Victoria Coach Station

Address: 164 Buckingham Palace Road – London SW1W 9TP
Phone: 0343 222 1234

Ticket Hall

Open daily from 07:00 to 22:00.
Tickets for most coach companies can be purchased from the Ticket Hall at Victoria Coach Station.
The departures terminal closes at 01:00 and opens at 05:00. you are travelling on an overnight service, please arrive 20 minutes before your coach is scheduled to depart.

How to Get to Victoria Coach Station

Victoria rail station is a 300-metre walk from the Victoria Coach Station.

Left Luggage

Opening Hours

The left luggage facility is open daily between 07:00-22:45.

Security Notice

All items of left luggage will be examined using detection equipment, so you may be asked to open your bag for physical inspection. If you refuse, your luggage will not be accepted and the police will be notified.

Left Luggage Tariffs

  • Up to two hours: £3 per item (no weight consideration)
  • 2-24 hours: £5 per item under 20kg
  • 2-24 hours: £7 per item over 20kg
  • Multiple days charged at daily rate as above (£5/£7 by weight)
Deposits left longer than 24 hours are charged at multiples of the full 24-hour rate per item.
 

Porters

If you are arriving at Victoria Coach Station (VCS) by coach, porters will be available in Arrivals. Our porters can help you get to:
  • Departures
  • Victoria rail and Underground stations
  • The Green Line coach terminal
If you are departing from VCS by coach and require the assistance of a porter, either speak to a uniformed member of staff or visit the Mobility Lounge by Gate 0 in Departures.
All licensed luggage porters at the station are self-employed and rely on your generosity for their income. A payment for their services will be expected.

Toilets 

Toilets can be found:
  • By Gate 2 in Departures (via stairs to basement level)
  • By Gate 12 in Departures (at ground level)
  • In Arrivals (unisex toilets, at ground level)

Baby Changing Rooms

Baby changing rooms, for both mums and dads, are located next to the toilets in Arrivals and next to the toilets by gates 2 and 12 in Departures.

Accessible Toilets

Easy-access toilets for people with impaired mobility can be found:
  • In Arrivals
  • Inside the Mobility Lounge, opposite Gate 0 in Departures
If you don’t carry a Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation (Radar) key, please ask the attendant in Arrivals or inside the Mobility Lounge.

Payphones

There are a number public payphones located in Departures and Arrivals. There is also a MiniCom-enabled payphone next to the information desk in the main entrance of Departures.

Money

Bureaux de Change

Bureaux de change are located in Arrivals and inside the main entrance in Departures.

Cash Machines

Cash machines are located by Gate 1, inside the main entrance to Departures and in the Arrivals terminal.

Refreshments

Refreshment facilities are available throughout Departures and Arrivals. Shops include:
  • Delice de France – by Gate 5
  • Burger King – opposite Gate 1
  • City Kiosk – in Arrivals
  • Il Corriere – in Arrivals
  • Treats – by gates 3, 11 and 12
  • Upper Crust – by Gate 4
  • Whistlestop – main entrance and by Gate 13

Coach Companies

Victoria Coach Station is the largest coach station in London, located in the central district of Victoria in the City of Westminster. It serves as a terminus for many medium- and long-distance coach services in the United Kingdom and is also the departure point for many countryside coach tours originating from London. It is operated by Victoria Coach Station Limited, a subsidiary of Transport for London (TfL).
It should not be confused with the nearby Green Line Coach Station for Green Line Coaches, or with Victoria bus station which serves London Buses operated by TfL.

Victoria Coach Station was opened at its present site in Buckingham Palace Road, Victoria, in 1932, by London Coastal Coaches, a consortium of coach operators. The building is in a distinctive Art Deco style, the architects for which were Wallis, Gilbert and Partners.In 1970 the coach operators’ association which managed the station became a subsidiary of the National Bus Company.
In 1988, ownership of Victoria Coach Station Limited was transferred to London Transport. In 2000, Transport for London was formed and took over the station.
The freeholder of the site, Grosvenor Group, announced in 2013 that it wishes to redevelop the site and relocate the station elsewhere in London.However, the building was listed at Grade II by English Heritage in 2014.

Once you’ve arrived in London, there is so much to see and do, so it is wise to prepare an itinerary in advance. You can have a look at our array of tours here. If you require any more information about Victoria Coach Station, you can call us on 020­ 771 31311 and we’ll be happy to help.

Wed in the City: Beautiful London Wedding Venues that Aren’t Windsor Castle

The wedding of the year is just around the corner. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are set to wed on 19th May 2018. The wedding will be taking place at the incredible Windsor Castle, and with everyone talking about the upcoming nuptials, the Royal Wedding is sure to be a key source of inspiration for brides and grooms currently planning their own big day, but unfortunately this beautiful venue isn’t available to the general public to marry in.

However, in a fantastic city such as London there are of course a multitude of other wonderful wedding venues to choose from.

That said, when it comes to wedding planning, many brides and grooms-to-be may not immediately think that a busy city like London would be able to offer a blissful and romantic setting for a wedding and that they have to retreat out of the city for the big day, but in fact right here in the city there is an incredible selection of awe-inspiring venues available – whether you are looking for a pretty outdoor affair, a luxe and lavish do, or something a little bit quirky.

So, with wedding fever in the air we have rounded up some of the very best wedding venues in London to inspire your London wedding, including London Zoo, the Gherkin, The Globe Theatre and more.

Have a look below and start planning for your very own big day.

5 Independent Italian Restaurants We Love in West London

After a busy day exploring London’s top sights, head to West London. This vibrant part of town has an array of exciting Italian restaurants where you can savour some delicious Italian cuisine while discussing your day’s sightseeing.
Simple, fresh and made with passion, Italian food has something for everyone, and it’ll leave you fresh and perky for more exploring tomorrow.

1. Casa Mia Hammersmith

This cosy, family-run eatery has been serving up scrumptious fare since 2008. Portions are generous and prices are very reasonable. Hearty, wholesome food is the style here and the extensive menu offers something for everyone.
The friendly staff and quick service mean you’re soon tucking into crisp, tasty pizza or delectable pasta. This is a popular spot with the locals so don’t forget to book. With comfortable, rustic decor it’s a great place to soak up a real taste of Italy.

pizza

2. Al Forno Putney

This charmingly old-fashioned restaurant is a true neighbourhood favourite. Not surprisingly pizza is a big thing here, in every sense of the word. Thin and crispy bases are generously covered with scrumptious toppings; the small is rather large, and the large is gigantic!
Tasty and comforting pasta dishes, plus the usual meat and fish options will leave you struggling to make your mind up. But of course, you can come back regularly just like the locals do.
Run by Senor Peppe and his family, there’s always a great atmosphere. Live music nights certainly add to the buzz, and everyone is welcome to join in!

3. Pizzicotto Kensington

Pizzicotto pizzas have been rated in the top 20 at the World Pizza Championships, but this warm and unpretentious little restaurant certainly doesn’t rest on its laurels.
From the delicious burrata soft cheese starter to the perfectly cured antipasti, you really won’t know where to begin! The meat, pasta and fish main courses are equally irresistible and there’s a tempting selection of salads as well.
Service is quick and friendly, even at busy times. The genial owner has a passion for fine but simple traditional Italian fare, and it shows.

4. Maddalena Fulham

The owners have run Maddalena for 20 years and chances are they’ll be doing the cooking the night you turn up. The usual Italian dishes are all here, and the award-winning risotto with tomatoes, basil and burrata cheese is mouth-wateringly good.
Sardinian specialities are a big feature, so don’t miss the traditional seadas pastries, made with honey, lemon and cheese – utterly yummy.

5. Villa di Geggiano Chiswick

If you’re planning a special occasion, this grand and elegant venue is the place for you. The impressive building is modelled on a Tuscan villa and the menu is no less inspirational.
Pasta dishes are perfectly al dente, and main courses such as beef tenderloin fillet with wild mushroom and red wine sauce just melt in the mouth. A fine wine list and exceptional homemade tiramisu will round off a memorable evening.

As London experts, Premium Tours can always point you in the right direction for something scrumptious. Be sure to book on to one of our London tours to make the most of your time here. 

Platform 9

A Guide To Harry Potter’s Platform 9 and ¾

But Hagrid, there must be a mistake. This says Platform nine and three quarters. There’s no such thing…is there?’ (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone)

Indeed there is, Harry. Platform 9 and ¾ is magically concealed through a wall that divides platforms 9 and 10 at Kings Cross Station in London. It’s where wizard students can board the Hogwarts Express that will take them to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

In order to reach the platform, students must walk straight at the wall between platforms 9 and 10, or as Molly Weasley advises ‘Best do it at a bit of a rush if you’re nervous.’

Muggles shouldn’t know the platform exists, but if you take a trip to Kings Cross Station, you’ll see that it does. For Harry Potter fans, no visit to London is complete without checking out the key filming locations and places of interest, and don’t miss the Warner Bros. Studio.

Here’s a guide to everything you need to know about visiting Harry Potter’s Platform 9 and ¾.

hogwarts railway

Visiting Platform 9 and ¾

The popularity of Harry Potter inspired station authorities at Kings Cross to place a plaque honouring the books and films on a brick wall in the West Concourse.

Directly under the plaque is a baggage trolley that appears to be half-embedded in the wall. The site has attracted Potter fans from all over the world, who flock here to get a memorable photograph of them pretending to enter Platform 9 and ¾.

The wall is located on an open platform so you won’t need a train ticket to visit it. You can choose to take a photograph yourself or pay for a professional photographer from the Platform 9 and ¾ shop nearby (one photograph £9.50).

The site is very popular, so during busy periods, you may need to queue between 30 minutes to an hour for a photo opportunity.

If you want to skip the queue, the shop also offers VIP passes that include a Platform 9 and ¾ lanyard, photograph and queue jump for £20.

Platform 9 and ¾ Shop

Directly next to the plaque is the Platform 9 and ¾ shop, a charming store selling authorised Harry Potter memorabilia, including wands, Horcruxes, time turners and the Hogwarts’ uniforms and house robes.

The shop has been styled to resemble Ollivander’s Wand Emporium with atmospheric wooden panelling and a treasure trove of drawers to delight all Harry Potter fans.  The shop was officially opened on 15th December 2012 by actor Warwick Davis who played Prof. Flitwick and Griphook in the films.

The shop is open 7 days a week from 8am – 10pm (9pm Sundays). Closed, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

harry potter

 

Curious Facts

  • The image J. K. Rowling had in mind was actually Euston, not Kings Cross Station.
  • The wall to Platform 9 and ¾ is actually situated under a footbridge between platforms 8 and 9, as there is no brick wall between platforms 9 and 10.
  • Platforms 4 and 5 are the actual platforms that feature in the movies.
  • Kings Cross Station building is not that attractive, so exterior scenes of the station were actually filmed at nearby St Pancras, as its Victorian architecture was more in keeping with the films.

For more information on our Harry Potter tours, get in touch today.

london eye

The Ultimate Guide to the London Eye

There are few places in London that allow you far-reaching views across the vast, sprawling city and the winding curves of the River Thames.

If you’re looking for the very best views over the capital and beyond, then a visit to the London Eye is unmissable. Here you’ll have a bird’s eye view of our great city and so much more, making it a unique and unforgettable experience.

If you’re planning a visit to one of the UK’s most popular attractions, then read this ultimate guide for everything you need to know about the London Eye.

What Is the London Eye?

The London Eye may look like a giant Ferris wheel, but it is, in fact, the world’s tallest cantilevered observation wheel, which means it’s supported on one side only.

Located on the banks of the River Thames opposite the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, the London Eye dominates London’s skyline, offering visitors 360 degrees of breathtaking views across the capital and beyond.

The views stretch for over 40 kilometres. On a clear day, you can even see Windsor Castle in Berkshire.

Attracting around 3.75 million visitors a year, the Eye is one of the most iconic and symbolic landmarks of London. This unique structure has been used for film locations, corporate events, celebrations in the capital and even weddings.

The sleek, contemporary and simply designed wheel towers over historical landmarks, symbolising everything London is today: a seamless blend of history and modernity.

london eye thames

Why Was the London Eye Built?

In 1993, a competition was held to design a landmark in honour of the new millennium, in seven years time. Husband and wife architect team, David Marks and Julia Barfield came up with the idea of a wheel. They originally wanted a high tower structure that would dominate the city, much like the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

They finally settled on a wheel, which aptly symbolises time and change. Although the competition was eventually annulled, Marks and Barfield went ahead with the project. The London Eye, as it came to be known, took seven years to build, and, on 9 March 2000, was officially opened.

It was initially meant to be a temporary structure, but it proved to be so popular that it remained as a permanent fixture, and has become one of the most iconic landmarks and globally famous symbols for London.

Film Location

The iconic status of the London Eye means it’s a sought-after setting for films and TV series depicting the capital. The famous landmark has featured in a range of international productions including Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, The League of Gentlemen, 28 Days Later, The Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Independence Day: Resurgence and Paddington. It’s also featured in some of the most popular UK dramas such as Sherlock, Doctor Who, Primeval and Hustle.

Serving London and the Nation

One percent of the revenue made by ticket sales is donated to the local community. The London Eye also supports local charities by hosting events and supporting causes such as Help for Heroes, The Royal British Legion and Sports Relief.

In 2012, the Eye featured in both the opening and closing ceremonies of the London Olympics. At one point, the Olympic torch was positioned on one of the capsules.

Every New Year’s Eve, the London Eye is the central focal point for the spectacular Lord Mayor’s firework display. The end of year display is so impressive, it’s considered one of the finest in the world.

Facts and Figures

  • 17,000 tonnes of British Steel was used to construct the wheel. It was shipped up the Thames on barges in sections, before being assembled on the South Bank.
  • The Eye is 135 metres high, has a circumference of 424 metres, and weighs 2,100 tonnes. That’s equivalent to 1,272 London black cabs!
  • The Eye is made up of 32 capsules which each hold up to 25 people. The entire wheel can hold up to 800 people per rotation. The 32 capsules represent the boroughs of London.
  • The Eye has recently been fitted with LED lighting, cutting energy costs by 75%. All oils and cleaning products used to lubricate and clean the structure are biodegradable and anti-pollutant.

london eye pod

The Flight Experience

The ride (or flight, as it’s often known) is very smooth, steady and slow as the capsules only travel at 0.6 miles per hour. A complete rotation takes approximately 30 minutes, and, as the wheel moves so slowly, people can easily board and disembark without it having to stop.

To make the ride even more interesting, the capsules are equipped with tablets that point out various landmarks to spot.

The Eye was specifically designed and built to be accessible for all, therefore facilities for disabled guests are of a very high standard. These include:

  • Extra wide access and ramps for wheelchair users
  • Voice and visual alarms
  • Slower boarding times to accommodate boarding for disabled visitors
  • Carers accompanying a disabled visitor may board free of charge
  • A fast-track service for elderly and disabled visitors.

Highlights

4D Cinema Experience

Before you board the London Eye, enhance your visit with the 4D Cinema Experience. Located in the ticket office at the base of the Eye, the film lasts for four minutes and takes you on a sensory journey featuring a live-action 4D show. Special effects include lighting, sound, wind, water, bubbles and even snow! The show is particularly popular with families and is FREE with all London Eye tickets.

Dining at 135

A private capsule can be hired in the evenings, where up to eight guests can enjoy an exclusive champagne reception, followed by a luxury, gourmet three-course meal and accompanying wines. The dining experience takes place over three rotations, lasts around 90 minutes and includes impeccable service from attentive waiting staff.

Special Occasions

If you’re looking to celebrate a special occasion at the London Eye, there is a range of packages available for private capsule hire:

  • Private Capsule: available for 3–25 guests. Price includes exclusive use of the capsule and entry to the Eye Lounge at the base of the Eye, where you can enjoy a chilled glass of champagne and canapés while waiting to board.
  • Friends & Family Capsule: available for 3-15 guests. An ideal setting for landmark celebrations such as birthdays, anniversaries, and stag and hen parties. Price includes champagne and canapés.
  • Cupid’s Capsule: available for couples to celebrate a romantic occasion such as Valentine’s Day or a special anniversary. Price includes champagne and a box of chocolate and champagne truffles.
  • Proposal Capsule: available for couples. It’s the perfect location to pop the question in style. Price includes a professional photographer to snap the special moment, and also champagne and truffles.

Weddings

The London Eye is a truly spectacular and unique wedding venue where you can take your vows with the backdrop of breathtaking views across the capital. The flower-adorned capsule accommodates up to 20 guests to share your special ceremony with you. The civil ceremony is performed by a registrar from Lambeth Registry Office.

The wedding package includes two rotations, the first in which the ceremony is performed, and the second to enjoy champagne and canapés, and toast the happy couple.

london eye

Fascinating Facts

  • The London Eye is also known as the Millennium Wheel, however, it’s had quite a few official names including the British Airways London Eye, the Merlin Entertainments Eye, and EDF Energy London Eye. Its official name today is actually The Coca-Cola London Eye, but, most will agree, the London Eye is far preferable.
  • The London Eye is not the first giant observation wheel to be built in London. Its predecessor, the Great Wheel was built in 1895 in honour of the Empire of India Exhibition in Earl’s Court. Equipped with observation cars, the wheel turned until 1906 when the exhibition closed.
  • Although the Eye has 32 capsules, you can ride in capsule number 33. That’s because number 13 has been purposefully missed out and the capsules jump from 12 to 14. Who said Londoners were superstitious?
  • The London Eye is one of the most popular tourist attractions, not just in London and the UK, but worldwide. It receives more visitors per year than the Taj Mahal and the Pyramids in Egypt.
  • Over the past 15 years, the rotating eye has travelled the equivalent of around 33,000 miles – the same as travelling the world 1.3 times.
  • Around 5,000 marriage proposals and over 500 weddings have taken place on the London Eye since 2000.
  • One of the capsules is Royal. It was named the Coronation Capsule to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s 60th jubilee anniversary.
  • The Eye is a popular place for celebrity watching. Matt Damon has made 5 trips, Kate Moss has been on 25 times, and American actress Jessica Alba has been on the Eye an incredible 31 times!
  • The Eye has been lit up in different colours over the years. In 2005, it was lit pink to celebrate the legalising of gay civil marriages. It was lit up in the Union Jack colours, red, white and blue, to celebrate the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011, and also to celebrate the Queen’s 60th Jubilee in 2012.
  • The London Eye was also one of many famous landmarks around the world lit up in the colours of the French flag to show unity with France after the terror attacks in Paris and Nice.

Insider Tips

  • Don’t be put off if you’re scared of heights. The capsules are completely closed and secure. They are fully air-conditioned in the summer and heated during the winter so you can enjoy the sights in a spacious and comfortable environment.
  • The queue for the London Eye can be very long, especially in peak times, although it does move fairly quickly. The average waiting time in busy periods is approximately 20–30 minutes.
  • To quicken up the process it’s recommended you book your tickets in advance online. Fast-track tickets for priority boarding are available at an additional cost. However, online tickets are non-refundable and non-transferable and have an allotted slot time for you to visit.
  • A Flexi ticket allows you to visit the London Eye at any time during the day of your visit so you can choose the best time of day to come.
  • Make sure you arrive 30 minutes before your time slot so you can experience the 4D Cinema Experience before your ride. The experience is FREE and is included with ticket purchases.
  • You will need photo ID such as a passport or driver’s licence when collecting your tickets from the ticket office at the base of the wheel.
  • The ticket office area at the base of the wheel is equipped with toilets and baby changing facilities, a gift shop and first aid point. Wi-Fi is available at the ticket office but not on the wheel itself.

When Is the Best Time to Visit the London Eye?

As one of the most popular attractions in London, the Eye can get crowded during peak periods, and queues can be long. Peak periods include UK school holidays (especially summer), weekends and bank holidays.

The best times of day to visit the London Eye are 10.00 am (opening time) and later on in the afternoon, especially after 4 pm.

In the peak periods such as Easter and summer, the Eye stays open until 8.30 pm. One of the calmest and less crowded times to visit is sunset, especially if the weather is good. You can then enjoy the added spectacle of London’s twinkling lights in the dusk.

london eye sky

Standard Admission Prices

Correct as of September 2017

Adult (16+)                 £22.45

Child (3-15)                £17.95

Under 3s                     Free

Opening Times

Open every day except Christmas Day (25th December)

January – April            10.00 – 18.00

May – September         11.00 – 20.30

October – December    11.00 – 1800

Opening times may vary during special events or on special occasions such as Valentine’s Day.

Getting There

Nearest Tube Stations:

Waterloo

Embankment

Charing Cross

Westminster

By Bus:

Lines 211, 77, 381 and RV1 route

Premium Tours offer full day tours to London including a visit to the London Eye. You can have a look at all of our London tours here.

tower london

Everything You Need to Know About Visiting the Tower of London

History, royalty, bloodshed, intrigue and ghostly hauntings; if you want a trip back into England’s fascinating and gruesome history, then the Tower of London is a must-see experience.

Over the centuries, the most famous VIP prison in history has also served as a zoo, armoury, treasury and royal residence.

The complex, consisting of 21 towers and set on 12 acres, sits on the bank of the River Thames in the heart of London. The imposing buildings and grounds are still guarded by Beefeaters: royal guards of the tower and the Crown Jewels.

Take a walk in the footsteps of medieval traitors. You can even visit the Tower at night if you dare!

If you want to see where royal heads were lost without losing yours, here’s a definitive guide to everything you need to know about visiting the Tower of London.

History of the Tower of London

Originally built over 950 years ago, the Tower of London is the oldest palace, fortress and prison in Europe. It takes its name from the White Tower, originally known as the Great Tower, which was built in 1078 for William the Conqueror to keep the unruly Londoners in line and show off the new king’s power and greatness.

The Tower sits on the same site where the Roman emperor, Claudius, built a fort more than one thousand years before. Traces of the Roman walls can still be seen in the grounds today.

The Tower is most famously known as a prison and a place of execution and torture. It also housed the Royal Mint up until the late half of the 19th century.

It was used as a prison during the First and Second World Wars when 12 men were executed for espionage. Damaged during the Blitz of 1940, the Tower was repaired and opened to the public after WWII.

Today, the Tower is home to the Crown Jewels, it attracts thousands of visitors from across the globe, and is a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site. The complex is made up of a total of 21 towers. Here are some of the most famous…

tower of london

The White Tower

The original Great Tower dominates the complex and was the castle’s strongest military point. Built in 1078, it was later ordered to be whitewashed by Henry II in 1240. It was then that it became known as the famous White Tower that we see today.

The White Tower was a multi-purpose building that included accommodation for the royal family and a chapel. Up until the 14th century, it was mainly used as a royal residence. The chapel remains unchanged from the days when the royal family worshipped there and the Knights of the Order of Bath kept vigil on the night before a king or queen was crowned.

In 1100, it was first used as a prison for Ranulf Flambard, Bishop of Durham, who was imprisoned by Henry I because he was an active supporter of Henry’s predecessor, William Rufus. Flambard eventually managed to escape from the Tower and went into exile in Normandy.

Lion Tower

When Henry III resided at the Tower, he entertained many esteemed guests who would bring him exotic animals as gifts. The animals were kept in Lion Tower, positioned near the drawbridge at the main entrance so that guests who arrived could be greeted by the impressive, roaring beasts.

Lions, tigers, elephants, even a polar bear were housed in Lion Tower as symbols of power used to entertain the court.

Bloody Tower

The most famous and intriguing tower was built in the mid 13th century during the reign of Henry III. Its original purpose was to defend the main river entrance.

Originally named the ‘Garden Tower’, it was given its gruesome nickname after Henry Percy, 8th Earl of Northumberland, committed suicide there in 1585. It’s also believed that Henry VI met his very gruesome death there.

But most famous of all, the Bloody Tower is thought to be the murder site of the two little princes, Edward V and his younger brother, Richard, Duke of York, in 1483.

tower of london

Famous Prisoners

The Princes in the Tower

12-year-old Edward and his younger brother, 10-year-old Richard, were originally taken to the royal apartments after the death of their father to prepare for Edward’s coronation to be held on 22 June 1843.

Edward never got to be crowned. Accusations were made that their father was bigamous and the boys, therefore, illegitimate.  The boys were removed from the sumptuous apartments to the Bloody Tower, and their uncle, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, declared himself king.

The two princes were never seen again.

In 1674, two skeletons were discovered hidden under the stairs near the chapel in the White Tower. Believing them to be the remains of the two tragic princes, Charles II had them removed and buried in Westminster Abbey.

Anne Boleyn

The most famous wife of Henry VIII and mother of Elizabeth I, Anne Boleyn was imprisoned in the Tower of London in May 1536.

Failure to produce a male heir and the subject of jealousies and plotting meant Anne needed to be disposed of. She was tried for adultery, treason and even incest, found guilty and sentenced to death.

Anne was beheaded with a double-bladed axe (for a sharp, swift death) by a French swordsman on Tower Green within the castle grounds. Her body was buried in an unmarked grave beneath the pavement of the Chapel Royal of St Peter and Vincula at the Tower on 19th May 1536.

Henry’s fifth wife, Catherine Howard, was also beheaded here in 1542.

Lady Jane Grey

Used as a political pawn, teenager Jane was installed as queen in 1553, after her cousin Edward VI died choosing her as successor to ensure Protestant rule. Her reign only lasted 9 days. Edward’s Catholic half-sister, Mary, declared herself rightful queen and Jane was imprisoned in the Tower.

Initially pardoned by the new queen due to her father’s involvement in a Protestant rebellion, poor Jane was sentenced once again to death and beheaded on Tower Green 12th February 1554.

Sir Walter Raleigh

Once hailed as a favourite of Queen Elizabeth I, explorer Raleigh was imprisoned in the Bloody Tower in 1603 after being accused of plotting against King James I. One of the longest-serving prisoners, Raleigh spent 13 years here before being released in 1616.

Guy Fawkes

Imprisoned in the Tower for his involvement in the infamous gunpowder plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament, militant revolutionary and the world’s first official terrorist, Guy Fawkes was confined to a tiny cell where it was impossible to stand up or lie down.

After interrogation and torture on the rack, Fawkes was condemned to death.

The Kray Twins

Infamous London gangsters, Ronnie and Reggie Kray were among the last prisoners held at the Tower for a few days in 1952 for refusing to report for National Service.

Ghosts at the Tower

With its gruesome history, it should come as no surprise that there are various reports of ghostly sightings over the centuries. Here are just a few that you may see wandering the grounds after dusk:

  • Henry VI, imprisoned by the House of York during the Wars of the Roses, was butchered to death as he knelt in prayer in Wakefield Tower. On the anniversary of his death, May 21, his ghost is said to appear pacing the murder spot before disappearing on the stroke of midnight.
  • The ghosts of the two princes in the tower are reported to have been seen in the Bloody Tower dressed in nightshirts. Many visitors have reported hearing children’s laughter within the grounds.
  • The headless figure of Anne Boleyn has been reported wandering near the Queen’s House and in the chapel where her body lies.
  • The ghost of Dudley Guilford, husband of Lady Jane Grey, also executed here, has been reported sitting and weeping in the Beauchamp Tower. Many believe he etched the name ‘Jane’ into the stonewalls, which can still be seen today.

Visiting the Tower

The best way to make the most of your visit is to book a guided tour conducted by the expert Beefeater Yeoman Warders who’ll regale you with fascinating insights and stories.

yeomen

As well as the famous towers and the spine-tingling Tower Green, the Tower of London hosts a whole range of unmissable attractions. Make sure you don’t miss out on the following:

  • The Royal Armoury in the White Tower has an amazing display of weaponry dating from medieval times to the end of the 19th century, including armour worn by Henry VIII, Charles I and James II.
  • Tower Torture in the bottom of the Wakefield Tower holds a grisly exhibition of torture used at the Tower. See replicas of torture instruments such as manacles, racks and the Scavenger’s Daughter, a nutcracker for humans.
  • Jewel House is home to the Crown Jewels including St Edward’s Crown made from pure gold and used at coronations, and the Imperial State Crown made for the coronation of Queen Victoria and set with over 2,800 diamonds.
  • The Medieval Palace, constructed by Henry III, now displays a recreation of the sumptuous royal apartments.
  • Many prisoners entered the Tower through Traitor’s Gate, rather than the streets of London. They were brought by barge along the River Thames. As they passed through the imposing arch, heads of recently beheaded prisoners stuck on pikes would greet them so they could see what fate awaited them.
  • The six Ravens, housed at Wakefield Tower, have been protected at the Tower of London since the times of Charles II who believed the superstition: ‘if they are lost or fly away, the Crown will fall’. Today, their wings are clipped, just in case, and they are lovingly cared for by a Ravenmaster Yeoman Warder.
  • Mainly dating from the 1530s to the 1670s, the prisoner’s graffiti, painstakingly etched into the thick stone walls of the towers range from simple names to intricate carvings, each one a testament of time spent in the Tower.

Insider Tips

  • Parts of the Tower are closed to the public when ceremonies and special events are held, so find out in advance before making your booking.
  • Queues can be long, especially during school holidays, so it’s best to get there early in the morning during these times.
  • Many areas of the Tower are uneven and cobbled, so ensure you wear comfortable shoes.
  • Yeoman Warder tours last approximately one hour and are available daily, every 30 minutes. The last tour is 2.30 pm (winter) and 3.30 pm (summer). Multi-lingual audio guides are also available. You should allow approximately 3 hours to see everything.
  • Snack and dining facilities are available at the Tower including a restaurant overlooking the River Thames.
  • There are 6 onsite souvenir and gift shops.

tower

Tickets and Opening Times (as of June 2017)

Tickets:

Adult (16 years old +): £21.50

Child (5 – 15 years old): £9.70

Under 5s: Free

Online, Group and Family discounts also available.

Opening times:

Summer: Tuesday to Saturday, 9am – 5.30pm. Sunday to Monday, 10am – 5.30pm

Winter: Tuesday to Saturday, 9am – 4.30pm. Sunday to Monday, 10am – 4pm

Getting There

By Underground:

Tower Hill Tube Station is a 5-minute walk away. It’s served by both the District and Circle lines.

By Rail:

Tower Gateway Station, served by Docklands Light Railway is located next to Tower Hill Tube Station, a 5-minute walk from the Tower.

Other nearby stations are London Bridge and Fenchurch Street Station.

By Bus:

Routes 15, 42, 78, 100 and RV1 all stop at the Tower.

By Boat:

It’s possible to arrive at the Tower by water transport, getting off at Tower Pier. Riverboats depart from Charing Cross, Greenwich and Westminster.

By Car:

There is strictly no parking at the Tower. The nearest car park is on Lower Thames Street, a 2-minute walk from the Tower. However, parking is within the Congestion Charging Zone, so it’s advisable to use public transport when travelling into the centre of London.

Sightseeing hop-on, hop-off buses also stop at the Tower.

For a truly unforgettable adventure, book your visit to the Tower of London with Premium Tours. Contact us today for more information.

buckingham palace

The Ultimate Guide to Buckingham Palace

No trip to London is complete without seeing Buckingham Palace: administrative headquarters of the British monarchy, and the official home of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.

From its humble beginnings as a townhouse, Buckingham Palace has been remodelled and extended over the centuries to become an iconic symbol of Great Britain. It’s the most famous present-day working palace in the world.

Who isn’t curious to see inside and get a small glimpse of what’s beyond the famous balcony?

Well, today it’s possible. For the last 24 years, Her Majesty has been allowing public access to her State Rooms between July and October, when she is at her summer residence, Balmoral. The initiative began in 1993 as a way of raising funds to pay for repairs to Windsor Castle after it was ravaged by fire the year before.

There are 19 magnificent State Rooms to discover, all lavishly decorated and adorned with sumptuous furnishings and fine works of art; just as you’d imagine a royal palace to be.

You can combine your State Rooms visit with a guided tour of the beautiful garden and lake if you wish.

If you’re planning to visit Buckingham Palace, this guide will tell you everything you need to know about this historic and iconic royal residence.

buckingham palace

History

Buckingham House

The site where the garden is today began life as a mulberry plantation during the reign of James I. The king wanted to grow mulberries to rear silkworms. However, the wrong type of mulberry trees was planted, so the project failed and was eventually abandoned.

Although it’s not certain when it was built, there’s been a house on the site since the days of Charles I, who granted it to Lord Aston in 1628.

In later years, the Duke of Buckingham took over the tenancy. However, he found the house small and dated, so in 1703 the original building was demolished and a larger townhouse built in its place. It was re-named Buckingham House, in honour of the Duke.

The Queen’s House

The house became a royal residence in 1761 when George III bought it as a private home for his wife, Queen Charlotte. During this time, it was commonly known as the ‘Queen’s House’.

Over the next 5 years, the house underwent drastic remodelling and renovation, including elaborate ceilings painted by Giovanni Battista Cipriani. It was considered the most modern, sophisticated and fashionable residence of its time.

From Townhouse to Palace

George IV extended the house even further. Emotionally attached to his childhood home, he wanted to create a palace fit for a king. Architect John Nash undertook the work and created a U-shape structure.

The project was completed with a triumphal arch in the centre of the forecourt to be used for ceremonial processions. But the renovation costs were considerable, around £500,000! Nash was sacked and replaced by architect, Edward Blore who added the Ambassador’s Entrance on the south side.

Victoria and Albert

The palace became the ‘official’ residence of the British monarchy when Queen Victoria ascended the throne in 1837. She was the first reigning monarch to live there, along with her beloved husband, Prince Albert.

However, the couple (who ended up having 9 children) complained that the palace was too small to entertain guests and accommodate their ever-growing family.

Edward Blore was recalled to create a new wing on the East side to form a quadrangle, using the funds from the sale of the Brighton Pavilion. The triumphal ‘Marble Arch’ was also moved to allow for the extensions.

marble arch

The most famous inclusion was the construction of the iconic, central ‘balcony’ at Prince Albert’s suggestion. It was from here that Victoria watched her troops leave for the Crimean War, and greeted them on their return.

The refurbished palace was the perfect setting for the lively, cosmopolitan court. Victoria and Albert held lavish costume balls, banquets, concerts, ceremonies and investitures in the State Rooms you can see today.

After the untimely death of her beloved Albert, Victoria plunged into deep mourning. Possibly unable to face the pain of so many blissful memories, she spent less and less time at the palace, preferring to spend most of her days at Windsor Castle instead. When Victoria died in 1901, the palace was beginning to look tired and neglected.

It was revived by Edward VII and his consort, Queen Alexandra. The Ballroom and the Grand Entrance were lavishly decorated in golds and creams to reflect the couple’s extravagant tastes, and the palace, once again, became the centre of court life.

In 1913 during the reign of George V, the soft Caen stone on the east facade was replaced with durable Portland stone, which was more suitable for the wet weather and dirty London air.

During World War II, the palace was bombed 9 times. Although damage was minimal, the palace chapel was completely destroyed after a bombing attack during the 1940 blitz.

To mark the end of the war, on VE day, the Royal Family and the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, greeted the massive crowds in the Mall, from the central balcony. It became the focal point of celebrations and a lasting image of that joyful day.

In 1962, the chapel was rebuilt as the Queen’s Gallery: an exhibition gallery open to the public, which houses over 450 works of art from the Royal Collection.

The Gallery was completely refurbished and expanded in 2002 to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee.

A 21st Century Palace

This year a large-scale project is planned to refit the palace with modern, safety-compliant electric wiring, energy-efficient LED lighting, updated combination boilers and, possibly, solar panels.

Party at the Palace

The most spectacular event ever held at the palace has to be ‘Party at the Palace’ on 3 June 2002, to celebrate the Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee. Who can forget the iconic moment when Brian May opened the event, performing a guitar solo of ‘God Save The Queen’ from the roof of Buckingham Palace?

The ‘Greatest Concert in Britain’ featuring legendary British performers, ended with the largest firework display in London’s history, while images of the Union Flag were projected onto the palace.

Victoria and Albert would have been most amused!

palace

Interesting Facts

  • Buckingham Palace has 775 rooms, 52 royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices and 78 bathrooms.
  • There are 800 live-in staff, 2 of which are horological conservators, employed to wind up the 350 clocks by hand.
  • The palace has a post office, ATM, police station, doctor’s surgery, cinema and pool. It even has its own postcode.
  • There are 760 windows in the palace, and they are cleaned every 6 weeks.
  • Before Victoria’s marriage, the palace was a fairly unpleasant environment to live in. The windows wouldn’t open, the chimneys smoked and ventilation was bad. Before Albert took hold of the reigns and re-organised the housekeeping, it’s said the staff were lazy and lax, and the palace was dirty and smelly.
  • It takes 5 days to lay the table for a state banquet. Once done, the Queen herself inspects the work.

Tour Highlights

State Rooms

  • The Throne Room: Used for investitures, it’s adorned with red and gold, and dominated by a long walk up to the 2 magnificent thrones. William and Kate had wedding photos taken here.
  • The Music Room: Traditionally used for royal christenings.
  • The Ballroom: The largest room in the palace, it was the first to have electricity installed in 1883. Here you’ll find a U-shaped table laid for a state banquet.
  • The magnificent Grand Staircase: Designed by John Nash.
  • The White Drawing Room: This is considered to be the most beautiful room in the palace. It’s where the Royal Family congregates before official ceremonies.
  • Look out for the Royal portraits through the ages and fine works of art including paintings by Van Dyck, Rubens, Rembrandt and Canaletto.

Royal Gifts Exhibition

The 2017 exhibition held at the Queen’s Gallery is a fascinating display of official gifts from the last 65 years that have been presented to Her Majesty from world leaders, including Eisenhower, Reagan and Nelson Mandela.

Garden Tour

rose garden

The 39 acres of ‘walled oasis in the middle of London’ has over 350 types of wildflowers, 200 trees and a 3-acre central lake. It’s the venue for Her Majesty’s summer garden parties.

During the tour you’ll also get to see:

  • The summer house
  • The rose garden
  • The palace tennis court where George VI played Wimbledon champion, Fred Perry, in 1933
  • The Waterloo Vase, an 18ft high vase carved from Carrara marble and weighing 20 tonnes, which was originally intended for Emperor Napoleon. After his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo, the vase was presented to the Prince Regent, later George IV, as a thank you from the Duke of Tuscany.

Pre-booked garden tours are available in April, May and June, and are limited to 25 visitors.

Royal Mews

Open from 1 February to 30 November, the Royal Mews is the finest working stables in existence and where the Queen’s carriage horses are trained and cared for.

Highlights include:

  • The Cleveland Bays and White Windsor Greys that pull the royal carriages during ceremonial processions. Each horse’s name is personally approved by the Queen and is written on their stable door.
  • The Gold State Coach, which has taken every monarch to their coronation since 1821. The opulent coach weighs 4 tonnes and needs 8 horses to pull it.
  • The Glass Coach famously used to transport Lady Diana Spencer to St. Paul’s Cathedral on her wedding day to Charles, Prince of Wales.
  • The fascinating display of livery worn by the Queen’s coachmen, whose look remains much the same as it was in Victorian times.

Changing of the Guard

While you’re at the palace, be sure you don’t miss the ‘changing of the guard’.

These elite soldiers have been protecting the monarch since 1660. The event begins with the Queen’s guards riding horseback from Hyde Park Barracks, past the palace, to change guards at Horse Guard’s Parade.

The procession starts at 11.30 am and lasts 40 minutes. It occurs daily, from April to July, and on alternate days during the rest of the year. It’s extremely popular with tourists, so get there at least 30 minutes before to get a good viewpoint.

buckingham palace guard

Insider Tips

  • If you don’t wish to include the Garden Highlights Tour, you can still see parts of the garden when you exit the palace at the end of the State Rooms Tour. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes though. The visitor route along the garden wall to the exit is a good half- mile walk.
  • On entry to the palace, you have to undergo security screening. Large backpacks and pushchairs must be left at security and picked up before you leave.
  • No photographs or videos are permitted inside the palace, but you can take photographs outside.
  • Toilet and baby-changing facilities are located in the garden at the end of the tour. The State Room Tour takes around 2 to2 ½ hours, so make sure you go beforehand!
  • No eating or drinking is permitted in the State Rooms; however, there’s a very pleasant Garden Cafe with beautiful views overlooking the lawns and lake.
  • The State Room Tour includes a free audio guide, narrated by HRH Prince Charles himself.

Opening Times

22 July 2017 – 31 August 2017      09.30 – 19.30 (last admittance 17.15)

1 September 2017 – 1 October 2017      09.30 – 18.30 (last admittance 16.15)

Ticket Prices

Correct as of May 2017.

State Rooms

Adult: £23.00

Over 60/Student: £21.00

Under 17/Disabled: £13.00

Under 5: Free

Family (2 adults & 3 children under 17): £59.00

Royal Day Out (State Rooms, Queen’s Gallery, Royal Mews)

Adult: £39.50

Over 60/Student: £36.20

Under 17/Disabled: £22.00

Under 5: Free

Family: £100.00

State Rooms, Garden Highlights Tour

Adult: £32.50

Over 60/Student: £30.50

Under 17/Disabled: £19.50

Under 5: Free

Family: £84.50

Getting There

Underground:

Green Park

Hyde Park Corner

St. James’s Park

Victoria

Bus:

Numbers 11, 211, C1 and C10 stop at Buckingham Palace Road

Train/Coach

Victoria

Here at Premium Tours, we offer you the opportunity to visit two royal residences in a single day with our Windsor Castle & Buckingham Place tour. To find out more see our website, or book online for this limited availability tour.

5 Amazing London Locations Every Harry Potter Fan Must See

If you’re a die-hard Harry Potter fan, a visit to the Warner Bros Studio Tour of The Making of Harry Potter is probably top of your list.

Here you’ll find the original sets, props and costumes used in the series of films, and you can enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour of some of the more famous Hogwarts settings, such as the Great Hall and Professor Dumbledore’s office.

However, London itself is home to some of the most iconic locations used to bring the magical wizarding world of Harry Potter to life.

Here are 5 amazing London locations every Harry Potter fan must see, all easily accessible by tube, Knight Bus, flue powder or broomstick!

  1. Platform 9 ¾

Your first stop has got to be King’s Cross Station. Thanks to Harry Potter, King’s Cross is quite possibly now the most famous station in the world. Head over to the West Concourse. There you’ll find a plaque and a baggage trolley embedded in the wall between platforms 9 and 10.

There’s also the delightful Platform 9 ¾ gift shop. The shop was officially opened by actor Warwick Davis (aka Prof. Flitwick) and it sells a whole range of unique Harry Potter memorabilia.

  1. The Leaky Cauldron

According to Ms Rowling, Number 1, Diagon Alley is the address of the oldest pub in London, The Leaky Cauldron, the gateway between the muggle world and Diagon Alley.

For us muggles, it’s Cecil Court, which can be found ‘just off Charing Cross Road’. The pedestrian-only street is full of charm and offers a wonderfully quirky range of secondhand, speciality bookshops, and antique shops. It’s so atmospheric, you can almost imagine bumping into Hagrid or Ollivander as you stroll along.

  1. Diagon Alley

The beautiful Victorian Leadenhall Market was used as the setting for the original Diagon Alley in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Leadenhall is a delightful mixture of narrow cobbled streets, stunning architecture including an ornate iron and glass roof, and trendy restaurants and bars.

Recognise the blue painted exterior of the optician’s shop in Bulls Head Passage? It was used as the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

  1. Millennium Bridge

One of the most dramatic and thrilling scenes of all has to be the destruction of the Millennium Bridge in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.

Luckily, the bridge itself is still intact and perfectly safe to walk across (not even a wobble!). Take in the spectacular views of St Paul’s Cathedral, but do keep an eye out for Deatheaters.

  1. London Zoo

The Reptile House is the very one where Harry learns to speak parseltongue with snakes. There’s a plaque commemorating the scene beside the glassed tank where the Burmese python escaped.

You’ll be disappointed to see it’s now home to a black mamba and not Dudley Dursley, but you could always try out your parseltongue skills. You might even get a reply!

If you love all things Harry Potter and are keen to get behind the scenes to learn about the magic of the Harry Potter films, join one of our hugely popular Warner Bros. Studio Tours.

If you want to explore more Harry Potter filming locations, click here to discover other locations around the UK. For further details or to book a tour, contact Premium Tours or book online.