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Big Ben

One of London’s most resounding landmarks is a treasured emblem of England.

Catch a glimpse of Big Ben across the River Thames and you’ll know you have truly arrived in London. Featured in British films, such as “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” “Notting Hill” and “Love Actually,” Big Ben is best viewed from the Thames’ east bank or while strolling along Westminster Bridge, on route to see the Houses of Parliament.

Big Ben was the name originally given to the largest of the clock tower’s bells. The Great Bell, as it is otherwise known, weighs 13 tons (13,760 kilograms). Listen for its deep knell as it strikes on the hour, peeling high across the rooftops and rush of London’s traffic. Nowadays, the name Big Ben is synonymous with the bells, the clock and the tower.

Since first sounding in July 1859, the clock’s reliability and reassuring chime have become a national symbol of British resilience. When the sun sets, its four ivory-tinted faces are illuminated so the clock can still be seen from miles away. The faces have only ever been dimmed in times of national crisis: for two years during World War I, to avoid German zeppelin attacks, and at night during World War II to disorient German Blitz pilots. 

Completed in 1858, the clock tower was supposedly named after London’s Commissioner of Works, a large man called Benjamin Hall. Designed by architects Charles Barry and Augustus Pugin in classic Gothic Revivalist style, the brick and limestone tower rests atop Britain’s Houses of Parliament. The clock is the largest four-faced chiming clock in Great Britain. Each face is 23 feet (seven meters) in diameter and contains 312 pieces of opal glass. 

Despite its status as a popular landmark, Big Ben only opens its doors to British citizens who can schedule a tour through their parliamentary representatives. Still, this exclusivity won’t stop it from giving you a little rush of excitement the first time you see and hear it.

In June 2012, Big Ben was officially renamed Elizabeth Tower, in honor of Queen Elizabeth II’s diamond jubilee, but it is still known colloquially as Big Ben. 

Big Ben is located in central London. The nearest Underground station is Waterloo. 


Guide to Exploring around Big Ben


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Lodging Near Big Ben

See all 3,878 Hotels near Big Ben
$147
Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London

Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London

200 Westminster Bridge Road, London
4.4
of 5, from 8,905 reviews
4.5 out of 5.0

This fantastic new hotel is located on the South Bank, near London Eye. Waterloo and Westminster stations are within 5 minutes walk, making easier to travel and ideal choice for city break or business trip.

$125
The Grosvenor Hotel

The Grosvenor Hotel

101 Buckingham Palace Road, London
4.2
of 5, from 1,128 reviews
4.5 out of 5.0

Located in Belgravia, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Victoria Palace Theatre, Buckingham Palace, and St. James Park. Big Ben and Sloane Square are also within 1 mi (2 km).

$127
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel London - Westminster

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel London - Westminster

30 John Islip Street, London
4.3
of 5, from 3,048 reviews
4.0 out of 5.0

Located in City of Westminster, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Tate Britain, Big Ben, and Houses of Parliament. Parliament Square and Westminster Abbey are also within 15 minutes.

$128
The Strand Palace Hotel

The Strand Palace Hotel

372 The Strand, London
4.0
of 5, from 8,616 reviews
4.5 out of 5.0

Located in City of Westminster, this eco-friendly hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Covent Garden Market and King's College London. Royal Opera House and London Coliseum are also within 10 minutes.

$115
Novotel London Waterloo

Novotel London Waterloo

113 Lambeth Road, London
4.2
of 5, from 1,706 reviews
4.5 out of 5.0

Just a step away from River Thames, Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, and minutes away from the London Eye. For children, the Vauxhall City Farm and other family friendly activities are just minutes away.

St. James' Court, A Taj Hotel, London

St. James' Court, A Taj Hotel, London

54 Buckingham Gate, London
4.4
of 5, from 1,989 reviews
4.5 out of 5.0

Buckingham Palace, Westminster Cathedral, and Big Ben are among the many popular attractions within 0.8 km (0.5 mi) of this central London hotel. Victoria Station is a 7-minute walk. St. James' Park and Hyde Park are close by.

Park Plaza London Waterloo

Park Plaza London Waterloo

6 Hercules Road, London
4.5
of 5, from 1,162 reviews
4.5 out of 5.0

Located in Lambeth, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Florence Nightingale Museum, The Vaults, and Imperial War Museum. Old Vic and Southbank Centre Book Market are also within 10 minutes.

$279
The May Fair

The May Fair

Stratton Street, Mayfair, London
4.3
of 5, from 1,795 reviews
5.0 out of 5.0

Oxford Street, Bond Street, and West End are just a few of the amazing locations that guests can easily reach from May Fair. Green Park Station is moments away with great connections on Piccadilly, Jubilee, and Victoria lines.