London 2012 Olympic Planner: Hotels, Tickets, and Transportation

London-Big-Ben-Double-decker-bus-tube-sign.jpgAfter Beijing’s mind-boggling display at the 2008 Olympic Games, the baton was passed to London to host the 2012 Olympic Games. The handover performance at the Beijing Olympics’ curtain call—featuring a double-decker bus and umbrella-toting commuters—was a typically English affair: slapstick, tongue-in-cheek, and devoid of bombast. Overshadowed by Beijing’s mesmerizing show, however, some decried London’s lack of ambition. But it was a confident, offbeat, and fun display that was so very British. The unmistakable message was: come to London and enjoy yourself.

Now that London’s Olympic games are just over a year away—they’re to be held July 27 to August 12, 2012—it’s time to start planning your trip. The first round of ticket sales ends Friday, April 22. Here’s what you need to know about scoring a seat, booking your flight, and choosing the right hotel base for the big event.

Buying Tickets

As it turns out, Britain has been allotted the lion’s share (a whopping 70%) of 2012 Olympic event tickets, leaving the rest of the world to fight over the remaining 30%. Add on the fact that British nationals could also pay lower prices altogether (thanks to various discounts and promotions such as Pay Your Age), and your long-lost, London-based aunt may well be your best source of tickets.

Failing a local connection, you can request advance tickets from Cosport through Friday, April 22, 2011, and look for a confirmation email sometime in May. Indeed, it’s not a done deal: All requests will be reviewed after the closing date, and allotted based on availability. Visa is the only credit card accepted for bookings, and the price includes free public transport on the day of your event. Any remaining tickets are expected to go on sale sometime in June 2011.

Hotels and Flights

London may have over 100,000 hotel rooms, but you’ll still need to book your hotel as far ahead as possible, especially if you want to be near Olympic Park. Flights are also going to get snapped up close to the event, so start looking for deals as early as July 2011, when airlines start releasing tickets for the year ahead. Package deals that combine airfare and hotel can also shave significant dollars off the overall cost.

Upgraded public transit will put most Central London hotels within easy reach of the main stadium in East London, but those near the Tube’s Jubilee line will fare best. That said, many sporting events will be held elsewhere, from beach volleyball at Horse Guards Parade to tennis at—where else?—Wimbledon.

Plan Your London Trip

Photo Credit: Visit London