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.

 

Posted in London Day Tours | Tagged , , , ,
Share with friends

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!

Posted in Events in London, London Day Tours, Uncategorized | Tagged , ,
Share with friends

William Shakespeare 400th Anniversary tours

The Cobb Portrait of Shakespeare – Image credit: Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances. And one man in his time plays many parts”.

As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII

The many parts that Shakespeare created live today through players all over the world, continuously re-imagined and performed.  At the time of his death in 1616, he left the world with the gift of 37 plays and 154 sonnets. His works even influenced our daily conversations – idioms used by the English in the present day have their first appearances in the Bard’s work. Without realising it, those who declare “Love is blind” or remark “for goodness sake”, “good riddance” or “there’s method in my madness” are all quoting from the Elizabethan poet and playwright, who on this year will be the subject of many events and activities as England celebrates the life of William Shakespeare, who died on April 23rd, 400 years ago.

The team here at British Tours are great fans of the Bard, and compiled a list of our favourite sites in recognition of 400th year anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. You can visit these sites on one of our private driver-guided tours.

5. Southwark Cathedral

Shakespeare was thought to have prayed at Southwark Cathedral (located next to the bustling Borough Market), as actors from his plays are recorded as local parishioners. There is however more of a concrete connection with Shakespeare – his brother Edmund was buried inside, meaning Shakespeare would have been present at the funeral.  It’s also the site of a memorial to both Shakespeare and the American actor Sam Wanamaker, whose efforts lead to the reconstruction of the Globe Theatre.

4. Anne Hathaway’s Cottage

Anne Hathaway’s Cottage

As the childhood home of Shakespeare’s wife, this cottage was most likely where Shakespeare came to court his future bride. The house contains many pieces of original furniture, and is set in rather romantic gardens – it’s a rather pleasant thought to imagine Shakespeare’s young romance flourishing here in such a beautiful setting. The house also contains a series of sculptures, with the designs of these sculptures based on Shakespeare’s plays.

3. Holy Trinity Church

Holy Trinity Church

Shakespeare returned to Stratford upon Avon after his time in London, and was eventually buried in the same church where he had been baptised. He is thought to have died on his birthday (a rather unfortunate birthday present!) and is buried in the church along with his wife Anne, who died many years after Shakespeare. Rather interestingly, the memorial to Shakespeare is thought to be one of the most accurate representations of Shakespeare’s likeness, as most of the portraits attributed to Shakespeare were painted after his lifetime. This monument however was created during the lifetime of Shakespeare’s wife, so is more likely to be an accurate representation of his looks!

2. Shakespeare’s Birthplace

In Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare was born into one of the wealthiest homes on his street. Its large size shows the wealth of the Shakespeare family – his father, John had married the daughter of a rich landowner, Robert Arden. Due to their wealth, Shakespeare was educated at a local grammar school. It’s somewhere to go if you wish to imagine the world wherein the young Shakespeare grew, and is a literary pilgrimage for many.

  1. The Globe theatre and Sam Wannamaker Playhouse

Shakespeare’s Globe

After visiting London for the first time in 1949, American actor Sam Wannamaker championed efforts to have a reconstruction of the Globe theatre built. The Globe was completed in 1997 and now regularly performs Shakespeare’s plays and those of his contemporaries. You can take a tour with an in-house guide as part of your London tour, and also of the Sam Wannamaker playhouse, the indoor theatre built to pair with the Globe. You’ll be able to imagine yourself as an audience member of Shakespeare’s plays inside these beautiful Tudor reconstructions, which are both a great tribute to the playwright and cultural influence that he had in England.

British Tours offers several bespoke Shakespeare tours, from day trips to Stratford-upon-Avon to London sightseeing tours visiting the London sites. Get in touch with us now to plan your tour of Shakespeare locations for the 400th year anniversary.

Harry Potter Filming Locations

 

Platform Nine and three quaters

Kings Cross station, London.

Few can deny the impact that the Harry Potter books and films have had on the world. Taking a subject usually reserved for Halloween, J.K Rowling turned a few witches and wizards into household names, created a love of reading into the young and the old, and inspired 8 blockbuster movies. Quite impressive when you consider the original manuscript for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Sorcerer’s Stone in the US) was rejected by several publishing firms, and only published because the daughter of one publisher begged her father to publish the book!

You can see many of the sites from the movies in one of our Harry Potter tours. We have tours of London, Oxford and Gloucester. We also can arrange a custom tour, with time to visit the Harry Potter Studios in Watford as well as the London or Oxford sites. Get in touch with us now to plan your Harry Potter tour!

Posted in Day Tours from London, London Day Tours | Tagged ,
Share with friends

Lumiere London

To ward off the January Blues, a festival of light is starting in London. Lumiere London 2016 will be lighting up the city for the next few nights, thanks to the company Artichoke and the Mayor of London. Our team at British tours are very close to the project in our office in Soho, so are naturally quite excited to see our journeys home illuminated by some very talented light artists! For our clients in London over the next few days, we’d very much recommend seeing this festival!

Lumiere London 2016 runs from the 14th to the 17th of January, from 6:30pm – 10:30pm each evening. Limited programmes and maps will be available on each evening, or you can download a PDF or app version of the programme from here.

Posted in Events in London | Tagged , ,
Share with friends

Christmas day in London with British Tours

 

 

On Christmas day, as a sleigh descends in the North Pole after a busy night of deliveries, your private driver-guide arrives at your central London hotel ready to take you on a festive tour! With no public transport and a quieter atmosphere, it’s the perfect time to take a panoramic tour of London, seeing the sites light up from the comfort of your private car. You can also stop off at one of the open pubs, and try a festive drink or British Christmas lunch, complete with the (almost) obligatory Christmas cracker containing cheesy ‘dad’ jokes to share with your family.
While London sites won’t be open for sightseeing, cathedrals and abbeys in London will be open for worship. Southwark cathedral will be organising a sung Eucharist, and both Westminster Abbey and St Paul’s Cathedral offer Eucharist and choral evensongs on Christmas day, so you’ll be able to take in the atmosphere and decorations of the churches will enjoying the services.
Outside of London, Salisbury cathedral will be open at midday for sightseeing, and your guide will be able to take you through its beautiful gothic interiors while exploring the country. One of our popular sites for touring, Avebury, will also be open on Christmas day. Avebury has the world’s largest stone circle, and you can even walk amongst the stones! Both of these sites can be visited in an 8 hour tour from London, so you’ll be back in time to open your presents and enjoy a lovely family dinner!

British Tours offer private tours on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day in London and beyond. Please contact us directly to plan your tour!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , ,
Share with friends

Christmas festivities in London

Picadilly circus lights Jenny 2015

When it comes to Christmas, London doesn’t do things by halves. From Mid-November onwards, the capital transforms with spectacular Christmas lights and decorations, ranging from the unusual and inventive clockwork Regent Street lights, to the intricately placed spheres of light on Oxford Street. While on your tour with your British Tours driver guide, you will no doubt pass many of these lights, and be able to marvel at the different designs on London’s streets.

Festivities in London over the Christmas period also provide ample shopping opportunities for keen Christmas shoppers. From the Christmas displays at shops like Harrods and Selfridges, to the crafts and wares at quaint Christmas markets with wooden chalets, finding unique gifts during your London tour is certainly not a problem. With the Christmas fairs, there is also the chance to try some speciality food and drink, with tasters and samples of produce. There are a few staple British Christmas foods not to be missed; mulled wine, a lightly spiced mulled red wine drink popular since the time of Queen Victoria and also minced pies, small short crust pastry pies filed with dried fruit, spirits and spices. These two are popular combination in the UK and great Christmas treat to try on tour!

Visit London in the Christmas period with British Tours, learning about the city’s history and culture while soaking up the festive atmosphere. For tours taking place on either the 25, 26 of December 2015, and the 1st of January 2016, please contact us directly.