London: bank holiday closures?

Hi, we will be visiting London this May and see that there is a bank holiday on May 27th. What attractions will be closed on that day? Will the city be extra crowded on the holiday? Is this a day we should head out to see Windsor? Thanks very much! We'd love to hear your experiences in London. Susan

Posted by Keith
United Kingdom
894 posts

The banks are closed, obviously, and a lot of businesses - but not the shops (at least not the bigger ones). Nearly all attractions will be open (though I'm sure somebody can point out exceptions). London may be busier in the centre over the whole weekend, but I'm doubtful if you would really notice the difference compared to weekends either side - it is just busy generally then. The trouble with going to Windsor on that Monday to escape the crowds, is that a lot of other people may have the same idea. What the weather is like will play a part too (if we're having a rare heatwave by then, a lot of locals will be staying in their own gardens or heading out to the seaside or into the country). You need to check transport nearer the time if leaving London, a revised service may operate on some railway lines. Within London, they usually run a weekend service on the Monday. All subject to engineering works.

Posted by Sue
Austin, TX, USA
33 posts

Thanks Keith for the information! Starting to look at food/restaurant options in London. We've heard it is quite expensive to eat in London. Do you have any favorite places in the moderate price range that you can recommend? Thanks, Sue

Posted by Kira
Seattle, WA, USA
1019 posts

Hi Sue - I'm not Keith, but I did just get back from London, and can confirm that it can be quite spendy. Our strategy was to buy fresh produce, bread, cheese, cans of beer, crisps and microwave meals from Tesco Express. When we ate out we opted for inexpensive sandwiches or noodles from places like Pret a Manger and Wagamama, that aren't as pricey. There are quite a few chains that are reasonable and tasty. We also depended on the local chip shop, where a portion of excellent fish 'n' chips came in a few pounds less than it would've at a pub. A special favorite was also a chain - Pizza Express. The one at 133 Baker Street was right near our hotel, and the pizza was DIVINE. Also not expensive. We are both New Yorkers and VERY picky about pizza, and we loved Pizza Express. Pub grub can also be reasonable, depending on the pub. And check out Time Out London. They devote a whole page to cheap eats:

Posted by Adrienne
Vienna, VA
30 posts

I'm not sure about closures, but I do know some sights have different hours on bank holidays. For example, last year on the August bank holiday, the British Library didn't open until 11 (whereas the British Museum had its regular hours). So you might want to check the hours on everything while you are planning.

Posted by Larry
Elkins Park, PA
861 posts

Not to hijack this thread, but it raised a direct question that applies to my son. He will be returning from his semester abroad through London, with a 3 day layover at a friend's place, that weekend. He had to layover at least 1 day because his incoming flight can't connect with the last flight here, so we made it a long weekend. In any event, his flight out is from Heathrow at ~5Pm on Monday the 27th.
He is staying 1 block from Kilburn tube stop (Jubilee), which connects to the Picadilly line. Can anyone with knowledge suggest how much the bank holiday will affect the time he needs to get to the airport? (and he will need extra time there to retrieve a large bag that he will leave in storage there, and repack between that and his carry-on).

Posted by Keith
United Kingdom
894 posts

I typed this once and it disappeared, so here is the short version: Larry - The issue for a bank holiday is really what engineering works are planned. Currently nothing is shown for the Jubilee and Piccadilly lines, but it is worth checking again nearer the time. Otherwise the tube runs frequently on the bank holiday. Sue - As well as Timeout mentioned above, the quality newspapers often have updates on current recommended cheap eats. Try the websites for The Telegraph and The Guardian.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
11663 posts

As well as the quality papers noted above, there is also London's Evening Standard, the free evening paper available all over London from about 1630 at main stations and later at newstands and newsagents.
They produce a very decent free iPhone app called Go London which is full to the brim with good ideas.