How to avoid the Royal Wedding on a London business trip

By John Walton, April 18 2011
How to avoid the Royal Wedding on a London business trip

With Prince William and Kate Middleton's royal wedding coming up next week in London -- plus a whopping four public holidays in the next two weeks -- doing business in the UK is likely to be tricky.

Australian Business Traveller has the lowdown on all the details to help you navigate London during the wedding, plus the details of the public holidays coming up, so you have the best chance of getting business done in London over the next couple of weeks.

Public holidays

The UK has four Bank Holidays (the British term for public holidays) in the next two weeks, plus an additional holiday for the Civil Service.

  • Thursday 21 April: Civil Service half-holiday for Maundy Thursday; many take the full day
  • Friday 22 April: Good Friday
  • Monday 25 April: Easter Monday
  • Friday 29 April: Royal Wedding
  • Monday 2 May: May Day

Some business may still be going on during Bank Holidays, but the entire week is likely to be disrupted by preparations and royal wedding tourists swamping the city. Here's how to avoid the worst of the crowds in London if you're there on business.
Where to avoid

On the 29th, the biggest crowds will be clustered between Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey, with spillover to surrounding areas. The UK public sector is concentrated in this area, but will be closed down for the Bank Holiday.

Getting into, around and out of London

On the day and during the preparations in the run-up to the 29th, avoid London Underground Tube stops at Hyde Park Corner, Green Park, Piccadilly Circus, Charing Cross, Embankment, Westminster, St James' Park and Victoria. Railway stations at Waterloo, Victoria and Charing Cross are also likely to be especially busy.

Avoid trying to go anywhere in Central London via taxi. With key arterial roads and bridges out of action, it'll be a snarled, gridlocked mess.

Victoria Station is the terminus for the Gatwick Express airport rail link and is one of the busiest stations in London even on a normal day. To get to Gatwick, try Southern Trains via London Bridge, or the First Capital Connect (Thameslink) train via several stations in central London.

Where to stay

Hotels near to the royal wedding action are likely to be booked solid for days around the event and will be especially busy and full of gawking royal-watchers. Your best bet is to avoid the area entirely -- including the numerous hotels around the Waterloo, Albert Embankment and South Bank areas -- and pick a hotel elsewhere in London.

The Canary Wharf area -- in the newer Docklands financial district 7.5km to the east of Westminster Abbey -- is a good bet. It's full of glass-and-steel modern hotels, and also provides regional and European flights through London City a couple of km to the east.

Another option is the City of London, which is the old financial district about halfway between Westminster Abbey and Canary Wharf. (Don't confuse it with the location of London City Airport, confusingly to the east of Canary Wharf.)

Further north and west, there are some good hotel options in an arc between Bloomsbury, Paddington, Notting Hill, Kensington and Hammersmith, but these areas are generally less useful for business trips unless your meetings, London office or corporate contacts are close by.

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

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