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Get the Edge on Downton, Spas and Family Trips Outside London

Get the Edge on Downton, Spas and Family Trips Outside London

Britain is bursting at the seams with bright ideas and as I come across them, my personal challenge is to suggest how you might use them.

When looking at something new, I always think of three travel agents – Jimmy, Ellen and Gloria – and ask myself ‘how would they use this?’

I’ve known them for years and looking at things from their knowledgeable perspective helps me a great deal.

Therefore today’s Britain Insider column offers something for Downton Abbey fans, for those developing Girls Getaways and Garden tours and for families who want to get more out of the UK than a week to 10 days in London.  This particular audience will also really enjoy the hop on hop off open top tours offered by the award winning Original London Sightseeing Tour.

Keep an eye on these weekly pearls of wisdom as they will add to your UK product knowledge and give you an edge over your competitors.

From Downton to the Duchess

Costume drama and “Downton Abbey” fans (and quilters) are going to be bowled over when visiting the Viking city of York this year.  Between 16th May-30th August, the National Quilt Museum is staging “Setting the Scene,” an exhibition of period quilts and costumes from popular TV historical dramas including “Downton Abbey,” “Pride and Prejudice,” “Jane Eyre,” “The Duchess” and “Portrait of a Lady.”

It will display costumes worn by Jennifer Ehle, Nicole Kidman, Keira Knightley and Maggie Smith in some of our favourite historical TV dramas.  York is a fast 2 hour train ride north of London and fans will thank you for adding this to their itinerary.

Spas and Shopping

Multitasking is something we’re all quite good at.  I look for the same flexibility in the hotels I like to work with and the Bowood Hotel a 4 star luxury property on the Marquis of Lansdowne’s estate ticks many boxes.

It is less than two hours west of London Heathrow, 45 minutes from Bath and for cruise clients, a 4-5 hour meander cross country to Southampton.  It therefore works very well as a pre or post cruise base for some off the beaten track sightseeing.

When you add the hotel’s fine spa facilities to the superb shopping in Bath and a late afternoon roof top swim at the Thermae Bath Spa, you can see how this appeals to a London and Bath Girls Getaway.

If gardens are your thing, within a 30-mile radius of the hotel there are dozens to chose from along with Arthurian myths and legends at Glastonbury Abbey, a reflective moment at one of Britain’s most historic holy wells and a hands on opportunity to learn the art of dowsing within the ancient stone circle at Avebury.

Gardening Tips

With the coming of spring, if you’re considering a UK garden tour for May of next year, think about the Cotswolds as a base for:

– Parking your client’s jetlag for 3-4 nights before delivering them bright eyed and bushy tailed into London.

– Jazzing up the itinerary with head gardener led visit to Hidcote Manor or the unique Rococo garden at Painswick.

– Adding a tour of the private apartment at romantic Sudeley Castle, the former home and final resting place for Queen Katherine Parr.

– Including two or three rarely open, privately owned gardens that take part in the National Garden Scheme.  There are 77 to choose from in this corner of England.

If you’re going to use the 2015 Chelsea Flower Show as the hook for your tour, start now as space is already running out for the week beginning 18th May.

Life Above and Beneath the Waves

London will invariably be top of the list for any family visiting the UK.  However, if they want to escape the world wide invasion that hits London during July and August, suggest a side trip that takes in Stonehenge, Old Sarum and Salisbury Cathedral en route for the waterfront city of Portsmouth where a couple of days can be filled with visits to:

– The Historic Dockyard, home to HMS Victory, HMS Warrior 1860 and The Mary Rose and a lot more hands on and interactive opportunities.

– D-Day Museum, Britain’s only museum dedicated solely to covering all aspects of the D-Day landings in Normandy, France, on 6 June 1944.

– HMS Alliance based at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum in Gosport and the world’s only surviving British WWII era submarine in the world. It reopens next week with new interpretation, state of the art lighting and soundscapes that bring the submarine to life as if she gets ready to go out on patrol.

This combination will really appeal to families interested in history that comes to life before their eyes.

Multiple Awards for The Original Tour

I’m often asked “Which is the best way for first timers and families to see our capital city?”  The Original London Sightseeing Tour can rightfully claim the title of the premier open-top hop on hop off bus sightseeing tour, having been awarded UKInbound’s Sightseeing Provider of the Year for the second Year running .

Following that they then won two separate customer-led awards, firstly the inaugural Customer Choice ‘Guidie’ award from GetYourGuide, quickly followed by the Best Local Operator award from Viator.