park

7 Quiet Places in London to Get Some Peace

London is one of the busiest, most vibrant cities in the world, and life here is never short of excitement. After a fun-filled day exploring, why not recharge your batteries by taking a break from the hustle and bustle? Tucked away in the capital are some wonderfully relaxing, quiet places – here are seven of the best.

1. Kyoto Garden

Surround yourself with the beauty of Kyoto Garden in Holland Park, one of the jewels in stylish Kensington’s crown, and let your worries melt away. There are few more soothing places in London than this gem, which was inspired by Japanese promenade gardens. Stroll past blossom trees and pause by the waterfall to discover true calm.

parakeet in tree london

2. Museum of Happiness

Filled with floor cushions and lanterns, Camden’s Museum of Happiness is a relaxing space where periods of silence and stillness are encouraged. One of the museum’s key values is mindfulness, which is why it provides mindfulness meditation sessions. In a quiet, calm atmosphere, you’ll learn how to let go of stress and enhance your wellbeing.

3. Barbican Conservatory

Behind the Barbican’s concrete exterior lies an enchanting oasis just waiting to be discovered. The Barbican Conservatory is a tropical glasshouse that gives you the opportunity to find peace where you’d never expect it: in the middle of London’s fast-paced financial district. Experience silence broken only by birdsong and flowing water, and then relax with afternoon tea.

4. Shri Swaminarayan Mandir

Whether you’re most drawn to the awe-inspiring shrines, mesmerising carvings or manicured gardens, you can’t fail to find peace in London’s Shri Swaminarayan Mandir. Spirituality and tranquillity are central to this Hindu place of worship, commonly known as Neasden Temple. Meditate under the dome to fully immerse yourself in the calm, soothing atmosphere.

5. Russell Square Gardens

Bloomsbury is as famous for its elegant garden squares as its literary heritage. Some of the green spaces are closed to the public, but Russell Square’s Grade II listed gardens are open to all, and they just so happen to be the biggest and best! The tree-lined pathways give the area its magical mood, with dense foliage acting almost like a soundproof barrier, shielding you from the traffic beyond.

london park

6. The Victorians Display at the NPG

While some parts of Covent Garden’s National Portrait Gallery are busy, silence and serenity reign in the display devoted to the Victorians. It’s filled with portraits of the people who shaped the UK during one of its most significant historical periods. Why not spend time with the Brontë sisters (their famous triple portrait graces the wall in room 24) and swap the pressures of modern life for peace and quiet?

7. St Paul’s Cathedral

Seated on Ludgate Hill, St Paul’s Cathedral is not only an iconic London landmark but also the perfect place for quiet contemplation. The combination of Sir Christopher Wren’s stunning architecture and magnificent views makes St Paul’s truly breathtaking. A trip there is bound to reawaken your sense of wonder. St Paul’s is a key part of several of our tours, including the bestselling Total London tour. Our guides never tire of seeing the amazement on people’s faces when they enter.

Premium Tours will help you make the most of your time in London, whether that involves finding quiet spots or something completely different. For professional guides and VIP access to top attractions, book one of our fantastic London tours today.

 

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.

windsor castle lawn

10 Interesting Facts about Windsor Castle

Situated in the county of Berkshire, just 44 miles from the centre of London, Windsor Castle is one of the most well-known and favourite royal residences of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

If you want to find out more about the oldest inhabited castle in the world, then here are 10 interesting facts about Windsor Castle you may not know.

  1. In 1066 after the Battle of Hastings, William the Conqueror built a series of fortresses to secure the city of London and keep the unruly Saxons in their place. One of these was the Tower of London; another was Windsor Castle. The castle was strategically placed to overlook the River Thames and the surrounding Windsor Forest.
  2. Built as a fortress, the original castle was constructed from wood in the motte-and-bailey style. In the 1200s, it was reinforced with stone and withstood a two-month siege during the Barons War. Today, you can still see the murder holes in the Norman Gate from where invaders were bombarded with boiling oil.
    windsor castle
  3. Henry I was the first monarch to use the castle as a residence, while Edward III used money from his battle victories in France to make lavish expansions, making it the most expensive building project of the Middle Ages.
  4. Henry VII spent even more, around £300 million in today’s money, to update it. He used the castle as a playground for hunting, shooting and entertaining.
  5. Windsor Castle was a favourite of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. On 14th December 1861, Prince Albert died in the Blue Room here. In deep mourning, Victoria spent most of her time at Windsor or at Balmoral in Scotland and insisted his rooms were maintained exactly as they were when he was alive. She became known as ‘The Widow of Windsor’.
    windsor castle grounds
  6. During the First World War, George V wanted to distance the Royal family from their German heritage so, inspired by the Royal residence, he changed the family’s surname from Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to Windsor.
  7. The devastating fire of 1992 which highlighted the Queen’s ‘Annus Horribilus’, began in the Queen’s Private Chapel at 11.15 am on 20th November. The heat from a spotlight ignited a curtain it was leaning against. The extensive damage cost £36.5 million to repair.
  8. The Great Kitchen has cooked up meals for 32 monarchs including the Queen. Today there are 33 kitchen staff, 20 chefs and sous chefs, 3 pastry chefs and 10 porters. The clocks in the Great Kitchen are always set to be five minutes fast so that the Queen will never be served late.
    windsor castle turrets
  9. St George’s Chapel in the grounds of the castle is the burial site of 10 monarchs including Henry VIII and Charles I. On her death, the Queen will also be buried here.
  10. The chapel at Windsor Castle is the chosen location for the upcoming wedding ceremony between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. The young royals will tie the knot here on 19th May this year.

Our expert tour guides have plenty more facts and fascinating stories about Windsor Castle. You can see our tours featuring Windsor Castle here, or have a look at our London Tours Page for more general information.

Dining London

7 Funky Restaurants in London You’ll Love

London is one of the culinary capitals of the world with a vast choice of eateries covering every type of cultural cuisine from around the globe.

If you’re tired and hungry after a long day of exploring London, going for a delicious dinner is the perfect way to feel rejuvenated. Don’t just go to a chain restaurant, instead, why not go somewhere a little offbeat and quirky, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. London is full of funky restaurants that put the fun and unusual back into dining.

Here are seven of the best funky restaurants in London you’re sure to love.

1. The Cheese Bar

Located at Camden Stables Market, The Cheese Bar is an absolute must for cheese lovers. The indulgent, cheese-centric menu features oozy delights such as smoked sausage fondue, four-cheese rotelle pasta, as well as their trademark cheese toasties.

The restaurant prides itself on using only the very best British cheeses.

2. Attendant

The Attendant in Fitzrovia offers a seasonal, fun and fresh menu as well as serving great tasting coffee reflecting the style of Australian brunch cafes. It’s the perfect place for breakfast, brunch or lunch.

But the quirky feature of this cafe is its location. It was once a Victorian gentlemen’s public toilet! Beautifully restored, Attendant has a quaint underground entrance and features urinal seating booths and white tiled walls.

3. Bubba Gump Shrimp Co

‘It’s all about the shrimp.’ If you loved Forrest Gump, don’t miss a trip to the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co in Soho. Based on the two characters from the film, the Old South eatery features a delicious menu of Alabaman favourites such as ribs, steak, jambalaya and of course, shrimp!

shrimp

4. Beach Blanket Babylon

Situated in an old Georgian mansion in the heart of Notting Hill, the incongruously named restaurant has a wonderfully eclectic mix of colonial British, French Chateau and gothic decor and furnishings.

Serving seasonal modern European cuisine, the elaborate restaurant has a wonderful choice of intimate spaces for a decadent and private dining experience.

5. Dans le Noir?

Dining at the Dans le Noir? in Clerkenwell is a sensory experience you simply must try. Sight-impaired waiters serve the fantastic menu, taking you on a culinary journey where your sense of taste and smell will be challenged in total darkness!

6. Rainforest Café

The Rainforest Café just off Piccadilly Circus is the perfect venue to bring the kids for a fun-filled dining experience. Animatronics, tropical fish tanks, waterfalls and special thunder and lighting effects add to the thrill of the Amazonian Jungle right in the heart of the West End.

The American-based menu features family-friendly classics such as ribs, steaks and burgers, as well as a dedicated kids menu and activity packs.

Rainforest Café

7. Fifteen

Sleek and stylish, this flagship Jamie Oliver restaurant not only produces fabulous dishes from local and seasonal products but most notably is a non-profit training ground that has been turning disadvantaged and unemployed young people into professional chefs since 2002.

The kitchen is front of house and open plan so you can see the young chefs in action. You may even spot the ‘cheeky chappy’ himself if he’s around.

 

As London experts, we know all the best places to eat in this delicious capital city. For more information on our London tours, get in touch today.

breakfast

9 of the Best Breakfast Spots in East London

Long gone are the days when breakfast in East London meant eating in a greasy spoon. Today the breakfast experience in the East End is far more hip, funky, sophisticated and, above all, tasty. You can try food from almost every continent, so you can spend your time trying out different cuisines and new flavours.

If you’re looking for more than just a traditional fry-up, you’re in for a pleasant and delicious surprise.

Here are nine of our favourite East London breakfast spots that will definitely set you up for the day.

1. Ozone (Leonard Street)

If you need a decent shot of caffeine first thing, then a visit to Ozone should wake you up! They have a fantastic selection of roasted in-house coffee. Grab a seat at the cooking station and watch the chefs at work. Favourites include eggs Benedict with pork belly, halloumi or smoked salmon.

2. The Barge House (De Beauvoir Crescent)

Visit this wonderful waterside eatery at the weekend to try their signature ‘Breakfast in Bread’. It consists of a hollowed out sourdough loaf filled with a choice of delicious ingredients such as smoked bacon, sausage and egg, smoked salmon, or spicy chorizo and red peppers. Wash it down with an in-house infused vodka, Bloody Mary. It is the weekend after all!

3. Duck&Waffle (Bishopsgate)

On the 40th floor of Heron Tower, this magnificent eatery offers breakfast with a view stretching across the capital. Favourites include ox cheek eggs Benedict, the ‘Full Elvis Waffle’ and of course their signature dish: crispy duck leg confit with a fried duck egg served on a freshly made waffle.

Full Elvis

4. Andina (Redchurch Street)

For something a little healthier, try a Peruvian-based breakfast inspired by the Andes, at Andina. Super smoothies, Peruvian coffee and breakfasts with a Peruvian twist such as huevos q’apachana, and pudin de maiz are delicious, yet guilt-free morning indulgences.

5. Yolk (Balls Pond Road)

Currently based at the Duke of Wellington pub in the heart of the City, the Yolk pop-up restaurant makes the best poached egg pots in London, made with free range Burford Brown eggs.  Choose from six scrumptious pots including eggs Benedict, smoked salmon, florentine and chipotle.

6. The Book Club (Leonard Street)

The artworks and exhibitions in this former Victorian warehouse provide a lovely setting while you indulge in the hearty, classic full English breakfast the Book Club’s famous for.

the book club

7. Berber and Q (Acton Mews)

If you want to try a Middle Eastern breakfast, you can’t get much better than Berber Q. Their Israeli speciality features honeyed feta, hummus, eggs, avocado and tahini dip, served with traditional Turkish coffee or Moroccan mint tea.

8. Hash E8 (Dalston Lane)

If you’re a late riser, head to Hash E8 – they serve breakfast all day long. The menu includes, you’ve guessed it, homemade hash browns served in a variety of ways, as well as a good selection of pancakes, omelettes and English muffin dishes.

9. Beigel Bake (Brick Lane)

Finally, if you’re looking for something quick, cheap and tasty, you can grab on the run, try a New York style hot salt beef and mustard bagel from this traditional Jewish-style bakery, or grab one of their famous ‘rainbow bagels’ for a sweeter treat.

bagel

As London experts, we know all the best places for a hearty breakfast. To find out more about our selection of London tours, do get in touch with us today.

sherlock

5 Places for Sherlock Holmes Fans to Visit in London

Sherlock Holmes, Britain’s most famous detective, has been portrayed in various films and TV shows, some faithful to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s books, others more contemporary.

The one uniting factor, however, is Sherlock’s connection with London. Whatever version of Holmes and Watson you prefer, London is a mystery just waiting for would-be sleuths to explore.

So, don your deerstalker, grab your magnifying glass and discover these five places in London that every Sherlock Holmes fan should visit.

1. 221b Baker Street

221b Baker Street is the fictitious address of Britain’s best-loved sleuth, where he is lovingly looked after by the long-suffering Mrs Hudson.

In real life, it’s home to the Sherlock Holmes Museum which displays a range of Sherlock Holmes memorabilia and antiques from the Victorian period.

If you’re arriving by tube, don’t miss the Sherlock Holmes statue just outside Baker Street underground station.

sherlock museum

2. New Scotland Yard

In the recent TV series, Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock is often called upon to visit New Scotland Yard on Victoria Embankment. You can’t enter the building, but it’s a great place to grab a selfie in front of the iconic sign.

3. Speedy’s Cafe

Fans of the BBC TV series will instantly recognise one of Holmes and Watson’s most popular haunts: Speedy’s Cafe at North Gower Street in Camden.

The street was actually used as Baker St in the series to avoid all the references to Sherlock on the original street. The black door next to the familiar red awning of the cafe was used for exterior shots of 221b.

The cafe itself is adorned with production photos and serves delicious food and fantastic coffee. There are a range of Sherlock specialities and the English breakfast is a real treat!

sherlock statue

4. Bart’s Hospital

St Bartholomew’s Hospital in West Smithfield features in the very first Conan Doyle story, A Study in Scarlet. It’s where Holmes and Watson meet for the first time.

The hospital itself dates back to 1123 and is the oldest functioning hospitals in Britain. The exterior is beautiful, and it’s considered one of the most architecturally important buildings in the country.

Fans of the BBC series will recognise the rooftop from the infamous episode The Reichenbach Fall, where Sherlock was perched before staging his fake death. There are still notes left by fans who believed the famous sleuth had died, stuck to a nearby telephone box.

A tribute plaque to Holmes and Watson can be found in the hospital’s museum, which also displays exhibits that explain the hospital’s fascinating history. It’s well worth a visit.

sherlock holmes

5. The Sherlock Holmes Pub

This delightful Victorian-styled pub on Northumberland Street is a homage to the great detective and features an exact replica of the Baker Street sitting room that houses a permanent exhibition of Sherlock Holmes memorabilia.

The food is delicious and considered some of the best pub food in London. The menu is themed and features classic dishes such as The Hound of the Baskerville Toad in the Hole, as well as a great selection of traditional English ales and ciders.

As London experts, our tour guides know a thing or two about Sherlock Holmes and have many other interesting stories to share with you. For more information about our London tours, get in touch today. 

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.

brick lane

6 Great Spots for a Curry on Brick Lane

If you’re visiting London, make sure to complete your visit with an Indian curry at the iconic Brick Lane, the vibrant hub that’s full of colour, music and the unmistakable aromas of Indian spices.

With so many eateries to choose from, it’s hard to know where to start. And, let’s face it, almost every restaurant website here boasts that they’re the ‘best Indian Restaurant on Brick Lane’.

To help you choose, here are six great spots for a curry on Brick Lane.

1. City Spice

The award-winning ‘King of Brick Lane’ was the winner of the Masterchef Curry Award 2017. The lively, buzzing local has been recently refurbished with a modern, Indian-influenced decor.

The menu is based on ‘Indian food served to the Mughal Emperors at the time of British India but with a little Bengali twist’.

Specialities:

  • Thatul Tanga Bhujon – chicken, lamb or vegetables cooked in a sweet, sour and spicy sauce.
  • Shahi Chingri Bhuna – a classic dish served to the mogul emperors of king prawns baked in their shells in a tandoori oven and finished with a mixture of spices served with baked tomatoes.

city spice

2. The Famous Curry Bazaar

This elegant, modern and spacious restaurant is popular with celebrities and serves typical dishes with a modern twist, including a variety of vegetable options. It’s ideal for parties and get-togethers with friends.

Specialities:

  • Spicy Lamb or Chicken Tawa – made with fresh tomatoes, onion, capsicum, ginger and fresh green chillies.
  • Lamb Shashlik Bhuna – skewered with capsicum and onion, then grilled in the tandoori.

3. Bengal Village

Enjoy a blend of Indian dishes made with the freshest, local ingredients in relaxed surroundings. Bengal Village takes pride in producing Bangladeshi dishes using local produce that’s delivered daily.

Specialities:

  • Karai dishes cooked in a sizzling iron wok, which gives them a delicious smoky flavour.
  • Tandoori Lamb Chops Massala Karahi cooked with fresh herbs and spices, ghee and garlic.
  • Banana or Mango Lassi.

4. Sheba

Established in 1974, the chic and stylish decor of Sheba belies its reasonable prices. As well as traditional dishes, the restaurant specialises in lamb shank dishes that literally melt in the mouth.

Sheba was voted ‘Best Curry House in the UK’ by the Cobra Good Curry Guide 2015.

Specialities:

  • Bengal Lamb Shank – slowly roasted with carrots, spices and saffron.
  • Bollywood Blast – for hot chilli lovers, tender lamb chunks cooked with a variety of chillies.

5. Aladin

Applauded by Prince Charles and listed by the BBC as one of the world’s best curry houses, this bustling, lively restaurant prides itself on its authenticity.

Specialities:

  • Chicken or Lamb Sizzler – made with onions, tomatoes, green chilli peppers and pistachios.
  • Haryalic Chicken Masala – marinated in spinach and mint, grilled then cooked in a creamy sauce.

aladin brick lane

6. Cinnamon

This is one of the most popular restaurants on Brick Lane so it’s wise to book in advance. Winner of numerous awards, Cinnamon is famous for its grilled meat specialities.

Specialities:

  • Lamb Shatkora – cooked in a thick Bengali sauce using ‘Shatkora’, a special lime exclusive to the Sylhet region of Bangladesh.
  • Lemon Grass Chicken – a medium, spicy sauce cooked with lemongrass.

With extensive local knowledge, Premium Tours offer a number of London tours where you can get the lowdown on things in the city, such as where to find the best curry. You can have a look at all of our tours here.

train

Here Are All the Harry Potter Filming Locations

If you are a Harry Potter fan visiting London, then spending a day at the Warner Bros. Studio is a must. However, if you have time, the whole of the UK is a treasure trove of Harry Potter hotspots.

When the magical world of Harry Potter was brought to life on film, much of the success of the films, based on the bestselling novels by J. K. Rowling, was due to the fact that the locations seemed so familiar.

Although computer graphics and special effects played a large role in the films and much of the filming was done at Leavesden Film Studios, the external locations are very real.

Some of the most iconic British landmarks and scenery were the settings for the adventures of Harry, Ron and Hermione in their quest to battle the forces of the Dark Lord and the Deatheaters.

From the chalk cliffs of East Sussex to the Scottish Highlands, the trail of Harry Potter filming locations runs the length of Britain.

So if you want to escape the mundane muggle world and enter the magical world of Harry Potter, here is the full list of Harry Potter filming locations you can visit around the country (broomstick not required).

England

Warner Bros Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour

This fascinating behind-the-scenes tour at the Warner Bros Studio displays the sets, costumes and props used in the films.

harry potter

Kings Cross Station, London

No true Harry Potter fan can miss a visit to the famous station where Harry first began his adventure.

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. Don’t miss out on a perfect photo opportunity, complete with Gryffindor scarf. There is also a Platform 9 ¾ gift shop where you can buy exclusive Harry Potter merchandise.

St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, London

Although Platform 9 ¾ can be found at King’s Cross Station. The station’s entrance featured in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is actually the stunning exterior of the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, a 5-minute walk away.

Leadenhall Market, London

The cobbled streets, quirky shops and gothic architecture of this beautiful London market is so atmospheric, you could almost believe you’re in Diagon Alley. Well, you are! The market was used as the setting for Diagon Alley in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

Turning into Bull’s Head Passage, you’ll see the blue painted door of an optician’s shop. This was used as the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Millennium Bridge, London

When the bridge first opened in 2000, it had to be adjusted because it wobbled disconcertingly. But that was nothing compared to its dramatic collapse into the River Thames after a Deatheater attack at the beginning of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

London Zoo

The Reptile House at London Zoo is the very same one where Harry spoke parseltongue with a Burmese python. You won’t see Dudley Dursley in the glass tank though. The enclosure is actually the home of a Black Mamba.

Other London locations used in the films were:

  • Australia House – Gringott’s Bank
  • Cecil Court, just off Charing Cross Road – entrance to the Leaky Cauldron
  • Great Scotland Yard – entrance to the Ministry of Magic
  • Claremont Square – Grimmauld Place

Lavenham, Suffolk

Why build a film set when you have at your disposal, historic, authentic and stunning villages that are seemingly untouched by time?

The beautiful, medieval Suffolk village of Lavenham looks like time stood still. The quaint, rustic higgledy-piggledy houses were the perfect setting for Godric’s Hollow, home to Lily and James Potter. It was also where baby Harry was struck by Voldemort to become ‘the boy that lived’.

The village features in the last film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.

Virginia Water, Surrey

When you think of Hogwarts’ Lake, an isolated loch in the remote Scottish Highlands comes to mind. Yet, ironically, the lake featured in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, where Harry soars across on the back of the Hippogriff, is at Virginia Water in Surrey only a few miles away from Heathrow Airport. In fact, the first landscape scenes of Hogwarts’ Lake were filmed up in Scotland at Loch Arkaig. But the biting midges were such a nuisance that the scenes involving actors were made at Virginia Water instead.

Ashridge Woods, Newbury

Situated on the Ashridge Estate between Didcot and Newbury, Ashridge Woods is a woodland paradise with tree walks, carpeted with bluebells and other wildflowers. But this peace was shattered when it was used as the setting for the Quidditch World Cup in The Goblet of Fire.

Ashridge Estate was also home to the infamous ‘Whomping Willow’. Sadly, due to the strain of its own weight and age, the ancient tree collapsed in 2014.

Swinley Forest, Bracknell

This forest in South East England was used to film chasing scenes in The Deathly Hallows Parts 1 and 2. In Part 1, Harry, Ron and Hermione are chased through the forest before being captured by Deatheaters. Neville is also chased through the forest in Part 2.

Seven Sisters Country Park, Eastbourne

The dramatic white cliffs of the Seven Sisters Country Park at Exceat on the South Coast of England featured in The Goblet of Fire. It’s here that Harry climbs the hill to find the boot that will transport him to the Quidditch World Cup.

seven sisters

Lacock Abbey, Wiltshire

Nestled in the heart of Wiltshire between Salisbury and Bath, you’ll find the charming and historic village of Lacock.

Almost entirely owned by the National Trust, the historic appearance of Lacock has been beautifully preserved, and care has been taken to hide any signs of modernity such as overhead wires. No wonder then, that Lacock has been the setting for many period dramas including Pride and Prejudice and, more recently, Downton Abbey.

The village is also home to the magnificent 13th century Lacock Abbey. The interior of the abbey was featured in various scenes in the first two Harry Potter films.

In the first film, Harry was chosen to play Quidditch in the halls of the abbey. The abbey’s interior was also used for Professor Snape’s potions class and the Mirror of Erised scenes.

In The Chamber of Secrets when leaving Professor Lockhart’s room after detention, Harry hears the Basilisk in the cloisters of the Abbey.

Gloucester Cathedral

The cloisters of Gloucester Cathedral will be very familiar to Harry Potter fans. They were used as the corridors of Hogwarts in several interior scenes including:

  • The hallway where Harry and Ron, searching for Hermione, spot a 20ft troll in The Philosopher’s Stone
  • The ‘fat lady’ scenes in the first movie
  • The writing on the wall and the flooded corridor in The Chamber of Secrets.

Oxford

Oxford is not only famous as an elite centre of academic excellence, but also for the magnificent architecture of its scholarly buildings.

The stone staircase of Christ Church College featured in The Philosopher’s Stone, when Harry, Hermione, Ron and the other new students enter Hogwarts for the first time.

Hogwarts’ Library, frequented by studious Hermione, and the restricted section where Harry sneaks in wearing the cloak of invisibility was actually Duke Humfrey’s Library in Oxford.

The Divinity School on the ground floor of Bodleian Library featured as Hogwarts’ infirmary in the first two films. Recognise the big window? It’s where Harry’s bed was positioned when he woke up in the infirmary at the end of The Philosopher’s Stone.

The cloisters of New College are where Mad-Eyed Moody turned Draco Malfoy into a ferret in The Goblet of Fire.

Durham Cathedral

The poignant scene in The Philosopher’s Stone, where Harry walks with his white owl, Hedwig, through the snowy cloister courtyard, was filmed at Durham Cathedral.

Alnwick Castle, Northumberland

If you’re looking for the real-life Hogwarts, then head to Alnwick Castle in Northumberland. The spectacular castle grounds were used for external scenes at the school of witchcraft and wizardry.

The outer bailey is where Harry and his companions learn to fly their broomsticks under the tuition of Madame Hooch in The Philosopher’s Stone. It’s here that poor Neville Longbottom gets thrown about by his broom, before being left to hang from one of the towers.

The inner bailey is where Ron and Harry crash-land the flying car at the beginning of The Chamber of Secrets.

The imposing lion arch was used as the gateway that led out of Hogwarts to Hagrid’s hut and the Forbidden Forest.

alnwick castle

Goathland Train Station, North Yorkshire

The small Yorkshire village of Goathland is famous as the setting for the popular police soap drama, Heartbeat.

The station here also featured as Hogsmeade Station in The Philosopher’s Stone. The North Yorkshire Moors Railway runs steam and vintage train services from Goathland to Pickering so you can experience a ride just like the Hogwarts Express.

Malham Cove, Yorkshire

The desolate, rugged, rocky landscape of this natural limestone cove in Yorkshire featured in The Deathly Hallows Part 1. It’s where Harry and Hermione set up camp while hiding from Voldemort.

Wales

Freshwater West Beach

This windy, isolated and spectacular beach in South Pembrokeshire was the setting for Shell Cottage, home of Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour, featured in both The Deathly Hallows films.

The tragic and emotional scene of Dobby the house elf’s death was filmed on the sand dunes here.

Scotland

Glenfinnan Viaduct

One of the most iconic scenes of all the Harry Potter films is the Hogwarts Express journey over the 21-arched viaduct to deliver the students to the school of witchcraft and wizardry.

It is, in actual fact, the Glenfinnan Viaduct that goes from Fort William to Glenfinnan. The 380-metre-long and the 31-metre-high viaduct was built in 1898.

In the films, the viaduct that overlooks Loch Shiel (also used as the Black Lake), acts as the bridge to Hogwarts. In The Prisoner of Azkaban, the train is halted here by the Dementors who subsequently torture Harry, before Professor Lupin saves him.

If you’ve ever wanted to take the journey yourself, you can – on the original Hogwarts Express!

The Jacobite Steam Train was used as the original Hogwarts Express in the films. Scottish West Coast Railways provides a service described as ‘the greatest railway journey in the world’. The 84-mile round trip starts at Fort William, passes over the Glenfinnan Viaduct and ends at the beautiful fishing village of Mallaig. As well as passing over the viaduct, you’ll be able to enjoy the spectacular coastline, Highlands and lochs of Western Scotland including Ben Nevis and Loch Nevis.

glennfinnan

Glen Coe

Possibly the most famous glen in Scotland, the wild and rugged Highland hillside of Glen Coe was the filming location of Hagrid’s Hut.

Glen Coe, meaning ‘The Glen of Tears’, was also the main setting for many exterior scenes in The Prisoner of Azkaban, including the brilliant scene when Hermione punches Draco Malfoy in the face!

Steal Falls

This spectacular waterfall at the foot of Ben Nevis was where Harry’s battle with a Hungarian Horntailed dragon during the Triwizard Tournament in The Goblet of Fire was filmed.

It was also used as a backdrop for some Quidditch match scenes.

Loch Eilt

A rather apt and poignant place to finish up your discovery of Harry Potter filming locations is Loch Eilt in North West Scotland.

It’s here that Hagrid skimmed stones across the water in The Prisoner of Azkaban. It’s also where Voldemort stole the elder wand in The Deathly Hallows Part 1.

More significantly, it is the final resting place of Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore.

Loch Eilt featured as the island location of Dumbledore’s grave in The Deathly Hallows Part 1.

And finally…

No self-respecting Harry Potter fan can visit Edinburgh without popping into the place where it all began.

The Elephant House coffee shop is located on Marshall Street in the heart of historic Edinburgh. It’s here that J.K. Rowling wrote most of the first books of Harry Potter. She wrote in the quieter back area of the cafe with a view overlooking Edinburgh Castle. This is where the inspiration for Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft came from.

You can find more information about the Warner Bros. Tour here and don’t forget, we also offer plenty of other excellent tours in and around London too.