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 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;, "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 ( 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 ( £10 a night when last I stayed there. For a party atmosphere, see camping2012 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
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Recruitment Genius: Class 1 HGV Driver

    £23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful group of compan...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas