London has always been one of the world’s most popular cities for tourism, attracting visitors from around the globe. Over the past year, London has witnessed the death of the beloved UK monarch and ushered in a new king, as well as launching new shows, tourist attractions, and major museum renovations.
However, the UK is also experiencing a cost-of-living crisis that is bringing locals – and tourists – to their knees. Prices for everything from petrol and clothing to sandwiches and beer have jumped dramatically in the past few years. According to the Government, the annual rate of inflation reached 11.1% in October 2022, which marks a 41-year high.
It may be the third most visited city (after Hong Kong and Bangkok), but it’s one of Europe’s most expensive. In light of skyrocketing costs, will the tourists keep coming?
London Hotel Prices – On the Rise
It’s no secret that London is an expensive city, with historically high prices for accommodation and transportation. With rental and council tax prices rising by 4.5% in the 12 months to February 2023, hotels are also increasing their nightly rates to stay in the black.
Hotel rooms and private accommodation in AirBnbs and VRBOs are now ranked amongst the most expensive in the world, which could discourage tourism. However, hotels are also expensive in tourist favourites like Dubai and San Francisco, and those cities show no sign of slowing down. Tourists seem comfortable paying a premium to experience these unique cities – will they remain willing to pay in London?
Is Dining in London Too Expensive?
In addition to accommodation, tourists need to eat! Long gone are the days when British food was the subject of mockery – London’s culinary offerings are truly world-class. However, they too have jumped in price. Average restaurant prices rose 8.1% in 2022, with those restaurants at the very top end now increasing their prices by an average of 11.7%.
That said, dining out in London has always been surprisingly affordable when compared to cities like Paris, New York, and Sydney. Despite London’s pricey reputation, it boasts wonderful dining options at all ends of the spectrum, from cheap eats to Michelin-starred fare. Fine dining is always going to be expensive, and inflation is increasing menu prices, but London might surprise you.
So, is London still worth visiting?
All of this talk of rising hotel and restaurant prices might have you wondering – is London still worth visiting?
If you’re on a tight budget, you may prefer other UK cities, such as Birmingham, Manchester, or even Glasgow. For an even cheaper city break, Baltic cities like Riga and Tallinn might be a bit easier on the pocketbook, or you can head to Lisbon, Istanbul, or Marrakech for sunnier climes.
But it’s worth noting that London offers free admission to some of the world’s best museums and boasts epic riverside walks and tons of ‘pay what you wish’ free tours. These attractions can help offset the rising costs of food, drink, and accommodation.
One thing is for certain – costs don’t seem to be scaring guests away – tourism is predicted to rise by 15% by 2031.