My take on getting hotels near the O2 arena after getting out of the gig? Don't even think about it. Seriously, you've got no chance of getting one, because everyone else has thought about it and done what you should have done in the first place and booked it before the gig. Trust me.
It was a couple of years ago when I went to my first gig at the O2. I was pretty intrigued to see what the place was like; every time I'd seen it on TV or the internet, the place looked absolutely cavernous, which - for someone used to gigs in places the size of a shoebox - seemed like it'd be a nice change of pace. The tickets were booked, the obscene booking fee paid, the travel arrangements sorted, and I felt like everything was in place and I was ready to go. The only thing I hadn't done? Looked into hotels near the O2 arena.
I think my friends and I were all working under the assumption that the trains still ran that late and we could get back home straight afterwards, sleep on the way and be fresh for the next day to talk about how great the gig was while it still rang in our ears. This can be a problem when you live in Frinton - a town with no trains in or out after midnight.
So the big day arrived. I'd been listening to the band solidly on my mp3 player for weeks, and couldn't wait to go. All my friends and I could talk about was going to this gig, it felt like the apex of our lives. No one had thought to check about trains home and we hadn't even thought about looking into hotels near the O2 arena in advance. We met at the train station, almost giggling with excitement (though obviously restraining ourselves because, you know, that's just not cool and someone might have seen us) and ready to have a really good time. Public transport was spot on for once and we managed to get there early enough to have a nice pub lunch before getting into the longest queue I'd ever seen outside anything.
All-in-all, it was shaping up to be a great day. Good weather, good travel, that nice buzz that comes from a couple of cool beers on a summer's day, and ready for a great show. It was a great day, and it could've stayed that way if I'd done some research on hotels near the O2 arena.
I won't bore you with the details of the gig - it's one of those things you had to be there to experience, words will never do it justice. Suffice to say it was incredible. Unfortunately, after that third encore, it was almost 1.30am before we got out, long after the last train out of there.
If you're us, you try to convince yourself that it's all going to be OK - there have to be loads of hotels there, right? It turns out there aren't as many as you'd think, and, naturally, they're all booked up. Suggestions of sleeping in their reception area don't tend to go down too well either. If we'd looked into hotels near the O2 arena beforehand, the long walk we had to find an all night cafe, followed by the absolute bomb we spent on coffee so we could stay there until the first train home could have been avoided.
This summer, we're going back for another sure-to-be-awesome gig. The first thing I did? You guessed it, I booked a hotel.