Best of Exclusive Britain: London and Devon

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Highlights

  • Dinner at London celeb hangout the Chiltern Fire House
  • After hours access to the Tower of London to witness the Ceremony of the Keys
  • Lunch with a Churchill family member at Chartwell, (Winston Churchill's home)
  • Private shopping experience with British designers
  • A stay in a 'Downton Abbey' stye stately home, hosted by Lord and Lady
  • A day at Ascot races with exclusive tickets for the Royal Enclosure

Key Facts

  •   UK

  •   Great for history buffs, fashionistas and wannabe socialites

  •   12 days

  •   Escorted by Andrea Powis of Travelling Divas

 

Nobody does pomp and ceremony, exclusive living, royalty and social connections quite like the British. With a little help from our friends 'on the inside' we have gained  access to some of the most extraordinary experiences imaginable! This is the ultimate 'private access only' journey, showcasing the country as very few locals, let alone tourists, would ever see it. This tour will never be repeated so if this resonates with you, then now is the time!

The itineray incorporates an extraordinary private guided tour of Westminster by an elected politician, access to Chartwell House followed by lunch with a member of Winston Churchill's family, an exciting day at the races with access to the Royal Enclosure at Ascot, plus a stay in a private stately home in Devon where you will be hosted by the lovely Lord and Lady Clifford - very 'Downton Abbey'! Not only do we access the beautiful, the traditional, the cultural and the historic but there is also glamour aplenty, with some pretty fab dining starting in the gorgeous London 'village' of Marylebone at the fabulous Chiltern Firehouse, where Kate Moss, Simon Cowell, Linsday Lohan, David Beckham, Bradley Cooper and Orlando Bloom have all been glimpsed sneaking out of the back door.

There is so much on offer in this unique tour that you need to read the itinerary to understand the full extent of what is on offer! Even if you have been to London and Devon before, this will enable you to is experience it from a very different perspective. This is a once-in-a-lifetime journey.

Itinerary Details

Day 1 | London | 7 nights 

On arrival into London you will be met by your chauffeur and transferred to your lovely London hotel, home for the next 7 nights. The vibrant, bijou feel of Marylebone, one of London's hottest neighbourhoods, is mirrored in the chic, stylish hotel that shares its name. A stone's throw from the department stores and boutiques of Oxford Street and Mayfair and the independent restaurants and markets of Marylebone High Street, The Marylebone hotel harnesses the infectious energy and style of W1 at every turn.

Settle in relax, and then explore your surrounds before we frock up for our welcome dinner at the Chiltern Firehouse one of the most exclusive hot spots in London. Within walking distance of the hotel, this divine establishment was opened in 2014 by hotelier Andre Balazs and has been top of the list for those in the know ever since. And not only is it a beautiful place to dine in, the food has serious credentials as well. The service too is impeccable so we are going to enjoy a fabulous start to this incredible experience!  

Day 2 | London

Following breakfast, we meet in the lobby to head our for a London walking tour of the Royal Warrant Holders. Royal Warrants are historical rights conferred on selected businesses by the monarch to supply the royal household with their goods 'By Appointment'. Some of Britain's luxury retailers such as Paxton & Whitfield (cheesemakers), Penhaligon (perfumers), Garrard & Co (jewellers), John Lobb (shoemakers), Lock & Co (milliners) and Fortnum & Mason (grocers) have collaborated to offer a collective glimpse of the commitment to the highest standards of service and excellence required to be awarded a Royal Warrant. We will go behind the scenes and secure access to usually secret archive material, special viewings of treasured brand assets and heritage pieces, along with an opportunity to meet 'By Royal Appointment' craftsmen, company archivists and even enjoy some food tastings!

We then head to Harvey Nichols and the wonderful Fifth Floor Cafe & Terrace for an optional lunch (perhaps a glass of bubbles?) and some retail therapy for those in the mood before we reconvene and head to Kensington Palace. First adapted for royal residence in 1689 by Christopher Wren, Kensington Palace hosted the courts of William and Mary, Queen Anne and King George I and II. Today it is home to Princes William and Harry, and their families. We will be visitng the 'Diana: Her Fashion Story exhibition', where we can trace the evolution of the Princess's style, from demure and romantic in her early public life to the glamour, elegance and confidence of her later life.

Dinner this evening at leisure, but there is much to choose from in the gorgeous urban village of Marylebone.

Day 3 | London

Today is all about the Churchills, and in particular Winston Churchill, who is one of the greatest historical figures of our times. This morning we travel to the beautiful county of Kent, where Winston's home, Chartwell, is situated and where he and his family resided from 1922 through to his death in 1965. This fabulous National Trust property still has his fingerprints all over it. Inside the rooms are just as he left them, right down to his daily papers, his own paintings (he was a prolific artist & writer) and his famous cigars. On this private guided tour you will get a more in-depth sense of the man, a fascinating figure with an iron will, and where his wife Clementine was concerned, devoted love. Following our visit we will dine with a member of the Churchill family at their private home nearby.

This evening and dinner is at leisure. Time for us to head out explore further afield perhaps? Highly recommend Tamarind, one of the best Indian restaurants around. Or maybe room service and a chance to check out the spa...

Day 4 | London

This morning we start with a fabulous fashionable frolic around Mayfair and the West End, showing off London's oldest and newest clothing trends, focussing on the latest British designers. We will also have time to browse and shop so those in the need for a fab outfit for our visit to Ascot might just find what they are looking for! Why not - it will be a once-in-a-lifetime event so frock up and look fabulous!

We then jump a black cab to another famous 'hood, Notting Hill. Lunch a the Ladbroke Arms, a charming pub set in this beautiful residential area, close to the hustle and bustle of Notting Hill yet tucked away in a secret enclave all of its own.

Following lunch an explore of Portobello Road, its boutiques, antique shops, cafes and just soaking up local life... A great place to just watch the world go by.

Later in the afternoon it is time for the Ginstitute and a lesson in how to craft this quintessentially British drop. We are greeted on arrival with a Tom Collins, and we will first learn of the long (and frequently miserable!) history of gin. From the drink's origins as a medicine, through the gin craze which gripped Britain for 200 years and onto the Golden Era of gin as a cocktail ingredient to now, where it has taken its position in the modern world and the 'ginaissance' it is currently enjoying. Then to the Still Room with a gin instructor will lead us through a journey to finally create our very own drop to take home..... or to Devon to enjoy down the track!

Dinner at leisure and we might just find somewhere on the way home.

Day 5 | London

Westminster and St James' is the bustling heart of traditional London and seat of power of the United Kingdom. Both the legislative and executive branches of state reside here: the monarchy in Buckingham Palace and the government in the Houses of Parliament, whilst Westminster Abbey is where Kings and Queens are crowned and where many of the country's notable are buried or commemorated. It is in this small area where much of Britain's history has been made. On our tour today, we will be able to get a glimpse behind the scenes of some of these institutions and how they reflect society and culture in Britain today.

Benedictine monks first came to the site of Westminster Abbey in the middle of the 10th century, establishing a tradition of daily worship which incredibly continues to this day. Neither a cathedral nor a parish church, the spectacular 700-year-old abbey is actually a 'Royal Peculiar', a church responsible directly to the Sovereign. As such it has been England's official Coronation church since 1066 and has hosted 16 Royal weddings since 1100. On a more funerary note, many of the nation's most significant people from history are buried here, including poets, musicians, scientists, statesmen and an incredible 17 English sovereigns, including Edward the Confessor, Henry V and all the Tudor's except Henry VIII (we will see him at Windsor).

It is then time for parliament. The illustrious seat of British Government, the Palace of Westminster (also known as the Houses of Parliament) is also London's oldest royal palace. After the original medieval parliament was almost completely burned down in 1834 it was rebuilt as a Gothic masterpiece, but visitors today can still see the original Great Hall (built 1097), the cloister, the beautiful Chapel of St Mary Undercroft (1297) and the Jewel Tower (1366). On this privately-guided tour, led by a long-standing Member of Parliament we will get to see areas of the Palace inaccessible to the general public. Afterwards, we will be invited ot have lunch as guests of the MP.

The rest of the day is at your leisure - if you're not too 'historied' out a visit to Greenwich is always fabulous! 

Day 6 | London

Today is going to be one of those days full of pinch-me moments. We are heading off to Royal Ascot, the major event on the racing calendar of Britain and once that is much loved by the Royal family. Ladies Day, traditionally on the Thursday of Royal Ascot week and coinciding with the main event of the week, the prestigious Gold Cup, is renowned as the biggest day on the British social and sporting calendar. The focus is quite often more off the course than on it, for it is when the Sport of Kings is at its most fashionable. It is a day of royal pageantry, high-spirited revelry, glamorous outfits and outrageous hats! Oh and there could be a couple of horse races as well! Note our day will include access to the exclusive Royal Enclosure...

Day 7 | London

Another extraordinary day awaits us. A very civilised start to the morning meeting in the lobby just before 10 to walk to the beautiful Wallace Gallery, which houses the world famous Wallace Collection. Our guide this morning will be Dame Ros Savill, who is a former Director of the collection. Established in 1897 from the private collection of the 4th Marquess of Hertford, the Wallace Collection is still housed in the Marquess's former London home. Since a condition of the bequest was that no objects should ever leave the collection, visitors can be assured we aren't missing anything as we wander the galleries.

After, enjoy an optional lunch or take time out to do your own thing. Late this afternoon we depart the hotel for the infamous Tower of London for a breathtaking private access evening. Built by William the Conqueror in 1078, explore theTower of London's remarkable past which includes being a prison, palace, fortress, mint, zoo, execution site, grisly torture chamber and Jewel House. With something for everyone, the Tower is truly one of London's crowning glories. And tonight we get to see it after hours... Comprising 23,578 gemstones, the Crown Jewels are the name given to the priceless ceremonial treasures acquired by the English monarchs (mostly since 1660) and now kept under armed guard in the Tower of London. But they aren't just gathering dust. The Queen wears the Imperial State Crown for the State Opening of Parliament each year and many of the items have been used at royal coronations for centuries. Prepare to be dazzled...

Then, we will be served a private dinner in the beautiful Wakefield Tower. This wonderful vaulted room was originally created as part of Henry III's (1207 - 1272) lodgings and was probably used by the King as a private audience chamber. On a fine summer evening, guests spilling out on to the Wall Walk will enjoy spectacular panoramic views of the White Tower, Tower Bridge and the River Thames.

Every night there is the Ceremony of the Keys. For more than 700 years Yeoman Warders have performed a gate-closing ritual known as the Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London. It is one of the oldest and most colourful surviving ceremonial enactments that takes place in Britain today. At exactly 21.52 the Chief Yeoman Warder of the Tower comes out o the Byward Tower, dressed in red, carrying a candle in one hand the the Queen's keys in the other hand. He is challenged by a sentry, and we will have to wait and see the rest! While a visit to heTower is on every tourist list, having the chance to dine in the Wakefield Tower and watch the Ceremony of the Keys at night is an experience on a completely different level. It is a wonderful slice of ancient pageantry which will raise the hairs on the back of your neck...

Day 8 | Devon | 3 nights

After checking out this morning an early start for our journey to Devon, with a twist on the way! Home to sovereigns for more than 900 years, Windsor Castle is the largest inhabited castle in the world, the oldest in continuous occupation, and one of 3 official residences of the current Queen. Whilst you are unlikely to bump into Her Majesty, you will see such majestic treats as St. George's Chapel (where the Queen Mother, Henry VIII and Charles I are buried); the Semi State Rooms (furnished with incredible treasures from the Royal Collection); and the enormous Queen Mary's Doll House, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens. St George's Chapel was also the location of the most recent Royal Wedding and we will be given a private guided tour of the Chapel with a Military Knight, before the castle opens to the public. Just 26 in number the Military Knights of Windsor are appointed by the Sovereign and receive a pension and accommodation at Windsor Castle, in return for their support for the Knights of the Order of the Garter and for the services of St. George's Chapel.

We then depart for lunch at the magnificent Maunsel House, a 13th century manor set in 100 acres of stunning parkland. The Manor House, some of which actually dates to some 400 years earlier, is the ancestral seat of the Slade family. Sir Benjamin Slade will host us for lunch. We then depart for our final destination today and our home for 3 nights, Ugbrooke House, home to the Clifford Family since 1564. The house was built around 1200 and then re-modelled by Robert Adam and Capability Brown in the mid 18th century. Almost 300 years later the house still boasts numerous early-Adam features, both inside and out, as well as many fine paintings, and beautiful items of needlework, furniture and ceramics. Ugbrooke is also a haven for lovers of the outdoors, surrounded as it is by quiet parkland, rolling Devon Hills and glorious views over mysterious Dartmoor. Mentioned in the Domesday book of 1086, Ugbrooke is a fascinating and fabulous slice of British history.

Lord and Lady Clifford of Chudleigh will host us during our stay, during which they will regale us with the family stories including tales of Clifford Castles, Shakespeare's "Black Clifford', The Secret Treaty and Lady Anne Clifford (who defied Cromwell).

Day 9 | Devon

Today is a very relaxed day, with a walk along the spectacular Coastal Path followed by lunch at the 13th century Journey's End Pub. This is very personal to your host, Andrea, as it is the village she lives in (and the pub she frequents). We will explore the beauty and remoteness of the Ringmore Valley on a journey through old smugglers' lanes down to an unspoilt, secluded cove, boasting magnificent coastal views. We return through the fields with views across to Bigbury and Burgh Island (those who love Hercule Poirot will recognise this lovely place). We will then enjoy lunch at the Journeys' End, situated in a charming village filled with thatched cottages and tight little laneways, truly a smuggler's paradise.

This afternoon is at leisure on the beautiful Ugbrooke Estate followed by dinner this evening.

Day 10 | Devon

This morning we are heading into the North of Devon, starting with the beautiful Hartland Abbey. Built in the 12th century, Hartland Abbey was given by Henry VIII as a gift to the keeper of his Wine Cellar, a man whose descendants still live here today. Boasting architecture and decoration from the medieval, Queen Anne, Georgian, Regency and Victorian periods, the Abbey contains many items of national interest, including paintings, furniture, Chinese artefacts and porcelain, all collected over many generations. Along with the 3 main reception rooms, you can wander through the fabulous Alhambra Corridor and the Gothic Library, and admire paintings by Reynolds and Gainsborough. A stunning house and where will then enjoy lunch with Sir Hugh and Lady Stucley.

This afternoon we will take a walk along the stunningly beautiful Hartland Peninsula, a coastal path that will lead you to the unique and picturesque village of Clovelly. From Elizabethan days until today, Clovelly Village has been in private ownership, which has helped preserve its original atmosphere. The main traffic-free street, known as 'up-a-along' and 'down-a-long', tumbles its cobbled way down to the tiny harbour, which is protected by an ancient stone breakwater. Transport is by donkey or on foot, and the village is completely closed to outsiders during the winter months. It is a descent through flower-strewn cottages broken only by little passageways and winding lanes that lead off to offer the prospect of more picturesque treasures. The New Inn which is 400 years old, is halfway down the street, and another, the Red Lion is right on the quayside. Both Inns have long histories and an atmosphere rarely found in the modern world. Just below is the Stable Yard with a potter and silk workshop. 

Day 11 | London | 1 night 

This morning it is time to say farewell to our lovely home, Ugbrooke House, and wind our way back towards London for our last night.

On the way we will stop in the exquisite town of Bath, a city that has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in its entirety. We will do a walking tour of this beautiful place, including the Roman Bathys & Pump Room, as well as the magnificent 15th century Bath Abbey. There is much to see and do including the Royal Crescent, tea at the Assembley Rooms, The Jane Austen Centre and Great Pultney Street and its beautiful bridge.

We then head to Great Fosters for our last night of this spectacular tour. The hotel is a Grade One listed building set amongst 50 acres of stunning gardens and parkland in an enviable location, close to Heathrow. Immaculately preserved, this stately historic monument boasts oak panelling, beautifully-carved Jacobean fire-places, a secret staircase and even 17th century graffiti. King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I both used it as a hunting lodge and traces of royal ancestry are everywhere, including Elizabeth's coat of arms above the porch and on the ceiling, dating from the 1600s Queen Anne Boleyn's personal crests. Casual dinner in house this evening to chat about our experiences before heading off to dream away...

Day 12 | Homeward bound

It is time to say goodbye. Private transfers to London Heathrow Airport for flights or further transport to new adventures.

Key Facts

  • Hosted by Andrea Powis of Travelling Divas
  • 12 days
  • 15-26 June 2019
  • Begins and ends: London
  • GBP £11,595 per person twin share. Excludes international flights. Single rooms are available at additional cost.
  • For further details and a full itinerary please contact us
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