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It was bound to happen: London hotels have finally realized no one wants to pay the overly inflated prices to stay during the Olympics, and now they are slashing rates in the hopes of filling those empty rooms. Online hotel search site Trivago notes that London hotel availability is still at 30 percent through August 12, and room rates have fallen by 17 percent in the last three weeks. Similarly, JacTravel, a UK-based travel agency for group bookings, says London hotel prices are back to normal levels – after having been driven up by as much as 300 percent two months ago.
With the Summer Olympics upon us, the already swarming city of London will be flooded with visitors. It behooves those planning to attend to take a word of advice from those in-the-know. On my recent trip to London, I sat down with Sophie Campbell, journalist, Daily Telegraph travel columnist, and Blue Badge Tourist Guide for London to learn how to navigate London amidst the frenzy.
Do you have any tips for out-of-the-ordinary and unique things to do while visiting London for the 2012 Olympics?
Take the District Line on the Underground to Bromley-by-Bow station and, instead of walking up to the Olympic Park, walk south down the Limehouse Cut to Limehouse Marina, where you can see multi-million pound yachts moored and watch boats leaving the marina via the huge lock. Then go and have lunch at Gordon Ramsay’s pub, The Narrow, which has a huge terrace overlooking the lock entrance.
Also, on August 2 make for the Whitechapel Gallery – celebrating its 101st year in the East End this year – for the Time Out First Thursdays night, when East End contemporary art galleries open their doors late and there are talks, walking tours, discussions, and plenty of eating and drinking options on offer.
Finally, anyone going up to the canoe and kayak events further up the Lee Valley at the Lee Valley Whitewater Centre should go to Waltham Abbey just down the road. Get the train from Liverpool Street Station out to Waltham Cross. It’s one of the least visited and most fascinating churches in England: parts of it date back to Anglo-Saxon times, King Harold, the last Anglo-Saxon monarch, is supposed to be buried here and the abbey itself is just stunning. Read more
2010 VANCOUVER OLYMPICS
Join our Vancouver stringer, Celeste Moure, for daily happenings from the host city.
When the last of the Olympians goes home at the end of the month, the Olympic Village, a onetime industrial brownfield site, will become Vancouver’s newest urban hub, with restaurants, shops and a public access seawall for walking, biking and rollerblading. This was the last piece of the puzzle needed to link the city’s west side with Stanley Park, a 1000-acre urban park featuring millions of trees (some over 100 years old) and hundreds of miles of roads and walking trails. Within spitting distance to Stanley Park in the tony district of Coal Harbour is the Loden Hotel, sister property to the Viceroy in Santa Monica and Miami. Inside are 77 modern but serene rooms decorated in blond-wood cabinets, boldly patterned rugs, velvet chaises and chocolate brown marble bathrooms. While the hotel is fully booked during the Olympics, well-heeled locals and out-of-towners are flocking to Voya. Dishes served in the forties-styled dining room pair fresh West Coast ingredients plucked from the local waters and organic farms. Reservations recommended.
Admit it: Your inner speed demon has always been just a tad curious about the skeleton, the lightning-fast Olympic sport in which sled racers barrel headfirst down an ice track at speeds up to 80 miles per hour.
Thanks to a slew of winter sports programs offered in Park City, Utah, you can now find out. With the 2010 Winter Olympics right around the corner, it’s a perfect time to indulge your inner Olympian: At the popular ski town, athletes of all skill levels can try their hand (or, rather, sled or skiis) on the skeleton, bobsled, Nordic jumping or the luge. Various classes and instructional activities, many taught by former Olympic coaches, start at $50 for a skeleton ride (following professional instruction, of course). Read more
For winter sports enthusiasts, 2010 is obviously a big year, what with the Winter Olympic Games heading to Vancouver and Whistler from February 12-28. For LGBT jocks and jockettes, it’s even bigger: PRIDE House, the first-ever dedicated chill-out pavilion for LGBT athletes and their supporters, makes its debut, a testament to Canada and the Games’ host communities. But what’s news to the world is old-hat to those who’ve ever attended a Whistler WinterPRIDE event, a week-long series of powder shredding and post-slope parties. If you haven’t, then this is the year to do it.
From March 1-8, basking in the afterglow of the games and taking advantage of the mountain’s already world-class but gussied-up facilities (all the world will be watching, after all), the #1 gay ski week (as rated by Gay.com) is certain to be a sell-out. Book early to guarantee access—and save money. Read more
Rooms are already scarce in the bona fide “winter wonderland” of Whistler – and come February, when athletes and spectators pile onto the slopes for the 2010 Winter Olympics, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a place to stay that’s worth the inflated peak-season price. Well, some good news here: The upscale Fairmont Chateau Whistler has a block of rooms available for prime Olympic and Paralympic dates (February 11–28), and while rates start from a whopping $899 CAD ($865 USD) per room per night (note that rates will drop about 40 percent post games), you’ll be bedding down in luxury and witnessing sports history in the making. The ski-in/ski-out Fairmont Chateau Whistler is located at the base of Blackcomb Mountain and features 550 rooms with spectacular mountain views or village views, a spa, arcade, and heated pools. Available accommodations include Fairmont, Deluxe and Deluxe Slopeside rooms, Suites and Fairmont Gold rooms. A 3-night minimum stay is required. Call 800-606-8244 or visit fairmont.com/whistler to book.
Read more on Whistler and the upcomong Olympics in our Top 10 Ski Resorts for Nonskiers.
With the Olympics in 2016 being held in Rio de Janeiro, all eyes are on Brazil and the cruise industry has been stationing more ships than ever in this South American nation. This area may be the next hotspot for cruise lovers, but high prices are still restricting many travelers to the less expensive Caribbean itineraries. However, we’ve uncovered a 6-night cruise to Brazil this January that’s less than the cost of most Caribbean sailings – starting from just $374!
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