|by Sean O'Neill||United Kingdom, London, Hotels||5|
Hotel prices in London for late August and September—a time of usually gorgeous weather—are as much as 60 percent off the norm. Here are tips on what's worth seeing and how to plan an affordable getaway.
Western Europe’s most populated city, with about 8 million residents, has felt the pinch of welcoming an additional million people for a few weeks. But hotels are reporting that bookings are down for the post-Games period, which is prompting them to offer sale rates. US-based websites tend to miss some of the best London hotel deals, so check for deals at Booking.com and Venere.com instead.
One of the cheapest sources for airfares to London is Vayama, but there's a catch: Tickets are mostly non-refundable, so if you book, you'll have no choice but to go. But by taking that risk, you can save up to 20% off the lowest rates being offered by competitor online travel agencies.
Harrods Toy Kingdom
Harrods has just opened a 26,000-square-foot toy department. Kids can sit inside a giant mouth filled with wonky teeth, ride miniature trains and cars in the Wonderland area, and walk on floors that rumble in the Odyssey zone. The gender-neutral toy shop will give standby favourite Hamleys on Regent Street a run for the money.
World's first for the arts
Until October 28, 2012, Tate Modern will have open The Tanks, the world's first gallery space for live performance art set in a dramatic location, the former oil tanks underneath the former gigantic power station on the Thames River.
New shark exhibit
When visitors want to see sharks, they usually head over to the city to see the banking district. But the aquatic kinds of sharks now have a posh new display at Sea Life London Aquarium. The Shark Reef Encounter exhibit has 16 sharks, such as sand tiger sharks and blacktips in a 65-foot tank.
The 02, a venue that hosted boxing, athletic, and other events during London 2012 under the name of North Greenwich Arena, is the city's most popular stadium year-round. This summer, it opened a new external building climb. Up at the O2 allows people to walk across its roof while wearing a special safety harness. Views take in the city's ever-changing skyline, and the 90-minute excursion can make anyone feel like James Bond walking 175-feet above the ground. From $34 for adults.
The London Design Festival turns 10
Between September 14–23, the city's glorious Victoria & Albert Museum will host the London Design Festival, a series of talks, exhibitions, and installations about design. But there will also be pop-up attractions around town, such as a sound portal in Trafalgar Square, where musicians will perform concerts in a box with "perfect acoustics."
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