Amy Moore embarked on a familiarisation trip to London from July 26-27, 2015 courtesy of the Coach Tourism Council
Coach tourism is considered to be one of the UK’s biggest travel sectors, especially when it comes to organising group tours to the capital.
Coach travel in particular is often considered a more efficient and cost effective form of group travel, offering local pick-ups and flexible itineraries.
It is estimated that more than two million people travel to London by coach to see a show every year. Why not combine a theatre-based itinerary with one or two of the following attractions
Based near London Bridge, Anderson Tours operate weekly departures on a wide range of short breaks, weekends away and day excursions.
Part of the M.S. Anderson Holding Group, which includes Anderson Travel and London Mini Coaches, Anderson Tours provide custom packages for groups aboard both mini coaches and full-size coaches.
For groups, Anderson Tours offer tailor-made packages to a destination of choice within the UK (including London) or select places abroad. This includes European cities such as Paris and Amsterdam.
Anderson Tours can also arrange airport transfers or flexible pick-up/drop-off direct to/from the hotel, dependant on accessibility. Private tours are available for 10-plus passengers. For more information visit www.andersontours.co.uk.
Additionally, London Mini Coaches can provide coach hire, alongside informative guides, entry to various attractions and any other request.
Tour operators benefit from flexible coach hire, from mini to midi and large size vehicles dependant on group size.
For more information visit www.lmcoaches.co.uk/tour-operators.
KEW GARDENS AND KEW PALACE
Kew Palace, situated in the heart of Kew Gardens, was built more like a home rather than a stately house, which explains its petite appearance.
Consisting of three floors, Kew Palace was once the beloved home of King George III and Princess Charlotte. The couple had 15 children, with the youngest – Princess Amelia – dying from tuberculosis aged 27. Further information about Princess Amelia can be found on the third and final floor, which I felt emitted a rather unfinished feel, having remained untouched through the centuries.
The interior of Kew Palace is typically Georgian with rooms presented as they would have been in 1804. There is no extra charge to enter Kew Palace when visiting Kew Gardens.
Kew Palace and Gardens occupies a spacious estate, which includes the iconic Pagoda overlooking a pretty Japanese garden and creative stone placement that reflects the rippling of water.
Marvel at the pretty Pagoda Vista, which is a wide, grassed walkway that runs 850-metres from the Palm House to the Pagoda itself. Look out for the distinctive Pagoda Tree, which is infamous in Chinese culture as folklore demons are said to be drawn to it.
Our group toured Kew Gardens aboard the Kew Explorer bus. The wet weather didn’t dampen our spirits, as there are plenty of places that provide shelter, including the striking Palm House and the Princess of Wales Conservatory.
The Palm House has been constructed from 16,000 panes of glass and is distinctively surrounded by the Palm House Parterre, which dates back to 1848, with an intricate geometric pattern of beds created by William Andrews Nesfield.
Inside sit various tropical palms, which require a warm and moist environment to survive. Such species include the peach palm (Bactris Gasipaes), babassu (Attalea Speciosa), queen palm (Syagrus Romanzoffiana) and the coconut palm (Cocos Nucifera).
Discounted rates are available for groups of 15 or more and one group travel organiser is admitted free when booked online.
Convenient for coaches, Kew Gardens can recommend drop-off points, nearby coach parking and offers free entry and refreshments for the coach driver.
For more information visit www.kew.org.
ENJOY AFTERNOON TEA AT THE WALDORF HILTON
Located close to Covent Garden, the Waldorf Hilton was built in 1908 and boasts typically antique-style features.
Afternoon tea at the Waldorf Hilton can be taken in the Homage Private Lounge and is available throughout the week from 1230hrs to 1600hrs.
The Waldorf Hilton served square-shaped sandwiches, scones and sweet treats on three tier servers, along with a deluxe selection of teas.
A creamy crème brulee was served in a shot glass (with handle) alongside multicolour macaroons and a Bailey’s slice decorated with a chocolate swirl.
Located in London’s Theatreland, the Waldorf Hilton partnered with the West End production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, with the production’s famous glass elevator exhibited in the lobby.
Providing the perfect accompaniment to a theatre itinerary, the Waldorf Hilton is located next to the Novello Theatre, which currently houses long-running show Mamma Mia. For more information or to book visit www.waldorfhilton.com.
BBC BROADCASTING HOUSE
BBC Tours London at Portland Place invites groups to explore the original “old Broadcasting House” that was built in the 1930s in the style of a cruise ship.
Upon arrival, our group gathered in the “new Broadcasting House” complete with transparent glass panelling. Here, we were greeted by a life-size Dalek and TARDIS from the long-running BBC TV series, Doctor Who. Additional television memorabilia is exhibited throughout.
At BBC Tours London, groups are taken behind-the-scenes by entertaining and informative guides and are likely to experience an overhead view of the BBC Newsroom, explore interactive sets where you can practise reading the news and the weather or even participate in your own radio drama.
Touring groups can also observe the newly restored Radio Theatre – home to some popular radio comedy shows. The original design remains, with coffin-shaped doors built around the top hats once worn by previous radio guests.
Tours of The One Show studios are mostly available during morning slots and are subject to recording schedules.
BBC Tours last approximately one hour and 30 minutes and are available seven days a week. Bookings are available for groups of 15-plus. For more information or to book visit www.bbc.co.uk/showsandtours.