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LONDON CALLING ... BUSINESS TRAVELERS
By Joe Brancatelli
July 5, 2012 -- Business travelers don't need an Olympics Games to pay attention to London. In fact, a big event such as the Summer Olympics might make our interaction with London worse.

The British capital, after all, is the most visited overseas destination for American business travelers. By far. Add the connections we often make at problematic Heathrow into the mix and we see plenty of London.

Without the Olympics, London is crowded, pricey and physically and financially taxing. Throwing in the huge sporting event may make London that much less fun. After all, the trains are crowded enough already, taxis are often hard enough to find and hotel rates make New York prices seem reasonable.

As we prepare for the quadrennial summer sporting orgy--London's moment is July 27 to August 12--I thought it would be interesting to review how JoeSentMe.com's columnists and bloggers have written about the British capital over the years.

Our most recent piece, by John Lampl, tells you all you need to know about the summer games. My most recent piece, from last year, covered the malaise in London and the expectation that the then-upcoming triad of special events--the William-Kate marriage, the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics--would rekindle our passion for a city that Mr. Johnson said you could never find tiring.

And, as you can see by the nearly two dozen chronologically displayed columns and blogs below, JoeSentMe has called on London time and again.

I seem to have focused on how London has changed physically and socially, as witnessed in my pieces about Canary Wharf and the shift to the area north of Hyde Park thanks to the arrival of the Heathrow Express. Michael Matthews, a native Brit and a hotelier, loves doting on the quirks of London lodging. Chris Barnett, the ultimate schmoozer, is always poking around bars and other places where business travelers congregate. David Rowell, the ultimate pragmatist, drills down to specifics of how to make the most of London's amenities. Will Allen returned to London in 2009 for the first time in years and was stunned by how much the city's demographics had changed. And Martin Deutsch, who's been visiting London for business most of the last 50 years, offers up what becomes a fascinating historical backbone to the once and once-again capital of the English-speaking world.

The sun does set on the British empire now. In fact, there's no empire left. But long after the Olympics have gone, there will always be a London. We'll surely continue to do business there. And, as long as Heathrow is the aviation meeting point of the modern world, we'll use London as the nexus of global business travel.

May 3, 2012 JOHN LAMPL: LET THE GAMES BEGIN
If you're familiar with London--its parks, palaces, congestion, crowded and narrow streets, well-established neighborhoods and boroughs--you're probably scratching your head trying to imagine where the British capital will put the massively attended 2012 Summer Olympic Games. Here's how they are going to do it and how you can be a part of it all.

Feb. 24, 2011 JOE BRANCATELLI: WHEN A MAN IS TIRED OF LONDON ...
I must be tired of life because I surely was tired of London during a few recent days of work and play. But with all due respect to Mr. Johnson and his oft-used quote, a lot of Londoners must be tired of life, too. A bad winter and endless bad economic news has cast a pall over the place. But a royal wedding, the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth and the Olympics may change the attitude of the British capital.

Jan. 5, 2010 WILL ALLEN: THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE ODD OF LONDON
Only a lost soul could fail to find fascination with Central London. My few days on foot in and around Mayfair were uplifting. But London continues to disappoint in small ways. Like being nibbled to death by ducks, a series of little things galled me. The hotels, the airport and the Heathrow Express that links the two are somewhat problematic. Surprisingly, American Airlines' business-class service from London is terrific.

Dec. 13, 2009 WILL ALLEN: IN SEARCH OF BRITISH LONDON
London pub life has all but vanished. I went into four Mayfair pubs today looking for a pint and supper and they’ve all gone upscale. Not one had English bitter on tap. Another sad trend: Even at the Connaught Hotel’s vaunted bar and restaurant, there was not one English server. All speak with heavy accents and are from the Continent.

Oct. 8, 2009 CHRIS BARNETT: A GREEN GASTROPUB IN LONDON
Despite its Victorian ancestry, humble décor and cozy charm, the Duke of Cambridge in London's Islington neighborhood is on the cutting edge of the global effort to preserve the planet's health. The Duke says it is the world's first and only certified organic gastropub, where libations and everything on its eclectic menu have never been touched by herbicides, pesticides or any environmental villain.

March 27, 2009 DAVID ROWELL: BEYOND HEATHROW
Heathrow Airport is an iconic symbol of the British capital. But there are four other airports around London. Heathrow is the best known, of course, but it is not necessarily the "best" airport in all respects. (Let's be honest, "best" and "Heathrow" can rarely be used together in any context.) Gatwick, London City, Stansted and Luton all have their benefits for business travelers.

Nov. 29, 2007 MICHAEL MATTHEWS: LAST ORDERS FOR THE SAVOY
The Savoy's portals will be locked for as long as two years while it is modernized and brought into the 21st century--or so trumpets a press release announcing a $200 million renovation. I shudder to think of the end result. If it is in keeping with previous attempts at modernization, it will be ghastly. And the 120-year tradition of The Savoy of London will have gone the way of the dodo.

July 3, 2007 JOE BRANCATELLI: LOSING LONDON
I love London, but the British capital these days is impossible. The exchange rate is murder: At $2 or more to the pound, everything in London costs twice as much as it does in New York. London's amazing rebirth as a banking and investment center means that prices are skyrocketing. Traffic is brutal. And, like too many other business travelers, I've given up on Heathrow as a connecting airport.

March 29, 2007 MARTIN DEUTSCH: REMEMBRANCE OF PLANES PAST
Once the Airbus A380 finally enters commercial service, there is a philosophical question: Will this $300 million behemoth, of which only 156 have thus far been ordered, exert the same impact on commercial aviation that we experienced with the coming of jets in the late 1950s, the introduction of the Boeing 747 in early 1970, and the debut of the beautiful, but short-lived, supersonic Concorde in the mid-1970s? And many of these great places first debuted on flights to and from London.

Dec. 21, 2006 CHRIS BARNETT: WHERE THE $32 MARTINI REIGNS
When I'm in London and want to unwind, I expect a refuge that's calm and clubby. A place where the paneling is at least 100 years older than the whiskey. Where the bartender is part alchemist, part ambassador, has great stories and tells them without spilling a drop. For my money--and you have to bring lots of it--Dukes Bar in Dukes Hotel is the perfect sanctuary.

Sept. 8, 2006 DAVID ROWELL: DAY TRIPS FROM LONDON BY TRAIN
There are many wonderful places to visit within a few hours train ride of London. Most can easily be experienced in a single day tour. Save yourself the bother of having to check into and out of different hotels. Extend your stay in London, then take day tours to other places by train. Here's how to do it.

June 9, 2006 DAVID ROWELL: THE LONDON PASS SAVES
If you're going to London, costs for admissions can add up very quickly. The exchange rate between the pound and the dollar makes these costs even worse. But the London Pass is a great way to enjoy London. Good for unlimited admission for one day, two days, three days or even six days, the London Pass also has an option that offers you unlimited use of the city's transit network.

Sept. 4, 2004 MICHAEL MATTHEWS: THE HOTEL QUESTION
This is a hotel story of a blind man and a sighted man. An otherwise idyllic stay at an English country house was ruined by the dirt and dust and a general manager who blindly blamed housekeeping. But a stay at The Landmark Hotel in London was perfect because it is run by a general manager with a great eye for details large and small.

July 4, 2004 DAVID ROWELL: HOW TO USE THE LONDON UNDERGROUND
London’s 274 underground stations provide a convenient way to travel around the British capital. You also avoid London's maddening traffic and the expensive taxis. But navigating the system--and its convoluted fare structure--takes a little skill. Here's everything you need to know to use "the tube" to its full potential on your next business trip.

June 24, 2004 CHRIS BARNETT: POUNDED BY THE POUND
Here's an instant seminar on currency trading any business traveler can understand: A martini at a popular cocktail bar in London set me back $25 and a night in a stylish hotel there can cost you more than a roundtrip coach ticket to England. Headed across the pond without a chief executive's expense account? Here are some tips for controlling your currency costs.

May 8, 2003 JOE BRANCATELLI: THE FUTURE OF BUSINESS TRAVEL
I have seen the future of smart business travel. It is in London, which has pulled off the entire airport-to-city-to-hotel connection. You can now go from the luggage carousel at Heathrow to the lobby of Hilton's newest deluxe hotel in central London in 20 minutes. That's less time than it takes to get to a Heathrow hotel using the airport shuttle bus.

June 25, 2001 CHRIS BARNETT: HOOF IT TO LONDON FOR GREAT VALUE
The fallout from the media hype on hoof-and-mouth disease has prompted London hoteliers and restaurateurs to put on their best faces and, in some cases, their best rates. That’s good news for visiting Americans, particularly business travelers, who can now wheel and deal for rooms in the ferociously competitive London market.

June 18, 2001 MARTIN DEUTSCH: LONDON BECKONS AS A SCARE WANES
With the most overblown travel crisis in my memory beginning to recede, there’s a modicum of hope that London and the U.K. in particular and Europe in general will recoup some of the U.S. bookings lost because of hoof-and-mouth disease. Spurred by curiosity, I recently accepted an invitation from Millennium Hotels to see for myself.

March 9, 2000 JOE BRANCATELLI: WORKING OFF THE MAP IN LONDON
Canary Wharf is transforming London, but you must understand the history and geography of the British capital. The economic engines of 21st-century British commerce--the banks, the media, the lawyers and the technology cartels--are building on the ground literally used by the economic engines of the old British Empire. And the new London has its own problems that make it much less than a perfect place for visiting business travelers.

Oct. 21, 1999 JOE BRANCATELLI: BACK TO THE PAST IN THE NEW CITY
If London, the self-described Millennium City, is all about the future, how come the locals continue to obsess about the past? Visiting business travelers will find precious little public support for the Millennium City theme. Pick up a newspaper, pop into a pub or engage a business contact in conversation and the topic is always what's gone before, not what's coming next.

Aug. 16, 1999 MARTIN DEUTSCH: A MILLENNIUM LONDON
Great Britain in general and London in particular have always exerted a powerful pull on travelers from the United States. And David Batts, chairman of the London Tourist Board, discusses the $10 billion being spent on visitor attractions in and around London, as well as new ones, many of them of impressive magnitude.

Oct. 20, 1997 MARTIN DEUTSCH: A CENTURY AT CLARIDGE’S
On the road from Heathrow to London, our driver ventured the opinion that Claridge’s, our intended hotel, was the city’s best. This venerable property on Brook Street in Mayfair will be 100 years old next year, a reality that’s hard to grasp when you visit the gracious and spacious public rooms, dine in the handsome restaurants and settle into a distinctively designed room or suite.
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