Battle for hotels in London and Windsor ahead of Queen's state funeral

Royal fans battle for hotels in London and Windsor after police and foreign media leave of them ‘sold out’ ahead of Queen’s state funeral while room rates soar by 300% compared to last year

  • Room prices have soared in London and Windsor as people come to pay respect
  • ‘Block bookings’ for police and security as part of Operation London Bridge
  • More than one million people expected to travel to London from Wednesday
  • Full coverage: Click here to see all our coverage of the Queen’s passing

Royal fans are scrambling to book hotels in London and Windsor after police and foreign media block-booked rooms leaving dozens of places ‘sold out’ ahead of the Queen’s state funeral. 

Some room rates have reportedly soared by 300 per cent compared to last year, as royal fans hit out at ‘blatant profiteering’ by the hotel industry.

Crowds of one million people are expected to travel to the capital from Wednesday and queue to pay their respects to the late monarch as she lies in state for four days in Westminster Hall. 

Expected large crowds mean that hotels in London are filling up, especially those in Westminster and the London’s West End.

MailOnline found that eight Premier Inn hotels within a two mile radius of Westminster Abbey were sold out from September 18 to September 19, the night before the Queen’s funeral.

Many Premier Inn hotels close to Westminster Abbey were showing as sold out the night before the Queen’s funeral 

Meanwhile, one hotel executive told the FT that rooms were already booked because they have been allocated to police and security personnel as part of ‘Operation London Bridge’ – the codename given to the meticulously planned arrangements following the Queen’s death. 

And other rooms have been reserved by international media, diplomats and embassy officials.

One boutique hotel in South Kensington said it had received a ‘large number of enquiries over the weekend’ from media organisations and embassy staff trying to block book rooms.

‘Embassies and media organisations have been in touch, however we were unable to accept the booking due to the volume of rooms that were being requested,’ general manager of The Adria, Gary Redmond said.

Pictured: Police officers walking along the Mall in preparation for the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II

‘Several guests due to check out prior to the weekend have extended to witness the weekend and bank holiday funeral. Overall an increase in demand by approximately 70 per cent for this weekend period.’

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: ‘We’re hearing from hotel operators in London that they’ve experienced a surge in bookings since last Thursday’s announcement of the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and are aware that those close to the capital are also busier than usual.

‘Demand is certain to remain high right up until next Monday’s state funeral, and it’s important to note that the need to billet extra police and other personnel before, during and immediately after the event will have contributed to that, through block bookings for accommodation.’

Block bookings from police, security, embassy officials and international media mean there are fewer rooms available for mourners hoping to visit and pay their respects. 

Ahead of the Queen’s funeral on Monday, Britain’s security services are preparing a ‘ring of steel’ around London, with snipers on rooftops and 1,500 soldiers and 10,000 police deployed throughout the capital. 

In what is being billed as the biggest single security operation the country has ever seen, specialist police teams and intelligence officers are understood to have cancelled holiday leave as part of a massive, cross-agency security task for the Queen’s funeral.

Hundreds of foreign dignitaries from across the globe and hundreds of thousands of mourners anticipated in the capital are set to create an unprecedented ‘security headache’.

The operation will ramp up throughout the week as the Queen’s body is flown back to London before she is set to lie in state at the Palace of Westminster.

It is the first time special forces teams including SAS units are expected to be pre-deployed to bases in London on a heightened state of alert in case of any potential attacks.

Official details of the route for the lying-in-state queue will be published at 10pm tomorrow, but this is the predicted route

People queue along The Mall at Buckingham Palace in London on Sunday following the death of Queen Elizabeth II last week

Travelodge said its ‘hotels in central London and Windsor are literally sold out, and demand is growing strong for our hotels situated near to a train or Tube station throughout Greater London’.

Paul Charles, the chief executive of the travel consultancy the PC Agency, told the Guardian that ‘many central London hotels have already closed off their room availability online, preferring to deal with inquiries ad hoc so they can ‘manage’ rates higher.’

He said: ‘Demand to stay in London over the next fortnight, especially from foreign delegations, is at its highest level since the Olympics in 2012.’

Analysis by the PA news agency found that hotel prices were up to four times higher on the Sunday night before the funeral compared with a week later.

And Lastminute.com said bookings made over the weekend for stays in London hotels on 18 and 19 September were up 85 per cent compared with the same period in 2021, and up 65 per cent on 2019. 

Ahead of the Queen’s state funeral at Westminster Abbey on September 19, some hotels have been accused of hiking up their prices.

The Park Plaza’s Westminster Bridge hotel is charging £1,500 for a double room on the night before the Queen’s funeral on September 19.

The Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London hotel is charging £1,499 for one night on September 18-19

A week later, the same hotel is charging £259 for a double room for one night

However, the same room costs a fraction of that the following Sunday night, at £259.

A double room on the eve of the Queen’s funeral at the Strand Palace in Covent Garden has shot up from £232 to £800.

The Biltmore Mayfair Hotel, part of the Hilton Group, has a private suite available with an extra-large double bed for £1,064 on Sunday, September 18. The same room will cost £681 for the following week. 

One royal fan, Mark Godfrey, from Norfolk, had hoped to visit the capital to join the crowds of mourners.

His partner, Neil Marcham, was a member of the Royal household for the last 20 years meaning the couple were very keen to be there.

The Biltmore Mayfair is charging £1,064 for one night on September 18-19

A week later, the same hotel is charging £681 for a double room for one night

He said: ‘I really wanted to travel to London on Sunday and pay my respects to the Queen lying in state before lining the streets on Monday for her funeral.

‘I am absolutely gutted that as soon as the date was released for the funeral hotel prices rocketed.

‘We had been looking at hotels but didn’t want to book until a date had been confirmed.

‘As soon as the date was confirmed I looked at the hotels again and all the cheaper ones had sold out and the prices for the others were increasing as I watched.’

One family had been travelling down to London just days after the Queen died when their hotel cancelled the booking.

Wayne Foy, believes the hotel had wanted to free up his room so they could charge more for other guests.

Mr Foy, from Liverpool, said: ‘I was disgusted at the blatant profiteering because the hotel could make more money now the Queen has passed away and more people are travelling to the capital.

The Strand Palace Hotel is charging £800 for one night on September 18-19

A week later, the same hotel is charging £232 for a double room for one night

‘We had booked weeks ago to travel down to London and we were only told that our stay was cancelled when we had arrived in London.’

The Park Plaza group and The Strand Palace declined to comment.

Details of how public can attend lying-in-state are revealed amid forecast for huge queues 

Details have been published on how the public can attend the Queen’s lying-in-state, with people warned to expect long queues and be prepared to stand for many hours through the night.

Those wishing to pay their respects to the late monarch’s coffin in London’s Westminster Hall will be able to file solemnly past 24 hours a day from 5pm on this Wednesday until 6.30am on the day of the funeral – next Monday, September 19.

But the Government has stressed that the queue will continuously move – with little chance to rest or sit down – and the very long line of those waiting is expected to stretch through central London.

It also set out guidelines on how people should behave and what they should wear, saying they should remain silent inside the Palace of Westminster. It urged people to ‘dress appropriately for the occasion to pay your respects’, banning clothes ‘with political or offensive slogans’.

‘Please respect the dignity of this event and behave appropriately. You should remain silent while inside the Palace of Westminster,’ it added.

Queue-jumpers and anyone drunk will be booted out of the queue by stewards and police patrolling the lines. Visitors will also face airport-style security checks, with tight restrictions on what can be taken in.

Flowers, tributes, candles, flags, photos, hampers, sleeping bags, blankets, folding chairs and camping equipment are all banned, with only one small bag with a simple opening or zip permitted per person.

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to flock to the capital for the once-in-a-lifetime proceedings.

The Queen’s closed coffin will rest on a raised platform, called a catafalque, in the ancient Westminster Hall in the Palace of Westminster, draped in the Royal Standard with the Orb and Sceptre placed on top.

Delays to public transport and road closures around the area are expected and people are being urged to check ahead and plan accordingly.

Government guidance stated: ‘Please note that the queue is expected to be very long. You will need to stand for many hours, possibly overnight, with very little opportunity to sit down, as the queue will keep moving.’

It also asked people to think carefully about whether to take youngsters with them.

‘Please consider this before you decide to attend or bring children with you,’ it added.

Details of the route for the lying-in-state queue will be published at 10pm tomorrow Tuesday, with full guidance on the gov.uk website. The queue may close early to ensure as many visitors as possible can enter before the lying-in-state period comes to an end.

A spokesperson the Hilton Group denied the Biltmore Hotel was increasing its prices for the Queen’s funeral.

They said: ‘The Biltmore Mayfair is not increasing prices over the Queen’s funeral weekend The hotel rates are lower than other 5-star properties in the area.

‘Based on supply and demand, the rates currently offered are at market value. The lower tier rooms at The Biltmore Mayfair are sold out over the Queen’s funeral weekend.’

It comes amid concern that London could become ‘full’ over the coming days as up to one million people flock to see the Queen’s lying in state with queues expected to last up to 30 hours and rail operators warning trains will be ‘very busy’.

Whitehall chiefs in charge of logistics for the historic five-night vigil have estimated mourner numbers could be close to the one million who turned up to view Pope John Paul II when he lay in state in Rome in 2005.

Westminster Hall in London will be open 24 hours a day from 5pm on Wednesday until 6.30am next Monday – the day of the funeral – for people to view the Queen’s coffin, but they may have to wait in a three-mile-long queue.

Rail bosses have warned those wanting to travel to the capital over the coming days should expect packed trains and stations, with one industry source admitting there is ‘real concern the capital will reach bursting point’.

Network Rail warned of ‘unprecedented travel demand in the capital’ from Wednesday.

The number of mourners expected to come to London for the state funeral on Monday, September 19 could get close to or exceed the one million people who witnessed the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997.

Her Majesty’s coffin is due to arrive in London today from Edinburgh and will be taken to Westminster Hall, near the Houses of Parliament, on Wednesday.

From 5pm that day, members of the public will be able to file in to pay their respects for four days, before the state funeral next Monday.

But queuing began yesterday, with security staff, stewards and police officers already stationed along the route. Portable toilets, barriers and flooring have also been set up in Victoria Tower Gardens.

It is expected to begin at Southwark Park south of the Thames, with mourners following the line of the river down past Parliament to Lambeth Bridge, where they will cross back on themselves by walking back up to Westminster. 

Network Rail warned London and other locations hosting events associated with the funeral will be ‘exceptionally busy’. It is expecting ‘unprecedented travel demand in the capital’ from Wednesday.

The Elizabeth line will run a special service with 12 trains per hour on the central section from Paddington to Abbey Wood on Sunday, while staff at some Underground stations may have to implement queuing, closures or non-stopping trains.

People have been urged to avoid Green Park station if possible, due to high numbers of customers passing through. Due to road closures, some bus services will be diverted or will stop short of their destination.

Number 10 has warned that commuters may want to ‘change their working patterns accordingly’ amid an expected huge surge in people coming into London.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘At this point we can’t be more specific on numbers. We do expect it to be extremely busy. I think for the Queen Mother it was around 200,000 people (who attended), we expect (it) to be far more than that for this lying in state. But at this point, but we can’t be more specific into exact numbers.’

On whether commuters should work from home this week if they normally travel into the capital from outside London, he said some people ‘may wish to change their working patterns accordingly’, but acknowledged ‘not everyone will have that ability’.

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