The British Tours blog

1066 Battle of Hastings Anniversary Tours

 

1066 Battle of Hastings, Abbey and Battlefield Gatehouse @ English Heritage

During the anniversary year of the battle of Hastings, British Tours will be offering specialist tours of Norman and medieval historical sites. These tours will feature sites such as Battle Abbey, the religious site founded by William the conqueror to commemorate the fight. The abbey marks the place of one of the most decisive battles in English history, and one that founded a line of Kings and Queens that extends to current Queen! Other sites visitors can see, such as the White Tower of the Tower of London, are part of the large scale roll out of Norman culture in England, an impressive building project that was a sign of William’s new control over the country. Alternatively, visitors will have the chance to visit some medieval locations such as Bodiam Castle, a 14th century moated castle which was built to defend the south from the French in the hundred years war! It also passed through several hands during (and survived) two of England turbulent periods – the War of the Roses, and the English Civil War!

For more information about this tour and other historical tours we provide, get in touch with us via the contact us page on our website

 

 

Posted in Day Tours from London, Kent, Stately Homes | Tagged , , ,
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Picking out the best car size for you and your family

After you’ve booked your flights and hotels for your trip to London and the UK, you’ll of course want to think about the sites and tours to take while across the pond! For first timers, you’ll want to see many of the sites you’ve heard off, such as Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace. For frequent travellers, your time in London will be spent focusing on the lesser known sites, taking a journey off the beaten track to places such as Camden Market and Greenwich.

Whatever your reason for visiting London, you’ll certainly want to sit in a comfortable vehicle. Here at British tours, we’ve taken many visitors around London and the UK, and compiled a helpful guide to picking out the best car size for you and the rest of your family.

For couples.

Two people will easily fit into one of our saloon cars. These are something like a Toyota Prius or an Alfa Romeo. You’ll be able to relax at the back of the car, while your private driver-guide takes you across London. If you’re looking for something a little bit fancier, we have a deluxe range of saloons and MPV’s, such as Jaguars, Mercedes E and C classes, and Audi’s.

For a family of 4.

You have a choice of two cars – a salon or an MPV. With the saloon you will have three people at the back of the car, and one at the front with the driver-guide. These are fine for a family of four including two small children. If the four of your party are all adults, or rather tall, then you would be better suited to a MPV. These MPVs, with models such as a Chrysler Voyager, enable your party to have all 4 people sitting in the Window seats. You’ll also be much more comfortable as you’ll be able to sit further apart! For 4 adults and 2 children, you’ll be also be okay in one our MPV vehicles.

For larger families.

As well as our specialisation in driver guided tours, we also regularly take parties of 7 or more out to London and the countryside. For a party of 11 or less, you’ll be able to sit comfortably in one of Mercedes Minibuses. For larger groups, we can seat up to 49 people comfortably on one of coaches, meaning larger groups needn’t miss out of the fun of touring!

If in doubt for the best car for your family – please do get in touch with us to discuss your options. Our office open from 9am-5pm, 7 days a week. 

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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!

Posted in Day Tours from London, London Day Tours | Tagged , , ,
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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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Countryside tours for people with reduced mobility

Stonehenge is one of England’s most accessible sites!

 

The English countryside conjures images of fresh green hills, quaint cobbled streets, historical castles and thatched buildings. While these things do not sound all too accessible to those with limited mobility, heritage sites in the UK have undergone many changes, meaning that most sites in the UK are accessible to a much wider range of peoples. Over the years, British Tours has kept up to date with accessibility on sites, and we can help our clients in letting them know about Countryside tours for people with reduced mobility

A popular tour for our clients is our Windsor Castle, Eton and Hampton Court Palace tour. Access to the State Apartments and Semi-State Rooms at Windsor can be had through use of the lifts or the ramps. There are a few steps to enter St George’s Chapel, or for wheelchair users, a ramp can be accessed upon request. Inside the chapel, all the steps have accompanying ramps. There are a few rooms that are not accessible for wheelchairs, like the Dolls’ House room in the Castle, but generally the site has good accessibility. The duration of the tour spent in Eton is a panoramic tour of the village so you will be able to see this from the comfort of your car, while your private driver-guide talks you through the history of the college and village. Hampton Court Palace is nearly fully accessible, with only the renaissance gallery inaccessible for wheelchair users. The rest of the Palace and the Gardens are fully accessible. These improvements at each site mean that you will be able to see the highlights of each site with your private tour guide, including the grave of Henry VIII of England at Windsor, and the famous maze at Hampton Court Palace, without feeling that you are missing out.

Our Stonehenge, Salisbury and Winchester tour is another great option for our clients, not only as it introduces parties to two of England’s beautiful cathedrals, but visits Stonehenge, the iconic landmark known throughout the world for its mystery and varied theories for its construction. Since 2012 the site has benefited from a refurbished visitor centre, which has made the site fully accessible for those with mobility problems. The journey between the visitor centre and the site is through step free and wheelchair friendly shuttle buses, and the path around the stones is through a tarmac path, which means that there are no bumps in the earth, or muddy fields for wheelchair users. Similarly Salisbury good access, and with the exception of the above ground areas of the Cathedral, such as some of the smaller chapels, the rest of the Cathedral is wheelchair friendly. Winchester is very much the same in terms of its access. Apart from its tower and crypt, the rest of the Cathedral is fully accessible, with ramps and lifts to enter the nave and upper ground floor. Winchester is also the final resting place of the famous English Novelist Jane Austen, who is buried in the nave!

In addition to the example tours on our website, we create custom tours for clients on a regular basis. If you have a particular site that you’d like to visit, please do get in touch so we help you plan your vacation time in the UK.

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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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