Hotels near Big Ben

Located right at the heart of London, Big Ben is one of the capital’s most iconic symbols towering over the River Thames. Looking over the Palace of Westminster, this world-famous clock is truly an international symbol of Britain.

You’ll definitely want a hotel near Big Ben as it’s surrounded by numerous historically significant monuments. You’ll find Westminster Abbey close by, and the Victoria Embankment running along the Thames to London Bridge and Tower Bridge. Alternatively, cross the Thames to experience the Tate Modern or Shakespeare’s Globe, both just a short distance from hotels near Big Ben. 

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Big Ben hotels

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What to do in London near Big Ben

With so much to do and see near Big Ben, it's no surprise that Premier Inn offers a number of comfortable and affordable hotels to accommodate visitors looking to explore the capital city. Our hotels in the area around Big Ben offer great service at an affordable price, meaning many of our guests return for a second visit to see the London attractions.

View the majestic Big Ben from our London County Hall hotel, located right near the Thames on Jubilee Gardens, for peace and tranquillity in the big city, or stay at our nearby London Victoria hotel for excellent transit links throughout the nation.

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What is Big Ben and why is it called Big Ben?

Big Ben is one of London’s most iconic and popular tourist attractions. 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. The tower that houses Big Ben was originally called the Clock Tower but was renamed Elizabeth Tower in 2012 to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II.

When it was completed in 1859, the four-faced clock was both the largest and most accurate striking and chiming clock in the world. It is still the largest in the UK but no longer the world (that honour now goes to the Abraj Al Bait in Saudi Arabia). The scale of Big Ben is still hugely impressive; however, the tower is 315 feet high with the bottom 200 feet made of brickwork with limestone cladding and the remainder an intricate spire of 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 is 14 feet long. Unlike some clocks and most watches, none of the clock faces of Big Ben has a second hand. The clock looks particularly impressive at night when it is lit up by induction lighting, a type of lighting resistant to vibrations and with ultra-long life. Perfect for a structure where ongoing maintenance is difficult and expensive.

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How old is Big Ben and how long did it take to build?

Big Ben was completed in 1859, making it 161 years old at the time of writing. Designed by architects Charles Barry and Augustus Welby Pugin it took 13 years to build using 2600 cubic metres of brick and 850 cubic metres of stone. 

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Who decided to build Big Ben and why?

The planning, and creation of, Big Ben is a fascinating story. After the Palace of Westminster was destroyed by fire 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 but turned to Augustus Pugin to design the clock tower. It was Pugin’s final design before his descent into madness and his eventual death. A massive bell was required for the clock tower, but the first attempt cracked beyond repair and was melted down. The bell that is now in place was recast in Whitechapel in 1858.

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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 it’s reported that the clock alone cost £2,500 to make.

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Who owns Big Ben now?

Big Ben is part of the Houses of Parliament and is owned by the British government.

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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 itself! At close proximity, it measures 118 decibels which is loud enough to cause physical pain. It is estimated that the chimes of Big Ben can be heard up to nine miles away, so you’ll be able to hear it from all our hotels near Big Ben listed above!

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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. Incredibly, perhaps due to it being so severely delayed, there was no official opening ceremony.

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How do they change the time on Big Ben?

With great 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 334 steps inside the tower, move into the belfry, turn off the chimes and dial lights and then release the double three-legged gravity escapement so that the hands can be advanced to the correct time. 

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Is Big Ben changing its name?

There are no plans for Big Ben to change its name. The tower in which Big Ben is housed was renamed in 2012 from the Clock Tower to the Elizabeth Tower in tribute to Queen Elizabeth II celebrating her diamond jubilee.

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Can you go inside Big Ben? Is it open to the public?

Big Ben is currently closed to the public as essential conservation works are ongoing to refurbish and repair both the Elizabeth Tower and Great Clock. Public tours of the tower are due to restart in 2021 but, until then, you can still join a talk on the Elizabeth Tower or take a tour of the Houses of Parliament next to it.

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Do you need tickets for Big Ben?

Only UK nationals can see inside Big Ben and to do so, you will need to contact your local MP to request a visit.

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Why should you visit Big Ben?

Big Ben is one of London’s most iconic symbols and famous tourist attractions that has been seen in countless films and TV shows. To see it up close is a must on any visit to the capital. Its historical relevance makes it fascinating and its intricate and beautiful construction is unsurpassed by any other tourist attraction in the UK. To see it lit up at night with the River Thames flowing next to it is a scene that will live long in the memory.

 

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What else is near Big Ben?

Big Ben is so centrally located that it’s easy to reach several other iconic tourist attractions nearby. You could sit 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 is well worth a visit, as is The British Museum. If you’re tired of soaking in thousands of years of history then take a short walk to the National Gallery to satisfy your artistic side or simply take a stroll along the magnificent Westminster Bridge to appreciate the sights and sounds of bustling London at its very best. 

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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 (about 8 minutes away) or Embankment on the Circle, District, Northern and Bakerloo lines (10 minutes away).

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.

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What time does Big Ben ring?

Traditionally Big Ben rings every hour to the note of E, emitting a chime to represent every hour of the moment e.g. at six o’clock, the bell will emit six rings. There are also four quarter bells that chime every 15 minutes. Currently though Big Ben does not ring at all, apart from on major events such as New Year’s Eve and Remembrance Sunday, due to the ongoing renovation works to the Elizabeth Tower that are due to be completed in 2021.

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What happened to Big Ben? Why did they stop it ringing and what work is being done?

Big Ben fell silent on 21 August 2017 to allow essential restoration work to be carried out on the Elizabeth Tower. The bells were silenced to protect the hearing of those carrying out the work on the tower.

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Is Big Ben still under construction? How long will it be under renovation?

At the time of writing Big Ben is still under renovation. The restoration works are scheduled to take four years so Big Ben will chime regularly again in 2021.

 

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How long has Big Ben been silent and when was its last chime?

Big Ben’s last chime before major repair work began was on 21 August 2017. However, Big Ben did bong at midnight on New Year’s Eve 2019 to mark the start of 2020.

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What will Big Ben look like?

Big Ben won’t look drastically different following the completion of the current renovation works. It will revert to its original Victorian colour scheme of dark blue dials and clock hands complete with Cross of St George shields. New white opalescent glass will be installed as part of the repair to the tower and some areas of black paint around the stonework on the outside of the clock face will be gilded. It has been described as a return to the vision of original architect Charles Barry.

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Will Big Ben still chime at New Year?

Yes, Big Ben will still chime at New Year, it chimed on New Year’s Eve 2019 to mark the start of 2020. 

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Is midnight the first strike of Big Ben?

The first strike of Big Ben signifies the hour. So, at midnight, it is the first rather than the twelfth strike that means it’s midnight.

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