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Eat Sleep London thinks that Kew Gardens is a wonderful place, a real jewel of London for tourists and residents alike. But some visitors, like this Tripadvisor reviewer, think that Kew Gardens is 'Expensive and overrated'. The cheek!
We are going to dig into the actual costs, look at some comparable classic London attractions, and solve this burning question: Is Kew Gardens overpriced?
If you wander up to the entrance on a nice sunny Saturday afternoon*, the entry fee for a single adult is £17.50. The entry fee for a child (4-15) is £5.50.
For a family of four, the headline price would be £46, just to walk through the door.
However if you come as a family of two adults and two children you pay only £40.00, so £6 or 15% off the full price.
*Speaking metaphorically - currently under Covid-19 restrictions, you have to buy tickets online that allow entry in a 45 minute timeslot.
The entrance charge isn't the only cost if you are visiting Kew Gardens. You will also have to deal with:
Pricing doesn't exist in a vacuum, it has to be compared with other alternatives. We've picked out a few classic London activities that a tourist (or a even a local) might be thinking of doing.
Photo by Carolina Munemasa on Unsplash
London Zoo is a great day out and it a good comparison to Kew Gardens as it is the zoological equivalent.
You can spend similar amounts of time at London Zoo and Kew Gardens as well, and there are similarly overpriced food and drink options.
But the cost for a family of four is definitely NOT comparable. You'll have to shell out £97.48! It makes Kew look like a day out for paupers.
Photo by Roman Fox on Unsplash
Another London classic, a visit to the HMS Belfast is a great way to spend a few hours in London, fun for the kids and fascinating for the adults.
But how does the cost stack up? I'm almost scared to look, after London Zoo.
Phew! It isn't so bad. £16.20 for adults and £8.10 for kids (5-15). There is a family ticket (2 adults and up to 6 kids) for £41.40. So this is quite similar to Kew.
Photo by Guilherme Stecanella on Unsplash
Sticking with central London, the Tower Bridge Experience is a shorter activity, and hour or 2 maximum, and that is if you read everything and see everything.
The cost reflects the size of the exhibition, for a family of four, the damage is £27.00.
Photo by Alessia Caudiero on Unsplash
Another London classic, the London Eye is very popular with tourists and offers amazing views over London, especially Big Ben and Westminster.
You are probably getting hardened to the prices of London attractions by now. But this one is really (London) eye-watering (sorry).
For a 30 minute ride on a big wheel that goes nowhere, the cost for a family of 4 is £93.00.
Wow. Just wow.
The numbers don't lie. The table below shows how Kew Gardens stacks up against the 4 comparatives.
(family of 4)
|Time (hrs)||Cost per hour|
|Tower Bridge Experience||£27.00||2||£13.50|
It seems pretty clear that compared to other London attractions, Kew Garden is not especially expensively, in fact it is a real bargain compared to some, especially when you factor in the amount of time you can spend there.
There is also a social good aspect. If you go on the London Eye, you will have some great views and hopefully memories, and you'll benefit the operators of the enterprise.
But if you buy tickets for Kew Gardens, as well as an amazing experience, you'll be directly supporting the important conservation work that the Kew Gardens does in the UK and across the world. The same is true of the London Zoo of course.
Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash
The key ways to save money on a visit to Kew Gardens are:
Pre-Covid there was a neat 2for1 offer you could get. If you travelled from one of the London train stations, you could get leaflet at the information stand with the offer. At the gates to Kew, you could show the leaflet and your train tickets to get the discount. Sadly, this offer is no longer available as you have to pre-book online. Hopefully it will return in the future.
There is a wide range of ticket types each with a different price. Eg, an essential carer for a disabled visitor comes in for free. Make sure you get the cheapest option available for you.
You can choose to make a 10% donation with your ticket price. Of course you don't have to make this donation, if you feel it makes the whole thing unaffordable.
The cheapest way to travel is usually by train.
There are direct trains from Waterloo to Kew Bridge Station, which is a 10-minute walk to the Gardens. A return ticket is £8.00 and the journey takes about 30 minutes. The best thing? You can pay using your Oyster card or debit card; there's no need to buy a ticket.
To make the most of Kew Gardens, you need to come for a few hours, and this means you are going to need to eat. There are lots of options for refreshments in Kew Gardens, so many that we have written a guide about it here.
The key message is that food in Kew is pretty good, but it is not budget friendly. The solution is to bring your own. You are free to picnic almost anywhere in Kew Gardens, and it is hard to imagine a more delightful place to throw down your flowery picnic blanket.
You are about to leave, you've kept the spend to the minimum and are pretty happy. There's just one more hurdle to go.
Just take your children by the hand (if you have them) and march resolutely and with a fierce stare until you are outside the gift shop. It is the only way.
We at ESL started out as fans of Kew Gardens, we admit.
But the cost comparison with other attractions, coupled with the amount of time you can spend there, the sheer area there is to cover, and the fact that your ticket price is supporting important conservation, has reinforced our view that a visit to Kew Gardens is EXTREMELY good value!