Mark Byrnes is a senior associate editor at CityLab who writes about design and architecture.
As the Games approach and reality sets in for hoteliers, procrastinating tourists are starting to be rewarded.
If you're thinking about visiting London during the Olympics, the hotels are there, just not necessarily at a price you'd like. But that is starting to change.
Reuters reports that London's July and August hotel bookings are actually down from 2011, suggesting the typical tourist has so far been scared away by the Games. Nearly two-thirds of Southern England's 125,000 hotel rooms are still unbooked over the course of the Summer Olympics, forcing hoteliers to offer more sensible pricing with only a few weeks remaining.
That's not to say it's now cheap. A hotel in London during the Olympics goes for, on average, $300 to $600, but for a visit before the Games, it would only be $125 to $200 a night. Compare that to other European destinations like Paris or Barcelona, where rooms will range between $75 to $120 during July and August.
If you insist on finding a deal in London, you might want to consider the
back seat of a taxi 'Relax-A-Taxi,' for just $78 a night. That's what London cabbie David Weeks has done with his taxicab after learning he and his fellow drivers won't have access to those controversial Olympics-only lanes. As long as you're parked next to Weeks's home, bathroom access will be included in the accommodation package.
In the meantime, some hotels are indeed lowering their rates. Travelodge has lowered its prices in some cases by more than half since last month. Travel company Thomas Cook is now offering up to 50 percent off its Olympics packages, including tickets and accommodation.
It remains to be seen whether London's hospitality dream of fully booked hotels at maximum prices turns out to be a fantasy. As the Games approach and reality sets in for hoteliers, procrastinating tourists are starting to be rewarded.
Top image of St. Pancras Hotel courtesy Flickr user Marc Lagneau