Everyone knows London is expensive, but there are plenty of freebies and deals to be found at King’s Cross for students and anyone else on a tight budget.
Here’s a round-up of dishes that come in at £10 or under. First up – Happy Face pizzeria. You can happily get stuck into most of their pies for less than £10, but the standout is the Marinara, which will leave you fed and happy for just £5 (yep, a fiver!).
Weekday lunchtimes, it’s hard to beat KERB streetfood market, where 8+ street food vans set up in Granary Square (12-2pm Wed-Fri). The food stalls are ever-changing but expect the likes of savoury stuffed waffles at Utter Waffle, grilled cheese at Meltsmiths, vegan fried chick’un at Marli’s Kitchen or delicious double tacos at Dos Mas.
There’s no KERB on the weekend, but you can catch Canopy Market instead – it’s packed with plenty of interesting food stalls. Pick up fresh churros, Korean barbecue, artisan cheeses, cured meat, and sweet treats, all without breaking the bank.
If you like to get maximum style for minimal spend, why not breakfast on eggs benedict in the glamorous Granary Square Brasserie for just £8.50. Or, how about starting the day with the now-famous bacon breakfast naan at Dishoom which will set you back a mere £6.50.
At Maple+King’s in Pancras Square you can dine on any of their healthy and tasty salads for less than £10. Also on Pancras Square, several of the noodle dishes at Korean restaurant Kimchee come in at under £10. We like the Jajang Myeon. On York Road, all the burgers at Burger + Beer are under that golden ten-pound limit (and even better, it’s 2 for 1 on the last Tuesday of the month). In Coal Drops Yard, you’ll find ‘legendary’ grilled cheese sandwiches at Morty & Bobs for around £8. Likewise, pretty much everything on the menu at the newly opened Sons + Daughters is under £10. The sandwiches here are a real treat.
You can eat what might be the best Italian food this side of Naples for under a tenner in Lina Stores, including two of our favourite pastas, ravioli di zucca and orecchiette with lamb sausage. And absolutely everything on the deli takeaway menu is under £10, too.
Finally, it’s hard to beat the flatbreads at The Lighterman on Granary Square. Basically a fairly substantial fancy pizza. You can choose from three flavours, all £9.50 each.
Free beats, cheap night out
Party on a dime at SUPERMAX, the secret bar tucked beneath Happy Face Pizzeria. It’s open Wednesdays to Saturdays until 1am and from 5.30pm-7pm, you can enjoy what Time Out London calls, “the capital’s coolest happy hour” with vermouth-led cocktails for £6 and delicious free chichetti. Friday nights at SUPERMAX are all about the party. With DJs, an epic sound system and disco balls spinning, it’s the perfect place to start your weekend.
Spiritland is the original mecca for music in King’s Cross. The bar-slash-gig venue has music every night of the week, most of it free. Spanning jazz, funk, electronica and pop, you’ll find breezy French-inspired pop from Iko Chérie, stretched-out mellow soul from dj Leopold, and a listening party for Resolution 88’s latest soulful release. There’s plenty on the menu here for under £10 as well. Check out what’s in store at Spiritland in the coming months here.
Lafayette is the all-new live music venue at Kings Cross. Opening in March, the line up sees live performances from the likes of grime veteran D Double E and grammy award winner Robert Glasper, as well as future stars such as dreamy vocalist Benee. Tickets start from less than £12 and generally come in under £20. See the upcoming acts, and book tickets here.
Exercise for free
MW5 Run Club is a free running club that meets every Monday at 12.15pm and Wednesday at 6pm. Led by seasoned personal trainer Martin Whitelock, the 5km route takes you through urban landscapes, parks and waterways, and is suitable for even the most novice of runners. Register for your free spot here.
Fitness brand Sweaty Betty offer free fitness classes at their store on King’s Boulevard. From yoga to Pilates, and boxing to HIIT, search by shop online to find a workout that suits your style, then register to book your place. As their strapline says, “good things come to those who sweat”.
Keep fit and drink beer…that’s what they call balance, right? Beer + Burger store on York Way hosts the Beer + Burger Running Club, or BBRC for those in the know. This fitness social meets on the first Saturday of the month. You’ll run 10k and then cool down with a beer afterwards, on the house. Get in touch with BBRC King’s Cross to join in.
Don’t underestimate the sweat you work up from a particularly tense game of ping pong. There are four tables in The Crossing – the public area of the Granary Building, and anyone is welcome to rock up and get their game on. It’s totally free and no booking is required. Bats and balls are stored in the tables and replacements are available at the Visitor Centre.
Students can also take advantage of reduced membership at St Pancras Leisure Centre. The large, well-equipped gym has 130 stations, plus there’s a swimming pool, sauna and steam room, and over 50 group fitness classes a week. Head to the Better gym website for pricing and payment options.
If cycling is your thing, then why not take advantage of the free bike MOTs run by Dr Bike. Just bring your bike to Battle Bridge Place on the first Wednesday of every month, 12.30-6.30pm, for a free check-up. The team will check and tune your bike, carry out minor repairs and diagnose more complex problems.
Shop ’til you drop, for much, much less
Second-hand shopping is officially cool, and nowhere more so than at Boutique by Shelter in Coal Drops Yard. Forget sifting through a sea of polyester in a dark and dusty little shop, Boutique is a shiny, joyous mecca to sustainable fashion. There are rails of designer pieces, high-end high street and a curated edit of vintage gems, all at great prices.
Free (or nearly free) things to do
At Samsung KX in Coal Drops Yards you can get hands-on with the latest technology innovations. Try the world’s only Digital Cockpit connected driving experience, put your driving skills to the test in the VR car, design your own Samsung phone case and discover what it’s like to cook in a truly connected kitchen. All against a backdrop of jaw-dropping views.
Samsung KX also runs a fantastic programme of ticketed events for around £10-£15 (some are totally free). Everything from mindful meditation sessions, to secret music gigs, from discussions on the ethics of gene editing to talking Twitter with Rylan Clark-Neal. Find all the upcoming events here.
The Lethaby Gallery is situated inside Central Saint Martins art college and celebrates the work of the students, both past and present. All exhibitions are open to the public and free to attend. Expect thought-provoking film, photography, jewellery, breathtaking fine art, textiles, and sculpture in an exhibition programme that offers a glimpse into some of the most exciting creative minds in the country. Find the exhibitions for 2020 here.
Even MORE free stuff, you say..?
The events programme at King’s Cross runs all year, and much of what’s on is completely free. Highlights include the Everyman Film Festival, Cubitt Sessions, the free open-air music festival, album launches at Spiritland and London’s largest illustration fair at House of Illustration. And that’s not to mention a host of pop-ups, one-off events, and celebrations, everything from foodie workshops to late-night science expos, free yoga sessions to mini craft beer festivals. Check out the full listing of events and happenings here.
Also, don’t miss the special programme at Coal Drops Yard. There are street parties, concerts, exhibitions, and interactive installations. On Lower Stable Street, Honest Jons runs DJ evenings, and there’s First Fridays at Kiosk N1C. The ‘Meet the Maker’ series at Wolf & Badger brings you up close and personal with some of the store’s favourite brands. For dedicated followers of fashion, these events are definitely worth checking out.
There’s an app for that
To get first dibs on any freebies, discounts and offers, make sure you download the Kings Cross App.
There are deals here for everyone, and students can take advantage of extra discounts across a pretty impressive range of shops, restaurants, salons, and galleries. Simply download from App Store or Google Play, register, find the discounts you’re interested in and show the QR code for your money off.
Keep an eye on the app and on the online events guide, as they are regularly updated with a whole host of all the free (or nearly free) events, concerts, and happenings at Kings Cross.