King & Whitson Travel Blog~ London ~ April 2016 - MARTHA KING
London is truly one of our favorite cities in the world. I just spent a magical week visiting some of London’s most iconic hotels and experiencing some of the exclusive “behind the scenes” tours that we are able to offer our clients! We were given unparalleled access to some of London’s most popular sites!!
We were then told we were going to a “surprise” destination. As we tried to guess what it could be, we were beyond thrilled when we pulled into Highclere Castle, the real "Downton Abbey." Normally 1500 people a day go through Highclere and are not allowed in certain areas, but we enjoyed a private tour before the doors opened to the public. We had 13 people and we were shown each amazing room, and learned the history of the Carnarvon family and the estate.
It is no secret that I love history and London is a haven for the self-proclaimed history nerd. One of the most visited places in London is the Churchill War Rooms. However, there is nothing that can quite compare with a “behind the glass” tour of the War Rooms with the director and creator himself, Phil Reed! The crowds of people on the “other side” of the glass are extremely jealous watching us step inside and actually sit in Winston Churchill’s chair. This experience is one we have access to for our clients too!
Our week continued with an exclusive rooftop tour of Hampton Court Palace, Henry VIII's favorite royal residence.
No visit to London is complete without going to St Paul’s Cathedral. It is truly extraordinary. But most people only see a fraction of the history contained there. We were able go behind the walls and see Sir Christopher Wren’s model, the library, and stand on the ledge overlooking the cathedral floor. We also climbed the unique curved staircase featured in the Harry Potter movies.
One of my favorite experiences was the Changing of the Guard. Only we did not watch with the thousands of people peering through the iron gates. Instead, we watched on the parade ground with the Curator of the Museum Guard explaining every aspect of the ceremony to us. Again this exclusive and moving experience is something we can provide to our clients.
To cap off our magnificent week, we had a private dinner in the Tower of London, followed by a private viewing of the Ceremony of the Keys. Unbelievable.
Our clients who have experienced some of these exclusive tours come home and say, “We didn’t even know that kind of travel was possible!” Well it is possible! Our amazing on site partners help us provide these exquisite British experiences to our clients. The exclusive relationships they have all over the UK allow us to create bespoke itineraries full of experiences you would never find on the pages of a guidebook. They only use the very best Blue Badge guides who make your experience so rich and memorable!! Our week in London was unforgettable. To borrow a phrase from my British friends, “IT WAS SIMPLY BRILLIANT!"