London hotels are enjoying an unprecedented level of enquiries and bookings for the week of the Royal Wedding next April, with some hotels charging up to 200% more for rooms than at the same time last year.
Ever since it was announced that 29 April is the date that Prince William and Kate Middleton will marry at Westminster Abbey, hotels in the capital and travel agents have been inundated with requests for rooms. The fact that the day - a Friday - has been declared a bank holiday, turning the May Day weekend into a four-day holiday, just a week after the Easter weekend, has added to the demand.
Discount hotel specialist LateRooms.com has seen a threefold increase in London hotel bookings for 29 April 2011 compared with bookings a week earlier. Managing director Andrew Pumphrey said: "Such a massive surge in booking for a date so far in advance is almost unheard of and demonstrates the phenomenal public support and enthusiasm for the big day next year."
Hotels.com has experienced a 60% increase year-on-year in searches for rooms on and around 29 April since the announcement of the wedding date. Alison Couper from Hotels.com said: "Demand is extremely high, and where demand catches up with supply, prices go up."
A spokesman for the British Hospitality Association said that responsible hoteliers will not take advantage of the demand. "If there are difficulties in availability, the obvious alternative would be to stay out of town and come up on the day of the wedding," he said. "There's a huge selection of hotels at all levels within the M25 - and outside it, too - with quick rail travel into the capital."
Many of London's landmark hotels - such as the Dorchester - are fully booked. A spokeswoman for the Dorchester said that, given the nature of the property, the hotel is likely to be a preferred choice for wedding guests and therefore will not be offering special packages and has handled each enquiry as bespoke.
As the only two hotels overlooking Buckingham Palace, the four-star Rubens and five-star Number 41 - both part of the Red Carnation Hotel Collection - will be creating a Royal Wedding package, celebrating all things to do with the Royal Family in the run-up to 29 April, including special menus for afternoon tea and dinner, offered with Champagne cocktails.
The hotels will be decorated inside and out, with boxes of confetti provided for people who wish to attend the departure of the newly married couple from Buckingham Palace.
Jonathan Raggett, managing director of Red Carnation Hotels, said: "This is a fantastically happy occasion and the extra day means that hotels will be much busier than they usually are over bank holiday weekends."
Budget hotels, too, are also benefiting from the surge in demand for rooms, with both Travelodge and Premier Inn experiencing an increase in enquiries for rooms for the weekend of 29 April. Travelodge report a double-digit rise in bookings across its 41 London hotels, with particular interest from travellers in the USA, Canada, Australia, Japan and India, as well as from the North of England and Scotland.
While hotels in the capital are expecting to be the major beneficiary of the Royal Wedding, it is hoped that the feel-good factor it is creating will have a knock-on effect on hotels further afield.
Heiko Figge, managing director of Guoman & Thistle Hotels, said: "Let's not forget the entire nation will be joining in with this momentous occasion, and as we're a UK-wide group, with our Thistle portfolio spanning across England, Scotland and Wales, we will be actively encouraging good use of this leisure time that the Royal Wedding has enabled - not only in London, but throughout the whole of the UK."
Prince William and Kate Middleton making the announcement on 16 November
ROYAL WEDDING MARKETING IDEAS
â- Ten Manchester Street, London, offered all engaged couples called William and Kate a complementary afternoon tea with a bottle of Champagne, up until 30 November.
â- The Landmark London hotel offered couples who became engaged in the past month a free night's stay and a bottle of Champagne to 30 November.
â- The Cornwall Spa & Estate in Tregorrick, Cornwall, offered couples who became engaged during the same week as Prince William and Kate Middleton a free overnight stay and a his-and-her spa treatment when booked by 30 November.
Hospitality expected to benefit from royal wedding >>](http://www.caterersearch.com/Articles/2010/11/16/335929/Hospitality-expected-to-benefit-from-royal-wedding.htm)
By Janet Harmer
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