May 19, 2018, will be an historic day (and not just because it’s the FA Cup Final). When British Prince Harry marries American Meghan Markle, the world’s collective eye will be focused on the small town of Windsor in the rural county of Berkshire, just west of London.
Instead of joining the other billion or so people watching it on the box, it’s the perfect opportunity to hop across the pond and invite yourself to be a spectator, as the fifth in line to the British throne marries an American actress. Best of all, you don’t even need to buy them a gift.
Fly to the right airport
Flights from the US to London are ubiquitous, but for convenience the closest airports to Windsor are Luton and Heathrow, although only the latter offers direct flights.
From Heathrow, there are three options to get to Windsor.
The cheapest is to get the 140 bus from the airport to Hayes & Harlington station where you can catch two trains into Windsor. Alternatively, you can take the Heathrow Express train into Paddington Station, central London and then from there two trains to Windsor (but the Express, although frequent and fast, is eye wateringly expensive). Lastly, a taxi – a famous London black cab will cost around £30 (as it’s outside metropolitan London there are no fixed rates), an Uber less or you could book in advance with a local cab firm.
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Or if you’re staying in London, you can see what options are best for you on the Transport For London website.
Book a hotel
Amazingly, at the time of writing there are still hotel rooms available over the wedding weekend in Windsor itself – though you’ll have to be quick as they’re going fast and many now come with a premium because of the wedding.
Less than three miles from Windsor Castle, the highly rated (if not exactly beautifully British) Windsor Marriott Hotel has Deluxe doubles available for just under $500 a night over the wedding weekend. Or if you’re looking for something more authentic, there are some lovely local properties taking advantage of their proximity to the castle – if you’re willing to pay the price, that is!
The alternative is to stay in London and make the wedding a day trip. Windsor is only an hour from central London by train, which opens up the whole capital and its myriad hotel options. Some of my current and new favorites include The Pilgrm (rooms from $190 over the wedding weekend), The Ned (rooms from $315) or for some old school British luxury a stone’s throw from Buckingham Palace, you can’t go wrong with The Goring (rooms from $510).
Or take a floating alternative
For something a bit different, take advantage of Windsor’s winding waterways with Le Boat’s Royal Cruise along the Thames through the heart of wedding territory. An 84-mile return trip along the Thames to Benson via Windsor, you’ll have a unique viewpoint on the celebrations and moving under your own steam can moor up or stay afloat as you see fit. Choose a boat depending on your group size and float for a week or two with prices from 14 May starting at $450 per person for seven nights on a boat that sleeps up to six.
Walk in royal footsteps
You don’t need an invite to line the streets of the wedding procession if that’s what you’re keen to do (and trust me, thousands will, each armed with a mini union flag and strange sense of fervour), but on the big day you won’t make it much further.
Plan a few days before or after though and you’re free to attend a service at St George’s Chapel where the royal knot will be tied and stroll the grounds and stately rooms of Windsor Castle. More than 900 years old, the castle is the oldest occupied in the world and remains the Queen’s go-to weekend retreat.
If you want to extend the royal theme a little more, you can also take in Frogmore House, a 300-year old retreat standing in the Home Grounds of Windsor Castle, though its opening times are restricted to three charity days in the spring and to pre-booked groups of 15 or more in August.
If you’re coming from London for the day, you may want to take the easy route with a guided tour that makes sure you don’t miss out on any of the essentials – VisitLondon.com has some good Windsor specific offers.
And back in London
If you’re still on royally sated, there’s one last Harry and Meghan themed stop to add to your itinerary. Once wed, Harry and Meghan will follow in the newlywed footsteps of Prince William and Kate and move into Nottingham Cottage, in the grounds of Kensington Palace.
And while they likely won’t want you traipsing through their new front room(s) days after they marry, you can still tour the gardens and King’s state apartments of Kensington Palace. Who knows, maybe you’ll get to see Harry carry Meghan over the threshold…
, I travel and I write, ergo I’m a travel writer. Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.