Happy Thursday Hidden Gem Travel community! September has been a busy month here in “travel land” with clients looking for 2023 vacations ranging from Japan to Alaska to the United Kingdom. Where do you hope to go? Speaking of the UK…
If you watched the incredible coverage of the Queen’s funeral, you may have found yourself thinking that you’d like to return to London or visit for the first time. The compelling TV images showcased the best of British pageantry and traditions and reminded us that London is a fantastic European destination. Now is the time to plan as the availability and cost of accommodations will rise as you get closer to your travel date.
There are many ways to experience London, and travelers who want a deep dive into both the history and modern culture will enjoy a mix of high-quality private tours with some hidden gem experiences sprinkled in here and there. That’s my expertise!
Read on for the scoop about a special London itinerary with something for both first-time and repeat visitors…
Day 1: Royal London
One of my favorite private tour companies offers a series of high-quality tours in London. Every guide has an advanced degree related to the tour they offer and are typically locals to the area – a win/win.
‘Royal London’ is a half-day tour with Buckingham Palace and the Changing of the Guard. You’ll walk to Buckingham Palace (Exterior), St. James’s Park, Westminster Abbey (Exterior), and the Royal Mews while your guide explains the context and significance of these iconic places.
En route, you’ll see the Changing of the Guard. Since Henry VII (over 520 years ago), the royal guard’s elite soldiers have guarded the king or queen of England. You’ll watch this amazing ritual while your guide provides color on the history of the monarchy. It’s a live crash course in royal history!
In the afternoon, you may opt to visit Windsor Castle where the queen was recently buried. It’s located around 22 miles west of London and is also the place where Harry and Meghan were married (in St. George’s Chapel) in 2018.
Hidden Gem Travel clients are VIPs with perks when they stay at many 4-5-star hotels and villas through our membership in a variety of travel advisor elite programs. Where to stay is always a challenging decision when in London, and the sooner you book the better!
💎 Hidden Gem Tip: If you’re already intrigued, you can schedule a chat with me here: www.hiddengemtravelconsulting.com/contact.
Day 2: The Tower Plus Foodie Time
In the morning, you’ll tour the infamous Tower of London – beheadings, Beefeaters, and Crown Jewels – all in three hours with your guide. The tower has played many roles in its 1,000-year history ranging from serving as the strategic outpost of William the Conqueror to the beheading site of two of Henry VIII’s wives.
In the afternoon, you’ll focus on modern-day London’s food scene. In the ‘Savoring London’ food tour, a local chef or food writer will take you to favorite food shops in a variety of London’s neighborhoods where you’ll meet the owners. The artistry of the displays and cuisines will be discussed and include tasting local favorites like Scotch Eggs and Violet Creams (the Queen’s favorite).
💎 Hidden Gem Tip: Foodies should consider another culinary experience, for example, a cooking class, and I will find one that will speak to your specific interests.
Days 3+4: History in London
Day 3: Churchill War Rooms Tour
This half-day tour takes you to the Churchill War Rooms made famous by the movie ‘Darkest Hour’ starring Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill. If you haven’t watched it, in 2018 the film was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar and Gary Oldman won the best actor for his performance. On your tour, you’ll learn about the London Blitz, the role Winston Churchill played as Prime Minister, and daily life in London during World War II.
Day 4: British Museum – Crash course
See the Rosetta Stone, Parthenon Marbles, Assyrian Lion hunt, and other precious artifacts in a three-hour tour with a trained archaeologist or historian. You’ll walk away having experienced this world-class museum and its priceless treasures in a more in-depth way.
Traveling with school-aged kids? I have some fantastic itineraries that will bring London to life for your kiddos with family-friendly guides and tours.
You have plenty of time in this itinerary to explore London on your own. Most of my clients like DIY time with my suggestions curated to their interests. Of course, classic afternoon tea is a common inclusion (and there are many choices!).
Day 5: Strolling and Pub Hopping
Spend your morning exploring London on your own – there’s so much to do and see! See the city from a different perspective: the river, from above, or even a double-decker bus. Shop in some of the incredible stores and shops. Explore another incredible museum. The sky’s the limit.
In the afternoon, you’ll have worked up an appetite and thirst. Visiting a British pub (or two) is an essential experience when in London. On the tour ‘Ales & Pubs: Sipping the history of British beer,’ you’ll get a new perspective on beer and pub culture as symbols of British society and tradition. A food anthropologist with expertise in the beer and brewing industry will provide context on the history of brewing in London – from being a dietary staple to today’s craft beer trends.
If you missed my ‘London Calling’ newsletter from earlier this year, you can read it here: https://hiddengemtravelconsult…
Day 6: Beyond London in Style
There are many hidden gem experiences that you can access through me for London and the UK. Taking a train for a day trip outside of London is one of them!
For lovers of history and traveling in style, I highly recommend the impeccably restored Belmond’s British Pullman half or full-day luxury round-trip steam train from London. For example, on a day trip to Oxford from London’s Victoria Station, you’ll travel in style in a vintage carriage as you take in the countryside. With plush seats and period décor, you’ll enjoy a delicious brunch on your way to Oxford. Upon arrival, a guide will transfer you to the city center where you’re free to explore this storied city on your own: the architecture, colleges, shops, The Ashmolean, The Bodleian. On the trip back, you’ll enjoy a three-course dinner with wine as the train takes you back to London in style. This is just one itinerary on the British Pullman.
This experience is a splurge that you’ll always remember!
Start your own London or England Wanderlist! As a reminder, Wanderlist is an online portal where you can research, explore, and create shareable lists of destinations and experiences. Share your list with me so I can make it happen for you, including accessing VIP status and perks. Check it out here: https://bit.ly/wanderlisthgtc
Inspired? Reach out to me now for 2023 and schedule a chat here: www.hiddengemtravelconsulting.com/contact
Wishing you and your family continued good health,