Travel News

Travelling to the UK and Ireland

Travel tips and NEWS from United Kingdom and Ireland

17 June 2022

US administration lifts Covid test requirement for returning international travellers

The US administration has had one of the most prolonged Covid restrictions in the world. Namely, the requirements to prove you have tested negative for Covid before boarding a US-bound flight.

The policy had good intentions but was devastating for the International travel industry.

As the world moved on, restrictions remained in place for US citizens. Some US visitors were confused and thought the policy was a UK or EU requirement. It did seem bizarre to many as the entire world has had many waves of Covid, and most people have been triple vaccinated. Therefore what difference did it make? Whatever the data, I’m sure it was the correct decision, and we are all safer.

It doesn’t matter anymore, and we are pleased to welcome our cousins from across the pond again in great numbers. It is lovely having you back; tasting our beer and cheese and loving our butter and bread!

All the Royal Historical sites are again popular, such as Windsor Castle, The Tower of London and the Guard Change at Buckingham Palace. We love those famous places but want to get you off the tourist trail and see a bit of real Britain. With Luxury Vacations UK, you can shop in small independent shops, have lunch in a PROPER country pub and see those small villages filled with interesting local characters. 

Apart from heritage sites, Britain and Island have abundant adventure activities such as climbing and potholing. Fishing and hiking are a must for a second or third-time visitor. Let the LVUK team shape and craft your experience into something magical. Contact us now.  

 

10 June 2022

The Queen

Although Her Majesty the Queen spent most of the platinum jubilee holiday weekend relaxing (she is 96), the rest of the country had a marvellous time. I expect she did too, watching all the fun from Windsor Castle.

The media and press have been upbeat about the events, so they should.

The Queen has very little power, but a monarchy in the 21st century seems old-fashioned to some. We’ve been lucky to have such a loyal and dutiful Queen in the UK. I expect she has had to bite her lip on more than one occasion, especially more recently.

Older people in Britain believe that duty is essential and that making sacrifices for the great good is what life is about. The Queen is admired for this very reason. Those who live for themselves at some point realise they must make decisions that may make their lives more difficult. Such as bringing up a child, taking care of a dog, or giving up a job to look after a parent.

The Queen has given it all up to spend her life travelling globally promoting the Kingdom. Her schedules have been gruelling and never-ending. If I were to guess, I would imagine she would have preferred to spend her life looking after horses, riding horses and being involved with anything equestrian.

What the Queen has acquired is what must be a strange experience of meeting millions of people that feel that they know you – and your family. We can only guess what those daily interactions do to a person. But, still, she has remained consistent.

I’m not saying the Queen has no faults. I know she has colossal energy, love for her country and a powerful sense of duty.

17 May 2022

Top 5 rooftop bars in London

1. Skylight, Tobacco Dock
Skylight is one of the most happening rooftop bars in London. It was once a carpark, but it is now a three-level indoor and outdoor bar where you can spend time with your friends in summer. It is heated during winter. 
In summer you can play some games like croquet, table tennis or petanque. In the evening there are also parties, and you can have some delicious street food. In winter, you can spend some time on the rooftop in your igloo, including blankets and mounds of cushions, and if you are brave enough there's also an ice rink.
 
You can visit the Skylight from Thursday to Saturday from 12 pm till 11 pm.
 
2. Bar Elba, Waterloo
In Bar Elba, there's a place for you in summer and winter. You have an amazing view over the skyline to see the London Eye, St Paul's Cathedral, and more.
 
The place's name comes from the Mediterranean island where Napoleon got exiled. In the summer season, you have a Rooftop Brunch every weekend and pretty much daily a rooftop Cinema.
You can get your drinks here from Monday to Thursday from 2 pm till 12 am. On Friday and Saturday from 12 pm till 1 am and on Sunday from 1 pm till 12 am. Because the bar is very popular, you should make reservations in advance. 
 
3. Sabine Rooftop Bar, St. Paul's Cathedral
You can find this lush and tropical rooftop bar on the 7th floor at the Leonardo Royal London St Paul's. It's the perfect rooftop bar for every weather condition because they have a weather-safe conservatory with a retractable roof and two sun terraces. You'll have the most spectacular view over St. Paul's Cathedral.
 
Visit the bar from Monday to Wednesday from 4 pm till 12 am. On Thursday and Friday from 4 pm till 2 am. On Saturday from 12 pm till 2 am and on Sunday from 12 pm till 12 am.
 
4. Roof East, Stratford
Roof East is the biggest playground for adults in London, with amazing views. On the roof, you can hit away in the batting cage, challenge your friends in a game of lawn bowl, and play mini-golf, a VR mix of traditional football and table foosball. Alternatively, find your inner peace with some yoga.
 
You can visit Roof East from Wednesday to Friday from 4 pm till 11 pm. On Saturday and Sunday from 12 pm till 11 pm. Children under 18 can't get in after 5 pm.
 
5. Savage Garden, Tower Hill
Savage Garden is located on the 12th floor of DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel London and is one of the hottest rooftop bars in London. The bar offers amazing 360-views over the London skyline. It's a perfect place to visit during the year because they have a retractable roof.
 
Get your drinks on Wednesday from 4 pm till 12 am with the last entry at 11 pm and on Thursday to Sunday from 3 pm till 12 am with the latest access at 11 pm. The Savage Garden is popular, so you may want to book in advance. 
16 May 2022

Ten tasty things to try when you travel to the UK

1. Sunday Roast (Yorkshire pudding)
This traditional British meal originated in the British Isles, particularly Yorkshire. Sunday after church, it was supposed to be eaten. It consists of delicious roasted meat, roast potatoes, and different side dishes like Yorkshire pudding, stuffing, and gravy alongside various vegetables.
Although the tradition decreased somewhat over the years, the roast remains a popular meal in the UK.
 
2. Fish and Chips
The most famous British meal consists of fried fish in a crispy batter and chips. The invention occurred in England, where fish and chips first were put together by people from separate immigrant cultures. 
The Fish and Chips shops made their first appearance in the UK in 1860.
 
3. Bubble and squeak
There have been references to this dish since the 18th century. In this dish, cooked potatoes and cabbage are combined and then fried. The name of the meal refers to the sounds made by the ingredients when being fried.
 
4. Full English Breakfast
The full English breakfast became popular during the Victorian era. It usually includes sausages, bacon, black pudding, eggs, tomatoes, baked beans, mushrooms, toast, and a beverage like tea or coffee. It’s so popular that many pubs and cafes offer the meal at any time of the day. It appears in different regional variants and is referred to by other names that depend on the area.
 
5. Bangers and Mash
A traditional dish consisting of sausages served with mashed potatoes. The term ‘bangers’ dates back to 1919. ‘Bangers’ is ascribed to the fact that sausages in World War I, when there were meat shortages, were made with such high-water content that they were likely to pop under high heat when cooked. 
 
6. Haggis
Haggis is a savoury pudding, including sheep’s pluck (liver, heart, and lungs). This is then minced with onion, suet, spices, and oatmeal mixed with stock and cooked while traditionally encased in the animal’s stomach. In modern times, artificial casings are more common. Traditionally Haggis is eaten on Burns Night, on the 25th of January. It’s the birthday of Scotland’s national poet Rabbie Burns who wrote the poem ‘Address to the Haggis’. 
 
7. Beef Wellington
This English meal is a steak dish made of fillet steak coated with pâté (often used is pâté de foie gras) and duxelles wrapped in a puff pastry, then baked.
 
8. Crumpets
A crumpet is small griddle bread made from an unsweetened batter of water or milk, flour, and yeast. The characteristic feature is that the surface is riddled with holes, allowing the butter to seep through from top to bottom. 
 
9. Scones
Flour, butter, and milk are combined to make dense scones and bread-like cakes. A traditional accompaniment is strawberry or raspberry jam and clotted cream, a yellow cream with a crusty top. Cut it in half and spread it with the jam and cream to eat it.
 
10. Scotch Egg
The Scotch Egg is a boiled egg covered in sausage meat, coated with breadcrumbs, and baked or fried. They are a common picnic food. You can eat them hot or cold. 
14 May 2022

Cornwall through the eyes of Rosamunde Pilcher

Welcome to Cornwall for all our German Friends

Our business has been fixated with English speaking visitors, but we are now becoming in tune with visitors from none English speaking parts of the world. Although we realise many German citizens speak excellent English. We realise Cornwall is important to tour for lovers of the Rosamunde Pilcher novels, but, please let us introduce you to England's Sparkling Wine region, The Northumberland Coast and other special places such as Pembrokeshire National Park. anyway, please take a look at a sample tour of Cornwall.

Rosamundes Pilcher's Cornwall

Day One: Arrival at Cornwall airport (or Transfer from Heathrow). Visit Newquay with Little Fistral and Lusty glaze. 
Arrive directly at Cornwall Airport thanks to the Eurowings service between Dusseldorf and Cornwall. 

Start your tour of Cornwall in Newquay, one of the Nation's favourite seaside towns in England. There are several beautiful beaches, including the popular Fistral beach. The complex, standing in the natural amphitheatre, houses shops, cafes, and restaurants. Little Fistral is a paradise for surfers and has many visitors each year.  

When visiting some of the seaside towns in Newquay, it is like stepping into a Rosamunde Pilcher book. Take a walk along the cliffs towards Lusty glaze beach, set in a natural amphitheatre of these same cliffs.  

Suggested accommodation: The Padstow Townhouse
Located on a quiet street in the old town, the Padstow Townhouse offers a relaxing stay in one of their six unique suites. Each room has its own characteristics with luxurious furniture and indulgent treats. Each morning, a beautiful breakfast hamper is delivered to your room. The restaurant offers delicious meals made by Michelin-star chef Paul Ainsworth in the evening. 

Day Two: Padstow, Prideaux place, and Tintagel castle 
Walk around Padstow, a small port on the north coast of Cornwall. The fisherman's cottages and merchant's houses made Padstow the ideal setting for some of Pilcher's books. In less than ten minutes, you walk from the bustling harbour to the golden beaches with St Georges's cove and Hawker's cove.  

Drive up to Prideaux place, an important filming location for Pilcher movies and Poldark. The ancient Cornish Prideaux family has owned the house for many centuries. The house was built in the 16th century and is a mixture of different periods. Prideaux Place has beautiful gardens that were first landscaped in the 1730s. 

Visit Tintagel Castle, otherwise known as Arthur's Castle. The ancient castle sits at the end of a peninsula, surrounded by the wild Atlantic Ocean. It was here that the King was conceived, according to the legends. You can only reach the castle by crossing a long bridge that is only accessible on foot.

Step down the old stairs to Merlin's Cave. According to the legend, Merlin spends most of his life living in this cave. This cave continues through the peninsula for approximately 100 meters. They can be explored during low tide, but they fill up during high tide. Therefore it is very important to know the time of the waves when visiting this cave.  

Suggested accommodation: The Padstow Townhouse

Day Three: Dartmoor National Park 
Take a day to visit the beautiful Dartmoor National Park. There are many walking routes to follow and see the best parts of the area. Dartmoor is best known for its tors: Dramatic outcrops of granite standing on the top of a hill. Each tor has a unique form, and there are over 160 of them in the park. Popular tors are Belstone Tor, Black Tor, Bowerman's nose and Brent Tor. When climbing the hill towards the tor, you get a majestic view of the surrounding area.

You might spot some of the many ponies that walk around Dartmoor National Park when walking around. They are an important part of the park and are an iconic sight. But beware, do not approach or feed these ponies, as they are wild animals. Besides walking, there are other fun ways to discover Dartmoor, such as cycling, horseback riding, canoeing, and climbing. 

Suggested accommodation: Bovey Castle Hotel
Stay a night in the 5-star Bovey Castle Hotel and Spa, located in the stunning countryside. Please sit down and relax in their spa or enjoy a delicious meal in one of their two dining options. The hotel is an ideal luxury accommodation when visiting Dartmoor National Park or other locations in South West of England. 

Day Four: Tour of Plymouth 
Spend a day in and around Plymouth, a classic location for Pilcher books and movies. Walk around the Barbican waterfront area with its cobbled road and many bars and restaurants. The Mayflower Steps are located in the same area, a monument commemorating the sailing of the ships and the Mayflower pilgrims from Plymouth in 1620. Barbican also has a few listed buildings like an Elizabethan house and gardens.  

The Plymouth Hoe is a must-visit, which offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the harbour and the Smeaton tower, a formerly working lighthouse. Have a drink or a bite in the Royal William Yard, where many Grade II buildings have been transformed into vibrant cafes and restaurants. Today it is one of the coolest spots in Plymouth with a contemporary vibe.  

Suggested accommodation: The Duke of Cornwall Hotel
The Duke of Cornwall Hotel is located in the city centre of Plymouth. The hotel has 72 uniquely decorated rooms with many historic features. The building is a perfect example of classic Victorian architecture and recently celebrated its 150th birthday. The hotel has also been an important filming location for Rosamunde Pilcher movies. 

Suggested accommodation: Boringdon Hotel
A luxury hotel in the countryside, only half an hour's drive away from Plymouth. The hotel is set in the historic Boringdon Hall. The estate was originally built as a monastery and was owned by the crown for some time. The Boringdon hotel has 42 luxury rooms, private event spaces, two dining rooms, and fire-lit lounges. There is a wellness spa within the hotel grounds. 
 
Day Five: Landhydrock and The Eden Projects 
Make a halt at the Lanhydrock Estate near Bodmin. The Victorian country house is a grade I listed building with some parts dating back to the 1620s. A major fire in 1881 destroyed the south wing and a part of the central wing, taking much of the original building with it. Today, many parts of the house are open to the public: the nurseries, family bedrooms, servants' bedrooms, kitchen, service rooms and more. Its ancient woodland and lichens are designated as an important plan area.  

Continue down to The Eden Project near Bodelva. This unique project is set in an old clay mine with no soil or plants before it was transformed into this beautiful global garden. Explore the world's largest indoor rain forest and the Mediterranean Biome. There is an extensive outdoor garden to walk around and a vast collection of incredible plants. During the summer you could enjoy one of the concerts held at Eden.  

Suggested accommodation: The Idle Rocks
Make yourself at home in The Idle Rocks - a boutique hotel with 19 elegant individually designed rooms, an award-winning restaurant and a relaxing treatment room. Fall asleep to the sound of waves crashing against the shore and wake up with rays of sunshine glistening on the water. The Idle Rocks will give you that Cornish home feeling.

Day Six: Lamorna Cove, Mount St Michael's, Land's End
Stop by Lamorna cove just south of Penzance. Take a stroll along the coast and small lanes with only a few cottages. The beautiful scenery has been a source of inspiration for many painters, potters, artisans and writers, including Pilcher. It starred in one of Rosamunde Pilcher's most popular works: The Shell Seekers.  

Drive along the coast towards Mount St Micheal. A unique phenomenon where a castle sits on top of a hill, surrounded by water. It is the Cornish counterpart of Mont Saint Michel in France with similar tidal island characteristics. You can walk towards the castle during low tide, but the only way back is to take a boat once the high tide starts. Take a tour of the medieval castle and church with your guide. When stepping onto the garden terraces, you get a stunning view of Mount Bay.

For one of Britain's most beloved landmarks, you drive down to Land's End, the most westerly point of mainland England. When walking along the clifftop trails, you get breathtaking views over the ocean and the coastline. This beautiful and unique scenery was referred to as 'Belerion' or 'Place of the sun' in Greek times due to its beauty.

Suggested accommodation: The Idle Rocks

Day Seven: St Ives and small fishing villages and Sea safari 
Visit the picturesque fishing harbour and the seaside town of St Ives. Many beautiful beaches surround the town, some perfect for surfing and others for families. Take a relaxing walk along the cobbled streets and fishers' cottages and perhaps pop into one of the many independent shops in the town centre. Many lively bars and cafes in the town are perfect for a night out while overlooking the harbour and beach.

Enjoy the unique experience of spotting sea wildlife during a sea safari in St Ives. Get a closer look at the old Godrevy lighthouse and see some stunning views passing St. Ives Bay. Spot some of the seals that are relaxing on the rocks of seal island, or maybe you will see a dolphin or two during the ride.  

Suggested accommodation: The Idle Rocks

Day Eight: Transfer to Newquay Airport 
Your driver-guide will pick you up at your hotel and drive you to Newquay Airport, right on time for your flight back. 

Notes:
All flights from Dusseldorf to Newquay are in the morning (Both arrival and departure)
For those preferring to arrive at Heathrow, I'd suggest making a stop on the way to Cornwall instead of doing a day in Newquay ( Perhaps Stourhead, Wilton House or Stonehenge) Driving time is a max of 3 hours/day. Day six is an exception because the peninsula is a 1,5-hour drive from The Idle Rocks. 

13 May 2022

Dollar - UK Pound Exchange Rate

Todays Exchange rate is $1.22 (USD) to £1.00 (GBP) - 13th May 2022

Visitors get confused about exchange rates and are especially upset when their vacation or purchase abroad is more expensive than first thought. Exchange rates and fluctuations have flustered even travel professionals.

Thankfully the exchange rate between the UK Pound Sterling (GBP) and the US Dollar (USD) remains relatively stable. Recently, there has been a slide in the value of the UK Pound, making vacations to the UK much cheaper. 

A common question will be, "what's that in Dollars?" the answer will be ", well, approximately this, but only if you pay today." The important thing to know is that we cannot control the exchange rate; therefore, It may look like our services are getting more expensive, but it stays the same the entire year. The other side of the coin is that our services quickly became cheaper, we haven't dropped our prices, the value of Pound Sterling (GBP) has fallen.

The good news is the Great British Pound Sterling (GBP) is weak against the US Dollar, meaning the cost of our services is reduced.

Today, the exchange rate is: for every *$1.22, and you get £1.00. It hasn't been that low for a long time. *Subject to banking and credit card fees.

11 May 2022

Castle Howard Yorkshire

Every stately home and historic house across the UK will be doing something for the Queen's Jubilee. The most impressive property in Yorkshire is no exception. It seems that special afternoon teas have gained momentum.

Castle Howard has a platinum jubilee afternoon tea. The occupants, the Howard family, have unearthed rarely seen treasures in connection with this special royal year.
The grand house has featured in the hit TV drama Bridgerton as the country estate of the Duke of Hastings, plus the TV and film Brideshead Revisited. See the props and costumes and get your period drama fix.

Enjoy a classic car show in June, and why not see Duran Duran live on the grounds on the 17th. Other events include Abba symphonic, the Castle Howard Proms and Café Mambo live!

When you think of a British Stately home, don't think of stuffy and boring. There are galore events, grand gardens, impressive interiors, and stories. Stay in York and take a day trip. 

 

03 May 2022

Picturesque villages of Wales

Beddgelert
In Northern Wales, in the area of Snowdonia lies the small village of Beddgelert. It is a few dozen stone houses huddled together within majestic mountain scenery. The little Welsh village is known for the story of Prince Llewelyn and his favourite dog Gelert. This story is where the name Beddgelert presumably came from, but others say it comes from Saint Gelert, that lived in this area in the 6th century. Beddgelert has an admirable environmental programme, and nature surrounds the village.

There are a variety of routes to walk up the Snowdon mountain that starts at Beddgelert. The Aberglaslyn Pass and Nant Gwynant are nearby. Stay in this picturesque town, and stay in a cosy cottage.

Betws-y-Coed
Where Conwy meets its three tributaries flowing from the west in a beautiful valley in the Snowdonia National Park is where Betws y Coed lies. It is a popular inland resort and accommodation provider in North Wales. 
Betws y Coed gives you a 19th-century feeling with many bridges, pretty views and Victorian houses. Most buildings date from the Victorian era as Betws-y-Coed was known as one of the principal villages in Snowdonia.

There is a 14th- century church that is one of the oldest in Wales. The main street, Holyhead Road, houses numerous cosy inns and B&B's where you can stay. Nearby are the Swallow falls, considered one of the loveliest places in the UK.

Brecon
At the top edge of The Brecon Beacons National Park is the small village of Brecon. This town is the perfect base for exploring the National Park, doing watersports, fishing in local rivers, cycling, and mountain biking. Brecon is known for the many independent shops and cafes, history, military connection and the Brecon Jazz festival.

Brecon village is a perfect holiday location for lovers of the countryside. You are surrounded by nature and set in little shops and pubs. There are some interesting sites to visit, like the roman remains of Brecon's medieval walls, but most importantly, the famous hike up Pan-Y-Fan.

Tenby
Tenby is the perfect summer getaway for families. Tucked away in the South West of Wales, the coastal town offers a nice atmosphere, long beaches and colourful Victorian townhouses. The beach is ideal for a young family to dip in the sea or make a big sandcastle. The North Beach offers stunning views from the cliffs, looking out to Tenby Castle and St. Catherine Island.

During summertime and each Saturday, there are regular ferries to Caldey Island. A calm and relaxing place to take a dip in the sea or take a stroll. Once you go back into the narrow streets of Tenby town, you'll find many pubs and shops that specialise in local produce. Those narrow roads are pedestrianised in the summer, and cafes stretch out their terrace. 

St. David's
St David's is Britain's smallest city, located in Pembrokeshire National Park in Wales. It is a lovely stop travelling around the Pembrokeshire coast with your driver guide. Take a stroll along the quaint streets and visit some cute cafes, boutiques or galleries. Tucked away in a sheltered vale behind the River Alun is the 12th-century Cathedral. On the other side of the river are the ruins of the Bishop's palace. This beautiful place becomes the backdrop for multiple open-air theatre performances during the summer.

An interesting thing to do when visiting St David's is to take a boat trip to one of the islands and see wildlife, such as the vast numbers of grey seals. Or you can walk along the Pembrokeshire Coastal path to view the spectacular coastline.

Criccieth
Criccieth is a lovely coastal town in Northern Wales. It is known for its calm atmosphere and grand fortress towering over the village. Criccieth Castle separates the two beaches of Criccieth and offers a spectacular view when climbing to the top. You get a beautiful idea of Criccieth surrounded by the mountains of Snowdonia.

There are some great hikes in the area. We can arrange a local guide for long walks. Or you can sit down and relax on the beach with your family. The water has some shallow parts where children can play around. For a more rainy day, you can visit one of the museums that tell the story of Criccieth and its grand castle. 

Solva
Solva is a wonderful little village in Pembrokeshire on the south side of the St. Davids Peninsula. At high tide, the harbour is very narrow at the end, while the port runs dry apart from a little stream in the middle during low tide. This creates the perfect opportunity to catch fish, shrimp and crabs.

Besides catching fish, there are some other activities possible in Solva. You can go canoeing, sailing, rowing, boat rides and more. There is a wide selection of restaurants and cafes to have a delicious meal and numerous shops and boutiques in the town.

Hay-on-Wye
On the northernmost part of The Brecon Beacons National Park is Hay-on-Wye, famous as the first book-town in the world. The settlement is known for its secondhand and antiquarian book shops. Each year, they organise the Hay Festival, a literary festival often referred to as 'Woodstock for books'. Explore the world's largest second-hand and antiquarian book centre.

Besides being a heaven on earth for book lovers, Hay-On-Wye is a wonderful place to explore the nature of Brecon Beacon or the surrounding area. The village is situated in one of the UK's most varied and beautiful countryside. The river Wye flowing through the town forms the perfect place to go canoeing or fishing. Another original way to explore Hay-on-Wye is on horseback.

27 April 2022

Scotland's fairy-tale Castles

Explore these Scottish Castles on a private tour of Scotland

Dunrobin castle
Set in the Northern Highlands, Dunrobin is one of the biggest castles in the area. It is the home of the dukes and earls of Sutherland. The castle dates from 1235 and stands on an old fort site.

In 1845, Charles Barry remodelled the castle into a house completely. Barry, who also designed the house of Parliament, created a Baronial style castle with French influences. During WOI, they used the building as a naval hospital. Between 1962 and 1975, this was a boys' boarding school.  After the school closed, the Sutherland family moved back into the castle, and they still live there to this day. The castle and gardens are open to the public.

Fyvie castle
Fyvie Castle is an 800-year-old fortress standing in the heart of Aberdeenshire. The castle is a beautiful example of Scottish Baronial architecture. They say that Fyvie castle is haunted. There are several stories about ghosts and curses resting upon the court.

The castle is open during the summer for tourists. Inside, there is a vast collection of wonderful portraits, oiled paintings and antique armour.

Drummond Castle
The castle itself is not open to the public, but the gardens are worth visiting. Drummond Castle and Gardens are among the finest in Europe. Today's gardens were replanted in the 1950s, preserving features like the ancient yew hedges and the beech trees planted by Queen Victoria during her visit in 1842.

They have been used as a setting off Versailles gardens for the popular tv-show Outlander. When looking from the terrace, you get a stunning view. Stroll around these gardens during a nice summer day with the castle in the background.

Castle Fraser
One of the largest tower houses in the country, Castle Fraser is a wonderful way to discover classic Scottish nature and architecture. The castle dates back to the 16th and 17th centuries when sixth laird Michael Fraser ordered the build of this castle.

There are many family treasures and portraits and a striking Great Hall to view inside the castle. Mixed woodland and open farmland surround the castle estate. 
 
Blair Castle
For seven centuries, Blair castle has been the home and ancient seat of the Dukes of Atholl. They built the castle in the 13th century. The dukes changed and enlarged the castle over the centuries. 
The estate has magnificent landscaping with gardens from the Victorian period. The interiors date from the 18th century with beautiful Scottish baronial architecture.

To get the best Scottish experience, you should visit Blair Castle during the summer to see the garden in its full glory, and the bagpipes played at the entrance three times a day. 

Inveraray castle
Inveraray Castle is the home of the Duke and Duchess of Argyll and their three children. Their castle has stood on the shore of Loch Fyne since the 1400s.

The entire estate is open to the public between April and October. Guests can view the ground floor with a grand dining room and an armoury hall. The first floor has bedrooms and unique basement furniture with an old kitchen last used by former Duchess of Argyll and Queen Victoria's daughter Louise. Downton Abbey fans might recognise this castle; the castle is the backdrop during the 2012 Christmas Special.

Cawdor castle
In the parish of Cawdor in Naimshire is Cawdor Castle, home to 23 generations of the Cawdor family. The castle has been enlarged many times in the past centuries and still surrounds a 15th-century townhouse. 
It is most known for its beautiful gardens with Walked Gardens, Flower Garden, and the Wild Garden.

Visitors can also go inside the castle to see the twelve principal rooms with a collection of rare tapestries, fine art, furniture, ceramics, and sculptures. Cawdor Castle is open to the public from the end of April to the beginning of October.

Stirling Castle
Stirling is one of Scotland's largest and most important castles. It sat atop Castle Hill and was a fortification of strategic importance because of this ideal location. It was once a favourite residence for the Scottish Royal family. Scottish kings and queens were born, crowned, and buried at Stirling Castle.

These days Stirling Castle is open to the public, and family-friendly visits to the castle are possible. Children can dress up in period costumes and play with medieval instruments. Many actors are walking around dressed as guards, ladies-in-waiting, and court officials to emerge visitors to medieval Scotland. 

Edinburgh Castle
When visiting Scotland's capital Edinburgh, you can't miss the magnificent Edinburgh Castle. It is one of the oldest fortified places in Europe and played a significant role in Scottish history. Because of its location on top of a hill, the fortification was important, especially during the early years.

The castle has a history as a royal residence, military garrison, prison, and fortress. It was the home of many kings and queens during the centuries. When visiting Edinburgh castle, you will see various parts of the building, such as The Great Hall., St. Margaret's Chapel, The royal palace, National War Museum, Honours of Scotland (Scottish crown jewels) and more.

Floors Castle
The Earls and Dukes of Roxburghe have held lands around Roxburgh since the 12th century. The 1st Duke of Roxburghe built the castle in the 18th century after receiving his dukedom for playing a significant role in the union between England and Scotland.

Currently, it is the largest inhabited house in Scotland, housing eleven generations of dukes. When visiting, you can explore the collection of fine art, porcelain, tapestries, and grand rooms. You get an amazing view over the River Tweed and the Cheviot Hills when looking outside. Wander around the atmospheric woodland grounds and riverside or enjoy a walk in the Victorian walled gardens. 

20 April 2022

Ten Amazing Historic Houses in England

1. Hampton Court Palace - West London

Hampton court palace had its prime time during the Tudor period. Cardinal Wolsey, Henry VIII's chief minister, originally built the Hampton Court. When he fell out of favour with the King, he tried to restore his relationship by gifting the court to Henry.

The King continued expanding the palace and added an astronomical clock, still sitting on the top of the gatehouse (Also known as Anne Boleyn's gate). Henry VIII lived there with five of his six wives. In 1537, Henry's much-desired son was born here, Edward VI. But two weeks later, his third wife, Jane Seymour, passed away after complications with the birth. When his fifth wife, Catherine Howard, was accused of adultery, she was confined to her rooms at Hampton Court before being brought to the Tower of London. Enjoy a Royal day out exploring two great Royal Palaces; Windsor Castle and Hampton Court, here is our suggested Windsor Castle and Hampton Court Palace tour from London.

2. Blenheim Palace - The Cotswolds

This grand baroque palace in Woodstock (Oxfordshire - The Cotswolds) was built between 1705 and 1722 as a gift from Queen Anne after John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough, defeated the French in the Battle of Blenheim. The estate this palace stands on was previously owned by the royal family, dating back to the middle-ages.

Blenheim Palace is the ancestral home of Winston Churchill. Today, the palace is still the official residence of the Dukes of Marlborough. Each year they must give the Monarch a copy of the French royal flag on the anniversary of the Blenheim Battle as a form of rent of the land. Nearby is the famous university city of Oxford. Our suggested Cotswolds and Blenheim Palace day tour from London is great day tour from London with enough time for country pub lunch. 

3. Buckingham Palace - Central London

This is probably the most famous palace on this list, if not in the world. The Dukes of Buckingham first built the place in 1703.

In 1762 George III and his wife, Queen Charlotte, were the first Monarchs to move here, away from the formal residence St. James' Palace. When Queen Victoria came to the throne in 1837, she moved from Kensington Palace permanently to Buckingham Palace. Since then, it has become the official residence of the Monarch.

The Government use the staterooms for royal entertaining and reception of official visitors. The balcony has been the backdrop for famous moments such as the Queen waving at crowds after her coronation or William and Kate's kiss after their wedding. Please see our suggested selection of Tours of London.

4. Kensington Palace - Central London

Kensington Palace is an official royal residence in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London. It has been the residence of royal family members since the 17th century.

Some of the most famous residents were Queen Anne, King George I, King George II, Queen Victoria, who was born there and lived in Kensington until she became Queen at 18, Princess Margaret (the Queen's sister) and Princess Diana. Today its residents are the Duke of Gloucester, the Duke of Kent, Prince Michael of Kent, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and their three children.

By the end of the 19th century, Parliament renovated the palace, and the Staterooms opened to the public. Today visitors can see the Queen's apartments, the King's state apartment, antique furniture and clothes worn by Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Margaret, and Princess Diana. Don't forget a stroll around the Lady Diana Memorial Garden. We also offer a VIP Private tour of Kensington Palace.

5. Chatsworth House - Derbyshire

Chatsworth House is a family home and working farm in the Derbyshire Dales and has been part of the Cavendish family since 1549, also known as the Dukes of Devonshire.

The house was first built by Bess of Hardwick and her second husband, Sir William Cavendish, in 1552. For centuries, there was an expansion of the land and building have to what it is today. The palace showcases a grand collection of paintings, furniture, Old Master drawings, neoclassical sculptures and books.

Chatsworth House has also been a favourite among movie and tv directors. It was used in Pride and Prejudice and featured in the movie The Duchess. Death comes to Pemberley, Peaky Blinders and The Crown all feature Chatsworth. The house and gardens are open to the public, and there is a fabulous farm shop where you can buy fresh products produced on the estate's farm. Our customisable itinerary of England and Wales features Chatsworth House, please take a look at the itinerary. 

6. Penshurst Place - Kent

Near Tonbridge in Kent is Penshurst Place, the ancestral home of the Sidney family. They built the palace in 1341 for the merchant Sir John Pulteney who was mayor of London four times. The duke of Bedford (King Henry IV's 3rd son) later occupied de estate, and it remained the royal family's property until 1550. In that year, King Edward VI granted the palace to Sir Ralph Fane. But after Fane was executed for treason two years later, the court was given to Sir William Sidney, former courtier to King Henry VIII. Since then, the estate has remained in the Sidney family.

The original medieval house is one of the surviving examples of 14th century English architecture. The house and gardens are open to the public. Several movie and tv productions used Penshurst Place as a setting for several movies and TV shows such as the Other Boleyn Girl, The Princess Bride, Wolf Hall, and the popular period drama The Tudors. Take day trip from London and enjoy Hever Castle and Penshurst Place, two extraordinary historic homes with World Class Gardens

7. Royal Pavilion - Brighton

In 1787, George IV (then still Prince of Wales) commissioned the build of a new seaside retreat for the royal family in Brighton. Probably the strangest property on the list. 

Queen Victoria found the Pavilion too small for her growing family. She ordered to strip the Pavilion and bring the furniture back to Windsor or Buckingham Palace. She moved the royal summer residence to Osborne House and sold the Royal Pavilion to the city of Brighton.

During the 20th century, restoration works went on for many decades. In the 1950s, Queen Elizabeth II returned (on loan) some of the furniture and art collection. The conservation team continues to preserve and restore these items to this day. Explore Vineyards, Castles and Brighton on our suggested Brighton, Arundel and the Sussex Downs Tour.

8. Banqueting House - London

Banqueting Palace used to be part of the Royal Palace of Whitehall. Unfortunately, the Palace of Whitehall burned down in 1698, and the Banqueting House is the only part that remains.

This banqueting house was built for James I and completed in 1622. They used the palace for various ceremonies and entertaining guests. It is also here where James I was executed in 1649. Eleven years later, his son James II celebrated the restoration of the monarchy in that same building.

The building spent time as Royal Chapel and a museum until it was restored to its original form and opened to the public in 1963. Our Walking Tour of Royal London includes the Banqueting House.

9. Osborne House (Isle of Wight)

"It is impossible to imagine a prettier spot" That is what Queen Victoria said about her summer residence, Osborne House. The prime minister, Sir Robert Peel, helped her find the estate in 1844 on the Isle of Wight.

Victoria and her family spend a lot of time in Osborne. They travelled there at least four times a year. Even after Albert's death, the Queen enjoyed her time on the Isle of Wight. Queen Victoria died at Osborne House in 1901, surrounded by family. Her son, Edward VII, preferred Sandringham as a summer residence, so he opened Osborne house to the public.

Visitors can tour the estate and see Victoria and Albert's private apartments, the children's play cottage, their bathing beach, and the room where Queen Victoria died. Let us tailor a tour of England to include the Isle of Wight and Osborne House - contact us now.

10. Hatfield House

Discover Hatfield House, a prime example of a Jacobean country property set in 42 acres of enchanting gardens.

Hatfield House is a Jacobean country estate set in 42 acres of lovely gardens, east of Hatfield in Hertfordshire. A dreamy day out on your Private Tour of England.

We offer exclusive House, Garden and Old Palace tours for an exclusive behind-the-scenes experience. In the Marble Hall, you’ll find the notable “Rainbow Painting” of Elizabeth I. The Famous plant hunter John Tradescant, the Elder, designed the gardens; after visiting Europe, he brought back trees and plants that had never grown in England. Hatfield House is acclaimed as a filming location for the Netflix-hit series Bridgerton and The Favourite with Oscar winning actress Olivia Colman as Queen Anne. Let us tailor of tour of England to include Hatfield House, contact us

18 April 2022

Discover Liverpool – The Beatles Tour

Tour Liverpool

Many decades since the Beatles released their last single; this band remains one of the most successful bands in music history. They toured around the globe and made world-famous. But their roots lie in Liverpool, something the city is very proud of. Fans visiting the Northwest English city can spend their entire weekend in Beatles style. There are many things to see or do that relate to the Beatles and their Liverpool home.

Discover the story of The Beatles in one of the museums

Liverpool has two major museums that offer a look into the lives and careers of John, Paul, George, and Ringo. From their childhood in Liverpool, their first performance together to their big break. 
The Beatles Story is the world's largest Beatles exhibition, telling the story of all members. The main exhibition takes you on an immersive journey through the lives and music of the Beatles. In the discovery zone, you can completely transform yourself into a member of the Beatles while trying to play one of the instruments or singing one of the famous hits. 

The Beatles Museum on Matthew street has the largest Beatles collection globally. Largest Beatles collection in the world. The museum takes you from the beginning of their career to their famous concert in Hamburg and their rise to fame. Original guitars and drums from the band's Hamburg days, John Lennon Sgt Pepper medals, the white cello from Magical Mystery Tour, and Paul McCartney's bass amp are just a few things you can find at the Liverpool Beatles Museum.

The British Music Experience
The British Music Experience is an interactive exhibition of Britain's music legends, including a big section about The Beatles. It tells the story of British music from 1945 to the present. Besides the Beatles, there are also exhibits of The Rolling Stones, Little Mix, The Spice Girls, David Bowie, Adele, and more. You step into the world of British music with unique objects and fun activities.

Significant places in the city

As the former home to the Beatles band members, many places in Liverpool have played a significant role in their lives. Some of these places even inspired a song or two!
Penny lane: The place where the Beatles would meet up to take the bus before they rose to fame, but the bus station is no longer there. The street name plaque is a popular place for fans to take pictures.

Strawberry field: The name strawberry field might sound familiar. It was a popular Beatles song that came out in 1967. It was written by John Lennon, who took inspiration from this place. He used to play here as a child and made many memories. Today it is open to the public and a popular visit for Beatles fans. 

Casbah coffee club: The coffee club where the Beatles had some of their first performances. 

Beatles statue: The famous statue was placed in 2015 and sponsored by The Cavern Club. The placement happened on the 50th anniversary of the band's last gig in Liverpool. 
Mendips and 20 forthlin road: The childhood homes of Lennon and McCartney were opened to the public and a popular stop for true Beatles fans.

The Cavern Club: This is the cradle of British pop music, where the Beatles' musical identity was formed. The club has two stages where performances are held nearly every night. Besides The Beatles, more famous singers have performed in this club and left their mark on the wall of fame. Other stars like The Rolling Stones, The Zombies, Stevie Wonder, and Adele have signed their name on the wall. The cavern club is most proud of the Beatles, who had their start in this very club. They host special Beatles tributes. They are a part of the International Beatles week each year in August.

Beatles Hotel: Complete your visit with a night in the Hard Days Night hotel. Located in the 'Beatles area' in Liverpool, this hotel offers a high-quality stay in a unique environment. They have 110 rooms, including suites that were inspired by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. The restaurant is named after the godfather of British pop art, Sir Peter Blake. Bar Four offers a destinations cocktail bar, a Chic and stylish vibe, and artwork by artist Paul Ygartua. Local bands and artists perform here on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

17 April 2022

The best places for live music in Edinburgh

Want to enjoy some live music during your private tour of Edinburgh?

There are many options in Scotland’s capital where you can sit down and drink a pint or a whiskey while watching musicians play their music. It’s the perfect way to end your day on a musical note. These are some of the Edinburgh's best bars or pubs with live entertainment.

The Royal Mile Tavern
Step into the Royal Mile Tavern to eat a delicious meal and drink some ale or whiskey before enjoying some live music. The tavern has a wide variety of ales and whiskey available. It offers a menu with classics like burgers, hot dogs, fish and chips, and steak. Every day around 10 pm, there is live music with genres such as traditional, Motown, classic rock, and modern. The Royal Mile tavern does not charge entry for the live performances.

The Voodoo Rooms
Set in a historic Edinburgh building, the Voodoo Rooms serve quality meals and exploration cocktails while live music is played. The black and gold theme in the interior gives the room a very dramatic and luxurious atmosphere. Every night there are live performances on the stage of all kinds of genres.

Henry’s Cellar Bar
Henry’s cellar bar hosts live entertainment every night. And not only music but also DJs, stand-up comedy or other types of entertainment. You can enjoy a drink or a snack while watching the entertainment. To reach this popular bar, you need to go underground.

Sandy Bell’s
This pub is considered one of the best music bars in Edinburgh and has been hosting live music since 1942. Musicians from all over Scotland come down to Sandy Bell’s to play their music for the guests every night of the week. Each night is unique, with different genres such as Irish Jigs, American Bluegrass, and Scottish reels. They often play the Edinburgh distinctive traditional style or ‘Edinburgh Swing’.

Whistle Binkies
This underground bar near South Bridge hosts many live bands every day. On weekdays up to four bands play a set in the evening. During the weekend, six bands play each night. Their bar has a wide variety of beers and eight whiskey categories on its offer.

Whisky bar
The Whisky Bar is the perfect stop when walking down the Royal Mile. This bar and restaurant serves delicious Scottish meals and has a wide variety of drinks on their offer. Traditional music is played every night of the week, and the atmosphere is incredible.

Bannerman’s
Bannerman’s is the place to be for rock lovers. Every year, they host many live rock bands and open up their bar with a wide offer of ales and whiskey. The bar is located near the royal mile in a building with its original stonework.

Stramash
Many bar owners in Edinburgh worked together to create Stramash: a bar situated in an old 1859 church that hosts live music every day. Occasionally live sports events are live-streamed. The bar has various alcoholic beverages and a menu with classics like pizza and burgers. The venue is only 500 meters away from Edinburgh Castle, perfect when visiting the city.

The Royal Oak
Live music sessions are hosted daily at this 200-year-old pub. On the ground floor, it is a cosy occasion where musicians show up to play their guitar or piano to create a warm and fun atmosphere. You can show your appreciation by giving them a tip or treating them to a drink. When you are a musician yourself, feel free to pick up the pub’s guitar or sit down at the piano to show off your own skills. The downstairs area is used each night for live gigs.

Contact us and let's create a Private Tour of Scotland

14 April 2022

Tour London while having afternoon tea on a classic bus

Afternoon Tea

Afternoon tea is a classic British tradition that is a must when visiting Britain. Various hotels, restaurants, and bakeries offer this. But have you ever tried an afternoon tea while doing a tour of London? 

Brigit’s Bakery takes you to see all the highlights in London while enjoying delicious sweets and savouries on a classic bus. Pass by Westminster Abbey, Notting Hill, Buckingham Palace, and more while drinking a cup of coffee and savouring some of the sweets. 

In 2022, Queen Elizabeth celebrates 70 years on the throne. For this joyous occasion, B-bakery is doing a special platinum Jubilee tour. Step onto this antique London bus, decorated for the occasion with purple garlands, plushie guards, and decoration with the Queen’s portrait. Some of the Queen’s favourites are on the menu, such as chicken brioche bun and the Queen Victoria sponge.

The Jubilee tour will run from May 1st until the end of June. Try this unique experience during one of our Private Tours of London.

13 April 2022

Where to see Camellias and Rhododendrons in the UK

Plants from China and Far East

When people tour Britain, they are impressed by the flora, especially in the great show gardens, such as RHS Wisley, Bodnant Gardens, and glorious Stourhead Gardens. The mature camellias and rhododendrons often impress so much in these three world-class horticultural wonders of the world. But, did you know, these plants originate in China and the Far East?

You wouldn't associate a beautiful Camelia with a great adventurer, but you should. Ernest Henry Wilson the great explorer collected over 2000 plant specimens and returned them to Britain. Ernest would spend years travelling through mountain valleys and ravines in parts of Asia no European had ever been.

Wilson had to choose carefully, only selecting plants that would do well in our marine temperate climate. The microclimate and soil type are also vital to the success of cultivation. He was one of many such adventurers with the desire to find exotic species of plants. 

As we stroll through cool arboretums and gardens with champion trees (largest in the country) and giant rhododendrons, think for a moment of the people that risked life and limb to bring to the West living wonders of the natural world.

The fascination with the Far East extended to interior decoration. One such example is the Royal Pavilion in Brighton.

Touring
Our Great Gardens of the South itinerary is a start. Still, we can tailor a tour for you to include specific places of interest. April and May are the best months to enjoy the stunning collections of Azaleas, rhododendrons and Camelia's. Other gardens (in addition to the above) to include in your tour of Britain should be Trebah Gardens, The Eden Project, and Cotehele House and Gardens

 

28 March 2022

The Holburne Museum and Bridgerton

The Grand home in the Park

The Holburne Museum in the historic City of Bath doubled as Lady Danbury’s Mayfair home in Bridgerton. The hit NETFLIX DRAMA.

The museum is named after Sir Thomas William Holburne (1793-1874). Holburne served onboard HMS Orion, a double gun decked ship with 74 cannons at the famous Battle of Trafalgar. He was only 11 years old. As was common in the past, boys aged eleven plus joined the navy. Thomas’s adventures took him to the West Indies and Brazil. Interested in Naval history? Book a Tour of Greenwich and the Historic Dockyards at Portsmouth

Thomas inherited his father’s estate in 1820, which financed a Grand Tour of Europe. It may be that he was a practical person and liked small objects of interest. It also may have been that his home in Bath had small rooms.

Sir Thomas William Holburne left over 4000 objects to his sister, Mary Holburne (1802-1882). She gifted the collection to the City of Bath. Curators have added another 2,500 items since, and therefore the museum is a wonderful gem to visit - and don't forget the exterior was used as the façade of the formidable Lady Danbury’s home in Bridgerton. Please see our suggested Bridgerton Film Location Tour.

 

25 March 2022

Spring Equinox

The spring equinox has come and gone. Britain is coming alive; the birds are singing, and the earth is warming up to allow spring flowers to bloom.

Neo-Pagans and Wiccans descend on Stonehenge to witness the sun's rising and setting when the nights and days are of equal length. Equinox means a similar night, a moment in the year when celestial objects perform a delicate balance.

For us folks in the northern hemisphere, the juncture marks the beginning of spring, when the days then on become increasingly longer than the nights. 
London's latitude is 51 degrees North, making our summer nights long and our winter days extremely short.

Find out more about the spiritual aspects of touring England, see our Ancient Burial Chambers, Stonehenge, and Avebury tour.

23 March 2022

London's Top Five Markets

The Famous Five Markets in London

1. Portobello Road

Portobello Road Market is several markets in one. The main attraction is the antique market, the largest antique market in the UK with more than 1,000 sellers. There are six different categories: you have the antique market, the arcades, the bric-a-brac, the fashion and clothing market, the market for food and vegetables, and the food market.

The only day when all the different markets are open is on Saturday. Portobello Road will be full of stalls from 9 am to 6 pm Monday to Wednesday. On Thursday, it's only half-day, with the stalls closing by 1 pm.

Most cafes and shops are open on Sunday, but there is no street market in Portobello or Golborne Roads. You can access Portobello Road from 2 tube stations: Ladbroke Grove Underground Station and Notting Hill Gate Underground station. Portobello Road is probably one of the best-known street markets with a history of over 150 years. In the 19th century, the market mainly sold fresh food. The antiques and wares dealers arrived only in the late 1940s and 1950s. Also, a fun fact is that the market was the setting for the movie "Nothing Hill".

2. Borough Market

Borough Market is a retail and wholesale market hall. A few decades ago, Borough Market was a wholesale market serving the greengrocers; now, it's a beacon for sustainable food production with short supply chains and social connections.

The market is a charity run by a board of volunteer trustees who must live in the area. There are more than 100 stalls, stands, restaurants, bars, and shops in Borough Market. Around the market are several bars, restaurants, and shops.

There are three main areas: Three Crown Square (large producers and merchants), Green Market (small, specialist produce traders), and Borough Market Kitchen (street food traders). Book our VIP Gastro Tour of London and taste the delights of Borough.

The market is open from 10 am until 5 pm from Monday until Friday. On Saturday, it's available from 8 am till 5 pm and from 10 am till 3 pm on Sunday. A fun fact is that the area has been used in different films such as "Bridget Jones's Diary" and "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban". You can find the market right beside the London Bridge rail terminal and London Underground station (Jubilee line). Our Family Tour of London features the Harry Potter film location. 

3. Camden Market

Camden Market is where you can find a diverse community of creative sellers, independent stores, and street food traders. There are more than 1,000 places to shop, eat and drink.

Trade started as a small arts and crafts fair. It is the largest market in London and is open every day. Camden market dates its origins to the 1970s, starting with 16 traders selling antiques, jewellery, and arts and crafts. Now there are more than hundreds of small businesses.

The market is open every day from 10 am until 6 pm. You can reach Camden Market by tube. There are two stations to get off: Camden Town and Chalk Farm Road. The closest station, which is only a 5-minute walk, is Camden Town. You have Camden Road (8 minutes) and Chalk Farm station (10 minutes). Or you can choose to go by train.

4. Old Spitalfields Market

Old Spitalfields Market is a covered market. On the market, you can find retailers, restaurants, market stalls, and street food traders all under the same roof. The Daily Market is open every day from 10 am until 6 pm, except it closes at 5 pm on Sunday.

In the centre, you can find "The Kitchens", where they showcase exceptional contemporary street food cooking. The Kitchens are open from 11 am until 8 pm from Monday till Friday. On Saturday, you can visit the kitchens from 11 am until 6 pm and from 11 am until 5 pm on Sunday.

To get to Old Spitalfields Market, you can take the train. The closest train station is Liverpool Street which is only 5 minutes away. A little bit further, there are Shoreditch High Street (7 minutes), Aldgate East (8 minutes), Moorgate (14 minutes), and Old Street (16 minutes).

5. Covent Garden

Covent Garden is a vibrant, must-see destination for anyone who enjoys shopping, theatre, restaurants, bars, history, and culture. It's open every day from 10 am until 6 pm.Covent Garden's Apple Market was once home to the world-famous fruit and vegetable market. Still, now it offers a range of unique handmade crafts and goods throughout the week.

The East Colonnade Market is located on the east side of Covent Garden's Market Building and has a variety of products such as handmade soap, jewellery, handbags, hand-knitted children's clothing, a magician stall, sweets, artwork, and homeware. It's open daily from 10:30 am until 7 pm.

A fun fact Covent Garden has been the backdrop of many movies such as My Fair Lady, Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone, Mary Poppins Returns, Tomorrow Never Dies, and many more. Every day at Covent Garden Market, there are street acts. Several venues around Covent Garden accommodate street performers who audition for timetabled slots.

You can get to Covent Garden by tube. The closest tube station is Leicester Square which is a 5-minute walk. The stations a little bit further are Charing Cross (6 minutes), Holborn (10 minutes), Embankment (10 minutes), Temple (11 minutes), and Tottenham Court Road (12 minutes). You can also get there by train. The nearest train station is Charing Cross, and the other is Waterloo station. 

17 March 2022

Iconic Road Trip

Partnership with Iconic

The LVUK Team and I are pleased to announce our partnership with Iconic Luxury Hotels. Please the article in Travel and Leisure magazine. 

We offer stays at Iconic Luxury Hotels as part of a Tailored Road Trip with an expert Driver-Guide. Be driven at your own pace, in comfort and style. 

Here is a sample day: Stop for cultural sightseeing and lunch before heading to a hidden historic village. Arrive at the hotel in time for an afternoon spa session and cocktails. 

The following day walk the UNESCO Jurassic Coast and have your driver meet you at the trail's end. You will deserve a pub lunch after your hike and in the delightful settlement of Corfe before admiring the impressive ruins of this remarkable fortress.

End the day with sunbathing and pool time at Chewton Glen. Your Iconic Road Trip continues with a stop in Bath and touring the Cotswolds villages before arriving at The Lygon Arms, a luxury coaching inn. 

There are so many options to include in your Iconic Road Trip, from Wine Tasting, Hiking Trails, Historic Towns, Sailing and Cathedral Cities. 

Let's take a look at the hotels: 

The London Hotels: 

11 Cadogan Gardens, situated between Chelsea's Kings Road, Belgravia and Knightsbridge. A home from home with a London-village feel.

The Mayfair Townhouse is a chic high-end bolt hole in London's West End. A short walk to Theatreland and the famous landmarks. 

The Countryside:

The South Coast
Chewton Glen Hotel is a country house hotel with everything you could want. Beautiful restaurants and bars, stunning rooms, spa, cooking school and luxury Treehouses. 

The Cotswolds
The Lygon Arms is the ultimate luxury coaching inn, relaxed but with all the amenities. The village of Broadway and the Lygon is at one and must be enjoyed together. 

Buckinghamshire
To complete the Iconic Road Trip golden triangle, stay at Cliveden House with wow factor grounds, lavish accommodation and beautiful leisure facilities. 

Your Driver-Guide
Knowledge is an obvious attribute, but understanding the stories and telling a tale is as important. We know what it takes to be an excellent guide and driver. Empathy, sense of humour, and pride in one's appearance are what we look for in a person who could spend a week or more with our clients.  

Book your Iconic Road Trip today. Contact us.

10 March 2022

Covid is over in the UK

Covid is over in the UK. Inbound tourism is fighting back after two years of lockdowns and restrictions.

We are re-training, answering enquiries and building our business back to pre-pandemic levels. Stage two is vehicle leasing, guide training and reconnecting with our partners working at hotels and hundreds of other suppliers. It is tough, but we will get there.

The Ukraine War
More importantly, we hope the war in Ukraine will end soon with no further loss of life on both sides, and the conflict ends peacefully. I'm no historian, but there is a repeating story in Europe with leaders desiring to expand the borders of their realms and therefore coming into conflict with other nations. After years of talking about Sir Winston Churchill and the London blitz, it's hard to believe in the far eastern corner of Europe, and war rages again.

The circle of history
Let's start with King Louis 14th's grand plan to join France and Spain. He met his match with the Duke of Marlborough at the battle of Blenheim (1704). Jump forward in history to Napoleon, who rampaged through Europe like a crazed animal, swallowing up small states and foolishly going for Russia. He met his match at the Battle of Waterloo (1815). While Bonaparte orchestrated the battle from a tavern, The Duke of Wellington galloped across the battlefield on his favoured horse "Copenhagen", giving instructions. The disciplined, organised, and highly professional Duke of Wellington eventually ended Napoleon's plan to conquer the continent.

The 20th century got interesting, with the new growing state of Germany, engineered by Chancellor Otto von Bismarck in 1871, a country almost 100 years younger than the United States of America. All European states jostled for global power, and alliances formed. Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to Germany's ally Austria-Hungary, was assassinated. As a result, Germany declared war on Russia. It proceeded to, yes, you have guessed it, the expanding borders of Germany's realm by invading Belgium and France. Britain agreed to protect both nations and entered the conflict. The war became known as the Great War (1914-18). Again, the invaders lost.

Through bizarre fate and bad fortune, Adolf Hitler became Chancellor (1933) and Supreme leader of Germany (14 July 1933). His ambition to unite German-speaking peoples led to invasions to expand the border of his realm and to blame any misfortune on the Jewish population. The industrial-scale slaughter of people horrified the world. Again the invaders lost.

Today, we have another clash of nations. I take heart in the fact that the victors always seem to understand logistics, the value of discipline, and the well-being of their troops. Wellington is famous for making sure his men had decent boots. Marlborough knew his men would be hungry and made certain bread ovens and sheltered arrived post-battle. Prime Minister David Lloyd George knew that his men needed the tools to complete the job. Churchill knew that feeding the nation was the number one priority.

With all their faults, the winners seem to like people and the world. The losers, on the other hand, believe in their superiority and loath the human race.

24 February 2022

Oxford, Blenheim Palace and the Cotswolds Tour

Blenheim Palace
On the outskirts of the ancient University of Oxford is a huge baroque stately home of Blenheim Palace. It is the home of the current Duke of Marlborough, James Spencer-Churchill. John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, built the house between 1704 and 1722. It was a gift from the nation in honour of Churchill's successes on the battlefields of Europe against the powerful King Louis 14th of France.

It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to the fabulous tapestries collection that depicts the War of Spanish Succession in incredible detail. In short, the French King was hell-bent on European dominance upsetting the power balance on the continent.

John Churchill
Eventually, the Government, with the encouragement of the King, William III, John Churchill's leadership skills were recognised. He was also an excellent military tactician and knew his men needed decent shelter, clothing, boots and food. He was a logistics man, and it made all the difference. One battle after another was won by Churchill and the allied troops.

By 1713, the great European powers of Spain, France, Britain, Portugal, Savoy and Dutch states agreed that Spain and France would not merge, effectively maintaining an even power balance in Europe. The Treaty of Utrecht also ceded Gibraltar to Britain.

The House
A visit to Blenheim Palace is not just another big old house. It is much like a giant visual history book revealing the past fabric of Europe and also allowing you to see how the state of play changed over time and helped make Britain a superpower. Your driver-guide will give you an overview of what it is all about and make your visit enthralling. 

Oxford
Including Oxford in the day trip gives the visitor an insight into 700 years of architectural development, scientific achievement and academia. Your driver-guide will take you on a highlights walking tour of central Oxford.

The Cotswolds
The Cotswolds is a large region. Therefore as part of a trio of special places to visit in one day, you only have a taste of the area. Enough to make you want to come back and stay longer, check out the Best Hotels in the Cotswolds region. Your driver-guide will give you an insight into country life in the UK and tell the story of the Cotswolds

The Tour
Our suggested day tour from London; Oxford, Blenheim Palace and the Cotswolds is a long day, but exciting. You can extend and have afternoon tea and then relax on the journey home. 

21 February 2022

The Queen has Covid

Prince Charles and The Queen have Covid

Her Majesty is doing well and is continuing with light duties. She looks full of beans and happy. Symptoms are much like a common cold. 

The UK is moving on from the pandemic and getting back to normal.

The Welcome Organisation is worldwide and invests in research into improving health, well-being and medical solutions. A huge 38.2 billion GBP portfolio funds it. The organisation has said it is time to live with Covid and plans to invest billions into vaccines to tackle variants of Covid 19. This is all very reassuring for the travel industry that has been on life support for two years.

Welcome is Britain’s biggest independent investor in health and has said we must start treating covid like a common cold. 

The Anglo-American Henry Welcome (1853-1936, die in London) left are a large legacy to form The Welcome Trust, which became one of the world largest investors in medical science.

Welcome was born in Wisconsin and travelled America in a covered wagon, preaching. He established a drug company with a friend and colleague, Silas Mainville Burroughs, in 1880. The firm introduced the selling of medicine in tablet form to England.

Intriguingly, Henry Welcome married the daughter of Irishman Thomas Barnardo, the famous orphanage founder. 

Henry Welcome acquired curious medical artefacts to create a museum about the human body and health. The Welcome Collection today is visited by over half a million people. It gives a fascinating insight into the history of medicine. 

The Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons is another medical-related place to visit in London. The Hunterian is a more gruesome affair with a large collection of preserved human anatomy and old surgical instruments.

If you have a medical background, you want to make your day a trio of the most curious places, complete with a tour of the Old Operating Theatre. It is bizarre to think - The 200-year-old operating theatre was hidden from view for many years in the attic of an old church. Operations took place in “theatre” before introducing anaesthetics and antiseptics; we can guess what viewing such a spectacle was like, and all for medical science. Please get in touch with us for a tour of London with a medical theme. 

I’m sure our 95-year-old Queen will be well soon (The Queen will turn 96 on the 21st April 2022). We look forward to a Platinum Jubilee Year of celebration as the Queen becomes the longest-reigning monarch ever.

18 February 2022

The TEN LANDSCAPES of BRITAIN

Britain is a Dynamic Green Island

Britain is a dynamic Island. Visitors tend to see a small region or just London and say they have DONE ENGLAND. Others tour a few castles in Scotland, and they have DONE SCOTLAND, and most people don't even mention WALES. Yet, for many - It's the most beautiful part, especially when you get off the beaten path.

Let me introduce you to the TEN LANDSCAPES of BRITAIN. In no particular order.

Number One: The South East

The counties which make up the South East of England are dominated by the North and South Downs, separated by the wooded Weald Valley. Prosperous commuter towns sit beside historic villages, castles, and famous gardens.

There are two national parks to explore, the New Forest and the South Downs, including a thriving wine region with particular emphasis on the sparkling variety. Tour Windsor Castle, Britain's largest royal residence and take a private boat tour through the Thames valley.

Canterbury Cathedral is the Mother Church of England and a place of pilgrimage for people paying their respects to the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket. Not far from Canterbury are the white cliffs of Dover and Dover Castle. There is so much to do.

Number Two: The South West

From pre-historic wonders to remote country houses and rich arable land, the south-west has a fascinating mix of history and culture.

Tour the architecturally splendid spa city of Bath with elegant Georgian style homes and beautifully preserved Roman baths. World-famous Stonehenge sits high on the Salisbury plain. Visitors can see grander and lesser-known Avebury Stone Circle on the same day. The Cathedral cities of Winchester and Salisbury will intrigue you, and Stourhead Gardens offers the best man-made landscape in the world.

Never forget Britain's coast, and in the South West, you can hike the world-famous Jurassic Coast and partake in various waterborne activities. Tour the South Downs National Park, and please don't forget Cornwall and Devon, the peninsula with over 400 beaches, pretty fishing villages and sub-tropical gardens.

Number Three: East of England

The East of England is probably the least known to foreign visitors. Still, it has one of the most stunning stretches of coast, one of the world's great universities and the winter home of Her Majesty the Queen.

Cambridge must be one of Europe's most attractive cities with hundreds of architectural masterpieces, including the astonishing Kings College Chapel. During wartime, the region had hundreds of airfields many US bases. Duxford Aviation Museum and airfield remains active and has a prominent display of exhibits. The North Norfolk Coast is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and home to a vast colony of grey seals.

The Queen's private winter home, Sandringham, is open to the public for short periods. Wonder through the 600-acre country park, the house and formal gardens during summer.

Number Four: The East Midlands

The East Midland's has wild moors, the craggy uplands of the Peak District giving way to flat plains in the far east.

The historic Jewel in Peak District National Park is Chatsworth House, the ultimate stately home and a must-see when touring the region. You will also find a series of show caves within the peaks, where the Romans originally discovered the famous Blue John gemstones.

Head east and see rising from the flat landscape of the fens, the medieval marvel of Lincoln. The castle and cathedral sit stone ridge above the river Witham. Further south lies the most elaborate Elizabethan stately home in the country, Burghley House, built by William Cecil, Queen Elizabeth I's trusted, adviser.

Number Five: West Midlands

The heart of England features dramatic landscapes, grand stately homes, cathedral cities and a large industrial zone.

Tour the Cotswolds, England's largest Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Although the Cotswolds landscapes are serene, the pretty limestone villages are a delight too. You are also in Shakespeare Country, Stratford-Upon-Avon is the birthplace of England's most celebrated poet.

Get off the beaten track and explore the border of Wales and stop in the lovely town of Ludlow and the half-timbered town of Shrewsbury. Hereford is a delightful city, and the cathedral has a fabulous old chained library and the precious Mappa Mundi, a map of the world created in the 1290s.

Number Six: Wales

Tour mountain ranges, ancient woodland, waterfalls and National Parks are what make up landscapes of Wales. The scenery is sublime and much less known than in other parts of the UK.

The turbulent history between Wales and England has left the border and strategic spots littered with the remains of giant castles. They are fascinating to visit and are often crowd-free, making your visit feel special.

Hear a male Welsh choir, climb a mountain, have Welsh' rarebit' and learn a few words of the melodic Welsh language. Wales has some of Britain's most spectacular beaches which you cannot miss.

Number Seven: The North West

The Lake District is arguably the most beautiful region of England and the adventure capital. This mostly untouched and protected area is a place for hiking, biking, eating and admiring the sublime views and rainbow watch. The 'Lakes' of sixteen plus various smaller pools have inspired poets, artists, and conservationists.

Due to the rich farmland, access to the fertile north Atlantic and rare breeds, the North West has a high concentration of 'foody' hotels.

There are ancient stone circles and a few country homes to visit. Still, the area is about being outdoors, building up an appetite and feasting at country pubs. The less intrepid can have private photography or art classes - As Taylor Swift writes " Take me to the Lakes where all the poets went to die..".

Number Eight: Yorkshire

Yorkshire is England's biggest county and home to ten World Heritage Sites, including one of our favourite places, Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal.

This northern stretch of England from east to west has a series of National Parks and designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty all overlapping. The Yorkshire Dales, North York Moors and North Pennines are a short hop from the Lake District, making this northern region the most spectacular in England.

Stay in the stunning countryside or the medieval City of York. The walled city of York has a fascinating railway museum, the largest gothic cathedral in Europe and beautifully preserved streets.

Number Nine: The North East

Northumberland, England's most northern county, was Roman Emperor Hadrian's chosen location for the northernmost point of his empire.

Again the coastline in the northeast is breathtaking. Above the silky golden dunes of Bamburgh sits a vast and forbidding castle, protecting the shores of England from Viking invasion. The theme continues with fort after fort guarding our beaches. Marvel at Holy Island, the birthplace of the 8th century, illuminated Lindisfarne gospels.

The road to Scotland has a dark history peppered with battles and cross-border feuding. It is much friendlier today, break your journey to Scotland and stay, see Durham Cathedral, Hadrian's Wall and tour the coast.

Number Ten: Scotland

The sublime beauty of Scotland enchants all visitors, the fantastic food surprises, and variety of activities overwhelms.

Tour the castles, abbeys and stately homes. There is much to see, but more to do, such as playing golf, tasting the whiskey, hiking the mountains, and going off-road in the Highlands. You could try fishing or go on a Wildlife Boat Trip – experience whirls pools, white-tailed sea-eagles and the most beautiful beaches you have ever seen. Scotland has it all.

You will need to return over and over again to take it all in. The central area around Glasgow and Edinburgh has famous heritage sites. But, travel into highlands for whisky tours and outdoor activities. Head to the northwest coast the awe-inspiring beauty of sea lochs, islands and where mountains meet the shore.

15 February 2022

Iconic Road Trip around England

Book an Iconic Road Trip around England, stay in a Classic Luxury Coaching Inn (The Lygon Arms Hotel and Spa), a Classic Country Hotel (Chewton Glen Hotel and Spa) and finish your Road Trip with former stately home, Cliveden House Hotel and Spa.

The Iconic Road trip takes in the Golden Triangle of MUST SEE PLACES in England. Such as Stonehenge, Salisbury Cathedral with a copy of the Magna Carta, Windsor Castle, the Cotswolds and the Jurassic Coast. Add on a visit to Stratford-Upon-Avon and Warwick Castle. The travel options are endless when staying at an Iconic Hotel.

Our Driver-Guides will be your onboard concierge service, notify the hotels of your ETA and arrange lunches – along with being an entertaining tour guide.

We use Mercedes V-Class vans vehicles and Luxury Sedans, including S-Class, Jaguars and Range Rovers. 

29 January 2022

Winter on the UNESCO Jurassic Coast

England's UNESCO World Heritage Coastline

The best way to see the UNESCO World Heritage Jurassic Coast is to hike the paths on the cliffs and take a boat trip. In the summer months, paddleboard and swim. It is a beautiful region of England and not just for the shoreline.

Go inland and see the dramatic ruins of Corfe Castle, some say the most formidable fortress in England, absolutely impregnable after an upgrade in the 12th century. Dorset is Thomas Hardy Country; immerse yourself in the landscape that inspired Tess of the D'Urbervilles and see the towns described in The Mayor of Casterbridge and many other Hardy tales.

Dorset also produces wine. It's nearly always the sparkling variety that is best. See our England's wine country.

Chewton Glen Hotel is a great place to stay within striking distance of Dorset. If you fancy a traditional country hotel, stay at Summer Lodge Hotel in the delightful hamlet of Evershot, another "Hardy" village. 

My research took me out into Dorset earlier this January. The weather was spectacular with no breeze and crystal clear skies. I even sat outside and had lunch. It was magical day.

Think of those cosy pubs with roaring fires, fresh air and windy walks on the beaches. The proof is that winter touring in southern England is viable and ideal for a couple wanting to get away from it all. 

Regards
Andrew

 

27 January 2022

20th Anniversary

Twenty Years Touring Britain and Ireland

1998
In 1998, I joined the Big Bus Company, the famous open-top double-decker bus tour company. It was brilliant fun. I cannot tell you half of it.

I did three to five tours of a day around London and, as a result, gained valuable experience. I also made lots of friends. Unfortunately, I couldn’t survive on the income and invested in a luxury Mercedes van to operate my own Private Luxury Tours.

9/11
It started slowly; the horrific events of 11th September 2001 put people off travelling trans-Atlantic. However, the impact of the Covid pandemic has been worst in many ways.

2002
On the 25th January 2002, I officially started Luxury Vacations UK Ltd, intending to provide tailor-made tours and experiences for inbound travellers to the UK and Ireland.

My first clients were photography enthusiasts; I was delighted. I loved photography too and spent two weeks driving around the UK with a family of four, stopping at beautiful spots taking pictures, and touring historical sites.

2009
We acquired a chauffeur company called Chauffeurs UK Ltd in 2009, adding a super-slick team of drivers to our team. We then started to include special amenities at luxury hotels (see the best hotels in London) and build partnerships with experts in their fields, such as Art Historian’s, WW2 specialists, and Archaeologists - see our Guided tour of the British Museum.

Adding Services
Enjoying a guided tour of a castle or stately home is great. Still, we wanted to make our service more dynamic and offer Wreck Diving, Snorkelling with Seals, Wildlife Boat Trips, and so much more. In the last few years, we have added hundreds of experiences.

Britain and Ireland are two extraordinarily dynamic destinations. Our service must match what these beautiful islands offer, a world-class experience, pushing the boundaries of expectations and giving the visitor unforgettable memories.

Our 20th Anniversary
This year is officially our 20th year in business. I’m proud to say we have employed hundreds of tour guides, booked 1000’s of hotel rooms nights and toured with many thousands of people from all over the world. 
I think of the thousands of excellent pub lunches enjoyed. The people cheering at West End shows. Don’t forget the thousands of guided tours of Windsor Castle, Westminster Abbey and Eilean Donan. It goes on and on. 

It is all about People
It is the people that are most important. I have had some unforgettable moments. A lady many years ago visited England with her girlfriends. They booked a day with me to Bath, Salisbury and Stonehenge. It was a very common day tour from London, visiting three amazing UNESCO World Heritage sites.

The lady in question had recently got divorced from her controlling husband. She had never travelled as a result. She cried when she stepped out of the car within the precincts of Salisbury Cathedral. I asked if she was ok and asked why she was so upset. She replied she was awe-inspired by the beauty of the Cathedral and felt angry that her long unhealthy relationship had stopped her from travelling and experiencing the world.

Covid
Covid has taught us not to take travel for granted, and when you do travel, do it properly, and allow time to enjoy, relax and savour the moment. Let us at Luxury Vacations UK help you do just that.

We look forward to the next twenty years of service to inbound visitors to the UK and Ireland. We promise never to stop innovating and Making-it-Special for you and your friends and family when exploring our island nations.

Regards

Andrew Stevens

25 January 2022

Day two rapid antigen test scrapped for visitors

Covid Wave Over

The Covid wave is almost over, with omicron cases collapsing in the wake of the UK’s massive booster program and approval of anti-viral drugs for the most vulnerable.

From the 11th February, the Government will scrap a raft of measures designed to keep us safe, including the Rapid Antigen (Lateral Flow Test) day two test for inbound visitors to the UK

It seems that most news agencies, Members of Parliament and scientists understand that the implementation of draconian lockdown measures didn’t stop Covid. We must live with it, as we do with flu and other common viruses. Great news for the inbound Travel Industry, which some feel, including me, has been sacrificed and forgotten.

Thousands of taxi drivers, tour guides, support staff and experience providers have been culled. Thousands of people that work in hotels, attractions have lost their jobs. It made sense to test inbound visitors to the UK. That should have been enough, surely? In any event, it never stopped the virus.

Social distancing and masks may have helped for a while, but people get fed up and break the rules. The vaccines were our only hope, and the human race pulled it out of the bag. The team at Oxford University worked tirelessly to produce a safe and effective vaccine, and they did. We will look back in years to come with admiration for the ingenuity of the world’s scientific community.

The recovery has begun. Please book Covid Cover before you leave. We will do everything to help make your trip a stress-free experience for our clients. That is precisely what insurance is for, to protect you when things don’t go the way you want them to. 

Spring is on its way, so pick up the phone, call Luxury Vacations UK on +44 208 669 3666 and book a fabulous Tour of Britain and Ireland.

25 January 2022

Burns night

Celebrating the poetry of Robert Burns (1759-1796) can be at any time of the year 

But tonight is Burns Night or Burns Supper; the 25th January is the birthday of Scotland's greatest poet.

Think for a moment the contribution Robert Burns has made to culture in such a short time. He was a farmer, poet and lyricist. The Poem-song, "Auld Lang Syne" is probably his most famous piece of work, sung every News Years Eve across the English speaking world. He died aged 37, a father of twelve wee bairns (or burns). 

There is even a ship connected to one of his works, a strange poem called “Tam O'Shanter”,  the story of Tam chased through the night by a beautiful witch wearing a Cutty Sark or short shirt. See the great Scottish clipper, the Cutty Sark in Greenwich, London.

Tonight, millions will be making an "address to the haggis" and toasting the lassies, making speeches, and reading poetry. Don't forget the whisky drinking and the tatties and neeps. What a delightful tradition. Why not book a trip to Scotland, arriving in January 2023, enjoy a grand Burn Night celebration in Edinburgh. Take a few nights in Edinburgh and a few nights at Gleneagles Hotel on the edge of the Highlands. 

 

14 January 2022

Covid down 23% in UK

Light at the end of the tunnel - Covid down 23%

Covid cases in the UK are falling rapidly, according to Gov.UK. It does look like the start of living with covid, as we do with flu and common colds, as the virus becomes endemic. 
The latest information provided on the 14th of January shows a drop of 23% in positive cases.

It looks like the booster program has done what it is supposed to do, and the population is hoping to get back to normality soon. There are still a stubborn 10% that have refused the vaccine.

ONS STUDY; Between 2nd January and 2nd July 2021
The figures are stark. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), 458 people have died who have received two vaccine doses. But, 38,946 UNVACCINATED people have died between these dates. The unvaccinated are risking their lives, according to these studies.

Book now
We understand the different views that people have about vaccination. The freedom to travel is more important surely? Please get vaccinated before you book your UK trip, and entry will be trouble-free. Email us with your travel plans and use the promotional word "BAILEY" AND GET 10% DISCOUNT IF YOU BOOK BEFORE March 31st. See our suggested itineraries on your Tours page.

14 January 2022

All Creatures Great and Small film locations

Discover the real Yorkshire Dales

As a child, I remember watching the TV program “All Creatures Great and Small” based on the eight stories written by Alf Wight, a veterinary surgeon. His pen name was James Herriot. The BBC produced ninety shows which were aired from 1978 to 1990.

James Herriot
Alf Wight (AKA James Herriot) ran a veterinary practice in the Dales for half a century. The books reflecting his mild adventures sold 90 million. Whenever I have toured The Yorkshire Dales National Park, distraught farm animals spring to mind, with images of the James Herriot pulling lambs from ewes in the middle of the night, in a cold barn on a windswept hill in the uplands of England. What is special about the Dales is nothing has changed, hardly anything at all. It is wonderful.

The new tv series is a massive success in the US. Ten million people watch regularly. I suppose there is something wholesome about the farmland of Yorkshire. There are still pubs where only farmers go, and the historic stone barns in the fields are still used to house and feed cattle. It is utterly timeless.

The Yorkshire Dales
The Dales sit in between the magnificent Lake District National Park to the west, North Pennines (*AONB) to the north, the North York Moors National Park to the east and The Forest of Bowland (*AONB) to the south. This means the entire landmass from east to west across Northern England is blessed with stunning landscapes and protected countryside. It is a place worth hanging around for a while.

Yorkshire Heritage
Heritage in the region is overwhelming. Fortifications dot the countryside, such as formidable Bolton Castle, a 14th-century ruin. The castle keep looms over the landscape, much like a real Winterfell from the Game of Thrones. There are the remains of many monastic settlements, most notable at Fountains Abbey and Rievaulx Abbey.

Other lesser-known heritage sites are Castle Howard, the stately home of the Howard family within 600 acres of grounds with temples and monuments. Ripon Cathedral is a real gem. Established by a community of monks in the 7th century, remarkably original chapels remain. There is so much more, but I must mention the City of York and its enormous Minster. All who enter are taken back by the scale and beauty. The great east window defies belief.

Tours
Take a trip to the wildlands of northern England, and let us turn your UK trip into an adventure. See our England Adventure Tour. Hiking, Potholing and climbing are activities available. 

Keep watching All Creatures Great and Small, and imagine exploring the Dales with a professional driver guide on your next family vacation.

Andrew
Tour guide
*AONB means Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

11 January 2022

What is happening for The Queen's Platinum Jubilee 2022?

Celebrate with the Queen in June 2022

When first memories of seeing the Queen
I remember the first time I saw the Queen; I must have been 5 or 6, she visited my part of London; Wandsworth, SW18. She sat in the back of a huge limousine with big glass windows smiling and waving to everyone standing on the pavement as she slowly drove past. I couldn't wait to get home and tell my mother, "I've seen the Queen!"

Since then, I have seen the Queen several times while touring with clients. Open-top carriages on the Mall, London, leaving Gloucester Cathedral and arriving for dinner at Claridges' Hotel. One of the best occasions was when I said to my client, "stop, wave and look at that car" he did, and the Queen drove past smiling and waving. He couldn't believe it. Of course, I milked it for all that it was worth.

Charity Work
Behind all the pageantry and ceremonies, the Queen plays an important role in many people's lives. How do I mean? By encouraging and supporting organisations with her time and influence. Over 600 charities receive this service generating much-needed publicity, which generates income for the most vulnerable in our society and the Commonwealth.

It is not surprising to learn that the UK is one of the biggest contributors to charities per head than any other nation. The range of charities all the Royal Family are involved in varies greatly, from environmental, to medical and the arts.

The Queen has been almost everywhere
The Queen has spent her entire life travelling; it is thought she may have visited every country on earth or very close to it, as borders have moved throughout her time. The time is spent forging relationships with other nations, particularly the countries within the Commonwealth of Nations, of which there are 54. The Queen is also Sovereign of 15 Commonwealth realms.

Seventy Years on the Throne
Next year will be the Queen's Platinum Jubilee, marking 70 years on the throne. She became Queen on the 6th February 1952 and was aged only 25. The coronation service took place on the 2nd June 1953 in Westminster Abbey. She will be the first British monarch to reach the milestone, and there will be huge celebrations.

Thursday 2nd June
We expect a four-day holiday weekend starting on Thursday 2nd June 2022. The Trooping of the Colour military parade will include up to 1,500 soldiers, musicians, dancers and horses. The Royal Air Force will perform their usual spectacular fly-past viewed by the Royal family from Buckingham Palace balcony and many thousands of bystanders.

Friday 3rd June
On Friday 3rd June, the Queen will attend a Thanks Giving Service at St Paul's Cathedral, London.

Saturday 4th June
On Saturday 4th June, the Royal family will attend the Derby on Epsom Downs before returning to London for a massive "Platinum Party at the Palace" broadcast to the nation. Attendance will be via a ballot.

Sunday 5th June
The final event on the 5th June will be national street parties and The Platinum Jubilee Pageant. Over 5,000 performers will entertain in the surrounding area of Buckingham Palace. 
People have been encouraged to Plant a Tree for the Jubilee, which perfectly fits the Queen's commitment to the environment. 

Please contact us for further information. Please see our Best Four and Five-Star Hotel in London page and Private Tours of London page. 

Regards

Andrew
Luxury Vacations UK

11 January 2022

The Ancient Stone Circles of Britain

Hill Forts, Places of Worship and Burial Chambers

There are around a thousand ancient stone circles in the UK and many thousands of prehistoric hill-forts and forgotten places of worship. Millions of people each year travel to Stonehenge, but there are many more mysteries in Britain that deserve exploring. We can create an ancient stone circle tour of Britain and Ireland, incorporating prehistoric villages and burial chambers. Think glorious green landscapes, pub lunches and a driver-guide to enlighten you.

Avebury – Europe's greatest ancient monument
Avebury is one of the most important Megalithic monuments in Europe. It covers 28 acres of stone circles enclosed by a huge ditch and has stones weighing over 75 tons. 

Superstitious villagers smashed many of the rocks in the 18th century, believing the ring to have been a place of a pagan sacrifice. 

West Kennet Long Barrow
Explore the 'Long Barrow', a dark Neolithic communal burial chamber and discover its secrets. It is the biggest chambered tomb in England, with numerous stone-lined "rooms" and a monumental entrance. Local tribes used the grave for a millennium before being closed off around 2000 BC.

Silbury Hill, an ancient mound 
Silbury Hill is the largest artificial mound in Europe, dating back 5,000 years. At over 39 (130 ft) metres high, the bank comprises layers of chalk and clay with a platform-like summit; it still dominates today's skyline. Could it be the burial place of an ancient warrior king? 

A village pub stop may solve the problem local inhabitants of nearby watering holes will have tales and theories of their own. With only basic tools, think how much labour over how many years it would have taken to create Silbury Hill - See Our Ancient Burial Chambers, Stonehenge and Avebury tour.

Stonehenge, the famous one
The standing stones are shaped and sculpted, each upright fixed to a lintel stone with mortice and tenon joints. It is a true engineering feat and resembles a modern work of art. 

Stonehenge is a temple to the sun, moon and stars with many proven astronomical alignments. Huge crowds gather on the Summer Solstice to celebrate the longest day of the year and the journey's beginning to the shortest.   

Castlerigg Stone Circle
Constructed during the Neolithic period, Castlerigg Stone Circle was a place for rituals and ceremonies. It is ideal for those wishing to walk around the stones and touch them. The rocks are easily accessible; they look striking within their natural environment of mountains and the deep valleys of the Lake District National Park.

Some people believe that the local Langdale Axe industry may have had a role at Castlerigg, where mysterious ceremonies would occur when the exchange of axes took place. Nobody knows.

The Callanish Stones of the wild western Isles of Scotland
These elegant stones are probably the most admired in Scotland. The settlement may date from 3000 BC. Excavations have revealed a burial chamber beneath the largest rocks, marking an entrance of sorts. 

The Isle of Lewis has some of Britain's most spectacular white sandy beaches with crystal clear waters with zero commercialisation. It is a wonderful place. 

Contact us for further information. 

10 January 2022

Fam Trip to London - October 2022

Visit new hotels, enjoy new experiences and get the facts and expertise to sell London professionally

This informative, educational trip will include visits to all of London’s major attractions and some lesser-known gems the professional Travel Advisor will need to know.

Who should sign up?

  • Travel Advisors who have not visited or have little or no knowledge of London.
  • Travel Advisors past UK business to exceed USD 30,000 per annum.
  • Travel Advisors who would like to Specialise in the UK or Ireland.
  • Travel Advisors who would like to sell multi-day dynamic UK and Ireland itineraries. 

Other requirements to qualify include:

  • Participation in Luxury Vacations UK Social Media photographs and videos during the stay.
  • Recognition of Terms and Conditions regarding future business.  

Preliminary itinerary is based on our suggested Week-in-London Itinerary.

Fam Trip to London - October  2022

Six or seven hotel inspections and four guided tours included. 

Monday, 17th October
Arrival day with free time to shop at Selfridges, Harrods and Harvey Nichols.
Overnight: London, hotel TBC.

Tuesday, 18th October
Royal London and Westminster Abbey
Overnight: London, hotel TBC.

Wednesday, 19th October
Old City of London and Private River Cruise.
Overnight: London, hotel TBC.

Thursday, 20th October
Greenwich and Afternoon Tea.
Overnight: London, hotel TBC.

Friday, 21st October
The British Museum and the National Gallery.
Overnight: London, hotel TBC.

Saturday, 22nd October
Check-Out

A friend, family member or partner can attend. Additional fees will apply. 

Advisor Price: POA.
Advisor companion Price: POA.

Please request details of our Scottish Highlands add-on. Departing on Sunday, 23rd October.

07 January 2022

Valentine's day in London

Saint Valentine administered the faith to persecuted Christian’s in 3rd century Rome. Today in the Western World, February the 14th is associated with romance.

Valentine became connected with the medieval idea of courtly love, whereby knights would perform good deeds, often on dangerous adventures, to impress the ladies at court. 

It is the perfect excuse to buy a gift for a loved one in any event. The most precious gift of all is the offering of memories in the form of a travel experience. We have produced a simple itinerary with a few romantic touches and a perfect Valentine gift for the one you love. Valentine's Day in London a four night trip designed for two.

06 January 2022

Rapid Antigen test entry to UK

Entry to the UK from the US

Entry is getting easier, and our clients who have visited the UK find everything works fine. Here are the three simple steps to UK entry for vaccinated visitors;

1. Before you fly, book your LATERAL FLOW - RAPID ANTIGEN TEST online. We can provide lists and appropriate locations. You require a booking reference for your passenger locator form.

2. The test can be carried out in your hotel room, at the airport or one of many test centres in and around London. We can hook you up with the most efficient. 

3. You receive your negative result within 10 MINUTES, and that is it you are on vacation. 

These rules are under review and are likely to be relaxed soon. 

05 January 2022

What is happening with Covid in the UK?

The Vaccination program is steaming ahead

The robust vaccination program is doing what it is supposed to do by keeping hospitalisations and serious illnesses down. The UK is one of the first countries to approve the NEW antiviral drugs. This news has been a boost for bookings, our Great Gardens of the South itinerary has generated a lot of interest.

Paxlovid; Covid Antiviral
The new drug by giant Pfizer is Paxlovid. Its active ingredients inhibit covid from replicating, which stops severe illness in most cases. This will sound like a game-changer to most of us with non-scientific backgrounds. It seems the scientific community agree. By the way, trials have proven the drug is 89% successful at reducing hospitalisations.  

As a visitor, you need to know that Britain is at the forefront of the fight against covid. Many believe the UK will be the first large (by population) country to come out the other end. 

Here are some facts for you;

Over 90% of 12-year-olds and above have received their 1st jab. 

Over 83% of 12-year-olds and above have received their 2nd jab.

Over 60% of 12-year-olds and above have received their 3rd jab. 

Entry to the UK from the US - See latest update posted 6th January.

Entry is getting easier, and our clients who have visited the UK find everything works fine. Here are the three simple steps to UK entry for vaccinated visitors;

1. Before you fly, book your PCR test online. We can provide lists and appropriate locations. You require a booking reference for your passenger locator form.

2. Upon arrival, you will be required to PCR Covid test. Book this online before you leave the US. The test can be carried out in your hotel room, at the airport or one of many test centres in and around London. We can hook you up with the most efficient. 

3. You receive your negative result within 3 hours or so, and that is it you are on vacation. 

These rules are under review and are likely to be relaxed soon. 

Get Insured

Travel Insurance is a hot topic, we have struggled for many years to encourage visitors to the UK to get Travel Insurance. Feel better about putting down our tour design, booking and set-up fee by getting insured. The NHS (National Health Service) will give you a hefty bill if you require medical treatment. Most importantly, you will want your vacation bills paid, you are covered, and the company is covered.

Please try; American Visitor Insurance. When you book a one-off private tour with a family run business, the liabilities for the company (Luxury Vacations UK – Howard Stevens Ltd) are enormous. Cancelling a trip within 31 days mean the company are liable to pay guides, drivers, entrances tickets etc. However, we can have some services can be withdrawn without penalty. In short, you need to be insured in those circumstances, which will or should cover you for any losses you have incurred through no fault of your own.

04 January 2022

Multigenerational Vacations to the UK and Ireland

We are here to design Multigenerational vacations to the UK and Ireland

Like any profession, tourism has people with skills, techniques, and resources. The most important attribute is probably experience. We have been lucky enough to put together hundreds of Multigenerational Tours for inbound visitors to England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, not forgetting London.

The challenges of a Multigenerational Vacation

Firstly, timing. It is best to plan and book a long way in advance. At the very least one year, but it is better to be one to two years ahead of your departure date. Why may you ask? The longer the lead time, the more accommodation choices are available to you.

Secondly, you can bank on the fact that each person in the multigenerational group or family will have their own idea of what a great vacation is or not. This problem can be easily be solved. If possible, stick to one location or a maximum of two, city and countryside. We can then plan multiple day tours or experiences from the location or, in some circumstances, have events on-site, such as a Bird of Prey experience or cooking lesson.

Thirdly, establish the budget. Decide on a lower-end and a higher-end budget. Think about what each person is willing to pay per day. 

The fun bit is then establishing a theme and region. Maybe the Cairngorms National Park, The Yorkshire Dales National Park or the Jurassic Coast. The Dingle or The Ring of Kerry, there is so much to see and do. We will have many options, some of which will be decided on the day.

Your main goal or theme could be discovering records of your ancestors, coastal activities, fishing, hiking, heritage sightseeing or a mix of everything. It may well be that part of the group loves adrenaline sports. The others prefer Cathedral cities and afternoon tea. In this case, we can split the groups and arrange separate day tours or events.

Things to See and Do
Our job will be to produce a list of things to do and see and provide the means to achieve your goals. Comfortable mini-coaches, driver guides, local guides and instructors give you a hands-on experience, such as Sea Fishing, climbing or Coasteering.

Where to start?
Please look at a few of our itinerary samples that can be customised and tailored to include relaxing days, shopping days, and a few rounds of Golf in Scotland. Our Whisky, Golf and Culture itinerary has plenty of ideas to get you started. The Classic England Tour itinerary can be customised to have Yorkshire and London as the two places you stay and we offer a series of day tours from each location.

Plan Now
Plan now for 2023-2024 and have something to look forward to and get excited about.

The Luxury Vacations UK team.

31 December 2021

Covid is dead

Happy New Year - Covid is dead

Firstly, Happy New Year and I hope that 2022 will be much happier for you.

We are looking forward to you touring with us around our beautiful family of nations. The Stevens family is passionate about what Britain and Ireland offer visitors. We are determined to make sure you have a truly jolly and uplifting experience.

We want you to be enlightened, enthralled and entertained.

Covid is Dead
The statement "covid is dead" may sound optimistic, but the data reveals a positive picture. The panic over omicron is over. The scientific community generally agrees that the third dose of vaccine makes the disease liveable, with cold and flu levels of concern.

The other positive headline is that; "getting omicron covid variant could protect against delta." The Telegraph has reported that the blood plasma taken from people infected with omicron controlled the delta variant in lab conditions.

Get Insured
Feel better about putting down our tour design, booking and set-up fee by getting insured. Travel Insurance is a hot topic, we have struggled for many years to encourage visitors to the UK to get Travel Insurance. The NHS (National Health Service) will give you a hefty bill if you require medical treatment. Most importantly, you will want your vacation bills paid, you are covered, and the company is covered.

Please try; American Visitor Insurance. When you book a one-off private tour with a family run business, the liabilities for the company (Luxury Vacations UK – Howard Stevens Ltd) are enormous. Cancelling a trip within 31 days mean the company are liable to pay guides, drivers, entrances tickets etc. However, some services can be withdrawn without penalty. In short, you need to be insured in those circumstances, which will or should cover you for any losses you have incurred through no fault of your own.

Plan Early
With all the boring stuff about covid insurance out of the way, contact us for information about your British and Ireland Adventure. Our services are as varied as the destination; book a Bike Tour of the Cotswolds, go Snorkel with Seals, enjoy Horse Riding in Scotland or tour England's beautiful Jurassic Coast.

Discover your ancestors in Ireland and visit Connemara National Park. My personal favourite experience is taking a Boat Trip to Skellig Michael.

Let's lay the foundation for your adventure now, and we will have time to Make-it-Special.

Happy New Year, and we hope to see you very soon. 

Regards
Andrew Stevens

30 December 2021

Spring in England

 

The best gardens to visit in Spring

Springtime in the UK is a special time. Thousands of show gardens, palaces and parks have astonishing displays of spring-flowering bulbs and trees.

Hampton Court Palace
A carpet of 250 thousand daffodils populate the Hampton Court Palace wilderness garden. There are currently over 13 thousand varieties. In early spring, the partly Tudor and Baroque palace is a riot of colour. 
London’s Royal Parks are awash with vast displays of daffodils, violets, alstroemeria (Peruvian Lily), amaryllis, and muscari.

The Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum in London is famous for 1000’s of dead exhibits. Still, it now has a new living exhibit in the form of a wildlife garden.

Regents Park
Regents Park, one of the great Royal Parks, has impressive displays of cherry blossom, daffodils and tulips. Later in the year, smell the fragrance wafting from Queen Mary’s Rose Garden. The impact is incredible and is London’s largest rose garden with approximately 13,000 plants.

Kew Gardens
Of course, another world-class London located garden is The Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. The mother of King George III establishes a nine-acre site surrounding the small palace at Kew. The site is famous for its Victorian glasshouses, the Palm and Temperate houses. Since 2003, the world-renowned botanical wonderland has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Vast waves of spring flowers dominate the grounds in March and April. It is spectacular. A visit here at any time of the year will impress. It is the home to 50,000 plants and one of the globes greatest scientific institutions. 

Wales and the Daffodil
In the UK, we associate the daffodil with Wales. It is their national flower, but the plant originates from the Mediterranean. It is thought the Roman’s brought the flower to Britain due to the belief the sap of the plant had healing powers. Much of what we think of as British, was in fact, introduced by the Romans, such as; Stinging nettles, Cats, Certain breeds of sheep, Turnips, Pears, Apples, Pea and Cabbages. Of course, there’s more, such as the wide array of technology, including heated Baths, see the City of Bath.

Bizarrely, the reason why the daffodil is a symbol of Wales is down to the fact that the Welsh word for leek is the same as the word for daffodil leading to confusion. The leek has long been a motif for Welsh warriors. Strapping a leek to your helmet distinguished you from your English enemies and, in some cases, your fellow soldiers. See our suggested Private Tours of Wales.

Bodnant Gardens
Wales is a short hop from the City of Bath. We always like to include a stop at Bodnant Gardens in Snowdonia National Park. It has Italianate terraces that lead down to a fairy-tale-like valley full of camellias and exotic rhododendrons.

RHS Wisley
The world-class show gardens at RHS Wisley is another place to enjoy early spring flowers. In May, the arboretum is spectacular when swaths of bluebells cover the forest floor. Clients can visit Hampton Court Palace and RHS Wisley on a day trip from London.

Ightham Mote
Much lesser-known is the beautiful moated manor house of Ightham Mote, Kent. It was built over 700 years ago with well-preserved interiors, including Great Hall and Tudor designed rooms. For flower lovers, the grounds in spring are a delight. Take a stroll through the woods carpeted with English bluebells. See lakes, orchards, mini valleys and gardens.

Nymans Gardens
Nymans Gardens in Sussex, south of London, looking towards the beautiful South Downs National Park, has large drifts of spring flowers. See grape hyacinths and mature camellias. Later in April, see the snakeshead fritillary, a wild native species that flowers within the walls of the ruined mansion.

Scotland's Great Gardens
There are hundreds of superb Gardens across Britain, certainly not only in the south. Probably the most spectacular formal gardens in Europe can be enjoyed at Drummond Castle, Scotland. Head to the west coast of Scotland and tour Inveraray Castle, the ancestral home of the Duke of Argyll, currently the subject of a TV drama “A very British Scandal”. Here the grounds have the backdrop of the Highlands.

Please get in touch with us, and we will create a bespoke horticultural extravaganza, touring gardens that interest you personally. We can enhance your experience with private tours with professional gardeners and arrange all your gastropub lunches. Staying at a hotel with special grounds (such as Amberley Castle) is the cherry on the cake for plant lovers. 

20 December 2021

RIP Richard Rogers - British Architect

Sir Richard Rogers 1933-2021 (Baron Rogers of Riverside)

The Italian born British architect sadly passed away on the 18th December 2021.

For most Londoner's he is famous for creating The Lloyd's building in the City of London. He is known for extraordinary showpiece architectural statements, such as; The Millennium Dome, London, and the Pompidou Centre, Paris. See Lloyd's HQ on our Old City of London tour.

My first encounter with Hi Tech Architecture
Many years ago, I was on the TV with my school choir (Allfarthing School Choir – check us out on Spotify; The David Wood Songbook). It was a long day, and the studios were located in Birmingham; therefore, the coach driver drove through the City of London en-route to our school in the south of the city. There was no beltway around London in those days.

At that time, the city was starting to transform into a modern place to do business. The famous insurance group Lloyd's had commissioned a new Head Quarters in 1978. The Hi-Tech architecture took nearly eight years to complete. The day we drove past, it must have been under construction but looked finished.

I will never forget looking out the bus window and thinking, wow! This was the age of Star Wars, and The Lloyd's building looked and like a George Lucas stage set. It was one of Britain's first truly high tech structures, and I was proud that Britain seemed to be moving into a new age, and I was there to see it.

The Lloyd's Building
The Lloyd's HQ, in essence, is an inside-out building. All the service instruments are on the exterior of the building, such as the air-con machines, emergency staircases, pipes and ducts - leaving the interior available for a vast 200 ft atrium naturally lit with a great network of escalators, much like a space-age version of the moving staircases of Harry Potter's Hogwarts. It is an amazing structure and still looks futuristic.

It wasn't that I didn't appreciate old buildings. I thought that new stuff was cool too. I tend to make this point on our Tours of London. I show my admiration for some of London's great new buildings, such as The Gherkin, The Scalpel, The Walkie-Talkie and The Shard.

Richard Rogers
Richard Rogers was a good friend of another famous British Architect, Sir Norman Foster. Together they have transformed what modern architect is and persuaded the British to embrace the new.

Richard Rogers was born into an Anglo-Italian family in Florence. His family moved back to England conveniently in 1939. In June 1940, Mussolini's Italy declared war on Britain and France.

The dyslexic Rogers struggled through school until National Service. After which, he joined the Architectural Association School of Architecture in central London. He moved on to The Yale School of Architecture, where he met Norman Foster. Both Richard and Norman developed a reputation for Hi-Tech architecture.

Rogers has been a champion of sustainability and the re-generation of British cities. The public has become engaged as a result. People are now interested in their cityscape and make comments, positive or negative.

Richard Rogers was right when he said, "Buildings are not idiosyncratic private institutions: they give public performances to the user and passer-by."

RIP, Sir Richard Rogers.

By Andrew Stevens

20 December 2021

UK Covid Update

The Omicron Covid variant has spread across the globe.

The good news from South Africa is that this variant generates mild symptoms.

Indeed, it is quickly sweeping the UK. Still, again the news is good; the vast majority of citizens have had two doses of vaccine and nearly half the population a third or booster, which seems to be doing the trick.

Doing the trick? Surely not. We watch the death rates closely, and they are stable and comparable to a new flu variant - according to the majority of the scientific community.

We are, quite frankly, bemused by the mass international hysteria and wonder what could have gone wrong with the processing of information.

Please get in touch with us with any concerns you may have about future trips you have planned with us. We will be happy to put your mind at rest, reschedule subject to our terms, and-or help with insurance claims.

15 December 2021

New tried and tested hotels

Hotels ideal for our England and Wales Tours 

The Newt Hotel, Somerset, England
The Newt Hotel is an exceptional Georgian Country House Hotel that you must visit at least once in your lifetime. It has been the seat of the Hobhouse family for over two centuries. The ideal place to de-stress on your private tour of England with your guide.

Stay at the Hadspen with 23 guestrooms or one of 17 bedrooms at the Farmyard. The tranquillity of nature surrounds you. After a 30-minute drive, you are in the presence of some of England’s outstanding attractions, such as awe-inspiring Stourhead Gardens, known as the finest landscape garden worldwide. 

At the Newt Hotel, you can eat the garden. Garden eateries take pride in their vegetable-based breakfast and lunch menus from fresh, seasonal home-grown ingredients. If you’re looking to treat yourself, spend some time at the spa, in the indoor-outdoor pool or book one of the many treatments. One worthwhile visit is the City of Wells, aka the smallest Cathedral city in the entirety of England. 

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Plas Nanteos, Wales
Plas Nanteos is an 18th century Georgian Country House Hotel nestled in soothing countryside closely located to the awe-inspiring Cambrian Mountains. The ideal place to get away on your private tour of England and Wales with a personal guide.

Feel at ease surrounded by the beauty of the Cambrian Mountains whilst staying in one of the 22 bedrooms and suites housed in a remarkable 18th-century building. In under two hours, Powys Castle awaits, a grand stately home with gorgeous, terraced gardens. Try sea fishing if you want to try something new or hone your skills.

At Plas Nanteos, the authentic wood-panelled Dining Room welcomes you for a full Welsh breakfast or dinner. Or you could treat yourself to a decadent afternoon tea. Explore and take a guided tour of Harlech Castle or get active and go mountain biking.

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Gliffaes Country House, Wales
Gliffaes is one of the most outstanding Country House Hotels in South Wales, nestled in 33 acres of magnificent grounds and woodland. The ideal place to be active on your private tour of England and Wales with a personal guide. 

You'll find yourself off the beaten track in the Brecon Beacons National Park. The hotel has 23 elegant bedrooms that welcome its guests with open doors. If you're looking for a challenge, the Four Falls Trail is waiting for you in about a one hour drive. 

Whether you're craving breakfast, lunch or dinner Gliffaes Country House offers delicious meals prepared with fresh, varied and locally sourced ingredients. Enjoy the wonders that Wales provides, such as Carreg Cennen Castle or explore the Brecon Beacons National Park on a guided tour.

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Callow Hall, Peak District
Callow Hall is a Victorian Country House and the first Wild-Hive Hotel in 35 acres of awe-inspiring gardens, wild meadow, and woodland. Unwind here on your private tour of England with a personal guide.

Find yourself in the front row of everything that the Peak District National Park offers. Either in one of the fifteen cosy rooms in the main house or enjoy some adventurous luxury in a two-bedroom Treehouse or a one-bedroom Hive. In under forty minutes, Chatsworth House awaits a visit, one of England's beautiful Stately Homes that the Duke of Devonshire calls home.

At Callow Hall, the Garden Room provides exceptionally fresh and seasonal food. Before or after dinner, make sure you go to the converted Coach House where you get the chance to treat yourself to one of the many wellbeing experiences. Get active, take a guided tour of an intricate cave system, and go hiking or cycling.

14 December 2021

The Story of the Pub

Britain and Ireland are famous for pubs

Every town, city and village has pubs. An isolated hamlet (very small settlement) may have a tiny community-led establishment serving ale, wine and food. Steak and curry nights are popular and get people together.

What about the Public Houses of great cities such as London? What happens there? What is the culture? And what's the history?

Jovial lunchtime business meetings are normal in London's pubs. Office workers will always celebrate a colleague's birthday by visiting the 'local'. On some days, a hard day in the office will mean an early finish time and a trip to the Red Lion for a few drinks before getting the train home. Christmas is the most vibrant time. Large numbers of office parties fill the bars, so pre-booked 'rented' upstairs areas become the norm.

The culture is to buy drinks in 'rounds', four people walk into a pub, and a participant in the group will say, "what are you havin." And each person will take turns getting the booze in at the bar. Traditional pubs will require you to stand up at the bar and be served. This may seem annoying, and not service driven. There is an advantage; firstly, you do not have to wait for your bill; secondly, there are no discrepancies with payment. Thirdly, you tend to say hello to the person standing beside you at the bar, which is a social thing.

The history of London's hostilities goes back many centuries. During the middle ages, venues selling ale and rooms for the night may have been attached to monasteries. Many sprung up next to building sites. The construction of churches or cathedrals took decades, and some never ended, so stonemasons, carpenters and bricklayers needed a place to sleep, eat and drink. Hence these popular names for pubs; The Bricklayers Arms, The Masons Arms and the Carpenters Arms. Some are simply called The builder's Arms.

Other names reflect the landowner, so you get; The Duke of Marlborough and so on. Others will connect to an event or a local hero or an allegiance to a particular King or dynasty. It is not surprising that pubs change their names and even get nicknames. The Lamb and Flag in Covent Garden was often referred to as "the bucket of blood" because bare-knuckle fights took place there. I assume fighters would spit into the bucket. 

The important thing to know about The Pub is that it is a sanctuary for anyone who needs a quiet corner or a conversation.

Discover London's pubs on our private tour;  The Historic Pub Crawl.

Regards

Andrew

07 December 2021

The Ultimate Multigenerational trip to Scotland

What are the ingredients of a successful multi-Gen Tour?

When you think of Scotland, you probably think of golf and whisky. There is much more to this great northern nation; see sublime mountain-scapes, mirror-like lochs, and stunning coastal scenery. 

The country has much to offer a multigeneration group. Keeping it simple is the key to the success of such a trip. Stick to two locations, city and countryside. Think exclusive use of a castle, and we can plan a series of day trips from the property to satisfy the whole group.

For example, the golfers can swan off and spend the day playing golf and enjoying an afternoon of whisky tasting. The people with families may want to climb a mountain, go rafting or learn about bush-craft.

The entire group should have a day out at a couple of historic castles and explore old towns. 

Another day can be enjoying country pursuits on the estate, such as 4x4 driving lessons, archery, shooting or a culinary experience. 

For a group of up to 24, you need a castle, two luxury mini-coaches with guides, expert planning and daily options based on your preferences. 

Where to stay? You cannot go wrong with a perfect little place in The Highlands (and specifically The Cairngorms National Park) . Beautiful gardens, 12 rooms, 12 bathrooms, grand lounges, and a lovely dining room. See pictures.

06 December 2021

Top Five lesser-known wow factor places in London

The best wow-factor sites in London from five to one

5. Great Court at the British Museum
The main entrance to one of the greatest museums in the World, The Great Court, was the brainchild of Sir Norman Foster and Partners, the masters of triangular-shaped modern materials. Over three thousand panes of triangle pieces of glass stretch across a vast courtyard. Making is the largest covered courtyard in Europe.

Get a fascinating insight into the world's civilisations with a true expert guide, who will enthral, entertain and enlighten. 

4. Westminster Hall, Parliament
The Great Hall within the Parliament is breath-taking and a complete surprise. Probably the largest medieval hall in Europe and obviously built to impress. The floor space of the hall is over 17,000 square feet. Strangely the building is wider in the middle than it is at each end.

The space is used for grand gatherings, trials (in the past) and as a place for lying-in-state, allowing the general public to pay their respects to monarchs and Prime Ministers. Sir Winston Churchill (1965) and Queen Elizabeth the Queen mother (2002), amongst many others.

3. Regents Park's grand terraces
John Nash designed a series of huge Greek-style terraces. The entire prospect is overwhelming. Constructed in the early 19th century (1821-1836), they were and probably still are the grandest townhouses in the city.

A Nash terraced house recently sold for £185 million Great British Pounds. What do you get for the price tag, I hear you ask? Well, 117,000 square feet and 42 subterranean parking spaces. Astonishingly, that is still not the most expensive home in London.

2. Westminster Cathedral
At the number two spot, we have Westminster Cathedral, no, not Westminster Abbey. However, the Abbey is a national mausoleum and great Royal church. The Cathedral is the much lesser-known Roman Catholic cousin. It is decorated with over 100 types of marble with stunning mosaic ceilings still a work in progress.

It is a place of contemplation and peaceful prey; it is not a tourist attraction at all, but please take the time to go in and see each of the beautiful chapels. It is utterly awe-inspiring.

1.The Painted Hall, Greenwich
The Painted Hall is a vast chamber with walls and ceilings painted with allegorical scenes predicting and depicting the rise of Britain's naval and political power. After a major restoration, the entrance price of £12.50 is most definitely worth it.

The painted surface covers over 40,000 square feet, and the 200 characters tell the tales of the demise of the French King, Louis the 14th. The story continues with the formation of the United Kingdom, parliaments' supremacy and the championing of science and technology.

It is a wonderful sight to see and totally breath-taking. It took 19 years of meticulous work by Sir James Thornhill, the first English painter to be knighted (dome inside St Paul's Cathedral). The best part is that it was a dining hall for elderly, injured or sick Royal Navy sailors living at the Royal Naval Hospital.

22 November 2021

Make your visit to the Cairngorms National Park Special

  • Get off-the-tourist trail and head of on a land Rover safari, go wild swimming and stop for lunch in a candlelit “bothy.” Take a private guided tour of a great estate and meet the Highlands cattle and roe deer. Hear tales of the Highlands from your guide and a little bagpipe music while tucking into a traditional stew or vegetarian broth.
  • Sample; Gin, Cheese and Whisky on a Food and drink highland experience. After learning what makes a superb cheese, a tasty “London-Dry” gin with Highlands botanicals, stop for dinner at the country home of a famous chef for a cosy meal around the fire.
  • So you have plenty of energy? With an expert guide, why not hike, bike, canoe, and quad bike your way through the stunning Cairngorms on a carefully planned adventure day. Return to your Highland retreat for a wonderful spa session. 

Sound fun? Please get in touch with us and let us make your tour of Scotland special. 

15 November 2021

What to do when your room is not ready?

Turn your basic airport transfers into a part of your trip

Take note; Most flights from the US and Canada arrive early morning.

Three in the afternoon check-In
When you arrive at Heathrow airport, visitors tend to want to rush to their hotel and check-in. Once they arrive at the hotel, the room is invariably not ready. London's occupancy rates are extremely high, as much as 98%. Therefore, the chances of your room prepared for you is low.

What is the best use of your time before your check-in? We suggest one of our chauffeurs meet from the terminal building and allow coffee and a freshen up. You may have access to a lounge. Once you are ready, your professional driver guide will assist with luggage and whisk you into the countryside.  

Visit Windsor Castle and the Thames Valley
Heathrow is only 15 minutes from the Thames Valley and Windsor Castle. After a short touring route through the Thames Valley, stop at Windsor Castle, the largest inhabited castle in the world. It is the Queens' weekend home and used for state business. But, visitors have access, and we can provide an official "Windsor Guide."

Meet your guide and tour Windsor
Your guide will meet you from the vehicle and escort you through the castle. The property has vast state apartments. As you would expect, these rooms house an incredible collection of rotating art, meaning the Queen owns so many paintings and objects of great beauty that the only way for the public to see it all is to refresh the collection seasonally.

Visitors see the largest and most impressive rooms used to entertain visiting heads of state, such as the Crimson Drawing room, the Grand Reception Room and St George's Hall.

St George' Chapel is a marvel of English gothic and a Royal oddity. It is a Royal chapel and a place of burial of Kings and Queens, much like Westminster Abbey; It is known as a Royal Peculiar. A large dark slab of stone marks the grave of the infamous King Henry 8th, and not too far away lies the remains of Her Majesty the Queen's husband, Prince Philip.

It is not simply the history and art that is overwhelming; it is the awe-inspiring architecture of the castle and chapel that takes your breath away.

Pub lunch
After your visit, head into a historical village on the River Thames and enjoy a fabulous GASTRO pub lunch. But, mind your head, those low oak beams and uneven floors of these ancient inns can be a hazard – but fun.

Transfer to central London
Your chauffeur will then zoom you into central London within 50 minutes or so, and undoubtedly your room will be ready, and you can check-in and relax.

Not a minute wasted, time for a nap before dinner and an evening stroll to get you acclimatised for your adventure ahead. 

Please see our Heathrow Transfer Tour ideas, although we can customise a tour for you.

11 November 2021

Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day takes place on the 11th of November every year.
The point is to remember the moment the Great War ended, the most devastating war in world history. The conflict resulted in millions of military and civilian deaths on all sides.

The belligerents
The belligerents were the central European powers of the German Empire, Austria-Hungary, Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria against France, the British Empire and the Russian Empire. Other nation-states joined as the years passed.

World War One and Two
The Great War became known as World War One due to the global war from 1939 to 1945 and subsequently named World War Two.

The Truce
The armistice (truce) was agreed and signed on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918. The German Empire was exhausted, short of human resources, starving and facing a huge invasion, and so surrendered.

Weapons of Mass Destruction
The Great War was the first conflict to use weapons of mass destruction. Hiram Stevens Maxim, an Anglo-American, invented the world’s first automatic firearm in 1884. The British company Vickers put the gun in production and was used with frightening effect on the battlefield.

Lives Lost
The use of modern artillery, machines-guns and poisonous gases caused absolute carnage. Approximately 9.7 million soldiers lost their lives and 10 million civilians.

Sir Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Churchill fought on the Western Front and played a part in the invention of the “Tank” which ultimately helped the allied powers win the war and, importantly, shorten the conflict.

Pandemic
The Great War created the first global movement of people; it is thought, American soldiers, carrying a deadly strain of influenza, spread the disease across Europe. The so-called Spanish Flu infected 500 million people and killed 50 million. It puts Covid 19 in perspective for sure.

The Unknown Warrior
For years I have had the privilege of showing people the grave of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey, the original “Unknown Soldier.” It is a powerful symbol of lost bodies and souls. The thinking behind the simple tomb of the soldier, unknown by rank or name, provides some comfort to relatives with sons lost on the battlefield never to return. Could the Unknown soldier be their son.

Two Minutes Silence
On this day every year, people all over the UK stop and remain silent for 2 minutes to remember the sacrifice made by men and women of the armed forces.

Andrew Stevens
Tour Guide

02 November 2021

The Wallace Collection London

The Wallace Collection

Discover an Aladdin's cave of treasure, a majestic house of magical art.

Is it one of London's hidden treasures? If you are not aware of it, well, certainly, and it is in a square behind the busiest shopping street in the world. So you are likely to be distracted by more frivolous activities, such as shopping, eating and drinking.

In a large mansion behind Oxford Street (a short hop from Selfridges Department Store). You will find a world-class collection of art.

See Titian, Velazquez, Ruben, Van Dyck paintings and a high-end assortment of valuable armour, swords, weaponry, ceramics, and furniture.

French art features highly and is one of Europe's great collections outside France. Not only that, you get the chance to wander around one of London's grandest mansion houses and enjoy lunch in the Courtyard Brasserie.

The whole experience is just so civilised. Enhance your visit and book an expert tour guide with Luxury Vacations UK. It will help you enjoy, understand and receive an insight into the artists and culture of the past.

21 October 2021

You need time to travel; Britain and Ireland

Time is the most precious thing we have; use it wisely

There is no way of avoiding it. You need time when you travel. The first couple of days, you are adjusting to new foods, time zones, and travel stress. Your spirits lift by day four, and you start to take it all in. Then one day later, you are worried about getting home and your commitments with the office etc.

For years I have watched people slowly relax while on vacation. I have trained myself to make people de-stress much quicker by using my sense of humour and engaging the visitor in a subject. That is what we do as guides, us professional tour guides.

Exploring a nation within a week is fun. It works. But, taking a little longer and exploring a variety of places that you never thought would interest you takes faith. We mean that the client needs to relax and trust the professional to put together an itinerary of experiences. We want some to be a little uncomfortable or challenging. It creates memories and stories to tell. Most experiences are joyful – like supping ale in a 500-year-old pub in the middle of a wild landscape.   

Imagine touring the Ring of Kerry one day and taking a boat trip to Skellig Michael (Star Wars Island) the next. Well, you can. It is the time that you need. Then, the next day, you can tour the English Cotswolds hills and visit a grand palace, such as Blenheim Palace. Don’t forget Dublin and London, take your time, plan ahead and let us take the strain and driver-guide you through Britain and Ireland.

An old friend said to me, “you are a long time dead”, which doesn’t sound very pleasant, but he had a point. We rush here and there and never really see or experience anything much at all. If you have time, you are rich! Use it wisely. We want to make your 14 night trip to Ireland and Britain stress-free, gifting you memories and stories to tell.

We look forward to you touring with us.

Regards

Andrew Stevens
Tour Guide

27 September 2021

Chelsea Flower Show book now for 2022

Chelsea is without a doubt the foremost FLOWER SHOW in the world.

The show dates are the most important for all members of the Royal Horticultural Society. The place to be seen for some and others is the beauty of the show gardens and hundreds of stalls selling plants, gardens design ideas, and unique garden sculptures.

For garden owners, it is an event bursting with ideas. It makes people realise that investment in design and impact planting is worth every penny.

Ultimately the visitor to the show wants inspiration to be creative and produce their gardens of Eden.

The most valuable element for me is to meet experts that grow a particular species of plant. You get a professional insight into how to grow your precious hybrid clematis or Dahlias.

Incidentally, as the show took place in September this year due to Covid, it gave growers a chance to display late summer flowering plants, such as Dahlias.

You experience live music, lush ice cream stalls, and we can book top-notch hospitality for you too. The whole experience is a chance to dress up in a colourful outfit, eat, drink, admire the gardens and people watch, oh and shop. There are five high-end restaurant venues on-site, plus an array of cafes.

Link your Chelsea Flower Show visit with our customisable Great Gardens of the South itinerary; see more gardens or have more spa time and wine tasting, let us tailor a tour of the Great Gardens of the South. 

Regards 

Andrew (Tour Guide and CEO)

Chelsea Flower Show Facts;

  1. Each year there are between 25 and 30 show gardens with varying themes.
  2. Along with the much-revered show gardens, there are a series of judged exhibits in the grand pavilion.
  3. In total, there are 64 or so judges.
  4. The Great Marquee is one of the largest in the world at 3.5 acres.
  5. RHS Chelsea Flower Show is 108 years old.
  6. Two hundred forty-seven stallholders exhibit their fire pits, pots, sculpture and garden designs ideas.
  7. The show takes place within the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea. The venue is the home of 300 British Army veterans. The building is a spectacularly grand place designed by Sir Christopher Wren, of St Paul’s Cathedral fame.
  8. How do I get tickets for next year?  Please get in touch with us, and we can build a tour, get hotel rooms and arrange your dinners and experiences.
  9. RHS Chelsea takes place between 24-28 May 2022. Suppose you are a garden lover and wish to travel in July. In that case, we can plan a series of gardens tours around the RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival (4-10 July 2022).
  10. The Royal Horticultural Society’s premium scientific and experimental garden is RHS Wisley. We highly recommend including it on your next tour of England.
20 September 2021

UK fully open to US visitors

Travelling to the UK from the US is now cheaper and easier than ever since March 2020.

The UK government is scraping the confusing traffic light system favouring double vaccinated individuals willing to take a low cost and easy lateral flow test on day two after arrival. The US Government will still require its citizens to take a Covid test 24 hours before their arrival back in the United States.

There have also been debates whether the UK will go into a lockdown again if the Covid numbers spike. This seems unlikely, bearing in mind that the UK is virtually fully vaccinated. The development of new drugs, including inhaler versions of the vaccine should be available this winter.

Would you please look at our selection of suggested day tours from London, a good place to start for a first trip to Britain?

Scotland will book up quickly; therefore, we advise you to book your private tour of Scotland as soon as you can decide.

Tours of Ireland will be top of the list for many American visitors in 2022. The Republic of Ireland has done an incredible job vaccinating its population and currently has very low infections rates.

Please get in touch with us for further help, tour design and Travel Advice.

18 August 2021

The UK is one of the fastest-developing wine regions in the world

Vineyards in England

Expanding industry
The volume of vines planted for the production of wine in England is growing rapidly. In the year 2000, there were 363 vineyards; as of 2018, there are now 672. Around 500 are fully functioning commercial vineyards, mostly in Kent and Sussex (South Downs National Park). Of those 672 parcels of land with vines, around 170 are branded wineries. 

Partnership with Taittinger
The changing climate and similar geology to champagne have made Sussex and Kent particularly inviting to the big French brands. The Taittinger, which has a 600-acre plot, plans to continue expanding. Pierre-Emmanuel, Taittinger, the Champagne house president, said, “We have planned and dreamt for many years of working with our dear friends in England to create a special Franco-British project.”

The speed of change
Within the last seven years, the number of vines planted has doubled. Over three million vines were planted in the previous year.

Whilst driving around my county, pottering to garden centres, shopping and the odd pub lunch, you will hear me say to my wife Elizabeth Stevens (co-director and owner), “oh look, there is another vineyard and another one!”

Events
Rathfinny Vineyard has a high-end restaurant and trendy “Barn” accommodation. Nyetimber and Wiston have beautiful old barns, built like the Great Halls of the past, worthy of special events. 

Bespoke Wine Tours
Get to know England’s Wine Country and enjoy the fresh new experience of English Sparkling Wine Tasting. Everything we do is tailored to your interest, budget and time available. Tell us how much time you have? How much time do you want touring before you relax back at the spa or enjoy afternoon tea?

If you like gardens and private tours of castles, or even sailing the south coast and stopping for lunch on the Isle of Wight, use our knowledge and experience and get creative.

Regards

Andrew Stevens
CEO - Luxury Vacations UK

09 August 2021

First time to London - A Week in London

Dear First time visitor to London,

Contemplating a vacation to another country with your family can be a confusing affair. The World Wide Web conjures up an infinite number of options, prices and itineraries. Plus, you have thousands of blogs, vlogs and news articles encouraging you to do this and do that.

I have personally conducted many Private Tours of London and had the privilege of meeting very excited people who want to learn everything about the city. For the first time visit to London, it makes sense to consider all the famous sites. Still, with a private guide, you have the option to also get off the tourist trail and see the city the way Londoner's see the city.

The difficulty comes with planning it all yourself. It can be a logistical nightmare, getting all the correct timed tickets, the right tube train or taxi, and knowing where to have lunch and not find yourself in a tourist trap.

The accommodation options in London is absolutely mind-boggling. There are over 75 five-star hotels alone – where do you start? We have put together a little collection of the Best 4-star and 5-star accommodation in London – take a look.

We make it simple by cutting down the hotels into districts we know people like, use as much as possible independent hotels with character and style. We always have a few decent budget options too.

So, we have made it easy; let's take the "A week in London" itinerary and add to it, or take some stuff away and tailor it to make it your own. You could leave it as it is, it is perfectly planned, and we know how to operate it and make it happen.

The last detail is to select the guide that is right for you. Someone that can blend in with your family, entertain you, make the day work and enthral you with anecdotes and enlightening information.

So, BOOK A WEEK in LONDON and DISCOVER the GREATEST CITY in the WORLD.

Further reading about the key sites around London; 

Find out about London's royal church, Westminster Abbey, the people's church, St Paul's Cathedral. How about London's infamous castle, the brooding Tower of London.

The Churchill War Rooms have become extremely popular over the last ten years. It is not surprising; it is a window into the past. A hole in the ground where the British Government and armed forces orchestrated the war effort – a secret labyrinth of offices and high-tech gear.

The Temple Church is a fascinating gem from the middle ages, once the religious HQ of the mysterious Knights Templar and their tombs are intact.

The National Gallery is a must-visit, purely because it contains one of the greatest collections of European art, period.

Shopping is always fun when you are on vacation; everything seems different, but unfortunately, globalisation has made everything available everywhere, or so you would think. It is still an amazing experience to explore Harrods Department Store. Why not shop at Selfridges Department Store, voted the best department store in the world four times – the jean and shoe floors are mind-blowing.

So there you have it, plenty of ideas to wet your whistle and when you are ready for more information and want to book, contact us

Kind regards

Andrew Stevens
CEO Luxury Vacations UK (Howard Stevens Ltd)

03 August 2021

Quarantine over for US visitors to the UK

Before travelling to the UK

Four steps

1. Complete an online passenger locator form within 48 hrs before your arrival – www.gov.uk
2. You will need to present said form when checking in at the air or seaport.
3. Provide a negative COVID-19 test 3 days before leaving home.
4. US visitors to the UK must also provide proof of full vaccination with jabs authorised by the FDA.
 
Dear Citizens of the United States of America,
 
I'm pleased to inform you that the UK Government is now allowing fully vaccinated and COVID-19 tested travellers to enter the United Kingdom, currently via London.  
 
We look forward to welcoming you back, it has been a long time, and we hope that we do not return to restricted travel ever again. Please see our recommended A Week in London itinerary. 
 
Kind regards
 
Andrew and Elizabeth Stevens
Co CEO Luxury Vacations UK (Howard Stevens Ltd)
03 August 2021

Ancient burial chambers, Stonehenge and Avebury Tour

All over Britain and Ireland, you will find burial chambers and extremely old monuments, the evidence of long-gone civilisations. Through archaeology and modern technology, we have discovered more and more.

Having a knowledgeable private driver guide is the best way to get to and learn more about these well-preserved sites.

Our suggested itinerary, Ancient burial chambers, Stonehenge and Avebury Tour, will give the traveller an insight into life in Britain 5000 years ago. Make comparisons with world-famous Stonehenge and the much larger Avebury stone circle and even creep inside a burial chamber.

Contact us and let us help you create a tailored Private Tour of England.

21 July 2021

Tourism Export Recovery Fund

UKinbound has launched a new call to save inbound tourism by creating a 'Tourism Export Recovery Fund' to help businesses wholly reliant on international visitors survive. Click here to see the complete message.

The team and I at Luxury Vacations UK are taking part in protests and organised publicity stunts. We are trying to bring attention from the UK and US Government to the plight of inbound tourism to both countries. Events attended include TRAVEL DAY OF ACTION and MESSAGE BY TOUR BOAT TO PARLIAMENT. 

Both the UK and US Governments have had at least a year (I'm generous) to work out a covid passport, including vaccination status and test results. 

Everyone (almost everyone) is aware the vaccination program has been a fabulous success in both the UK and US, but what was it all for? Who are we protecting now? Note that BOTH the Delta variant is rampant in the US and the UK with the vaccine protecting a vast majority of adults. 

The consequences of either not supporting financially or not allowing TESTED and VACCINATED travellers to enter our borders is critical for many companies and their suppliers.

In years to come, Prime Minister Johnson may well look back at the carnage created by not implementing a sensible Covid immigration policy. 

I hope it is not too late. 

Regards
Andrew Stevens
CEO Luxury Vacations UK (Howard Stevens Ltd) 

P.S. We are dealing with enquiries for September onwards and look forward to helping to create a super Private Guided Tour UK.

15 July 2021

Isles of Scilly - England's sub-tropical gem

The Isles of Scilly, England's secret archipelago

Off the southwest coast of England lies a collection of five small inhabited islands plus 140 tiny island wildlife havens. There is only a handful of hotels and a world-famous sub-tropical garden, Tresco Abbey Gardens. Yes, I did say sub-tropical, and yes, this is England.

The Isles of Scilly are not precisely sub-tropical; in fact, summer temperatures are mild but rarely hot. The winters are extremely favourable so that the island can support exotic plants not seen on the mainland. The mean temperature is the highest in the UK. It is an odd place, in a good way.

The beaches are stunning, pristine and mostly white sand. The half-mile crescent of Pentle Bay is dreamy, backed by dunes and in bright sunshine looks surreal and other worldly. Appletree Bay is another gem with pale particles soft sand. The Bar Beach is a stretch of white sand only exposed at low tide connecting St Agnes with Gugh. The shallow waters are perfect for swimming and turquoise in colour.

Great numbers of American visitors are never going to come here, unfortunately. There is limited accommodation; maybe we could have another 500 rooms on the islands? That should be enough. The low rise beach shacks and trendy farm-like hotels are what it is all about; chains spoil almost everything because it is the spreadsheet figures that win over the passion. You think it is exclusive, then you see another "beach Suite" on stilts in the ocean, and another, and another. There must be a balance.

I love the Scillies, the relaxing pace, excellent food, and I get a kick out of the fact that England has a "sub-tropical" paradise that is unspoilt by mass tourism. 

THE NEWS is the islands are getting a new high-tech ferry and you can fly from Exeter and Newquay Airport. Hopefully the Heathrow flight will come back after covid. 

Our favourite activity on Isles of Scilly is Snorkelling with Seals

Where to stay

Hell Bay, Bryher

The hotel is wedged into a secluded cove facing the Atlantic ocean encircled by rugged moorland. The Hell Bay Hotel started life as a micro-farm with rooms and has graduated into a New England meets the tropics vibe.

Guest enjoy an outdoor swimming pool, sauna, spa treatment rooms and seasonal Crab Shack. There are 25 rooms and suites, brightly decorated with floor to ceiling windows. The restaurant uses fresh produce from the islands and ocean, and it is heavenly.

 

Star Castle Hotel, St Marys

Star Castle Hotel is strategically located on the island of St Mary's, the largest with the airport and highest population. Accommodation is set within the 16th-century garrison walls surrounded by 4 acres of lush gardens. The hotel owns the Holy Vale Vineyard; certainly worth a visit and tasting.

The hotel has two great restaurants, 38 rooms and suites, an indoor pool and a tennis court. The hotel 'boatman' is useful for touring the outer islands. The rooms offer classic comfort, and the eight-pointed star-shaped hotel has all the history. It was the frontline when the islands came under attack. 

 

Karma, St Martins

Karma is yards away from a white sandy beach with crystal clear waters. St Martins is the island with the Grey Seal colony, therefore only walk away from the launch site to Snorkel with Seals. Within 30 minutes walk is an artist studio, pub, vineyard, bakery and fish and chip shop.

Karma is a village of stone houses blending with the island backdrop. There is a spa treatment room, waterfront dining and 30 rooms and suites (garden and Ocena view) with large rooms that connect for families. A fisherman brings the daily catch into the quay and is cooked within hours at the Cloudesley Shovell Restaurant.

Please note; getting to and travelling around the Scillies is a little challenging and worth it. Let us plan a tour that includes a two or three night stay on England's Isles of Scilly. 

09 July 2021

Change To Quarantining On Return From Amber Countries

Luxury Vacations UK and thousands of other business who look after in-bound visitors to the UK are not happy.

 
As announced by the SoS for Transport, Grant Shapps MP, the requirement to self-isolate when quarantining from an Amber list country is going to be removed on 19th July for fully vaccinated UK residents returning to England. It is also worth noting that the requirement for non-vaccinated people to self-isolate is being removed for those under the age of 18 to enable families to take holidays together. Those fully vaccinated will still be required to complete a pre-departure test before arrival into England, alongside a PCR test on, or before, day 2 after arrival back in England. Children aged 4 and under will continue to be exempt from any travel testing, while those aged 5 to 10 will only need to do a day 2 PCR and those aged 11 to 18 year will need to take both a pre-departure test and a day 2 PCR. The press release is here and the guidance is here.
 
In addition, information has been added to the guidance for people on how to comply with quarantine rules after international travel on how contact tracers from NHS Test and Trace will contact people to check that they are following quarantine rules. Previously this information was published on GOV.UK as part of ‘Quarantine and testing if you’ve been in an amber list country’.
 
This new policy only currently applies to UK residents returning to England and does not apply to foreign nationals at the moment – the announcement from Mr Shapps does state “….the change I am announcing today will prioritise those vaccinated in the UK. However, as I made clear last week, we want to welcome international visitors back to the UK and are working to extend our approach to vaccinated passengers from important markets and holiday destinations later this summer, such as the USA and the EU. I will update the House in due course on how we approach vaccinated individuals from other countries.” so we will continue to push govt to introduce these changes as soon as possible, whilst also seeking sector specific support and the removal of costly and inconvenient testing restrictions. 

UKinbound issued a statement in response below or here:

“Whilst this may be welcome news for Brits travelling overseas this summer, this decision does nothing for the UK’s inbound visitor economy. By keeping Britain closed, we are losing £70m a day in exports, businesses are on the brink, our cities remain empty and viable businesses are prevented from even beginning their recovery. As we approach the 19th, our inbound visitor economy remains neglected and forgotten by the Government, far from talk of freedom this decision risks being the final nail in the coffin for an industry that will be vital to our national recovery. The UK’s fifth largest export sector is dying on its knees, and the government must provide more support, including furlough extension and targeted grants, whilst rapidly implementing vaccination certification reciprocity for inbound, as it has done for outbound"
08 July 2021

England football team make UEFA Euro 2020 final

England's national football team have beaten Denmark to secure their place in the UEFA Euro 2020 final. Firstly, you may say, "but it is 2021, not 2020?". UEFA cancelled the competition was last year due to Covid.

England has gone from strength to strength during the competition, gaining confidence and increased flow.

Last night England beat Demark (2-1) in a thrilling semi-final with goals coming from a penalty, own goal and an amazing free-kick from Denmark.

England will now play Italy at Wembley, London on Sunday 11 July at 8 pm (20.00).

02 July 2021

Diana statue at Kensington Palace

Brothers Prince William and Harry unite to unveil the statue of their late mother. They seemed in a jovial mood, and Harry spent time chatting to his aunts and uncle.

The artist Ian Rank-Broadley is a well known British sculptor. Although we carry cash much less, Brits will own a piece of Ian's work – he is the creator of many of our coins. It is normal to have public artwork criticised, but Ian's statue of Diana has had a very cool response. Take a minute and imagine the difficulty of the task. A woman loved by so many, a campaigner, a public figure and above all, a mother. How could you possibly please the press, art critics, the family and the people. The answer is it is not possible.

Visitors will enjoy having a photograph, and children will be intrigued by the giant bronze princess about to glide through the gardens.

Three children surround the bronze figure of Diana, and undoubtedly, the children are modelled on children she met while visiting a hospital or may be whilst carrying out charity work.

The Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace has been entirely resigned to incorporate the statue. The remodelling and planting of over 4,000 flowers took 1,000 person-hours to finish.

Most importantly, the Garden will be open to the public for free from Friday, 2nd of July 2021. Interested in Kensington Palace? You maybe interested in a VIP Tour of Kensington Palace?

 

18 June 2021

World's Largest Treehouse

Alnwick Castle in Northumberland is better known as the REAL Hogwarts Castle. The vast fortification featured in the first Harry Potter movies. The broomstick training scenes come to mind.

Alnwick also has wonderful gardens and an amazing venue for dining, a giant TREEHOUSE. Yes, it is officially the largest treehouse globally -unfortunately, another very big one burnt down. This helped Alnwick reach the top spot.

Approximately 16 old trees support the structure, including Scots and English pine, larch, cedar and redwood. 
Book a tour of England and have lunch at the Treehouse in Northumberland.

17 June 2021

Historic Pub Crawl with an entertaining guide

Historic Pub Crawl

Discover London’s great historic pubs with a private tour guide with specialist public house and ale knowledge.

Let your hair down and be entertained by the history, some jokes, and a few pints. You will discover and understand the true nature of the British pub, a place of escape or refuge, to meet and greet and even do business.

Spend a few hours walking the back streets of London and see the taverns and alehouses you could never find on your own.

See further details here of our flexible Historic Pub Crawl.

16 June 2021

UK is NOT in Lockdown

Visitors and Travel Advisors, please do not get confused. The UK is NOT in lockdown.

We currently have very few restrictions on our daily life. Pubs, hotels, historical attractions, churches and restaurants are all fully operational. Although with social distancing and group numbers limited.

  • 19 July all restrictions to be lifted (new Freedom day)
  • UK Currently NOT in Lockdown, living with limited restrictions
  • 24 June NEW Travel Green list announcement

The total ‘freedom day’ has been put back until 19  July. So by 19 July (not 21 June as originally expected), large groups can host gatherings, theatres will open, and crowds should pile into sporting venues.  

Importantly, we are told the vaccines are highly effective against all variants, including Delta and Alpha.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said we will need to learn to live with covid.

Incredibly, 80% of the adult population in the UK have had their first jab and almost 60% they're second. At the current rate, 75% should have received their second vaccination by 19 July (Freedom day 2), which many scientists say is the magic herd immunity percentage.

Britain will be one of, if not the safest, countries to visit from July onwards. Browse our suggested and fully customisable tours here.

11 June 2021

G7 leaders meet in Cornwall

The G7 leaders of Italy, Japan, Canada, the US, France, Germany and the UK meet in Carbis Bay in Cornwall, in England this weekend.

The Queen, Prince Charles, Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall, and Wills and Kate will meet world leaders at the Eden Project, the largest rainforest in captivity and probably the UK’s most impressive eco-friendly attraction. The Eden project showcases the use of geothermal energy and is regarded as the eighth wonder of the world; well, it is certainly a remarkable attraction.

World leaders will be eating locally caught Turbot and Cornish New Potatoes, which are the best, by the way. The meal will finish with an English Strawberry Pavlova and wonderful Cornish cheeses; Yarg, Cornish Gouda and Helford Blue.

Cornwall is a spectacular peninsula of stunning beaches, dramatic cliffs and an array of delightful fishing villages. The artist colony of St Ives is on the itinerary, a short hop from Carbis Bay. Hopefully, the world leaders will be able to explore the narrow lanes and purchase a work of art from a local artist.

There will be a BBQ on the beach and an RAF Red Arrows flypast. There will be a Sea-Shanty sing-along, which should lift the spirits, and I hope the Government has booked the “Fisherman's Friends”, the famous Cornish sea-shanty group. Their story is told in a movie of the same name.

Activities in Cornwall include a huge range of watersports, but especially surfing; click the link for the best Surfing in Cornwall. We recommend a couple of small luxury hotels in Cornwall. The Tresanton Hotel in St Mawes is a delightful place, with a Yacht-persons club feel, and nearby Idle Rocks Hotel is a luxurious harbourside boutique hotel. 

Although, the Tresanton and Idle Rocks have fabulous restaurants. The Rick Stein Collection of accommodation in Padstow is for real foodies.

Please take a look at our suggested and certainly customisable England’s South Coast Tour itinerary.

10 June 2021

Freedom Day (back to normal)

Back to normal day (Freedom Day)

June 21 is the date that the Government should drop Covid restrictions. The date has been referred to by some as Freedom Day. There has been some dithering and number crunching by the Government, which has made industries affected by restrictions apprehensive.

World Class Vaccination Program

The UK Government have made errors containing the virus, but the vaccination program has been world-class. More than 78% of adults (over 18) have had their first jab, and 55% have received their second dose.

The Variants

The public is losing interest in variant news, as the vaccine offers a high level of protection against all new variants. Many scientists say that minor changes are normal and expected, and only a major structural change to the virus would pose a serious threat. Please do research yourselves.

Potential Backlash

Andrew Lloyd Webber, the phenomenally successful composer and theatre owner, has vowed to open his theatres on June 21 come hell or high water. In defiance of any further restrictions that the UK Government may apply.

British Airways, American Airlines and Virgin Atlantic are furious with the UK Government for not putting the United States on the Green list. Anger is growing in the industry with references to the successful vaccination programs in both the US and UK. 

Trade bodies from the aviation and travel industries have planned a travel industry day of action on June 23 to send a loud message to Johnson’s Government to take the risk and support a safe return to trans-Atlantic travel.

#traveldayofaction

The #traveldayofaction is a coalition of trade bodies, including; being led by Abta, UKinbound, Airlines UK, the Airport Operators Association, BAR UK, the Business Travel Association, Advantage Travel Partnership, The Travel Network Group, and the other 11 members of the Save Future Travel Coalition. Other industry organisations have been invited to join, plus; Luxury Vacations UK (Howard Stevens Ltd), courtesy of UK-Inbound.

Metaphorical touches are being lit across the country, calling all corners of the travel industry – travel agent, airport, airline, tour operator, supplier and partner – to make a stand and send a message to the people holding the levers of power.

Demands on the Government include:

Allowing risk-managed, safe international travel by implementing the Global Travel Taskforce’s plan and offering tailored financial support.

Lobbying

The day (June 23) will involve an organised lobby at the Houses of Parliament – which will see MPs meet with a huge their constituents at Westminster on a single day. I will be there and I hope that the Government recognises the importance of in-bound travel to the UK.  

Regards
Andrew Stevens
CEO-MD Luxury Vacations UK (Howard Stevens Ltd)

07 June 2021

Green List Update End of June

A review of the UK’s travel traffic light system will occur at the end of June, days before the main holiday season. For our clients, please hang in there; the UK is rapidly vaccinating ahead of inbound and outbound travel. Currently, over 76% of adults have had their first jab and 52% a second. From 8 June, the NHS will offer over 25’s their first jab and thankfully, uptake is extremely high.

The late June announcement will pave the way for the vaccinated to travel unhindered by restrictive quarantine measure, plus take fewer tests or none at all.

Currently, visitors or citizens from so-called GREEN LIST countries must provide a negative Covid 19 test within 72 hours of departure and then pay for a pricey PCR test on their second day in the UK.

Our Week In London is ideal for your first visit to the capital. We have a range of offers available that include complimentary transfers and discounted tours - we are very much looking forward to seeing you later this summer, please contact us today, get things in place and be ahead of the game.

28 May 2021

Multi-Cultural London - The Places, People and History

London is a Magnate
London is more than just royal palaces, high-end Shops and banks. The city has attracted people from around the globe searching for a safe place to start a family, make a living, and, in some cases, make a fortune. Dick Whittington, the 14th Century Lord Mayor of London, once said, “the streets of London are pathed with gold”. 

Who are the people that built London? Injected their cultural energy and made London a multi ethic and exciting myriad of cultural influences. Our professional guides will tell the stories of the people that made London.

The Beginning
Invasion and immigration have not stopped for thousands of years. After the Roman invasion of Britain, it would have been normal to see African people walking the streets of the new city of Londinium. Later, Saxons, Vikings and Normans.

People from the Low Countries
In the late middle ages, we start to have people escape persecution or attracted by convenient business practices. The Flemish brought their weaving skills, the Roma arrived and tended to be blacksmiths and horse dealers. The silk-weaving protestant “Huguenots” arrived in large numbers from France in the 1600s to escape religious persecution. Many settled in Spitalfields, London and made skill an essential fashion item.

Indian Scholars
Indian scholars have been coming to England since the 17th century, catching a ship owned by the East India Trading Company. The Great Potato Famine in Ireland greatly increased Irish migration. Many worked as navvies tunnelling under London’s streets, building the tube network. The job was dangerous; some say three men died for every mile of tunnel.

Africans
Around 15,000 Africans came to Britain during the 18th century as part of the slave trade. Many worked as servants, and some were elevated in society and became respected members of the ruling classes.

Russian Jews
Life for Jews in Russia became intolerable in the late 1880s. British Jews started a charitable fund to enable their Jewish bredrin to emigrate to the United States. Over 120,000 chose to settle in Britain and set up home in Spitalfields, London. The influx of new people helped revive the rag trade, and today Spitalfields Market is high-end and rather trendy; buy clothes, accessories, and eat food. 

Afro-Caribbean
After World Ward Two (1939-45), Afro-Caribbean people emigrated to Britain for work. Most British cities suffered bombing during the War, and the country needed people from around the Empire to re-build and fill jobs in public transportation and hospitals. Many had fought against the forces of Nazi Germany in the War. 

Banglatown
In more recent years, Bangladeshi communities have populated east London. Banglatown is now famous for the Brick Lane curry houses.

You can see that London has layers of history and layers of people that have made that history. Let us design a tour for you to include aspects of culture that mean something to you. Let us tailor a cultural London tour for you; Jewish Cultural Tour, Afro-Caribean Cultural Tour and South Asian Cultural Tour. Please contact us for further details.

25 May 2021

Covid 19 News Britain

The vaccines are working their magic with hospitalisations low and deaths in single figures. The death rate in the UK is below average. Note: the UK is using the Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines.

The Indian variant infection rate may have plateaued, and surge testing and vaccinations in those hot spots have kept a lid on the situation.

As every week goes by, we get closer to opening up to the world. Let us hope that the vaccines continue to protect us against all variants, and we can travel once again.

We were always the sort of company that went over-board when sanitising and cleaning our vehicles. We know people pick up illnesses when travelling through airports and planes. We have been aware the need to protect our staff and clients. A tour guide with flu and a client in a hotel room is no good for anybody.

Our sanitisation of cars will take place throughout the day and more frequently.

We look forward to seeing you and hope you get both jabs soon.

21 May 2021

Accessible tours for wheelchair users

Meeting the challenges head on

We provide accessible tours for people that need a little assistance or partial use of a wheelchair. We provide accessible vehicles for full-time wheelchair users too.

It may be that you need a wheelchair for some of the day. We book ground-level rooms and design a tour around your abilities. We plan access to castles, gardens and stately homes for people of all levels of capability, and you will have a personal guide with you to help whenever you need it.

We will tailor the tour to match your energy levels, with as many stops built-in as required. We provide foldable wheelchairs and ramps complimentary. Extra charges only apply to specialised equipment, such as adapted vehicles with wheelchair lifts.

17 May 2021

Hotels Open Today

Hotels Open Today

The hospitality industry is opening up. 

Museums, Stately Homes, Castles, Theme Parks and Hotels will open today with social distancing in place. 

The UK has delivered one of fastest the vaccination rollouts of any large country. Over 70% of the UK adult population has received their first vaccination and 31% their second jab. Encouragingly, surge vaccination is taking place in regions where variants are spreading. We are on track for fully opening with few restrictions by 21 June. 

Get smart and BOOK AHEAD, get insurance and look forward to a trouble free vacation to the UK with Luxury Vacations UK.

Yours Sincerely 

Andrew Stevens
CEO

 

11 May 2021

Southampton Transfers and Tours

It is madness to book an uncomfortable taxi at Southampton and drive for 2 hrs 30 mins on the motorway (freeway) and arrive in London with back pain, neck ache, and in need of a stiff drink – and have the hassle of check-in.

It makes more sense to take back control of time, explore the countryside, and arrive in London or Heathrow feeling refreshed and enlightened.

Here is a better idea. Meet your driver-guide at the cruise terminal; he or she will help with luggage and make sure you are comfortable. Within a short amount of time, you will be driving through the dramatic Dorset landscape. Passing farms, vineyards, old parish churches and historic homes with thatched roofs.

Stop at the romantic ruins of Old Wardour Castle and enjoy a clamber through the ruins (made safe by English Heritage) and admire the Lancelot "Capability" Brown landscaped grounds. The place is idyllic and ideal for a picnic lunch. Our guide will be prepared with sandwiches, gastro scotch eggs and luxury snacks. Anyone for a glass of English sparkling wine? May stop at the local pub to try the brew.

Stop in the hilltop town of Shaftesbury and see Gold Hill, a famous twisting street with old houses. Shaftesbury has independent shops and has the feel of a real old town, not for tourist - and history lingers on every corner.

Time for a big-hitting famous site. How about Salisbury Cathedral? The church with the tallest steeple in the medieval world at 404 ft. Go inside and see the tomb of William Longespee, the illegitimate son of King Henry II (1154-89 reign), a crusader knight and loyal subject to his father, unlike his Henry's heirs John and Richard. Time for tea and cake before heading to Old Sarum.

Old Sarum is a forgotten ancient settlement with the remains of a castle and huge earthworks. In short, it is the old Salisbury, probably abandoned around 1220 AD for the new city under construction in the valley below. People had lived at Old Sarum for over 5000 years, now a ghost with the framework of a thriving enclosed and fortified city. It is a reminder of the whisker of time we spend on earth before the next generation.

Stop or drive past Stonehenge; it will up to you and then head into London, the huge metropolis that sprawls over 650 sq miles. Fall asleep on the freeway and come too when the driver-guide touches the brakes gently outside your hotel entrance – feeling refreshed and enlightened.

Surely, a much better idea than racing down the M3 motorway to wait around for your hotel room? See our suggested Southampton Transfers and Tours Page.

Did you know? We can arrange private tours and excursions from NINE CRUISE PORTS in the UK; Southampton (Hampshire) Greenock (Glasgow) Leith (Edinburgh) Dover (Kent) Harwich (East Anglia) Portsmouth (Hampshire), Newcastle (Port of Tyne) Tilbury (London) and Plymouth (Devon) 

10 May 2021

Covid Update

The UK has vaccinated 66% of the adult population and will fully vaccinate every adult by mid July - vaccinations are on track.

The Government has taken a cautionary step forward allowing a small number of countries on its so called green list. The GREEN list will be updated every two weeks.

We hope to see USA and Canada on the green list of countries before the end of May.   

30 April 2021

Admiral Lord Nelson

The Greatest Naval Tactician of all Time

In 1805, Admiral Lord Nelson destroyed the combined French Fleet off the Spanish coast at Cape Trafalgar. It was to prove decisive in establishing Britain's naval supremacy for the rest of the 19th century.

The naval exploits of Admiral Lord Nelson mark him out as being head and shoulders above all other naval personnel throughout history. Such was the naval conquests that he earned the nation's gratitude and remained one of our most heroic figures with many monuments in his honour throughout England. Perhaps the best known of these stands in Trafalgar Square, and few London tours occur without passing this iconic landmark at least once. 

Born in 1758, he was just 13 years old when he joined the navy as an ordinary seaman and coxswain. Showing early promise, he was appointed a midshipman and started officer training. Over the next 19 years, he was attached to several ships, during which time he experienced his first naval action and gained much experience in navigation and ship handling skills. Appointed a lieutenant in 1777, he was appointed to his first command, HMS Albemarle in 1781.

Nelsons career saw him involved in a variety of actions around the world. Throughout, he displayed an outstanding and intuitive grasp of tactics and seamanship that secured his reputation within the navy. He had also suffered many injuries, among which he had lost the sight in his right eye and had his right arm amputated on another occasion. His most important actions were the Battle of St Vincent, Battle of the Nile, Battle of Copenhagen, and the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

It was at the Battle of Trafalgar that Nelson lost his life. Nelson's fleet comprised 27 ships against 33 of the combined French and Spanish fleet. Nelson was confident of Victory and set about arranging battle lines and tactics for the battle. He sent a signal to his fleet; England expects that every man will do his duty. It was to be his final signal. In the battle during which he and Hardy, his second in command, were moving around the ship giving orders, a sharpshooter, firing from around 50 feet away, hit Nelson with the bullet entering his left shoulder. With the battle raging around him, Nelson was carried below, aware that he was dying. He received the news that they had won the battle before dying. 

Nelson's body was placed in a brandy barrel, and his ship, the Victory, was towed to Gibraltar. His body was then transferred to a lead-lined coffin filled with spirits and wine. Upon hearing the news, the king, George III, said through tears, 'we have lost more than we have gained.' 

Nelson body was brought to London and lay in state in the Painted Hall in Greenwich for three days before being taken to Admiralty House in Whitehall before a procession which included 32 Admirals, 100 captains, and over 10,000 soldiers made its way to St Paul's Cathedral. After the service, his coffin was interred in a sarcophagus which had originally been carved for Cardinal Wolsey but taken over by Henry VIII and never used. 

Nelson Column
It stands 169ft tall in Trafalgar Square and flanked by four lions and four bronze relief panels. The panels were cast from melted-down French guns. The figure of Nelson is 18ft tall and sculpted in Craigleith sandstone. The lions designed by the famous painter Edwin Landseer and cast out of metal from guns removed from old battleships. They are amongst the largest bronze sculptures in the country. 

The Victory
Nelson flagship, HMS Victory, the most celebrated of all Britain's warships, was restored and in Portsmouth's historic naval dockyard. She has become one of the UK's most loved visitor attractions. Also in Portsmouth is the Mary Rose, Henry VIII's warship rescued from the bottom of the Solent in a special recovery operation and HMS Warrior Britain's first iron-hulled armoured battleship.

Even individually, they are each 'must see' historical ships. The fact that they are all together in one place is too good to miss. Let's make a day of it.

26 April 2021

The UK Reaches Herd Immunity

Travel to the UK will go ahead this summer. The UK has administered a rapid vaccination program. More than 65% of the adult population has had a jab, with second shots catching up quickly. The result has been that the UK has reached herd immunity, according to scientists.

By 17 May, the next phase of opening-up hospitality will take place. Most importantly for the inbound tourist industry, the opening of hotels. All restrictions should be lifted by 21 June, if not earlier. 

We welcome bookings and waive our tour design, booking, and set-up fee six weeks before your arrival day. Full payment will be due 30 days before arrival day. Travel Insurance is essential is required. 

19 April 2021

Discover the town of Rye

Discover Rye – a peaceful place, but once a favourite town to attack and burn to the ground! - well, if you were French.

King Edward III of England made sure Rye was well protected with four formidable gates – the raid continued. Edward III sort revenge and the French Crown; the English armies launched bloody thirsty assaults on settlements all over France. King Edward's son, The Black Prince, became infamous for his callus, cruel and barbaric conflict methods – his body is now resting in Canterbury Cathedral.

That war was known as the 100-Year-War. The English and French were at each other throats for 116 years, to be precise.

A visit to Rye now a little different from the middle ages; fortified gates become backgrounds to selfie "Instagram" hits, and ancient hide-outs are now pubs serving ale and delicious meals.

Explore the labyrinthine network of cobbled streets packed with independent shops. Find an antique, devour tasty ice cream and enjoy a pub lunch in this beautiful small town on England's south coast.  

What's nearby;

The other pictures are Pevensey Castle with Roman and Norman origins. Camber Sands is the long glorious beach, and Battle Abbey is the site of England's most famous battle, THE BATTLE OF HASTINGS! Lastly, the mysterious Long Man of Wilmington, a carved figure in chalk on the South Downs.

ALL THIS IN DAY FROM South Lodge Hotel.

09 April 2021

Prince Philip has died - 10/6/1921 to 9/4/2021

Philip was born on the beautiful island of Corfu on 10th June 1921, the fifth child of Prince Andrew of Greece and Princess Alice of Battenberg.

During the Second World War, Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark served in the British Royal Navy, while two of his brothers-in-law, Prince Christoph of Hesse and Berthold, Margrave of Baden, fought for Nazi Germany.

Philip was involved in the Battle of Crete, the Allied invasion of Sicily, and mentioned in dispatches during the battle of Cape Matapan.

Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip were formally engaged in April 1947. They first met in 1939.

As Her Majesty the Queen's consort, Prince Philip has visited over 110 countries, was a patron of 800 charities and organisations and remained steadfastly loyal to the Queen for 73 years. Prince Philip retired from Royal duties in 2017.

He was much liked and loved. He became famous for speaking his mind and having a wicked sense of humour and a no-nonsense attitude to life. 

08 April 2021

Britain will reach herd immunity by April 12.

Britain will reach herd immunity by April 12. 

University College London has said Britain will cross the herd immunity line on Monday, April 12 - Thirty-two million people have received their first dose; almost 60% of the adult population. 

Either via vaccination or from infection, over 70% of the nation will be protected within days. The pressure on the UK government to open Britain up to international inbound travel will be enormous. 

We will be expecting a positive announcement on Monday 12th April with solutions to avoiding visitors arriving with covid; ideas such as covid passports and testing at airports. 

Please ask questions, book trips and pay later; Private tours the UK

07 April 2021

Britain's Red Telephone Box

The famous RED TELEPHONE BOX appeared on British streets in 1924. The General Post Office controlled telecommunications. Therefore, the phone box is red to match the livery of the post office. Although, there were plans for the phone box to be silver, reflecting the space-age technology.

Originally the GPO installed 92,000 call boxes; today, there are only 8,000 are red telephone boxes.

The Police realised the street-based telephone box could help fight crime. Over one thousands blue sheds with Phones with a direct line to the nearest police station arrived on British streets. In 1963, this blue police telephone box appeared as the TARDIS in the hit BBC Sci-Fi series DOCTOR WHO. Discover the best examples of the various phone boxes on PRIVATE TOUR OF LONDON

Also, other organisations realised the value of telecommunications. Motoring clubs such as the RAC and AA installed around 1,300 sentry type phone boxes for patrolmen to stay in touch and customers to summon assistance.

Sir Giles Gilbert Scott designed the original red telephone box. The roof has an eye-catching curve identical to that of Waterloo Bridge, which Scott also designed. The example in the picture is Kiosk No; 6 design version-1935.

23 March 2021

UK Road Map Out of Lockdown

The UK vaccination program has been a success and continues at an extraordinary pace. All adults over 50 will have been offered the jab by the first week of April and all adults over 18 will have received a vaccination by late July. 

This means the UK road map out of lockdown remains on tack, please see below. 

12th April 2021

  • Non-essential shops will open, such as gyms and hairdresser.
  • Pubs can serve outdoors only.
  • ANNOUNCEMENT to be made on which nationals can visit the UK without restrictions. Vaccine passport, covid test or both maybe required. 

17th May 2021

  • Hotels will re-open.
  • Cinemas will re-open.
  • The gathering rule of six people or two households remains in place.

21st June 2021

  • All legal limits on social contact lifted.
  • Nightclubs re-open.
  • Normal interaction to resume.

We look forward to seeing you very soon with open arms. 

16 March 2021

When will I be able to travel to the UNITED KINGDOM?

Dear Potential Travellers to the UK,

The UK now has a ROAD-MAP to covid RECOVERY.

When will I be able to travel to the UNITED KINGDOM? It is on track and we should be ready to go by 17th May with limited restrictions and completely free by 21st June. 

"OVER 25 MILLION PEOPLE VACCINATED IN THE UK "

The UK's National Health Service (NHS) volunteers and the British Army have embarked on the UK's biggest vacation program ever. Each week between TWO to THREE million people are being vaccinated with the Pfizer or AstraZeneca-Oxford medicine. Importantly, at this rate, the NHS will inoculate all people over 50 by March and every adult by July. The sheer pace of vaccination will mean Britain will be open for business very soon. 

When will you be able to visit the UK?
Expect to be able to travel to the UK by mid-May. The countries most likely to enter the UK without the need for quarantine will be US citizens and other countries that are vaccinating at a similar rate.

Please take note, Travel Insurance is always vital, Covid or not; please make sure you get the correct cover. 

BOOK NOW – PAY LATER

We look forward to you touring with us soon.

The Luxury Vacations UK Team

09 March 2021

Tudor Tour - The Lockdown Story

'Tudor Lockdown for England's Nine-Day Queen' by Clarissa Skinner 

Why was the nine-day queen, Lady Jane Grey, put into lockdown for so long before her execution? And what was the final straw that led Queen Mary to put her to death? 

At 10 am on February 12, 1554, a diminutive figure in size. However, pious and graceful, England's nine-day teenage queen walks to the scaffold, reading her little prayer book supported on the arm of the kindly Lieutenant Sir John Bridges. Small with freckles and the Tudor red hair, she was dressed in a black gown with a French hood trimmed with jet. Her two ladies, Mrs Ellen and Mrs Tilney walk behind her, weeping. 

Interested in a Tudor Tour? Our Windsor Castle and Hampton Court Palace day tour from London cover the entire Tudor Story. 

Jane's husband, Lord Guildford Dudley, had requested an audience with Jane before their executions. Queen Mary had agreed to this, though Jane refused, saying they would meet in "a better place". However, to comfort him, she promised to watch as he walked from the Tower of London out onto Tower Hill for his public execution. She even stayed stubbornly at her window in the Queen's House until his headless corpse was brought back in a cart to be interred in the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula. A bloody white sheet covered the body, and his head was wrapped in a cloth. 

When Jane reached the scaffold, she took a scarf from Mrs Ellen to use as a blindfold. She stood fumbling for the block, crying: "What am I to do? Where is it?" Someone stepped forward and helped her to the block, and as she stretched out her body, the axeman took her head in one blow. She was just 16. The French ambassador, Antoine de Noailles, recorded his shock at how much blood could come from so small a body. 

Jane's claim to the throne came through Henry VIII's sister Mary Tudor (described as the most beautiful woman in England). She secretly married his chief adviser and friend Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk. After raging at the deceit, Henry forgave them. Mary and Charles had two daughters, Frances and Eleanor. Frances was Jane's mother. Frances married Henry Grey, later Duke of Suffolk. They were unpleasant but proud parents, and Henry described them as "neither misliked nor much regarded" by his peers. They went on to have two more daughters, Katherine and Mary. 

On Henry VIII's death on January 28, 1547, Edward VI became king. He was staunchly Protestant; to keep his Catholic half-sister Queen Mary (later known as Bloody Mary) off the throne, he is persuaded to name his cousin Jane as his heir. John Dudley, the Duke of Northumberland, had Jane marry his son Guildford Dudley to retain his power over the crown. Thus, upon the death of the King, Jane became Queen of England on July 10, 1553, aged only 15. Just nine days later, with Queen Mary having gained great support, she captures Jane and has her thrown into the Tower on treason charges. 

Under sentence of death, Jane is treated well at the Tower, even making friends with Lieutenant Sir John Bridges, writing a message to him in the prayer book she left to him: "There is a time to be born and a time to die, and the day of our death is better than the day of our birth. Yours, as the Lord knoweth, a true friend." This message was beside one to her father, which ends: "Your obedient daughter till death." She lived in the gaoler's house, Partridge and his wife, and was allowed four members in her household, Mrs Ellen, Mrs Tilney, Mrs Jacobs and a manservant and given a decent allowance to live well. She was allowed to walk in the gardens and even out onto Tower Hill, under escort of guards.

Queen Mary recognised that Jane was an innocent pawn in a political game and was intent on not having her executed, hoping that when rebellions had been quashed, she would be able to release her. Jane, too, believed that one day she might be free. Thus, the Tower was almost a refuge to her, as she could read her beloved books. Jane was a Greek and Latin scholar (among other subjects) and staunch in her Protestant views - some might even say priggish. She was now free of all the venomous people in her life who had pushed and cajoled her into taking on the crown. Jane wrote to Queen Mary: "Although my fault be great, and I confess it be so, nevertheless I am charged and esteemed guilty more than I have deserved. For whereas I might take upon me that of which I was not worthy, yet no one can ever say that either I sought it on my own, or that I was pleased with it." The original letter did not survive, but there is a contemporary Italian translation. 

The problem came when Queen Mary agreed to marry Philip of Spain, son of Emperor Charles V, Queen Mary's uncle and powerful ruler of the Habsburg empire. The English rose against this "foreign" match. Queen Mary stopped Jane walking on the walls of the Tower, keeping her out of the raging public. Worse, she was eventually told that she could not leave Partridge's house for her daily walks. Total lockdown. Jane became ill, and this, combined with the fact that Queen Mary considered her half-sister Elizabeth an even greater threat, meant she was allowed to at least walk in the gaoler's gardens again. Besides, behind the Tower walls, no one could see her. 

Jane endlessly awaited her pardon with great resilience, but it never came, and she began to feel forgotten. She carved Latin inscriptions on the walls (they no longer survive, but once again contemporaries recorded them): 

"To mortals' common fate my mind resign. 
My lot today tomorrow may be thine."

"While God assists us, envy bites in vain. 
If God forsakes us, fruitless all our pain.
I hope for light after darkness." 

It seems that Jane became bored and lonely, as one evening the Partridges' had Rowland Lee from the Royal Mint over, and Jane seems to have greatly enjoyed this fresh company to exchange ideas with. When he asked her what she made of the Duke of Northumberland's conversion to Catholicism at the last moment, and it was commented on that he was seeking to have his pardon, Jane cried out: "Pardon! Woe worth him! He hath brought me and our stock in most miserable calamity and misery by his exceeding ambition." 

The protests against Queen Mary's marriage led to the Wyatt rebellion, led by Thomas Wyatt, son of a poet from Kent. Wyatt just wanted to stop the foreign marriage; however, others plotted more deeply. Edward Courtenay (great-grandson of King Edward IV), who had been imprisoned in the Tower throughout his youth by Henry VIII, was now freed aged 27 by Queen Mary. The plot involved having him married off to Queen Mary's half-sister Elizabeth and taking the throne. They would have made a powerful match. This Protestant plot gave Queen Mary no choice but to have Lady Jane put to death. Elizabeth brought to the Tower for questioning to determine her involvement in it.

While Elizabeth, briefly in lockdown at the Tower, was in the garden, a boy of five and a girl aged three or four came to the gate to offer her flowers. Another little girl provided the princess with a miniature set of keys "so that she may unlock the gate and go abroad". The guards thought they were being sent as spies concealing messages in the posy and banned them from coming again. But the brave little fellow did come again, just to let her know he could no longer bring her flowers. Elizabeth was considered a threat throughout Queen Mary's reign. She spent a long time under house arrest at Woodstock Manor (now Blenheim Palace outside of Oxford). While there, she is said to have inscribed on the window with a diamond:

"Much suspected of me. 
Nothing proved can be. 
Quoth Elizabeth prisoner." 

Finally, Queen Mary, at the very last, sent Dr John Feckenham, the new Catholic dean of St Paul's Cathedral, to try to convert Jane. Despite herself, Jane could not help befriending Feckenham and found him kinder and better company than many Protestants. However, she could not be persuaded, arguing against transubstantiation, saying that when Christ broke the bread and said, "Take, eat, this is my body", he was very much alive. So the Real Presence in the Eucharist could not be true. Nonetheless, she agreed to have Feckenham join her at the scaffold to see her last breath taken. Jane told Feckenham of her lockdown horror: "I assure you, the time hath been so odious to me that I long for nothing so much as death." 

After Jane's death, her father was discovered hiding at Astley Park, his estate in Warwickshire, in the stump of a tree where he had stayed for two days. He was brought back and executed on February 23, 1554. His head fell into the sawdust below, which was tainted with tannin. So it was perfectly preserved for 400 years - and even shown off to historians at St Botolph's Church in Aldgate - before finally being buried. Her mother, Frances, Duchess of Suffolk, immediately deserted her family and entered Queen Mary's court. Within weeks after her husband and daughter's death, she had married Adrian Stokes, 15 years her junior and her groom of the chambers. He was red-haired and flashy in dress, but more importantly, her inferior. A smart move, as it took her and any future heirs out of the line of succession, thereby removing her permanently as a threat to the throne. 

The story of Jane's sisters' fate also has a terrible lockdown chill to it. Katherine Grey, one sister, fell in love with Edward Seymour, the Earl of Hertford. She was a true Tudor beauty like her grandmother. She had also been welcomed into Queen Mary's court. Still, when Elizabeth I succeeded Queen Mary, she kept Katherine close, being a potential rival. When Katherine secretly married the earl, the threat became greater, and Elizabeth was furious. Worse, she was pregnant with his child, and when it was born, it was a boy. They were both imprisoned at the Tower, but the Lieutenant, Ed Warner, took pity on them and let them meet in secret. An exceptionally unwise move, as once again, Katherine became pregnant and had a second son. Elizabeth was so incensed at this that Katherine was placed under house arrest. Here in lockdown, she pined away for the family she had lost. She probably became anorexic, as she ate very little and wasted away with consumption. You may think that this would have been warning enough for her sister Mary Grey, but not so. She decided to marry at 19 years secretly to the sergeant porter, Thomas Keys (again her inferior). A slightly comic match, as William Cecil said: "The sergeant porter, being the biggest gentleman in this court, hath married secretly the Lady Mary Grey, the least of all the court." She was described as so tiny that she may have been a dwarf and was also a little hunch-backed. She, too, was separated from her husband and put under house arrest at Chequers in Buckinghamshire. Mary Grey also wasted away and stopped eating (Thomas Keys was sent to the Fleet prison.) She was finally released in 1572, a year after her husband's death, and died in poverty and obscurity in 1578, aged 32. Tragically, on Katherine's deathbed, she sent a message to Elizabeth begging her to forgive her and asked of her children that Elizabeth "not impute my fault onto them". 

Thus, we learn lockdown lessons from our torturous Tudor forebears.

13 January 2021

The Most Beautiful Place in Ireland

Connemara National Park

A combination of bogland, lakes, and mountains makes up the Connemara National Park. Fifty peaks dominate the horizon within a tightly defined 5000-acre area. For those who love to hike, there is Diamond Hill in the Connemara National Park, with its wood and cut stone path, offers a very safe way to go hill-walking. The region is dotted with ancient tombs, some over 4,000 years old - making the park fascinating walking country. 

Wildlife includes; birds of prey, such as peregrines and merlins, large mammals include Red Deer, and the coast is ideal for breeding Grey seals.

 

28 December 2020

Where was Bridgerton filmed?

Where was Bridgerton Filmed? 
The NEW Netflix show following the fortunes of the Bridgerton family is superb. 

Who doesn't love a period drama? Maybe some, but for those who do, it is an escape to another world and time. In this case, the time is Regency London (early 1800s') when war raged across the channel. Nelson was a naval hero, and Napoleon met his match at Waterloo. Britain was becoming the first nation to be industrialised; it was a period of rapid change and growth. 

This exciting 'Jane Austen' period drama is set in London. Although London has plenty of historic streets and grand 'Regency terraces', other England locations have been used to replicate the Regency age capital. 

Here is a brief rundown;
The Bridgerton London home is the elegant Ranger's House, Greenwich. It is a stunning villa looked after by English Heritage. The interiors will take your breath away. The rooms are full of sculpture, jewellery and over 700 paintings. It is an art lovers dream and much lesser known than the National Gallery and Tate Britain

The filmmakers used RAF Halton for the interiors of the Bridgerton London home. The vast RAF base is home to over 2,000 personnel. The site seems an unlikely film location for an elegant interior, but there are grand Regency-like rooms. The Bridgerton House Grand Hall, Smoking Room and Hallway were filmed here. 

Filmmakers are clever to use different properties and patch them together to create the overall effect. For Example, Duke of Hastings character's London home is the lavish private home of the Earl of Pembroke, Wilton House, near Salisbury. Wilton House has been the residence of the Earls of Pembroke since the 16th century, during King Henry VIII's reign. The sumptuous interiors have attracted film crews before. The filming of Jane Austen's 'Emma', 'Tomb Raider' and another Netflix hit 'The Crown'. 

Our Tour-Designers can add in a tour of Wilton House and its incredible grounds on a day tour of Bath and Salisbury

The country house of the fictional Duke of Hastings, Clyvedon Castle uses Wilton House elements, such as the dining room. The ever so grand Castle Howard, was famously the film set of Brideshead Revisited based on a book by Evelyn Waugh. Now Castle Howard's dramatic exteriors and some other interiors double as Clyvedon Castle. Castle Howard also stepped in to play the role of some ballroom scenes.  

Again the producers used Castle Howard to replicate Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. The once famous gardens have long gone, but, have been revived but for a short time at Yorkshire's jewel, Castle Howard. The incredible grounds at Stowe in Buckinghamshire were also used. The ornamental landscape gardens that our old friend Capability Brown learnt his trade as a garden designer.   

Bath is England's great film-location dame and UNESCO World Heritage Site. The best-preserved 18th Century city in Europe has very little architecture from modern times to spoil those classic period-drama shots. Therefore, Bridgerton London scenes, such as Mayfair, Pall Mall, and Grosvenor Square, are filmed in gorgeous and well-preserved Bath

We will be delighted to put together a film location tour just for you. I think you will be surprised how many movies are made in Britain every year. There are very few parts of Britain that have not graced the silver screen.

22 December 2020

Covid 19 Vaccine - Christmas update

Over half a million people in the UK have had their first COVID 19 vaccination jab. 

There is an expectation that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will be approved very soon and rolled out before the end of the year to Britain’s National Health Service. It has been often said that the Oxford Vaccine is the real game-changer because hospital staff can store it at room temperature, plus it is cheaper. Britain has 100 million doses, which is enough to cover the entire population. 

Suppose the speed of vaccination increases in 2021 to over one million people a week. In that scenario, we could have control of our lives by Easter (4th April 2021). 
Living a normal life will be like heaven, and I’m sure travel will be on everyone’s minds. Please think ahead; we are expecting a huge surge in demand by late winter.  

We very much look forward to touring the UK with you again very soon. 

Kind Regards
Andrew Stevens
CEO

18 December 2020

Electric Touring Vehicles

Covid 19 has given us time to re-organising and plan for the future. We have improved our website, and we are currently building a TOURING BRITAIN and GUIDE to help clients make better-informed decisions about their vacations to the UK and Ireland.

The lack of business has meant the acceleration of the sale of our diesel vehicles and the ordering of NEW electric cars. 

We are pleased to announce a rollout of NEW fully electric and hybrid plugin vehicles between 2021-2022. We hope to have our entire fleet of limousines and passenger vans exchanged by the beginning of 2024. 
We look forward to quieter and environmentally friendly touring Britain and Ireland in the future.

02 December 2020

The UK FIRST to approve Covid 19 vaccine

The United Kingdom is the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid 19 vaccine. A UK-wide inoculation will begin within weeks. 

The University of Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid 19 vaccine has also proved to be effective.  The manufacturing of this drug is much cheaper, and it does not require cold storage, making distribution less problematic. We expect that regulators will approve this vaccine soon. 

The Moderna Covid 19 has also achieved excellent results, and the approval and roll-out seem likely in the new year. 

With that in mind, we are expecting to operate tours in the UK from Easter 2021. We do hope you will return to Britain very soon and the Luxury Vacations UK team are raring to go. Please check our suggested itineraries here; Private Tours UK

Regards

Andrew Stevens
Director

25 November 2020

Private Guide London

What to expect from a Luxury Vacations UK guide

Meeting you in the lobby
We think it is important to have our tour guides meet you in the lobby of your hotel and sit down briefly and talk about the day. It is important to us that you do not feel rushed but understand timings and logistics. Our guides will be flexible on the day and change the plan for whatever reason. 

Attire
Our guides will be immaculately dressed. Gentlemen will wear a jacket and tie and ladies general business attire, most likely lighter colours. Both men and Women will wear comfortable but smart shoes. 

Knowledge
All of our guides have received professional training, and there are various industry recognised ‘badges’ that offer certain authorisation to guide inside places of historical interest. Some of the specialist guides will have a lifetime of experiences in a particular field, such as a professional archaeologist, art historian or architect. 
In general, when touring the entire UK, your driver-guide will tell anecdotes and give an in-depth overview of each location. In most cases guided tours inside churches, stately home or castles. When this is not possible, we can provide local private guides on-site. 

Service
Your driver-guide will be available when touring overnight for up to 8 hours per day and will provide fresh water, charging points for phones, Wi-Fi and sanitising wipes. We can also offer evening transport if required.  
Your driver-guide will vacuum, clean and sanitise the vehicle every day as expected. Along with being your host, your guide and a knowledgeable friend, your driver-guide will liaise with the team in London to provide a general concierge service.

24 November 2020

Travel COVID 19 NEWS

Dear Professional Travel Advisors
We are increasingly getting a clearer picture of when people can visit Britain and Ireland safely and without quarantine. 

British and Irish citizens will have access to three vaccines this winter with on-going treatment into early spring. The hope is that the most vulnerable will receive the jab first and be protected. 

We hope that this timetable is viable and the UK and Irish Government will admit foreign visitors without quarantine from easter 2021. We will update this page with newsweekly. 

We are looking forward to seeing you and your clients again, and we will be making sure our vehicles are immaculately clean and sanitised. We will have private medical practitioners test our drivers and tour guides regularly.  

From all of us here at Luxury Vacations UK  - Have a lovely Thanksgiving.

17 November 2020

Duke of Wellington

The Defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo
Arguably one of the most brilliant military strategists England had ever known he was renowned for his defensive style of warfare against numerically superior forces. He fought some 60 battles throughout his military career and was much loved by his troops who were very loyal to him. Hid crowning glory was the defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 which brought peace to Europe.  

Born in 1769 into an aristocratic Irish family where, after attending a couple of schools he was sent to Eton College, an experience he hated and failed to achieve any success. Without showing much enthusiasm for anything, his mother grew increasingly concerned for her sons future saying ‘I don’t know what I shall do with my awkward son’. He enrolled into the French Royal Academy of Equitation where he became an excellent horseman and learned French. On returning home, his mother was astonished at his improvement.

A Military Career
He decided upon a military career and joined the army. As was the practice at the time he purchased a commission first as a major and then a lieutenant colonel. His first experience of action was in Flanders that did not go well for the British. Wellington realised that the failure was mainly due to the faults of the leaders and poor organisation. He remarked that he had ‘at least learned what not to do’. 

His next military campaigns were in India where he had ongoing successes fighting in several battles. Promoted to the rank of Major General, his accomplishments were in no small measure due to his strategic planning. He instilled strong discipline in his men, securing good supply lines and using scouts and spies for intelligence. Successes in the wars against Denmark and the Peninsular war followed.  

Waterloo
The Battle of Waterloo in 1815 was to become his defining victory. His planning and strategic skills resulted in the defeat of Napoleon. The battle was to become the most famous in all of British history and destroyed the dream of a Napoleonic empire forever. Except for the Crimean war and a quick Franco-Prussian war Wellingtons, actions had ensured peace in Europe for almost a century. Without the need to devote resources to war, Britain was able to concentrate on developing our trading activities. 

Return to England
So grateful was the nation that on his return to England, the public regarded him as a hero, formally honoured, and given £400,000 (worth some £5.8M in today’s money). He was also given an estate in Stratfield Saye near Basingstoke in Hampshire. Wellington made plans to demolish the existing building and build a property to rival Blenheim Palace. It was to be called Waterloo Palace but proved too expensive, and the designs dropped. Today the stables house the Wellington Exhibition and among the exhibits are the cast bronze funeral carriage made from melted down French cannons which had been captured at the battle. A commemorative column stands at the entrance. Wellington’s horse, Copenhagen, is also buried here. 

Parliamentary Career
On his return to England, he entered parliament as a member of the Tory party. He was elected leader becoming Prime Minister in 1828. (He was to become PM twice). He was not a natural orator, and his debating skills led to his parliamentary career being less successful than his military exploits. After his first cabinet meeting, he was heard to exclaim, ‘An extraordinary affair, I gave them my orders, and they wanted to stay and discuss them’. 

His strong conservative views dented his popularity. He introduced Catholic emancipation, which granted civil rights to Catholics. Another bill, the Reform Act, was also to prove unpopular and mobs stormed his London home, Apsley House, forcing him to install iron shutters. For this, he became known as the Iron Duke. Today, opposite his house on Hyde Park Corner is a statue of the Duke mounted on his horse, Copenhagen. Nearby is Wellington Arch which was originally the entrance to Buckingham Palace. It is crowned by the most massive bronze sculpture in Europe and is well worth a visit.

Death and Funeral
His death in 1852 resulted in one of the most significant public events of the 19th century. Ten thousand marchers formed the funeral procession and over one and a half million people lined the streets of London, to watch his funeral procession. Wellington was buried alongside our great naval hero Lord Nelson. The windows of St Pauls were draped with heavy black cloth, and 6,000 new gas lights lit the dome and the whispering gallery.  Queen Victoria attended and wrote ‘the GREATEST man this country has ever produced’.


Overview by Graham Saunders
Driver guide

11 November 2020

The Jacobite Express

Britain was a world leader and originator of the first-ever steam locomotive to carry passengers. George Stephenson's Locomotion No. 1 first transported passengers from Stockton to Darlington in 1825. Shortly afterwards in 1830, Stephenson operated the first public inter-city railway, connecting Liverpool and Manchester. Please see George Stephenson's 'advanced' Rocket on display in the Science Museum in London. Britain continued to develop a vast network of railways in the UK, around the Empire and invested in the American railway network. 

Now you can enjoy a scenic journey on the Jacobite Express. The 84-mile return trip starts at the base of Ben Nevis, Britain's highest mountain, before heading over the 21 arched Glenfinnan Viaduct, made famous by scenes in the Harry Potter movie series. The Jacobite Express charges pass rivers, valleys and arriving beside the deepest seawater loch in Europe, the mysterious Loch Nevis. At the end of the line, stop in Mallaig for fish and chips before heading back to Fort William. 

You can depart the train and have our driver-guide meet you and continue your trip to the Isle of Skye. Our travel designers will book tickets for the car ferry from Mallaig to be timed so that you can reach your final stop on Skye for afternoon tea time. Please take a look at our suggested private tours of Scotland.

10 November 2020

Touring Scotland

Touring Scotland is a real adventure, and people are always amazed by the astonishing landscapes. Visitors still expect to see the lovely countryside, but most are blown away by the beauty. 

Touring the Highlands with a driver-guide, allows the visitor to enjoy the landscapes, stop whenever they wish and enjoy a glass of wine for lunch.  Having guide take you around an ancient castle, climbing all the turrets and strolling through vast estates, can be a wee bit tiring, in a good way. As you gently fall asleep in the back of the luxury SUV or Limo, your focused driver-guide is getting you back to your hotel safely and comfortably. 

Flexibility is key to the success of this style of touring; you don’t want to be told when you are leaving or how long you should stay somewhere. A professional driver-guide will advise, make suggestions and be flexible on the day. 

Driving routes in Scotland are fantastic, and you will want to jump out and take pictures or go for a stroll or hike and feel the fresh air and take it all in. We like to suggest taking part in an activity, such as off-road driving, or fishing, or maybe a photography lesson. 

Gleneagles is at the top end of the hotel options, a magical resort, a magnificent playground for all members of your family, young and old. Let your time and budget allow staying for three nights. We can arrange half-day and full-day trips from the hotel with an experienced driver-guide with a luxury vehicle. 

Our suggested itineraries can be customised to match your dates, interests and pace of travel. Please take a look at our Private Tours of Scotland.

09 November 2020

Skellig Michael Island - STAR WARS ISLAND

Skellig Michael is a dramatically located rock in the Atlantic ocean off the south-west coast of Ireland. The craggy island covers 44 acres and soars over 700 ft from above the crashing waves. 

Perched on a ledge is an ancient Christian monastery. The monks craved solitude, a place for contemplation. Access to settlement requires a climbing a fantastic 1,000-year-old set of steps up the cliff face. You will discover six beehive-like shelters or homes that date from the 6th-century. 

The Monks traded seal meat, eggs and feathers for cereal crops. Astonishingly the community survived until the 12th century. 

The only inhabitants today are large colonies of sea birds. 

Again it is film and tv that has provoked interest in Skellig Michael Island, which is often referred to as Star Wars Island.

BOOK YOU TRIP TO IRELAND NOW, SEE OUR SUGGESTED PRIVATE TOURS OF IRELAND HERE. 

04 September 2020

Margaret Thatcher – The Iron Lady

Britain’s First Female Prime Minister

The Iron Lady
Margaret Thatcher is remembered for being the first female British Prime Minister.  She was also the longest-serving PM of the 20th century. Thatcher was also successful in winning three general elections achieving sound majorities. She had a vision to “sound economic policies”. Her steely determination to put the country’s finances on a sound footing led to stringent policies and a firm leadership style. Several of her early accomplishments gave a hint to her character. She had read chemistry at Oxford, in itself an unusual achievement for a woman at the time. One of only nineteen female Members of Parliament when she entered parliament and, as education minister, she ended free milk for schools becoming known as ‘Thatcher, the milk snatcher’ as a result. Ultimately, she became the first female leader of the Conservative party.

The Winter of Discontent
The winter of 1979 was a low watermark for Britain. The unions had destroyed the Labour governments incomes and industrial policies, and with strikes leaving the dead unburied, rubbish uncollected for three months and endless industrial action by transport workers Britain became known as the Sick Man of Europe. A no-confidence vote in parliament heralded a general election in May 1979 which the Conservatives won with a comfortable majority of forty-three seats. Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister of a country in the grip of the worst recession since the 1930s. With her flowing skirts, blonde coiffeur, handbag and court shoe, her unthreatening appearance was that of a respectable, middle-class housewife. As the country, and particularly the unions, were to discover, her appearance belied a driven, revolutionary character, with ideals far removed from the left-wing policies that had driven the country into the sand. 

The restrictive practices of the unions had permeated every level of British industry. Perversely, countries such as Japan and Germany whose economies had been devastated by the second world war had rebuilt their industries unimpeded by obstructive unions and were forging ahead. Much of British industry was state-owned with insufficient levels of productivity, high labour costs and consequently barely profitable with many needing state aid to stay afloat.  

A New Britain
Mrs Thatcher set in motion a massive privatisation program starting with British Aerospace and British Airways. The utilities followed with water and gas privatisations. Her thrust was for ordinary people, who thought that share ownership was the preserve of big business, to take a stake in the privatised industries and develop a spirit of independence. The reliance on state aid was over; uncompetitive business sectors would have to stand on their own two feet. Telecoms, steel, cars and coal were in her sights. She was determined not to continue to pour good money into badly performing state industries. A market-driven economy introduced, making Britain vastly more efficient while sacrificing old mining communities across Britain. 

Many of the old, unprofitable industries had been employing many people for many years. Whole towns and communities had grown up reliant on these businesses for work and survival. One of the inevitable consequences of this dramatic shift in policy was that unemployment rose to levels which exceeded those of the great depression of the ’30s. Manufacturing no longer formed over half of Britain’s economy. The negative impact on affected communities was severe, and Mrs Thatcher became a figure of hate for many. That hate remains as raw as ever for many even to this day. The roots for many of the social ills we have today are traced to the impact of her policies. But, unpleasant though the medicine was, the country desperately needed the radical change of direction her policies introduced.

Ronald Regan, Thatcher and Cold War
Mrs Thatcher’s Conservative government scored some notable foreign policy successes. An early success was a resolution to the long-running Rhodesian problem that saw Robert Mugabe brought to power (ultimately, he would be the problem rather than the solution). Victory in the battle for the Falkland’s did much to improve her popularity both at home and abroad. She also worked with the American President, Ronald Regan, to bring about an end to the Cold war and continued to that  ‘special relationship’ with the Americans.

To bring about the fundamental changes the country needed, required the introduction of many controversial and unpopular policies. Chief among them was the introduction of what became known as the poll tax. It was poorly presented to the public, caused widespread resentment, and lost support within the government. On top of that, cracks appeared within the cabinet over our monetary policy with the European Union. Mrs Thatcher lost support and was replaced as leader by John Major.

Loved and Hated in Equal Measure
Despite becoming the first female Prime Minister, and one of the most effective, few statues or memorials exist. She remains such a divisive figure for many that any statue or monument would become a target for unrest. After she died in 2013, her cremated remains were buried alongside those of her husband, Dennis in the Royal Hospital Chelsea following a private ceremony. 

Overview by Graham Saunders
Driver guide

14 August 2020

THE CROWN; The People's Princess

The Story of Lady Diana

Diana - The Princess of Wales
The death of the Lady Diana the Princess of Wales in a car crash in a French tunnel in 1997 plunged the world into deep shock and mourning.  From what had appeared at the outset to be a fairy tale romance and marriage to the future king of England ended in a weird nightmare. 

Diana was born in 1961 into a quasi-nobility family. Lady Diana’s parents divorced when she was just seven years old. The outcome of which meant that Diana lived with her father and stepmother. She disliked her stepmother intensely and described as a bully. Later in life, Diana described her childhood as 'very unhappy'. Academically she didn't shine but proved good at dancing and swimming.

On leaving school, she moved to London, shared a flat in Earls Court with a couple of friends, and worked at various jobs including dance instructor, nursery assistant and cleaner. 

Introduction to Prince Charles
Aged 16, she met Prince Charles who was dating her sister, at a polo weekend. Their relationship started to look serious when he invited her aboard Britannia for a sailing weekend at Cowes. She was introduced to the queen a couple of months later, and some six months later Charles proposed to her. She had just turned 20.

Marriage and Children
In July 1981 the marriage took place in St Pauls Cathedral watched by a television audience of some 750 million people around the world.  The streets leading to St Paul's were packed with another 600,000 people all hoping to catch a glimpse of the couple. Throughout the world, people had become caught up in what appeared to be the perfect story of love and romance. The fact that Diana was extremely photogenic added gloss to the magic.

June 1982 saw the arrival of son number one, Prince William, with Prince Harry following two years later. She adored both children and arranged her life around their activities.

Problems
Five years into their marriage problems began and came to light in the press. Both parties admitted to infidelities and got divorced in 1996.

The public love affair with Diana continued, and she continued her involvement with several selected charities, including people living with AIDS. Her willingness to make physical contact with people living with AIDS won her much public support, as did her high profile involvement with an organisation dedicated to clearing landmines. As a result, she found herself criticised for 'meddling in politics', a comment that reflected severely on Lord Howe who made it. She became involved with a cancer hospital in London and travelled to Pakistan to visit a newly opened cancer treatment there. She also attended a leprosy unit in Indonesia.

Death
Her death on the 31st August 1997 shook the world. The paparazzi pursued the car in which she was travelling, and the driver and her companion sustained injuries that led their deaths. Her funeral took place in the magnificent Royal church of Westminster Abbey. The location of Diana's grave is on an island in the grounds of Althorp Park which had been her family's home for many years.

Areas of Kensington Palace, her home for many years is open to the public who can visit the Kings and Queens State Apartments, Gardens, shop and stop for a coffee in the café. Please contat us and we can help you create a personalised tour of London.

Overview by Graham Saunders
Driver guide.

 

 

 

 

 

13 July 2020

Bodnant Gardens, Wales

Best garden in Wales

Nestled in the Foothills of Snowdonia

Overlooking the Conwy Valley and nestling in the Snowdonian foothills of North Wales, Bodnant Garden is the result of the vision of Henry Pochin, a scientist, businessman and politician. By the year 1874, the garden had been invested in by five generations of Henry's descendants and today covers some 80 acres.  

Dynamic multi layered garden

Comprising several gardens in one, it includes Italianate terraces, informal shrub borders stocked with plants from around the world. The Dell, a gorge garden, several notable trees, also blessed with a waterfall, a great way to stop, relax and let the sound wash your daily worries away: close your eyes and let the natural sounds permeate your mind.

For all seasons

Expansive lawns, intimate corners, grand ponds and impressive terraces, a steep wooded valley and stream, impressive plant collections and continually changing displays of colour there are always inspiring sights throughout the year.

The National Trust

Since 1949 the garden has been owned by the National Trust, and while popular, there seldom seems to be a crowd, its numerous curves and contours enable a secluded tour.  It is open year-round and each season offers its marvellous perspective, a contrast to the surrounding Snowdonia National Park. Dazzling Daffodils or a Riot of Rhododendrons, another memorable addition to any tour.

Overview by John Docherty - Driver-guide

01 July 2020

Snowdonia National Park

Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)

A Welsh gem

The stunning Snowdonia National Park covers some 823 sq. Miles of widely varying and striking landscapes on the west coast of Britain. Designated a National Park, it is home to over 26,000 people and visited by thousands of tourists each year who are enchanted by its breathtaking landscapes.

Within the park is Mount Snowdon, the highest mountain in England and Wales which rises to 3560ft. The park is a centre for climbing enthusiasts; people who wish to avoid amateur climbers head over to the adjacent peaks, the Glyder and Carnedd ranges, which are around 3000ft. The typography of the landscape resembles the Hymulaiyas and therefor remains a training ground for the worlds top climbers. 

Snowdon Mountain Railway

A great way to see the area at its best is to ride the Snowdon Mountain Railway. A majestic mountain, place of legend – Snowdon is said to be the burial place of the giant ogre Rhita, vanquished by King Arthur. Some believe that Arthur's Knights still sleep beneath the hills.
The breathtaking view from the peak beats the likes of Stonehenge, Loch Ness, the Palace of Westminster and Giant's Causeway to be named the nation's favourite.
In contrast to the mountains, the park area sweeps down to the sea, taking in the Llyn Peninsula, an (AONB) area of outstanding natural beauty, and around 40 miles of coastline, much of it attractive sandy beaches.  

Sheep and green hills

Throughout this area of natural beauty, our tour takes us along winding smooth roads, through woodland, and across farmland. Wales is known for its high population of sheep.  While you will see cattle, beef and dairy, a third of the Welsh population of over 9 million sheep reside within the Snowdonia Park. With over 1,100 farms, the scenery is a delightful mix of the natural world.

For the adventurous, the park is a haven for walkers and climbers with favourite treks that easily roll off the tongue; Y Garn to Elidir Fawr and Cadair Idris neat Dolgellau! Three days in Snowdonia is recommended although returnees very much enjoy exploring further.

Overview written by John Docherty - Driver-guide.

01 July 2020

Chatsworth House

The Stately home, jewel of the Peak District National Park

The origins

Within the delightful Peak District National Park lies one of the great stately homes of England. Chatsworth House was begun in 1687 as an Elizabethan courtyard house for Sir William Cavendish, with much encouragement from his wife, the formidable Bess of Hardwick. Cavendish was to be the second of her four husbands and Chatsworth the first of three great houses she built.

Baroque Palace

Chatsworth House has the distinction of being the first Baroque Palace built for a subject rather than a monarch. It is a perfect example of a grand English country house. Not only is the architecture and sheer scale of the building is breathtakingly, the interior is equally impressive with fantastic decoration, luxurious furniture, numerous masterpieces and an impressive library. 

The Story

The story goes that Sir William Cavendish played an influential role in persuading William of Orange to come to England in 1688.  With the view to oust his father-in-law, King James II. As a reward he was created 1st Duke of Devonshire and the corresponding increase in salary enabled him to employ some of the best tradesmen of the day to build this magnificent house. Since then the house has been altered and enlarged by his descendants. The extensive and idyllic kept gardens were revised and enhanced in the 19th century by Sir Joseph Paxton, (designer of  The Crystal Palace – The Great Exhibition) who planted rare coniferous trees, the rock garden and added the Emperor fountain. With over 100 acres of garden, spend time in the splendour of nearly 500 years of careful cultivation.

The tour

Visitors can tour 30 rooms including the Painted Hall, State Rooms and Sculpture Gallery; the artwork spans some 4000 years from Roman and Egyptian sculpture, works by Rembrandt, Reynolds and modern artists such as Lucian Freud. Treat yourself to locally sourced foods from both the Chatsworth farm estate as well as smaller producers.  Food available from the farm shop ranges from locally sourced beef, pork, poultry, and game to a range of different cooked meats and pies from the delicatessen.

The Devonshire's, still own Chatsworth, the present occupants being the 16th generation. Whether your enthusiasm is for exquisite gardens, inviting open space, historical art or spectacular 17th Century life, Chatsworth will add to a memorable tour.

Overview written by John Docherty - Driver-Guide

01 July 2020

Conwy Castle and Town

Medieval walled town with castle

Medieval military settlement

As we leave the lush Welsh valleys by road and join the Conwy Valley, we glimpse the Castle towers across the Conwy River. Situated on the scenic North Wales coast, Conwy Castle guards the crossing over the river as it flows into Conwy Bay. The castle and town walls were constructed in the 13th century for Edward I as part of his conquest of Wales. 

Turbulent history

The Castle and town survived the turbulent Middle Ages and the Civil War. It became a temporary haven for Richard II in 1399 and provided a safe haven for the forces of the Welsh Leader, Owain Glyndwr, (the last Welshman to hold the title Prince of Wales) in his long battle to end the English rule in Wales. 

With a rich history of defence from conflict across the centuries, Conwy has been of great significance since its construction as part of the 'Ring of Iron' – King Edward's chain of fortifications. Later, at the time of the English Civil war, the Castle was held by forces loyal to Charles I but surrendered to the parliamentarians in 1646 and further destroyed in 1665, putting it beyond repair.

Construction and restoration

With extensive restoration works carried out in the second half of the 19th century, it gained World Heritage status.  The Castle is one of the most excellent examples of 13th and early 14th-century military architecture in Europe. Vast amounts of stone came from local and overseas quarries, it is possible to walk along the Castle's 15ft thick walls which were built in the shape of a Welsh harp and are half a mile in length, with high drum towers and 21 semi-circular towers at regular intervals. A great way to step back in time and also view the quaint town and the beautiful estuary and surrounding countryside.

The three bridges

A suspension bridge spans the river.  Designed by Thomas Telford and completed in 1849 to replace the ferry. Telford designed the supporting towers to match the turrets of the Castle. The bridge is open to pedestrians and, together with the toll keepers house is maintained by the National trust.  In addition to Telford's Bridge, there is also a Tubular Bridge built-in 1848 for the Chester and Holyhead Railway by Robert Stephenson, famed for his work as a railway engineer. 

Tour with Bodnant Gardens

A visit to Conwy should be combined with both a tour of the fabulous Bodnant Gardens close by and a little shopping in the small walled town with its antique and art. Finish a day by visiting the most modest and smallest house in Great Britain, down be the quay, not far from a quaint little pub. 

Overview by John Docherty - Driver-guide

01 July 2020

The Peak District National Park

England's most visited National Park

Rural uplands

At the heart of the United Kingdom, the Peak District covers some 555 sq. Miles of rural upland country at the southern end of the Pennine mountain range. For a thousand years, farming was the primary source of employment with limestone quarrying for only a few hundred years! Mining, once a primary industry, has now declined.

The historic towns

Bakewell, famous for its food, is the only major town in the park and features a 13th century five arched bridge over the River Wye. It is often featured in television dramas and also in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. In 949 it is recorded under the name 'Badecanwelle', Olde English for a well or stream of a man.

With its geothermal spring the waters, the Romans created a settlement in Buxton (AD78) which rose to prominence as a spa town of which maintain a constant 28C. Due mainly to the waters, Buxton experienced a resurgence in popularity in the late 18thC when the 5th duke of Devonshire started developments in the style of the spa in Bath. Another attraction is the Pavilion Gardens which date from 1871 and the Buxton Opera House from 1903.

Natural wonders

But it is the natural world that makes this area a must-visit. People explore the exposed and isolated tracts of Moorland. They wish to hike its expansive rolling plateau which is covered by Cotton-grass bogs and heather moorlands, the Peaks themselves, 'Padley Gorge', 'Winnats Pass', 'Mar Tor' (or Shivering Mountain) invite you to travel further.  Marvel at the glittering underground caves, formed over 2 million years ago Poole's Cavern offers the opportunity of walking through several chambers which extend to around 310 metres, all of which are traversable on foot.

Inspiration for writers

The Peak District has inspired many writers and artists among them, Jane Austen, who set her novel Pride and Prejudice in the Peak District. His many visits to the area inspired several of William Wordsworth's poems. Others include Beatrix Potter, the author of Peter Rabbit and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who set one of his Sherlock Holmes stories, The Terror of The Blue John Gap, in the Peak District. 

Whether you are an explorer seeking hiking trails and caves or want a relaxing time absorbing the lakes, streams or old railway lines, the Peak District offers a spectacular and memorable tour. 

Overview written by John Docherty - Driver-guide