June 29 - London hotels are slashing prices after misjudging demand from overseas visitors coming to London for the Olympic games. Hayley Platt reports.
++ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS STORY REPLACES 4116 WHICH HAS BEEN WITHDRAWN++ A room with an Olympic view. That's what guests at the Holiday Inn Stratford city get for £110 - at least they do at the moment! You won't be able get a room when there's something to watch - the hotel sold out months ago to Olympic organisers to the delight of Chris Hale from IHG hotel group SOUNDBITE: Chris Hale, head of London 2012 for IHG hotel group, saying (English): "We're seeing bookings at very good levels in advance of where they'd normally been this year that's partly because a lot of our inventory has been given over to LOCOG to give to the whole family, the people who are putting on the games so we have less rooms available then we would normally." But elsewhere in London there hasn't been the expected bonanza - July and August bookings are down by a third on last year. And Tom Jenkins from the European Tour Operators Association says it's unlikely to pick up before the Games start. Tom Jenkins, Executive Director of the European Tour Operators Association, saying (English): "It's known for a long time that regular tourism during the games just dries up, people assume that London isn't the place to come to when an Olympic games is on. I think that the idea that London was going to fill up with people was an impossible dream." Hotels raised their prices so much visitors sought alternatives - staying with friends or renting homes. We tried to book a room at the St Pancras Renaissance - the exclusive five star hotel in heart of London. They offered us a double room - without breakfast - for 305 pounds a night. Four weeks later the same room is 625 pounds - still without breakfast. That story is repeated across London. Even the budget chains - which normally offer rooms for as low as 39 pounds are attempting to cash in. John Walters is manager of Stratford's Premier Inn. SOUNDBITE: John Walters, General Manager, Premier Inn Stratford, saying (English): "We capped our prices at £199. Our starting rate in central London is about £159 so for a similar event of similar size we'd expect it to be about £189. So we've increased our rates a little bit." Some hoteliers are now slashing room rates in the hope of attracting domestic guests. But many Brits might be tempted to watch the Olympics from a foreign city. The average price of a four star hotel room in London during the Olympics is still between 200 and 400 pounds - that's an Olympic mark up in some cases of 300 percent A similar room in Paris and Barcelona is far cheaper. And there are plenty of new attractions for those that do decide to organise a last minute trip. But with the start of the games less than 4 weeks away - almost two thirds of southern England's 125,000 hotel rooms are still available during the Olympics. Hayley Platt, Reuters