Inside travel: Olympic London

London 2012 tickets are now up for grabs. Simon Calder reveals the travel options

Next Tuesday, you can start applying for tickets for the 2012 Olympic Games. London will welcome the world between 27 July and 12 August next year, but plenty of British sports fans also want a slice of the action . Most events take place around the Olympic site in Stratford, east London, with some sports located elsewhere in London and across Britain. But finding accommodation in the capital could prove difficult and expensive: The Independent Traveller has learnt that one top London hotel is increasing its room rates by 150 per cent during the Games. To keep your Olympic experience free of hurdles, start here.

How to get tickets

Register at tickets.london2012.com for a "ticketing account": it's free, and takes a couple of minutes. From next Tuesday until 26 April you can bid for up to 20 events – as long as you have a Visa credit or debit card that expires no earlier than August 2011.

For more popular events, such as athletics and the swimming finals, tickets are likely to be oversubscribed, and these will be allocated by ballot in the same manner as Wimbledon tickets. If you are assigned tickets, you must buy them – you can't simply consider the offer. But there will be a mechanism for selling the tickets back to the Organising Committee.

If you demand more certainty, then you will need to go through one of the official agencies; Thomas Cook (0844 800 2012; thomascooklondon2012.com), "Official Provider of Short Breaks to the London 2012 Games", is putting its offerings on sale from Tuesday. It promises "tickets to a full range of events from the Opening Ceremony and 100m final to regional football heats, sailing and synchronised swimming", along with accommodation.

The entry-level package is one night at the Ibis Heathrow, including breakfast, a Games Travelcard (providing unlimited Tube and bus access), and a ticket for the women's volleyball, costing £198 for two.

At the upper end of the scale, a three-night half-board stay at the Hyatt Regency Churchill Hotel, including tickets to the men's 100m final, costs £8,798 for two, while the same hotel offer with the Opening Ceremony (plus a bit of table tennis and that always-popular women's volleyball) will cost a couple £12,998.

How to get there

By train or coach to London, then by Tube; the capital's roads will be in disarray because of closures. And don't rely on domestic flights: London's airports will be disrupted with the most extraordinary constraints on airspace the city has ever seen, with restrictions in an area from Cambridge to the South Downs and from Southend-on-Sea to Reading. The core is a "prohibited" zone extending east and west beyond the M25, though flights to and from Heathrow and London City will be allowed. If some services need to be cancelled because of the restrictions, domestic flights are likely to be hardest hit.

Where to stay

That is the biggest issue facing many prospective visitors, with hotels naturally keen to cash in on what they expect to be high demand. VisitBritain's "Fair Pricing and Practice Charter", designed to counter perceptions that accommodation will be overpriced throughout next summer, does not specify a ceiling for rate increases. An ordinary double room at the four-star DoubleTree in central London is going for £450 a night on 1 August 2012, compared with £180 for the same night this summer.

The budget hotel chains such as Travelodge, Premier Inn and easyHotel take bookings only one year in advance, so you cannot yet book. However, there are some budget options. University halls of residence are not increasing their rates substantially. At King's College London, a typical single-room rate of £44 at the Stamford Street Apartments on the South Bank increases by only 25 per cent to £55 (kcl.ac.uk/ kcvb). The same mark-up applies at the Park Inn in Thurrock – 15 miles out. The YHA has also promised good-value deals for people hoping to see events.

Camping is a possibility: there are good sites around the capital. My favourite is beside the BBC transmitter at Crystal Palace (www.bit.ly/faY0UN): £10 a night when last I stayed there. For a party atmosphere, see camping2012 games.co.uk: John Morley is organising a campsite close to Epping in the Essex countryside. "Pitches will be from £20 per night. We will also have live music, big screens for the sport, bars, catering, etc."

Or take a chance on the likelihood (based on observation of previous Games in Sydney and Athens) that there will, a few weeks before the competition begins, be something of a last-minute panic, and room rates will tumble as hotels scramble to fill beds.

Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Sheridan Maine: Accounts Assistant

    £25,000 - £30,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you looking for a fantastic opportunity...

    Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester

    £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester...

    Ashdown Group: Project Accountant (Part-Qualified Accountant) - Manchester

    £23000 - £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Project Accountant (Part-...

    Beverley James: Accounts Payable

    £23,000: Beverley James: Do you have a background in hospitality and are you l...

    Day In a Page

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor