Brexit: Visiting London Just Got Cheaper
Restaurateurs and hoteliers report a "significant surge in American demand" after the pound drops 10 percent against the dollar overnight (and continues to slide).
While many Britons emerged from the EU referendum dust on Friday scratching their heads in confusion at what just happened and where on earth it left their once proud island kingdom (clue: nobody is really sure yet), there was one almost instantaneous realization from across the Atlantic: London just got a whole lot cheaper.
The pound plunged more than 10 percent against the dollar on Thursday night as the shocking result of the U.K.’s historic vote became clear, plummeting to $1.34. Hopes that the currency would rebound as politicians frantically tried to reassure international markets have yet to be met — on Tuesday it was hovering around an almost 30-year low of $1.33 and analysts have now said investors should prepare for sterling to hit parity with the dollar — a historic first — by the end of the year or early 2017.
While the plummeting pound may see Brits contemplating a U.S. holiday perhaps opt for a staycation, for Americans there’s never been a better time to visit a city generally regarded as one of the most expensive on the planet.
Take accommodation, for example.
Claridges, the historic, glittering luxury hotel in London’s swanky heart of Mayfair, just became that much more affordable.
Last week, well, on Wednesday to be exact, a standard room would have set U.S. holidaymakers back around $720 per night. Fast forward seven days and the starting rate of £480 now translates as just $650, giving guests $70 extra to spend on the minibar (on about two bottles of sparkling water, no doubt).
Earlier in the year, Shane Smith picked the somewhat un-Vice-like Claridges as his chosen accommodation when visiting London to unveil the local Viceland channel, holding interviews in one of its impressive suites.
Should he want to return in September for Viceland’s official U.K. launch, booking now will see him enjoy some significant savings.
Starting at £840 per night, a standard suite last week would have cost $1,250. The same luxurious snooze in rooms “individually crafted by top designers” would now cost a mere $1,130. Heading up the luxury scale (Smith was in one of the bigger multi-room options), the dollar price of a Terrace Suite, which promises high-up views of London’s "Mary Poppins" rooftops, has dropped from around $3,840 to under $3,500.
Elsewhere across the city, those buying in dollars can enjoy 10 percent (and, it seems, dropping by the hour) cheaper sleeps.
A night for two in the hip Charlotte Street hotel in the media hub of Soho has fallen from over $500 in a Queen Room to closer to $450. A few minutes walk away in the Ham Yard Hotel, a regular spot for screenings and media power lunches, a Superior Room for two has dipped from more than $650 to $590. In the aptly named Soho Hotel (yes, it’s also in Soho), which earlier this week welcomed Patsy and Edina for the Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie press junket, a Luxury Room has dropped from just shy of $700 per night for two to a more palatable $631, darling.
But of course, it’s not just about the luxury Egyptian cotton bed sheets and goose down pillows. Thanks to the Brexit, post-referendum fine dining in London will also leave the American wallet less battered and bruised than before.
According to a spokesperson for Caprice Holdings, which owns some of London’s hippest and celeb-friendly eateries, there has been a “significant surge in American demand” since the vote, especially in its restaurants Le Caprice, 34 Mayfair and Balthazar, which it says are “particular” favorites with U.S. visitors. Among those to have enjoyed savings are Nicole Scherzinger and Eva Herzigova, both seen in 34 Mayfair post-Brexit (assuming they were picking up the tab, of course).
The same can be said for the original West End theaterland icon The Ivy, which has had an upswing in transatlantic bookings. A package deal including a ticket to see The Mousetrap (London’s longest running play at St. Martins Theater over the road) followed by a two-course meal is now just $105 per person compared to $116 last week.
At Sexy Fish, which last year overtook The Chiltern Firehouse as London’s place to be seen (and papped), a £45 baked Alaskan crab has fallen from $67 to $60, the savings just enough to squeeze in some maple-glazed pork belly for the road.
As for entertainment, the Fox Searchlight team who traveled over with Ab Fab were looking to take in a trip on the famed London Eye on the Thames. While now might be the best time for views across a city currently sulking under a dark cloud of uncertainty, the price of a ticket has just dropped from $41.70 to $37.80, almost enough for a cup of weak tea afterwards.
Americans, your British friends need you now more than ever. Visit London, enjoy the savings and tell them it’s going to be alright.
Or just wait a bit longer until it’s even cheaper.