Queen's Diamond Jubilee Celebration
Jubilee tourists expected to provide boost for UK economy
The Diamond Jubilee is expected to inject £10 billion into the British economy, as hundreds of thousands of visitors flock to London's hotels, restaurants, bars and shops.
Here's a look at the impact of the bank holiday celebrations on our tourist trade and economy.
Hotels in London and beyond have seen bookings soar for the weekend of June 2-5.
The Savoy hotel, located on the banks of the Thames, is expecting a very busy weekend during the Jubilee celebrations, particularly on Sunday when the Royal flotilla will sail down the river. Managing director Kiaran MacDonald said: "Our river view suites and rooms have been booked for a while as have the majority of the tables in our River Restaurant. It will be a historic occasion and from talking to guests, many of them have chosen The Savoy as it’s such an wonderfully British place to celebrate." The hotel is offering a special Royal package during the weekend, including two nights' accommodation and a four-course Diamond Jubilee dinner for two with sommelier-selected wines (from £1,230).
At the nearby Landmark Hotel, bookings are currently at 50 per cent for the Jubilee weekend, with a late surge expected over the next fortnight. Sally Beck, director of marketing at the Landmark, explained: "We're expecting a spike in the coming weeks, with bookings rising to 70 or 75 per cent capacity. This is similar to what happened last year around the Royal wedding - there is often a last-minute rush for rooms." The hotel is offering special Diamond Jubilee rates, as well as a guest package including champagne on arrival and a three-course meal with Kir Royale cocktail (from £342).
London's iconic Goring Hotel, where the Middleton family stayed during last year's Royal wedding, never discloses how busy it is during bank holiday weekends. However, guests at the luxurious city-centre hotel can enjoy a glittering cocktail designed in honour of the Queen. "The 1952" is a gin martini served with a silver leaf in a crystal Swarovski glass, which can be taken home afterwards.
At the Covent Garden hotel, operations director Carrie Wicks said reservations were "already flooding in". She added: "Brasserie Max is serving a special Diamond Jubilee tea menu and we expect the hotel to be busy as usual over the Bank holiday weekend. There will be a great buzz in the Seven Dials.”
But tourists hoping to indulge in some of the capital's accommodation packages in early June should be aware of predicted price rises around the Jubilee weekend. According to a study by Santander bank, the cost of a four-night stay for a family of four during the Jubilee period is roughly 54 per cent more expensive than an identical stay in May.
The report also found that some hotels have increased their charges by up to 223 per cent. Visitors booking luxury accommodation face the most substantial rises – an average of 81 per cent more than an equivalent weekend in May.
Some visitors opting for longer stays in Britain have chosen to book apartments or rented accommodation during the Jubilee period.
Guy van der Westhuizen, founder of Ivy Lettings said: "We have seen a considerable uptake in demand, mostly from overseas visitors. Many English owners of our London apartments have chosen to use them themselves - especially those with river views - others are keener to make a profit."
London's top restaurants and establisments serving traditional British cuisine are likely to be extremely busy during the Jubilee weekend, so visitors are advised to book early.
At the two Michelin-starred The Ledbury in Notting Hill, the restaurant is already fully booked for lunch and dinner throughout June.
Other high-priced restaurants, such as The Ivy in London's West End, and Heston Blumenthal's renowned The Fat Duck in Bray, Berkshire, are expecting to be busier than usual during the celebrations.
Tourists flocking to London are also looking forward to sampling the many traditional afternoon tea menus on offer. Hotels including the Dorchester, the Park Lane Hotel and the Andaz Hotel in Liverpool Street are all offering themed Diamond Jubilee tea packages, offering treats such as Victoria sponge, coronation chicken sandwiches and gin and tonic jellies.
Henry Brosi, executive chef at The Dorchester, said: "We only have four tables left on Saturday, June 2. Tea is so popular at The Dorchester that we have already increased from two sittings to five, and we now offer ‘low tea’ at 2.15pm as well as ‘high tea’ at 5.15pm. For the Diamond Jubilee we will be serving diamond sugar and the front of the hotel will be decorated by the Florist at The Dorchester with the Queen’s favourite flowers in an array of red, white and blue."
At Betty's Tea Rooms in Yorkshire, one of the UK's best-known venues for afternoon tea, there is still some availability over the Jubilee weekend. The tea salon has planned a special package during the festivities, with an indulgent selection of cakes, scones and sandwiches served in regal-inspired surroundings in York and Harrogate.
Harrods department store and Hamleys toy shop are just two of the iconic London shops that will be top of tourists' to-do lists during the bank holiday weekend.
Other classic British shops are already preparing for the influx of tens of thousands of visitors.
A spokesperson for Fortnum and Mason said the luxury store was expecting a lot of custom at the start of June. "We have made sure all our language speakers among the staff will be in over the weekend and have had many requests from international press teams, including Danish, Taiwanese, Polish and French media, who want to come and film and ask about the Royal Warrants," she explained. "We have special menus and products in store, and the windows have been decorated with our Jubilee logo since the beginning of the year – they will remain until Christmas, which is very unusual."
She added: "When the Queen was coronated huge velvet drapes were hung outside the store but this time we have gone for huge decorative beasts, such as a lion and a unicorn. On the first floor there is an exhibition showcasing the work of artists enrolled on the QEST scholarship programme, including beautiful jet jewellery, a full-size wicker bull and restored dollshouse, and the artists will be giving talks too. We decided two years ago that we were going to focus on the Jubilee over the Olympics.”
At Harvey Nichols, there are no specific plans to keep the shop open longer during the Jubilee weekend. A spokesman said: "However, we have installed commemorative Jubilee Windows in our Knightsbridge store, as well as introducing new, limited-edition packaging with British iconography to appeal to our international shopper."
Attractions in London and further afield will also prove a draw for first-time visitors to the UK.
Alton Towers resort in Staffordshire is expecting a similar level of visitors to a normal bank holiday weekend. "We don’t have anything planned specifically for the Jubilee. It will fall during the Whit half term so we will plan for it as we would a normal school holiday and bank holiday period," said spokeswoman Liz West
At London Zoo, a "significant increase in visitors" is expected, again partly due to the Jubilee weekend falling on a school half-term holiday. Senior press officer at the zoo, Rebecca Smith, said: "We will have a Diamond Jubilee exhibition here at the Zoo throughout the weekend, highlighting the Queen and the Royal family’s historic relationship with the Zoological Society of London – featuring some wonderful photographs of the Queen as a young girl visiting the penguins and cheetahs at the Zoo."
London’s Hackney carriages are expected to be in demand this Diamond Jubilee weekend as visiting tourists flock to travel in one of the capital’s famous black cabs. Registered taxi firms Call-A-Cab and London Black Taxis said they were expecting demand during the Jubilee weekend to be much higher than normal.
“We’re hoping it will be a lot busier, given the number of people who will be in the city centre that weekend,” said a spokesman for London Black Taxis. “We can’t put on any more cabs or drivers, but people should be ready for it to be very busy.”