Left luggage: a cheeky trick

Miss Thrifty33 August 21, 2008


I was on one of my flying visits to London today, for a couple of work meetings. The trains from the north all go into Kings Cross St. Pancras; I have a nifty little money-saving tip that I’m going to share here, just in case it helps anyone else.

You see, when I get to Kings Cross I always pack away my laptop and swap my comfy boots for spiky heels. But this leaves me with a couple of extra bags that I don’t want to haul around all day long – and especially not when I’m balanced precariously on designer footwear! Kings Cross has a Left Luggage desk but it’s £6.50 per item per day, which is pretty steep in my book.

So this is what I do. I exit the station and pop into the lovely British Library, next door. There’s a locker room down the stairs, and it’s free to use. The lockers take luggage of all shapes and sizes; they take a pound coin as deposit, but you get that back when you open them again. The lockers are intended to be used by the readers, but even if you aren’t a registered reader (which I am *flutters eyelashes*), the locker room is in a public part of the building and technically, it’s open to all. So you shouldn’t feel too naughty! 

This ploy saved me £13.00 today; not quite enough to offset the stupendously stupendous price of my train ticket, but hey ho.

Did you enjoy this post?

Free Daily Digest

33 Responses to “Left luggage: a cheeky trick

FruGal says:

What a great tip, I don’t know if I’d be brave enough to leave my laptop though… that badboy is rarely allowed out of my sight! 🙂

August 22, 2008 at 2:06 pm

admin says:

I know exactly what you mean – I’m crazy protective over mine too. But I’m perfectly happy to leave it in a British Library locker – partly because the place has such a peaceful, cosy “safe” feel to it. And partly because nobody expects you to leave a laptop in one of the lockers: the readers who use the lockers tend to take their laptops in with them!

August 22, 2008 at 6:45 pm

Sparkly says:

Hi – I came via FruGal’s site and wanted to say thanks for this tip. Sometimes I travel down from oop north for a workshop and I have mightily resented paying the King’s Cross fee.


August 22, 2008 at 7:44 pm

admin says:

@Sparkly: Yay! I was worried that this tip might be a bit “niche” – so I’m really happy that it has helped someone.

August 22, 2008 at 11:12 pm

Desiner Bags says:

I agree with your post. Which is not something I will usually do! 🙂 I enjoy reading a post that will make one think. Also, thanks for allowing me to comment!

September 9, 2008 at 5:52 am

Iain says:

Great tip!! Although… are the lockers big enough to take a rucksack and a (small) tent? I’ll be killing time in London en route to a festival so as long as it’s big enough for a rucksack!

July 17, 2009 at 2:49 am

admin says:

@Iain: yep, reckon you could squeeze a rucksack into one of the larger lockers – you may have to give it a good shove though!

– Miss T.

July 19, 2009 at 7:09 pm

Iain says:

Hmm, change of plan – any tips for similar facilities near Liverpool Street station??


July 29, 2009 at 12:25 am

admin says:

Sorry Iain – I don’t! I normally end up lugging my bags around when I go via Liverpool Street. Grumble.

– Miss T.

July 29, 2009 at 4:58 pm

Dom says:

Thanks, this a great idea.

August 6, 2009 at 8:46 pm

Kiwi says:

Wonderful tip! I am heading to Edinburgh today to surprise my boyfriend so this is perfect as I will have a large suitcase of work stuff with me… thanks a million and fingers crossed! x x 🙂

August 9, 2009 at 10:59 am

Graham says:

I see….so this is the reason why one can never find a free locker in the BL! I agree that £6.50 is a bit steep but how about leaving them for those of us who actually go there to do work? Might want to think about that next time….

November 4, 2009 at 3:45 pm

admin says:

@Graham Can you really never find a free locker in the BL? Whenever I am there, irrespective of the time of day, there are scores of them!

Besides, if the lockers are all full, you can always leave your coat/bag in the manned, secure cloakroom…

– Miss T.

November 4, 2009 at 3:55 pm

Cecilia says:

Hello, do you know until what time you can access the library’s lockers at night?

Apart from the enormous amount of money needed to leave you luggage at Kings’ cross Left Luggage (it’s 8 £ now!) they close at 11 p.m. and since I’m going to a gig on Friday night I might as well be running late…


March 4, 2010 at 4:17 pm

jusme says:

Hi Miss Thrifty!

Thanks! I have been searching around online on storage of luggage and found that I could do this.

Is the locker room locked at any time of the day? And it should be safe to put stuff in since I would be the only one with the keys (sorry I sound extra paranoid) ? Lastly how easy it is to find the BL’s locker room, any clues/direction you can provide too? I hope there aren’t many long flights of stairs along the way?

Thanks much! I hope it works for me as I am staying in London for a few days [coming from Paris (via London St Pancras) and going to Cambridge (via London King Cross)] and I hope to find a solution whereby I need not bring the luggage around.

June 23, 2010 at 8:43 am

missthrifty says:

@jusme You are welcome!

The BL locker room is downstairs: the stairs/ramp are to the right of the main desk as you walk in. It is open when the BL is open, so it isn’t one for leaving stuff in overnight, if that is what you were hoping to do – if memory serves the BL reading rooms close at 8/9pm-ish on weekdays. I have never had any safety/security problems.

June 23, 2010 at 9:02 am

jusme says:

Hi sorry it’s me again. As you wrote this article in 2008, has there been any changes to this policy or you have made use of the lockers in BL recently so it should be fine? Thanks alot!

June 23, 2010 at 9:11 am

jusme says:

Hi Miss thrifty! Oh I misunderstood, I thought it would be ok for me to leave my stuff for 1-2 days! Thanks alot!

June 23, 2010 at 9:26 am

rag says:

Have you thought that you’re blocking the whole facility for the library users who are REQUIRED to leave their belongings before using the reading rooms?
The cloakrooms and locker rooms are frequently completely full because of people mis-using the facilities and selfish people like you are going to force the British Library to start charging for the lockers.

July 5, 2010 at 11:52 am

missthrifty says:

@rag No, the thought hadn’t occurred to me – partly because the modest amount of traffic to this VERY niche post is insufficient to “block” the locker facilities, even if every single person who read it went on to make use of the locker rooms. Partly because, as a British Library cardholder for the past 8 years, I have never yet encountered any problems stashing my belongings there. (Although perhaps that’s because when I go there, I get there early?) And partly because I haven’t heard, read or been able to find anything about plans for the BL to begin charging for lockers…

July 6, 2010 at 9:33 pm

BLreader says:

It might interest you to know that the Library is changing its policy – from February 2011 there will be a size restriction on bags and a charge for the lockers. See the Library’s website for full details

December 14, 2010 at 3:19 pm

BL_worshipper says:

No wonder why i cannot get a locker when I arrive to use the reading rooms in BL! May I suggest that try not to do that around may-june time – EXAMS?! I am sure all the readers will be appreciated!

March 24, 2012 at 6:52 pm

bl_user says:

i think this is a fine idea, but can i suggest that people don’t do this between may and june? i’m a postgraduate student so don’t have exams, but during this period lots of people *do* have exams so the british library gets very full – and all the lockers are needed. british library users can use the cloakrooms, it’s true – but in busy periods when all the lockers are full, there’s often a really long queue to use the cloakroom, which gets pretty annoying when you’re in a rush.

May 19, 2012 at 5:31 pm

Dan says:

Looks like this is a cheeky trick that you should feel guilty about. The copy below is from the British Library website. A simple test for most things in life is to ask ‘what if everyone did this?’ It looks like this trick fails that test as it stuffs things up for bone-fide readers and students.

“You may be aware that, because of our proximity to major transport hubs, the
Library’s luggage facilities are used by some members of the general public. This
means that our facilities, intended for use by Readers and Library visitors, are
sometimes completely full. To discourage this, on 1 February 2011 we will be
introducing a restriction in the size of luggage admitted to the St Pancras site
to airline ‘carry on’ size. This will also help reduce the security risk associated
with large bags.
We will also introduce charging for locker use at the St Pancras site. From the
end of March 2011, the lockers will require a £2 deposit, of which £1 is

November 28, 2012 at 10:48 am

Miss Thrifty says:

How strange. The lockers do not currently require a £2 deposit, of which £1 is refundable. It’s £1, of which £1 is refundable – the same as it always has been.

I usually travel light, so I don’t know if the luggage restriction is in place – I think that 2008, when I wrote this post, was the last time I travelled with heavy baggage!

This is easily the most controversial post on this blog. For readers who aren’t British Library users: it’s up to you to read this post, read the comments and make up your own minds about whether or not this is a thrifty trick you would be comfortable with.

Since writing this post, the left luggage charge at King’s Cross has risen from £6.50 to £8.00 per item.

November 28, 2012 at 11:07 am

John says:

Very good tip. Understand the concerns of those who use the library. Why is it so expensive to leave luggage in London anyway, thus causing this type of ‘miss-use’? I travel extensively throughout Germany and many other parts of mainland Europe and almost every reasonable sized train or coach station has lockers which currently (2013) cost €1 for a smaller one or €2 for one you could leave a small family in.

May 28, 2013 at 10:04 pm

Michael says:

I also cannot understand why leaving luggage should cost so much…. My opinion: Thats what you get when you outsource public services to private companies, in this case the left luggage service.

June 5, 2013 at 11:15 am

Alex W says:

The Victoria Coach Station left luggage is a good comparatively cheap place to leave luggage (c £4 a day) compared to the train stations.

July 12, 2013 at 11:54 am

Alex W says:

One reason it’s pricey is the X-rays etc. I suppose, and scarcity.

I’m led to believe that before the IRA bombing campaign Britain used to have those German-style lockers too. Now it’s mainly only London, Birmingham and a few northern cities that have left luggage facilities of any kind, and in the rest of the country you’re just stuck with your luggage if you don’t have a car most of the time 🙁

July 12, 2013 at 11:57 am

Lee says:

Hi there nice tip wish I seen this yesterday. I pay 9pounds for 3hours at left luggage kings cross, were I found the guy serving was very unpleasant and rude ( is that the London way how to treat people?)

August 29, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Anthony says:

Hi, just wanted to say that we created a business to deal with this exact problem. Now you can store with friendly neighbours for 5 pounds or under! Just check out citystasher.com

December 12, 2015 at 6:25 pm

Leave a reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *