OUR NEW SERIES!
Mary, Fiona, Maxine & Noel in the London Walks office write… Every Monday & Friday we'll be sharing reviews of our London Walks written by London Walkers. Firstly, THANKS to all who have written to us down through the years, your kind words are greatly appreciated! Our guides don't solicit these reviews on our tours – we believe that this would be a waste of your time. That's what makes these reviews all the more special – they have been sent to us by genuine London Walkers who have given up their valuable time to drop us a line or two, or leave a comment on travel message boards & websites. Thanks everyone. For once, these really are reviews you can trust.
This from London Walker Erin Shachory
Hi! We were in London for Christmas week and we had a wonderful private tour with your guide Simon Whitehouse. I've already written up a review on Trip Advisor, but I wanted to share it with you, too.
Thank you for creating such an incredible resource for London visitors. Our tour with Simon made us feel very connected to your vast city, and we can't wait to return.
Highlight of our London sightseeing!”
Our family spent Christmas in London this year, and seeing the city for the first time seemed daunting, even though I was armed with guidebooks and websites and apps. Referred by the trusty American travel guru Rick Steves, I looked into London Walks, and it's not an understatement to say it changed our trip.
To be clear, our family decided to book a private tour with London Walks in advance, so we had our own guide at a time we chose. Not sure whether our kids would we engaged or not, it seemed best to book our own tour and not get lost in a group for our first London Walk. Now, however, I'm a fan and can't wait to do more tours!
The booking process was easy via email and every communication with London Walks was professional and helpful. I'm a bit of a Type A American traveler and like to have the major components set before I travel, and London Walks gave me a clear sense of where to meet our guide, the exact cost of the tour, and the details of what we'd see.
Our tour was "This is London" and our guide was Simon W., who told us that this tour and all things Dickens were his favorite things to share with visitors. Because we are a family of 5 with three teenaged daughters (ages 11 to 15), you never know if a tour or guide will keep everyone engaged, but I never had to worry with Simon. My older kids are history lovers and he rose to the occasion, able to answer any question they tossed at him. The true game changers were when he casually mentioned a BBC Sherlock fact to my oldest, a huge Sherlock fan, and then again when he bonded with them over London street artist Banksy.
But I digress. The tour itself was masterful and professional. The pace was quick but not difficult and we covered a lot of ground in chilly, wet, breezy weather. Simon showed us the major sights - Parliament, Big Ben, River Thames, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Queen Anne's Gate, Trafalgar Square - but his timing was impeccable. We stood beside Big Ben and heard the chimes as Simon completed his information about the clock. We arrived at Buckingham Palace just as the royal guards began their changing-of-the-guard ceremony, and Simon led us away from the crowds to an empty spot where we had an unobstructed view of the guards as they traveled back to the barracks. We were so close, my daughter got close-up shots of a guard smiling at her!
However, the best part of the experience for us was engaging with a London native and feeling like we were in incredibly good hands. It felt very much like we were out for a stroll with a good friend of a friend, rather than a tour guide assigned to us. It did not feel like a cookie cutter, one-size-fits-all tour, even though I'm sure Simon has seen all those sights a million times.
The next day, after we'd been to Harrod's and walked Covent Garden and visited the Harry Potter Studios, all of which we enjoyed immensely, my kids still insisted that Simon's tour was the highlight of their trip!
In short, go to London. Give yourself the gift of London Walks and immerse yourself in the city's rich history with an experienced guide. Let their love of London catch fire within you, too, until you fall madly in love with it, too.
Mary, Fiona, Maxine & Noel (on behalf of Simon & all the London Walks guides)
A London Walk costs £10 – £8 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at www.walks.com.