By Kelli B. Grant
If deal-hunting were a medaling sport, travelers who plan a trip to London in coming weeks would earn judges’ top marks.
Hotel prices for late August and September are as much as 60% off compared with usual rates for that time, says Gabe Saglie, senior editor at Travelzoo. The four-star Millenium Bailey’s Hotel, for example, has starting rates of $130 per night, a 60% discount, while four-star Meliá White House has package rates as low as $233 per night, which amounts to 55% off. Some properties are also throwing in extras like free breakfasts and room upgrades. “August is still peak travel season in London, so this is rare,” he says.
But cities that host the games typically see softer prices in the months after, experts say. Many build additional accommodations in anticipation of the crowds; when all those fans decamp, hotels often drop prices to fill rooms. (As we’ve previously reported, in some cases, the deals can linger for years.) Plus, tourists already planning a trip to an Olympic host destination usually time it to coincide with the games, which could mean fall crowds are smaller than usual, says Clem Bason, president of booking site Hotwire.com. That can further drop hotel rates and lead to better deals at restaurants and local attractions.
The catch, of course, is finding cheap airfare — and there’s no noticeable post-Olympic effect there. “If you can find an airfare for under $1,000, definitely go,” says Amy Chen, online editor for Frommers.com. Travelers are more likely to see those rates after Labor Day, she says. By then, round-trip fares are likely to be closer to $800 from the East Coast and $1,000 from the West Coast.
Despite the deals, travelers should steel themselves for the fact that their other spending won’t go very far. One U.S. dollar currently buys £0.63, compared with a more favorable €0.81. “London is still an expensive city, requiring some conscientious budgeting,” Saglie says.