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London at Christmas this year?

Appreciating that none of us has a crystal ball, how comfortable would you be booking a trip to London for the period between Christmas and the first week in January? I think we may go for it and hope that international travel will be OK by then (we're based in the U.S.), but I'm curious as to whether anyone suspects that may still be too early. (ETA: We would of course take the usual cancellation precautions, trip insurance, etc.)

Posted by
6882 posts

I don't see any advantage to booking something right now, especially with airline itineraries totally in flux and subject to change. Are you anticipating on missing out on something if you wait a few months? It's really hard to see what the next few months will hold, let alone end of the year.

Posted by
9930 posts

I'd probably wait as well. I've got a trip researched for late Nov/early Dec that I can put in to place relatively last minute but probably won't consider it until late September/early October.

Have you been to London before? Do make sure you are aware of the usual closures to transport systems and sights around Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day before you get too far in to planning.

Do be sure also to read carefully the cancellation policies. After this I'm sure everyone will be looking at the policies and modifying them to take in to consideration pandemics.

Posted by
8020 posts

I would certainly wait awhile before making any reservations. I also would reconsider doing this trip over Christmas.
We spent Christmas in London this past year and it takes a lot of work to make it happen as you may want. Many restaurants are closed and those open will close for the actual period of 12/23 to 12/27. Museums will closed then too. For Christmas Day prices prices skyrocket at places that will open for dinner, and mostly they are in hotels.
No tube or buses on Christmas Day and taxis will be very expensive.
We rented a small house and had a kitchen so bought a takeout dinner to finish cooking at home. If we hadn’t had local friends/ family who helped us find places that were open, it would have been even more difficult.
We still had a wonderful time together but a lot of advance planning and extra money for food and lodging was needed.

Posted by
2048 posts

We did the week between Christmas and new year several years ago. And actually it was great. the 26th was a little slow but we knew that that abs was the day we arrived So we were fine. After that it really didn’t feel any different except that perhaps it was a little less crowded than going in the summer

If I was looking at doing it this year I don’t think I would buy plane tickets yet, but you could always book refundable hotels.

Posted by
5727 posts

I would be surprised if any insurance policy covers you for Covid 19 henceforth.

I wouldn’t book a trip yet - too many unknowns at present.

Posted by
759 posts

Suspect too early?
No insurance company will cover the trip in terms of CV19.
There will not be a vaccine by then.
Odds are great that CV19 will make a winter round bringing attractions to a close.
You may end up losing a lot of money.
But hey- go for it; you can always make more money.

Posted by
46 posts

Thanks for all the input. To answer some questions and address feedback - honestly, the reason we are thinking about starting to plan early is mostly to give us something to look forward to. If travel isn't safe by then, so be it, but the anticipation helps to mitigate the sting of having to cancel two big spring and summer trips.

Yes, I have been to London before and know the situation during the holidays. We would be leaving the U.S. on Christmas night and arriving on Boxing Day, so we'd plan around closures and limited public transport. I always keep arrival day loose anyway to accommodate flight delays, jet lag, etc.

We always fly with Delta miles and can cancel with no penalty so I'm not worried about flights. The only insurance I would buy at this point is CFAR since I know no one is going to insure COVID cancellations.

Posted by
18 posts

Go for it!
You only live once and it will give you something to look forward to.
I’m on the Rick Steves “Best of London Tour” beginning 12/26 and I can’t wait. Will arrive a few days early to enjoy Christmas in one of my favorite cities.

Posted by
2141 posts

Will you be practising social distancing? If not stay at home.

Posted by
46 posts

That was uncalled for, ramblin' on. Why would I come and put anyone's health at risk?

Posted by
1159 posts

You might consider London in the weeks prior to Christmas when the shop windows are filled with Christmas lights, the huge lighted spruce tree is up in Trafalgar Square and ringed by groups caroling nightly, and the Christmas offerings at the Royal Albert and other venues are in full swing. Holiday markets are bustling too, all of which makes London is one of our favorite cites in the run up to Christmas. The period you are contemplating is mostly dull with the holiday spirit mostly gone and transportation at a minimum. Just a suggestion.

Posted by
13762 posts

Go, plan, have fun. I don't Christmas week there years ago and had a blast. Maybe by then the Brits will be so fed up with the COVID thing that they will be ready to party.

Posted by
46 posts

I would love to go before Christmas, but we have a teenager who will be in school, so that is a no go unfortunately. Thank you though!

Posted by
310 posts

I would say plan and have fun. No one can tell any of us when exactly this virus thing will be over. We're all living under restrictions of one form or another. As long as you understand that restrictions of some sort may still be in place, that some museums, public places, restuarants, and public transport may not operate per "normal", and that (at least at this point) you may need to cancel or modify your trip , there is nothing wrong with planning. In other words, just be willing to be flexible.

Personally, I'm not ready to book any travel yet (even though, like many here, I am itching to). Far too many jets are parked, and far too many restrictions are still in place. Thats just me, though.

Posted by
4727 posts

That was uncalled for, ramblin' on. Why would I come and put anyone's health at risk?

It's clearly evident that many people don't practice safe distancing and it's actually quite difficult to do outside of static lines not least in a busy and crowded city such as London. Plus the footage of people flocking to the beaches in Florida or those partaking in demonstrations against lockdown in the US (not suggesting that you're one of them) certainly demonstrates that there are quite a few Americans who are too selfish to acknowledge the risks (I'm fully aware that the UK has its own fair share of idiots as well). So it's actually a fair reminder from Ramblin' On rather than something that was uncalled for.

London has the highest number of Covid-19 cases in the UK. Irrespective of what the situation is in December it is one place that I wouldn't want to spend any time in.

Posted by
1176 posts

Every country on the planet is struggling right now, to contain and stop the spread of the virus. Only until we have a vaccine will we have an endgame and be able to get back to normal and fully reopen our country and borders. From what I read and from all the doctors I saw being interviewed, this will be 18 to 24 months from now. We need to develop a vaccine, then have it tested and then have enough for everyone. Until that happens, most people will not be able to fully return to life as they know it.

This pandemic is not a hurricane or a wildfire. the question is not when this will end, the question is how do we continue.
You may not be able to travel as others on this forum have said, will other countries allow us to go there, will you be able to fly back home and be admitted back into the USA. Will things even be open if they do allow you to fly to the UK.

So right now, my opinion for what it is worth, is no travel for the rest of the year. Read up on the UK and find out how they are doing and if they are reopening. Even the prime minister is trying to get better as he has the virus. Let's see what he has to say when he is fully recovered.

As for insurance, I very much doubt insurance companies will cover you for COVID-19. If anything, they will be adding it to their exclusions of their polices.

Case in point, I was supposed to go to London in May and of course that is cancelled now. I booked a tkt to see Highclere Castle with Brit Movie Tours. They cancelled my tour and gave me a voucher. I read the Terms and Conditions and it listed Epidemics and Quarantines not covered. Which meant, I could not get my money back.

I would wait until at least next year to go anywhere. But that is just my opinion, take it or leave it.

Posted by
46 posts

So it's actually a fair reminder from Ramblin' On rather than something that was uncalled for.

My apologies if I misinterpreted. It came across as rude and patronizing. I know all about the people who don't adhere to social distancing, and rest assured - if it isn't possible or advisable to visit museums, restaurants, shops, etc. without putting ourselves and everyone else at risk, we won't be traveling at all.

Thank you for all the advice and thoughts. For now, we've booked flights (as mentioned upthread, fully refundable without penalty thanks to Delta status) and we'll cross our fingers and reevaluate later in the year.