London hotel prices surge more than 30% ahead of the Queen’s funeral

If you’re looking to book a hotel room in London ahead of the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, get ready to pay up.

The average price for a London hotel room this weekend is 30% higher than it was for the same weekend in 2019, and 39.5% higher than it was last year while travel was still depressed because of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to data from travel website Trivago shared with Bloomberg. Searches have doubled since compared to the same period in 2019, according to Trivago.

London hotels have received a surge in bookings, and some of the most prestigious hotels have been fully booked ahead of Monday’s funeral at Westminster Abbey. The Royal Family, British political leaders and heads of state and government from around the world are expected to attend, as well as thousands of members of the public who want to pay their respects to Britain’s longest-reigning monarch. Monday has been declared a public holiday, so many workers have the day off.

“We’re seeing hotel occupancy rates in percentages in the high 90s,” says Tim Hentschel, co-founder and CEO at HotelPlanner, a group reservation platform. He said they’re normally in the mid-70s this time of year.

Room rates at some hotels are double what they would normally be from Friday onward, Hentschel said. Top hotels are an especially hot commodity in terms of price increases and demand, he said.

For example, the 283-room Corinthia London, which is within an easy walk of Buckingham Palace, is fully booked on Sunday and Monday, a spokeswoman confirmed. The Goring, where Kate Middleton got ready for her wedding to Prince William also appears fully booked.

The luxury hotels that frequently show up on the top hotels in the world lists like Claridges, The Connaught and The Langham are all showing as fully booked on their websites, though the hotels recommend calling to see if there are cancellations. The hotels that aren’t at capacity have more expensive rates than a usual Sunday in September.

A stay on Sunday night at the Montcalm Hotel in the City of London—the traditional finance district—will run you £480 ($561) per night in a deluxe double. The same room a week later is £276. The 5-Star Londoner hotel in Leicester Square that’s known more for its proximity to the theatre district than the palaces has rooms for £889 on Sunday but £669 a week later on September 25. These prices come at an already expensive time to visit Britain’s capital—hotel room rates rose to an all-time high in June of this year.

Hotels aren’t necessarily raising their rates, but they may be running out of entry-level rooms. At the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, for example, the least expensive choice available this weekend on the website starts at £2,500 for a 60 square meter (646 square foot) room. On Sept. 25, rooms of 34 square meters (366 square feet) are offered for £1,300.

Travel websites are suggesting hotels for that weekend as far as way as The Docklands, which is over six miles away. HotelPlanner’s Hentschel suggests having a look at Windsor or hotels near Heathrow if travelers have little luck in finding a bed in central London.

The area around Westminster Abbey where the funeral will be held is expected to be very busy. The UK cabinet office warns that they are expecting large crowds around central London. The Sun newspaper reported that people looking to pay their respects to the Queen while her coffin lies in state in Westminster Hall could be waiting up to 12 hours in a queue three miles long.

An estimated 200,000 people visited Westminster Hall to pay respects to the Queen Mother at her funeral in 2002. The last state funeral in the UK was for Winston Churchill in 1965. More than a million people gathered along the route of his funeral cortege.

© 2022 Bloomberg

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