The British Tours blog

London as the Londoners do it

At British Tours, we understand that you’ll want to get off the beaten track and experience London as a local and as such we’ve written a small list to help you discover your inner Londoner when you tour with us.

1) Take the Tube

One of the world’s oldest underground passenger trains, the London underground (or the tube as it is more commonly known) is one of the fastest ways to get across London. Its symbol and map are now as well known as the trains themselves.

2) Take a stroll around the British Museum.

British Museum – used with kind permission of Nigel Young Foster And Partners

While some of the items in the British Museum aren’t British in origin, the museum is a cultural highlight for Londoners. The Egyptian Gallery for example houses some of the most well-known Egyptian artefacts in the country, with the Rosetta stone and the giant statues of Ramesses the great, sourced by the Italian strongman and Archaeologist Belzoni.

3) Go for a ride in an iconic Black Taxi.

Iconic and comfortable, Black Taxi drivers are a proud and much loved addition to London. You can take a 3 hour highlights tour or a longer tour popping in and out of sites.

4) Grab a bite to eat at Borough Market

For most Londoners, Borough Market is a well-deserved treat, with fresh produce and preserves from country farms. It also hold a street food market, which makes it a perfect fit for those wishing to maximize the time they have on tour with a quick but scrumptious meal. 

5) Immerse yourself in one of London’s many historical suburbs.

Surely the best way to see London like a Londoner is through one of its many neighbourhoods. Take a browse through Greenwich Market, take a drive through Chelsea or travel up to Hampstead Heath to see one of the city’s most famous views.

Once you’ve completed all of these, relax in the comfort of your hotel and make sure to order yourself a well-deserved cup of tea!

Vegetarian food while on your London sightseeing tour

While planning vegetarian meals in a foreign country can feel like you are missing out, as a city, London caters very well for vegetarians. In fact, the United Kingdom has been rated as having one of the highest levels of vegetarianism in Europe in recent studies! When touring with a British Tours private driver-guide, you can certainly try the best vegetarian food London has to offer!

London vegetarian restaurants range from the homely to the sophisticated, with plenty in between to satisfy. One of the older vegetarian restaurants, Manna in Primrose hill, is a wonderful choice offering international as well as British cuisine, just on the door step of one of London’s more beautiful viewing spots. Closer to the centre, our clients are spoilt for choice. Sagar in Covent Garden offers dosas (Savoury pancakes that will make you forget sweet ones) and Mildreds in soho, with sweet potato chips to die for! Another great site in London with some history to it is Govinda’s in Soho Square, a curry house which famously has links with George Harrison of the Beatles!

Food Markets, such as Camden Market, Borough Market and Greenwich Market all offer an extensive range of vegetarian street foods. These are often vendors who sell vegetarian options as well as meat options, but occasionally you will see dedicated vegan or vegetarian food stalls. These can range from creative burgers, wraps and finger foods to delightfully decorated vegan cupcakes and vegetarian churros!

Ask your private London driver-guide to take you to one of London’s markets to sample some London vegetarian food while on your London sightseeing tour.

 

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British Tours Twitter interview with Concierge99

We’ve had many interviews over the years and very recently we had our first twitter interview! For those of you not familiar with the format, Twitter interview questions and answers must be under 140 characters, so quite a challenge!

Our interview was hosted by the brilliant online concierge service Concierge99. They make it their mission to put their clients in touch with the experts, from everything from yoga instructors to private tours. While we’re not so great on the yoga front, we pride ourselves on the bespoke tours we create. I could go on, but the fantastic folks at Concierge99 had some pretty great questions for us that will give you a bit more of an insight into the work we do.

Exciting times! To get us started, Concierge 99 asked us some basic ‘getting to know you’ facts.

Concierge99 asked a question many of our clients want to know – how do we pick such great guides?

We have several wonderful guides on our books who love taking visitors to see London’s highlights on a bespoke London tour, and Concierge99 we keen to know more about them! We gave them a bit more information about their backgrounds.

 

You can read more about our driver-guides here We’ve also had a few famous faces, both as vistors and as guides.The actor Tom Conti was also once one of our tour guides!

Then, it was time for one of the most important questions of the interview – what makes us a good fit for our client’s needs?

Over the years, we’ve arranged many personalized services, including family heritage tours, tours to WW2 bases for the descendants of American soldiers stationed in the UK and even tours relating to some of England’s famous literary figures from Shakespeare to J.K.Rowling!

Concierge99 gave us a chance to demonstrate just how British we are!

Certainly a hard question – Just three things!! What about the essential jam and clotted cream to go with those scones!  Finally after an enjoyable twitter chat, it was time for a goodbye from Concierge99…

 

…and a goodbye from us!

To see the full conversation, please click here to go to our Twitter page. We’re also on Facebook and Pinterest too! If you’d like to listen to one our radio interviews, please see the below tweet to our interview with Share Radio!

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A view from the top – 5 great places to see London from Above

A view from the top – 5 great places to see London from Above

1)      The Sky Garden

Still one of London’s best kept secrets, the Sky Garden sits atop of the famous ‘Walkie talkie’ skyscraper. It is completely free for visitors and must be pre-booked in advance, and is a worthwhile visit during your trip. Inside you’ll find a beautiful landscaped garden with exotic plants and trees, so regardless of whether you’re looking at the streets of London or exploring the shrubberies, you’ll see some wonderful sights.

2)      The View from the Shard

The highest view in London, and no doubt the most recognisable, the Shard has two viewing galleries in the tallest skyscraper in the European Union. Its 360o view is incredible for photographers and visitors alike. It’s also situated close to some great London landmarks, like Borough Market and Shakespeare’s Globe, so you won’t struggle to find things afterwards.

3)      The London Eye

Originally a temporary feature, the London eye soon became a hit and was established as a fixed part of London’s vibrant Southbank. Standard rotations are 30 minutes long, although there are several other packages to choose from. We’d recommend getting a flexi-fast track ticket for your day of touring so that you can easily fit it in with your sightseeing plans. Views from the Eye included Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament.

4)       Westminster Cathedral

A little lesser known site, and not to be confused with its Anglican neighbour Westminster Abbey, the Cathedral has a bell tower accessed by a small lift from within the Cathedral gift shop. Unlike the other sites in our list, the viewing platforms in the bell tower are in the open air, so not for the faint hearted! Those who visit the tower are rewarded with spectacular views of London, with Buckingham Palace and Battersea power station.

5)      British Tours office

Manned by very cheerful and friendly staff, you can see some of London’s famous tall buildings, like the Shard and the BT Tower situated amongst the rooftops of London. We also hear on good authority that it’s a great place to book in your private sightseeing tour of London!

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Exploring Eltham Palace

Richard II’s 14th Century moat bridge at Eltham Palace – Photo used with kind permission of English Heritage.

Recently re-opened after a major refurbishment in 2015, Eltham Palace is conveniently located between London and the country. It is also a fantastic site to visit during the spring and summer months, when the gardens are in full bloom. The site was formerly a medieval ruin, until it was rescued by Stephen and Virginia Courtauld in 1932. It was transformed into a luxury art-deco palace, with large beautiful rooms fit for entertaining guests. The Courtaulds also restored the gardens at Eltham, which make for great photos for the photography enthusiasts in your party! On a sunny day in front of the palace you can even see sites such as the Shard and the London eye on the horizon, all from a quiet suburb in London.

 

Eltham Palace is a short drive away from London, and can be visited with one of our private driver-guides on a London tour, and combined with nearby sites such as Greenwich. 

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Exploring Greenwich

Greenwich has one of the best views of London when standing near the Royal Observatory.

Greenwich is home to many fascinating sites, such as the National Maritime Museum and Cutty Sark.

Across the river from the hustle and bustle of Canary Wharf, sits the tranquil maritime suburb of Greenwich. With its rich history of exploration, Greenwich is undoubtedly the perfect day out for those wishing to see beautiful views, sample rich foods and unravel a fascinating history.

Greenwich town center is a World Heritage site, sharing a status held by both Stonehenge and the Giza Pyramids. Despite the large open spaces of the park, the town has a cosy feel, with small cafes, shops and a market seemingly hidden between the Victorian and Georgian houses. Greenwich Market has been in existence since 1737 and now offers a selection of mouth-watering and unusual street foods, beautiful crafts, and unique gifts. The produce in the market today is a far cry from the groceries and earthenware sold when the market moved to the site in the 1800’s. As well as market delights, the rich history of navigation and exploration can be further shown at the Royal Observatory, atop of the park. Those who reach the top of the park are rewarded with beautiful views of Greenwich, Canary Wharf and the Millennium Dome, before standing at the center of the world; the GMT Line, the point used to measure time across the world.

British Tours offers a half day tour to Greenwich, showing the highlights of this amazing suburb. For those with more time to spare, we can create custom tours, with even more time to spend exploring Greenwich. Contact us now for more information. 

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Winnie the Pooh Tours

Brought to life by Disney, the stories about Winnie the Pooh were adapted from a set of stories and poems by English Writer, poet and playwright A.A. Milne. As we approach the 90th anniversary of the creation of the world’s favorite teddy bear, we will be offering day tours of sites relating to the writer and his honey seeking creation.

Take a drive south to Winnie the Pooh’s Ashdown Forest and make a day of it visiting other interesting sites along the way. You could choose to combine it with Hartfield in East Sussex where AA Milne bought a country house and see the place named Pooh Corner!
Alternatively, you could visit one of the many historical sites along the way. You could for example combine it with a visit to Hever Castle, Chartwell House, or Knole House.
Hever Castle is one of the best castles in England: a 13th century moated castle, childhood home of Anne Boleyn and setting for her courtship with Henry VIII.
Chartwell House is Churchill’s family mansion, which serves as a splendid memorial to all that he did to help his own country.
Knole House was Henry VIII’s Tudor mansion, built with around 7 courtyards with 52 staircases and 365 rooms. It sits in beautiful grounds with a deer park.

If you are planning on just visiting London, ask your guide to show you Westminster School which Milne attended from 1893 to 1900, and the upmarket residential borough of Chelsea where he lived later, just off the famous Kings Road.
Kids will love an afternoon at London Zoo: did you know Winnie the Pooh was inspired by Winnipeg, a real bear resident of the London Zoo in those days!

Contact British Tours now to set up a tour or to ask for more information about our Literary themed tours.

 

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