call them experiential barnet transformers – if we make the title grander, it may justify the rather jaw-dropping prices that leap into five figures. To be fair, these special cuts do include a tonne of luxurious extras. But still, you could just sit in front of a mirror at home, put a bowl on your head and cut round the sides – voila, you are now a hairstylist.

Eat steak

Kobe beef is controversial with some diners. This is not because of how the cattle are kept in space-restrictive pens and fed beer, but because you can’t always tell if what you’re eating is really Kobe beef. Only around 3,000 cattle at any one time are truly Kobe and they’re all produced in the Hyogo prefecture of Japan. M Restaurant assures clientele that their steaks are the real deal, and they have the price tag to prove it – at £150, they’re the most expensive steaks in the UK, possibly Europe, and let’s just assume the world purely for fun.

Go to the gym

The hamster wheel experience of attending a gym is somehow given a sense of the grandiose when you’re paying around £149 per month for membership with Third Space. In all fairness, their facilities include hypoxic chambers which recreate high altitude mountain conditions, ideal if you’re a mountaineer who doesn’t like going up mountains. Membership works out to nearly £5 per day, so if you go every single day, you’re quids in, but almost certainly extremely lonely and you should probably do something else with your time. Have you tried alcohol?

Drink champagne

The Park Lane club One For One sells nebuchadnezzars of champagne for £8,000 each. Seeing as the bottle contains 15 litres of the stuff, that actually only works out to what would be around £500 for a single normal bottle. A bargain if you have complete disdain for the three billion people who live on less than $2.50 per day. Not to be outdone, Harrods sells the Krug Trunk, which features bubbly in a trunk along with other picnic trinkets for about £35,000.

Scarlett Johansson holding a nebuchadnezzar but unrelated frankly:

Have a tyre-approved meal

London has around 60 restaurants with Michelin stars. Places like Le Gavroche, Helene Darroze and Gordon Ramsey’s are can cost up to £200 per head depending on what you order, but they do have the seal of tyre approval to somehow justify it. It’s obviously silly that a cartoon character made out of tyres should be dishing out these highly-esteemed awards, but he is rather chubby so he must know a thing or two about food.

Get a manicure

Get your fingernails covered in diamonds like Katy Perry or Rita Ora at Harrods. Then swear bloody murder when they snap as you update your Facebook friends about it.

Drink whisky

When the Albannach in Charing Cross still existed, it charged £760 for a double, possibly explaining why it’s now gone. But that hasn’t stopped The Bar at The Dorchester. Their impressive whisky menu includes a 50-year-old Highland Park for £985. If you don’t like whiskey, this is obviously a terrible deal. Perhaps you’d prefer their rare Remy Martin cognac for £1,600?

Get driven around

And you thought London’s black cabs were expensive… Several private car hire firms in London charge over £100 per hour. What with services like Uber hogging all the limelight, you’d think fancy-pants car hires were on the wane, but truly minted people do not want to lower themselves to using an app to order a cab – they get their butler to order one via their ivory telephone, as is tradition.

Ride a bike

Athough the riffraff make do with the Barclay’s cycle hire scheme across central London, high rollers roll around town on the Factor 001. Seeing as London has a massive bike thievery problem, it’s almost as if Harrods are tempting fate with this thing.

Stay the night

A night in The Royal Suite at the Mandarin Oriental or Claridge’s is apparently around £9,000 although both their websites are too scared to actually tell you so. To be fair, these suites are around 250 square metres, so they’re bigger than most people’s entire homes. Either way, a sane person would be completely incapable of sleeping in them peacefully knowing how much they’d just thrown away on a temporary mattress and some sheets.

Have a cup of tea

– Before we get started, realise this: you don’t get any hot water with these, so you’ll have to sort out drinking them by yourself at home with your lime-scaled kettle. But yes, Harrods has two rather special tea items it’s sure you’ll want to put in your “World’s Greatest Dad” mug. The loose tealeaf Ambootia Snowmist costs about £5,000 per kilo, simply because it’s an anagram of “Bam! Ow! Mista Snooti!” If you prefer household-name PG Tips, Harrods’ limited edition bag has 280 diamonds sewn into it, which really helps bring flavour to the milk and two sugars you’re going to bung it together with.

Eat smoked salmon

The Norwegian-influenced stylings of Hansen and Lydersen may explain the precise nature of the smoking process and insistence on absolute freshness, but the fact they play jazz to their salmon is fairly bonkers. Do fish actually have ears? It doesn’t matter because the fish aren’t even alive to hear it. We reckon H & L want to alleviate the grind of fishmongering with a bit of light entertainment. Their top fillet costs £108 though, a price devoid of fun.

Buy an advent calendar

Probably the most useless item on our list seeing as you can’t eat or wear it is the Wedgwood hand-crafted advent calendar sold by Harrods. After you’ve spent your £12,000 and Christmas is over, it just sort of stands there, imposing its uselessness for 11 months of the year. It’s great again during December, of course, but you’ll have to restock it with Mars bars yourself.

Eat toast

Seeing as a loaf of bread costs about £1, and a toaster perhaps £15, you should totally get yourself down to Kensington Palace and buy their £1,000 toast rack. Hell, why not go the whole hog and buy their salt and pepper shakers for £750, their egg cup for £800 or the £500 napkin holder. The napkin holder is especially useful. When you’re unemployed, it’s important to be entrepreneurial and sell a few things – it’s not as if the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge live off government handouts….

Spray yourself with perfume

– Harrods comes correct with the ludicrousness yet again in our list, this time with an aroma called Clive Christian No. 1 Perfume – presumably it’s number one in expense. Perfumes are clearly pointless seeing as smell-based attraction is all down to the compatibility of pheromones, which, whether you like it or not, are detected by others subconsciously. They also dry your skin, completely ruining any benefits you might be getting from anti-ageing creams, which you should just replace with generic aqueous cream anyway for exactly the same effect… Hmm, maybe we should start a CF beauty advice column?

Eat a mince pie

Many people like to celebrate Christmas by buying lavish presents and getting themselves a whopping credit card bill, all so they can spend January eating uncooked tinned food by candlelight. A great way of speeding up this process would be to add the world’s most expensive mince pie into the mix, a paltry £3,500, but unfortunately only one was ever made.

Be romantic

The One in a Million Valentine’s Day package consists of a helicopter ride, some new clothes and a bit of food. The details are fairly meaningless, except for the fact that the caboodle pretty much guarantees you’ll end up going at it like rabbits. Alternatively, just tweet a photo at your loved one – we’re sure that’ll basically be the same.

Wear a shirt

Sold by our relentlessly ostentatious friend Harrods, their bespoke Eton shirt costs about £30,000, just because it has diamonds in it. Hopefully it’ll still be worth something after you accidentally stuff it in the washing machine with your red boxers.

Eat chocolate

Patchi’s created a chocolate box exclusively for Harrods that comes in at a whopping $10,000. It only really costs that much because somebody accidentally encrusted the box itself with Swarovski diamonds. The chocolate itself is probably worth just a few quid, so get yourself down to Poundland and purchase a bucket of Mint Aeros for what’s almost certainly an approximate experience.

If you’re in need of detoxing yourself from all that decadence, have a look at our 30 things in London for under £20. That’s the beauty of London – it caters for everybody if you know where to look.
(Feature image: Davide D’Amico)

23 needlessly expensive things to do in London was last modified: June 26th, 2019 by Adam Zulawski