Video: New Years Eve London 2012 Fireworks (make sure to watch in 1080p)
Thanks to the very generous Eurostar compensation policy I was able to travel to London for free with three friends to celebrate New Years Eve. On a family trip back in September, our Eurostar train to London was delayed by 135 minutes due to electrical problems in the Eurotunnel. Even with the root cause being out of control of Eurostar, each traveller was compensated with a free round trip ticket from their departure city to London. The train manager even announced this to everyone on the delayed train. I was even more surprised to learn there were no black-out dates to use these compensation tickets. As long as there are seats available on the train, you can book using compensation tickets. Instead of paying €185 per round trip ticket Brussels-London, I used four (out of five) of our compensation ticket for a free trip to London during the 2012 New Years Eve Weekend. Saved us €740!
Pic: Crowne Plaza St James London – Exterior (Jan 2012)
Traditionally, New Years Eve is one of those nights with room rates sky high. A great opportunity to burn points and get maximum value out of them. Initially I had booked Hyatt Andaz Liverpool Street on GoldPassport points, but changed my mind once I understood location was prime for the London NYE fireworks. I was looking for a hotel as close as possible to Westminster (Big Ben) – Victoria Embankment. Mid December the best available PriorityClub hotel with reward nights was Hotel Indigo London Paddington. I booked it for 25K points and started monitoring availability on daily bases. A week before year-end, the best IHG hotel (location wise) showed availability, Crowne Plaza St James. Ten minutes walking distance from Big Ben, excellent! Cancelled my Indigo Paddington booking and booked Crowne Plaza St James instead. Paid rooms at St. James were around £250, so I got excellent value for my 25000 Priority Club points. Out of curiosity, I kept monitoring the availability of IHG hotels and noticed on Dec 30 even InterContinental London Park Lane had opened up some rewards rooms for NYE!
Pic: Superior Room at Crowne Plaza St James London (Jan 2012)
Upon arrival both our standard rooms were upgraded to superior rooms on the second floor. The 2nd floor hallways and rooms looked like they had been recently refurbished as they didn’t match the old fashioned lobby area. Staff was very friendly and helpful, location was perfect for the fireworks, St. James area itself was very quiet. Around 8pm we headed towards Big Ben to join the crowds for the most spectacular fireworks I ever witnessed in my life (see videos) A big thank you goes out to the Mayor of London. Very promising for my upcoming London 2012 Olympics trip!
Pic: Bart Lapers at Big Ben in London on New Years Eve 2012
Video: My view from Big Ben – New Years Eve London 2012 Fireworks