Everything you need to know for visiting and staying in London for the Royal Wedding

Afternoon tea at DUKES Hotel, LondonExpected to be one of the most momentous occasions of the year, Prince Harry is set to marry Meghan Markle this summer. Having been in a relationship since 2016, the wedding marks a particularly interesting point in British Royal Family history, as back in 1936, Prince Harry’s great-great uncle, King Edward VIII, also married a divorced American – but for the pleasure of doing so, he had to abdicate the throne.

Whilst Prince Harry is not yet king, the wedding shows the change in views the Family has, taking a more modern approach that some may not have expected but which is undoubtedly seen as a positive across the board.

And with people from all around the world wanting to share in Prince Harry’s and Meghan’s big day, if you’re joining us in London for the day of the wedding, a little planning can go a long way to making sure you have a truly fantastic time.

When is the wedding?

The official date of the wedding is Saturday 19th May 2018, having been announced via Twitter on Friday 15th December 2017.

Interestingly, this breaks from tradition once again, as whilst there have been some notable exceptions, most Royal weddings are usually held on a weekday.

Whilst this does mean there won’t be an official Bank Holiday, a weekend is great for many people wishing to visit London for the wedding. However, that weekend is going to be a popular one regardless – the FA Cup Final is scheduled for the same day!

With that said, it is important to keep in mind that London really is likely to be a lot busier than normal, so do give yourself enough time in all respects.

From booking your hotel before you even get here through to setting off earlier than you thought you might need (particularly if you’re taking the Tube – you may not get the first one that arrives at the station), the day of the Royal Wedding and FA Cup Final is going to be a busy one, so be sure to plan your journeys in particular (whether that’s on foot, by car or public transport) beforehand.

Where is it taking place?

The wedding ceremony itself is taking place in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle at 2pm, about 25 miles outside of London’s city centre. Expecting in the region of 600 guests (according to Kensington Palace), it’s relatively small in comparison to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding, who wed in front of nearly 2,000 people in 2011.

After the ceremony, the couple will journey through Windsor before returning along the Long Walk to Windsor Castle. With the reception taking place in St George’s Hall, Prince Charles will later host a private evening reception for the couple’s close friends and family.

Whilst the wedding is taking place in Windsor, given it’s only a relatively small town, so many are staying in London itself. Accommodation is much more readily available in general in London, but we’d definitely recommend you heed our advice above regarding giving yourself enough time here – although you may be able to book a hotel hours before you stay normally, over the weekend of the Royal Wedding, it’s anticipated most hotels in and around London will have limited availability. Book quickly!

What celebrations are taking place?

The primary celebrations for the wedding are without doubt going to be in Windsor itself. Big screens are planned to be erected on the Long Walk and in Alexandra Gardens, allowing for the anticipated tens of thousands of people to watch the wedding live. Food and drink will be available right throughout the outdoors of Windsor, and it’s undoubtedly going to be a brilliant atmosphere for the entire day.

However, Windsor itself isn’t a huge location. 6,000 car parking spaces are able to be pre-booked (but are quickly filling up) and extra trains are being made available to transfer people to and from the wedding location from all across the south.

But one of the great things about Royal events in the UK is wherever you are, we’re almost certain you’ll be able to find a celebration to join in with. Venues will be showing the wedding live. Outdoor parties will be in full swing. There’s talk of opening times for bars and restaurants to be extended, too.

Simply put, whether you’re in Windsor or not you’ll be able to join in with the wedding festivities and thoroughly enjoy the day.

Staying in London for the Royal wedding

Our location in London is one of our favourite aspects of DUKES (and as Travelmag pointed out, we’ve been here since 1908!). Within walking distance to so many fantastic attractions, it’s particularly beneficial if you’re planning on heading into Windsor on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s big day – we’re a short walk to Green Park tube station, from which you can travel directly to Victoria and jump on trains right throughout the day to Windsor & Eton station (itself just a short walk from Windsor Castle).

What’s more, for use over the coming weeks we’ve put together an exclusive ‘Royal Escape’ package, which includes a three hour guided walking tour of Westminster for two, complimentary afternoon tea for two in our Drawing Rooms, a complimentary four hour Windsor excursion for two, including a picnic breakfast in the car, and much more.

With there little doubt that the atmosphere in Windsor, London and right throughout the country is set to be electric on 19th May, we really do hope you’re looking forward to celebrating the Royal wedding as much as we are.

Is spring the best time to visit London?

It’s over a month since the festivities of Christmas. We’ve all put up with the cold weather, most people have been back into the swing of work for several weeks and at DUKES we’ve been looking forward to the year ahead.

Being located in St James’s, we know we’re fortunate to have the opportunity to visit the sights, enjoy the atmosphere and take in everything this wonderful city has to offer every single day of the week.

As Walter Besant said: “I’ve been walking about London for the last thirty years, and I find something fresh in it every day.”

From the bitter cold of late through to the blazing hot summer days, you’re never at a loss of something to do when you’re staying in London. Indoors or out, right in the middle of the City or at the very edge of the outer boroughs, it’s somewhat of a cliché now, but there really is something for all.

With that said, everyone has their favourite part of the year when they like to spend time in London; that time where everything just falls into place and you have the brilliant mornings, the best days and wonderful evenings.

And it’s hard to argue with the people who say spring is the best time to visit.

The best British weather

Kicking off the reasons why, let’s start with one of our favourite things to talk about – the weather!

Generally seeing temperatures of between 11 and 15 degrees during the day, it’s the ideal temperature for everything. You can wrap up with a jacket if you’re feeling cold, but don’t need to wear half a dozen layers to combat the icy winds of wintertime..

Similarly, with these higher temperatures comes very little by the way of rainfall (at least not of the torrential variety). A shower here and there is easy to cope with – perhaps even enjoy – when you can jump in and out of somewhere to shop, or grab a bite to eat without needing to take off coats, jumpers and hats..

But whilst the milder weather is undoubtedly an attractive part of springtime in London, it has to be the longer days that are particularly pleasing – by the time we’re into May, it’s generally light well past 8pm, making the days seem longer, which is fantastic when you’re trying to see as much as you can on your visit.

Sights and attractions for everyone

And if you’re visiting in spring, you can be certain there’ll be enough for you to see and do.

By way of an example, let’s take a look at some of the events we’re looking forward to between 1st March and 31st May this year:

  • St Patrick’s Day: 17th March
  • Good Friday: 30th March
  • Easter Sunday: 1st April
  • Easter Monday: 2nd April
  • London Marathon: 22nd April
  • St George’s Day: 23rd April
  • The Royal Wedding: 19th May
  • FA Cup Final: 27th May

And these are just eight of the most notable events that come to mind straightaway – it doesn’t include some of the others that we’re particularly looking forward to, including International Health Day on 7th April and – conversely – National Hamburger Day on 28th May!

You can make it a family break

As mentioned above, Easter falls right in the middle of spring this year. With many schools closing for two weeks, it’s this time of year when a family visit to London can be ideal.

If you’re restricted to school holidays, the summer break is a brilliant time to come, but it’s undoubtedly warmer and busier. This can bring with it a fantastic atmosphere, but we can’t get away from the fact you’ll also see more queues for most attractions.

This isn’t the case over Easter. Easter week is definitely busier than those before and after, but it seems more manageable; there aren’t as many people compared to the height of summer, but all of the attractions are open – including the ever-popular street performers of Covent Garden – and so you get all of the benefits with none of the downsides.

Plus, it can be warm enough to take a picnic along to Green Park (a very short walk from DUKES) and spend a day enjoying a part of London that’s over 400 years old and where you’ll find arguably the most ‘natural’ part of the city – unlike many of the other parks in London, Green Park is almost completely free of buildings, statues or monuments, instead dominated by towering trees and wildflowers.

Visit when you can

We love London in the springtime. It’s a truly magical time to visit this wonderful city.

But we also love it in summer, winter and autumn. Each season really does bring something new to London.

If you only have the opportunity to come and see us in the months outside of spring, we’re confident you’ll have as spectacular of time as if you were visiting in spring itself. Yes, spring in London is fantastic – but the reality is, London has so much to see, do and experience that it’s impossible to say that one time of the year is better than the other. It’s always a fantastic time when you’re walking the streets of London!

Planning a trip to London this spring? We’ve got an array of offers to make your stay as enjoyable as it can, from half term breaks through to romantic escapes!

Image courtesy of Cristian Bortes.