Hotels near Big Ben

Located right in the heart of London, Big Ben is one of the capital’s most iconic landmarks. Towering over the River Thames and the Palace of Westminster, this world-famous clock is an international symbol of Britain. 

Best of all, when you book a hotel near Big Ben, you’ll have more than just one landmark on your doorstep. It’s surrounded by numerous historical monuments like Westminster Abbey and the Victoria Embankment, which runs along the Thames to London Bridge and Tower Bridge. Alternatively, why not cross the Thames and experience the Tate Modern or Shakespeare’s Globe, both just a short distance from our hotels near Big Ben?

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Big Ben hotels

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About Big Ben

What is Big Ben and why is it called Big Ben?  
Big Ben might be one of London’s most iconic and popular tourist attractions, but it’s a common misconception that the clock tower itself is called Big Ben; it’s actually the nickname of the largest of the tower’s five bells! Fun fact – the tower that houses Big Ben was originally called the Clock Tower but was renamed the Elizabeth Tower in 2012 to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II.

It was completed in 1859 and was the world’s biggest chiming clock for many years, before being overtaken by the Abraj Al Bait in Saudi Arabia. The scale of Big Ben is immense – the tower is 315 feet high and constructed from a mixture of brickwork, limestone cladding and cast iron. Each clock face is set in an iron frame measuring 23 feet in diameter; the hour hand is 9 feet long and the minute hand an impressive 14 feet long. Unlike some clocks and most watches, none of the clock faces of Big Ben has a second hand. The famous clock looks particularly impressive at night when lit up by ultra-long life induction lighting – perfect for a structure where ongoing maintenance is so tricky and expensive!

How old is Big Ben and how long did it take to build?
Big Ben was completed in 1859, so this iconic London attraction is well over 160 years old. It took around 13 years to bring Charles Barry and Augustus Welby Pugin’s architectural designs to life, and the structure has lasted well into the 21st century.

Who decided to build Big Ben and why?
Big Ben comes with a fascinating history. After a fire destroyed the Palace of Westminster in 1834, plans to include a clock tower as part of the new Houses of Parliament were submitted. Charles Barry was the chief architect of the neo-gothic palace, while Augustus Pugin designed the now famous clock tower. The original clock tower was actually damaged beyond repair, so a new one had to be made in 1858.

How much did it cost to build Big Ben?
It’s difficult to get an exact figure for how much it cost to build Big Ben, but we do know that the 2017 renovation clocked in at around a whopping £80 million!

Who owns Big Ben now?
As Big Ben is part of the Houses of Parliament, it’s owned by the British government.

How loud is Big Ben and how far away can you hear it?
How loud Big Ben is depends on how close you are to the bell, but try not to get too close when it strikes – it registers at around 118 decibels at close proximity! It’s estimated that the chimes can be heard up to nine miles away, so chances are you’ll be able to hear it from our hotels near Big Ben!

When did Big Ben become a working clock tower?
The foundation stone for the clock tower was laid in September 1843. It was completed five years behind schedule on 31st May 1859 and incredibly, perhaps due to it being so severely delayed, there was no official opening ceremony!

How do they change the time on Big Ben?
With difficulty! It takes around five hours in total for a team of five people to turn the giant hands on Big Ben’s four clock faces. The team will climb the tower’s 334 steps, move into the belfry, turn off the chimes and then release the escapement so that the hands can be moved to the correct time.

Is Big Ben changing its name? 
There are no plans for Big Ben to change its name, though in 2012, the tower in which Big Ben is housed was renamed from the Clock Tower to the Elizabeth Tower in tribute to Queen Elizabeth II celebrating her Diamond Jubilee.

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Visiting Big Ben

Can you go inside Big Ben? Is it open to the public?
Yes! Big Ben tours are available to the public though unsurprisingly, tickets sell out months in advance for this attraction, so be sure to plan ahead! It’s also worth bearing in mind that tours last around 90 minutes, and reaching the Great Bell requires climbing 334 steps up the tower.

Do you need tickets for Big Ben?
You’ll need to book tickets in advance to visit Big Ben, and these are usually released monthly, so make sure you set an alert to secure yours when they’re released. Tours are open to visitors aged 11+.

Why should you visit Big Ben?
Big Ben is one of London’s most iconic symbols and tourist attractions – which is probably why it’s been featured in so many films and TV shows. Seeing it up close is a must on days out in London, or you could even see it lit up at night against the capital’s skyline.

What else is near Big Ben?
Big Ben is so centrally located that it’s easy to reach several other iconic tourist attractions nearby. Take a seat in the Public Galleries at the Houses of Parliament or attend a service at the spectacular Westminster Abbey where members of the royal family get married. The Churchill War Rooms is steeped in history and well worth a visit, as is The British Museum, or why not take a short walk to the National Gallery or stroll along the magnificent Westminster Bridge to appreciate the sights and sounds of bustling London.

How do I get to Big Ben?
As it’s so centrally located, Big Ben is easy to get to from almost anywhere in London. The nearest tube station is Westminster on the Circle, District and Jubilee lines, just a two-minute walk away, but you could also head to St James’s Park on the District and Circle lines or Embankment on the Circle, District, Northern and Bakerloo lines.

There are great options on overground trains as well. Your best bet is Charing Cross station which is around a 10-minute walk from Big Ben. Read our guide for more information on getting around London.

What time does Big Ben ring?
Traditionally, Big Ben rings an E note every hour, emitting one chime to represent one hour of the time – so at six o’clock, the bell will ring six times. There are also four quarter bells that chime every 15 minutes.

What happened to Big Ben in 2017?
Essential restoration work took place on the Elizabeth Tower, and the famous chimes fell silent from August 2017 to December 2021, when they rang in the New Year.

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