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Big Ben
Holiday Travel Guide

Big Ben featuring a city, heritage architecture and a monument

The timeless time-piece that has rung out over the Thames, Parliament and central London for 150 years.

The clock tower of Big Ben may be one of London's best-known – and most photographed – landmarks but there's a lot more to this Victorian marvel than just a wonderful photo-opportunity. Its clock has rung out those famous hourly bells over 150 years of British history, from the Empire to the 2012 Olympics. It stands over Old River Thames, as well as the ancient parliament of the United Kingdom. And it has probably appeared in more films – Hollywood, Bollywood and other – than any other part of the British capital. Big Ben is as much part of England as red double-decker buses and Buckingham Palace.

Although this superb example of neo-Gothic Victorian architecture is instantly recognisable, most don't realise that it is the huge 13-ton bell inside that's actually named 'Big Ben'. The tower itself was officially known as the Clock Tower, until 2012, when it was renamed the Elizabeth Tower. That doesn't stop everyone, from London's taxi cab drivers to visiting tourists, calling it Big Ben. It was built in 1858, after the old Westminster Palace burned down, and a new Parliament building was needed.

It is now an irreplaceable sight, towering some 96 metres above the Thames, especially dramatic when seen from Westminster Bridge. It is also famed for its reliability, keeping time throughout two World Wars, and a bombing by the Germans in 1941. The ticking heart of Big Ben is a 300 kg, four metre long pendulum, which swings every two seconds. Amazingly, it is kept in time by a pile of old 'penny' coins stacked on the pendulum. Take one off, and you will slow Big Ben down by nearly half-a-second per day.

Another astonishing thing is that the bell is actually broken. It fractured within two months of being installed, and was repaired, and rotated, so that the crack wouldn't get larger with every strike. That repair job has lasted 150 years, although it did alter the tone of the bell. The BBC uses Big Ben's twelve 'gongs' to mark the midday on its radio news programme, as do many British TV programmes. And on 30 July 2012, it rang out 30 times, when London hosted the 30th Olympic Games of modern times. Big Ben, it seems, will always be the timeless centre of both London's skyline and its soundscape.

Top Trending Hotels Near Big Ben

Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London
Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London
4 out of 5
200 Westminster Bridge Road, London, England
The price is Rs13,689 per night from 18 Apr to 19 Apr
Located in London City Centre, this eco-friendly hotel is steps away from Southbank Centre Book Market and Florence Nightingale Museum. St. Thomas' Hospital ...
4.3/5Excellent! (4,098 reviews)
"Great location, decorated lovely for Christmas my three year old loved the Shrek theme in the lobby. Spacious rooms and well adhered to covid-19 hygiene etc. Breakfast was good and delivered to your room. Would definitely stay there again."

Reviewed on 14 Dec 2020

Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London
The Tower Hotel
The Tower Hotel
4 out of 5
St Katharine's Way, London, England
The price is Rs9,097 per night from 17 May to 18 May
Located in London City Centre, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Tower Bridge, Tower of London and HMS Belfast. The Shard and Excel Exhibition Centre ...
4.2/5Excellent! (2,738 reviews)
"Lovely hotel with great staff. Would highly recommend."

Reviewed on 14 Dec 2020

The Tower Hotel
Thistle Piccadilly
Thistle Piccadilly
4 out of 5
Coventry Street, London, England
The price is Rs8,605 per night from 17 May to 18 May
Located in London City Centre, this hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of The British Museum, London Eye and Buckingham Palace. Big Ben and Hyde Park are also within ...
4.3/5Excellent! (853 reviews)
Surpassed our expectations
"I was really impressed by the room in particular. A massive and comfortable bed, lovely big and modern bathroom and quality shower. We also had a great view of Leicester Square that we weren't expecting! It was extremely good value and a great experience. The staff were friendly and helpful too."

Reviewed on 17 Dec 2020

Thistle Piccadilly
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

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Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London
Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London
4 out of 5
200 Westminster Bridge Road, London, England
The price is Rs13,689 per night from 18 Apr to 19 Apr
Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London
The Tower Hotel
The Tower Hotel
4 out of 5
St Katharine's Way, London, England
The price is Rs9,097 per night from 17 May to 18 May
The Tower Hotel
Thistle Piccadilly
Thistle Piccadilly
4 out of 5
Coventry Street, London, England
The price is Rs8,605 per night from 17 May to 18 May
Thistle Piccadilly
The Savoy
The Savoy
5 out of 5
Strand, London, England
The price is Rs42,780 per night from 21 Apr to 22 Apr
The Savoy
The Royal Horseguards
The Royal Horseguards
5 out of 5
2 Whitehall Court, London, England
The price is Rs12,293 per night from 9 May to 10 May
The Royal Horseguards
Shangri La Hotel At The Shard London
Shangri La Hotel At The Shard London
5 out of 5
31 St Thomas Street, London, England
The price is Rs52,909 per night from 17 May to 18 May
Shangri La Hotel At The Shard London
Corinthia London
Corinthia London
5 out of 5
Whitehall Place, London, England
The price is Rs46,468 per night from 23 Apr to 24 Apr
Corinthia London
Conrad London St. James
Conrad London St. James
5 out of 5
22-28 Broadway, London, England
The price is Rs21,685 per night from 17 Apr to 18 Apr
Conrad London St. James
St Martins Lane
St Martins Lane
5 out of 5
45 St Martin's Lane, London, England
St Martins Lane
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.