It’s London’s turn to host the biggest sporting event on the planet and while there’s a lot to live up to after Beijing’s spectacular success four years ago, the signs so far suggest a vintage Olympic year is ahead.
Director Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony in particular - a celebration of British culture and its contribution to the world stage - is set to be spectacular: from Daniel Craig’s in-character appearance as James Bond, to hundreds of NHS nurses showing up, details are sporadically leaking through but exactly what’s going to happen is still tantalisingly unclear. Recent reports of the Queen dropping in by helicopter are to be taken with a pinch of salt, surely?
More certainly, the influx of Olympic visitors from across the globe will add to the already huge numbers of summer tourists that temporarily settle in the second most visited city on the planet, adding to the seasonal strain on London’s infrastructure and the city’s hospitality sector.
For most of these visitors, accommodation is fundamental but finding something comfortable, affordable and convenient isn’t going to be easy as the inundation of Olympic visitors coalesces with the huge number of traditional tourists.
If you are planning on staying in London in June, and still haven’t found somewhere to stay, here are three tips to help you find something fitting.
Investigate short-term lets
Hotels are the default choice for most tourists, but many savvy London citizens are renting their properties to visitors over the Olympic period - and this option can provide a more personal and homely experience than a room in a large hotel.
Finding one of these properties is more nuanced: in many cases you can find and contact property owners directly through informal adverts placed on listings sites like Gumtree and Craigslist but there are also agencies that act as middle-men between property owners and visitors to offer Olympic rentals, such as Hampton International.
Look further afield than London
It’s ideal to be located within easy reach of East London for the Olympic Park but many visitors - particularly visitors who’re not familiar with the area - may be unaware of the Olympic accommodation options outside London that still offer easy access in barely over an hour. And these options can be more affordable than premium-priced London counterparts.
Brighton, for example, offers a seaside situ on the south coast, a vibrant local culture and access to central London within under an hour on the fastest rail connections. And plenty of rooms are guaranteed to be available - some with a sea view.
Check halls of residence
Many universities rent out rooms in halls of residence out of term, which is convenient: most students will have left to go home as the Olympics arrives in town.
Arguably this option is more of a last resort, or one for bargain-seeking visitors travelling in small numbers, but it’s definitely worth investigating: halls of residence rooms aren’t as stereotypically stark as is often imagined and, when compared with dingy rooms in last-minute budget hotels, they can be comparatively luxurious.
It’s almost certain that the 2012 Olympics is going to be great, but finding Olympic accommodation is a less certain affair. If you haven’t found anything yet then complementing your search by acting on the advice and information offered should help you find a place to rest your head within easy reach of the action.