Luxury travel to
the United Kingdom
You lean back and relax in the comfort of your seat. Your train will soon be entering the Euro tunnel, and you’ll be under the English Channel on your way to a side trip to the U.K.
This is a little extra you’re treating yourself to. You’ve just had a marvelous time in France, where
every detail was curated and organized by the Académie des Arts de Vivre (AAV).
They had so many good ideas for France that you’re excited to see what they cooked up for the U.K.
I am an experienced English Blue Badge Tourist Guide, specialising in London and the South West of England. I have had the pleasure to work with AAV for a few years and have been impressed by the attention that is paid to detail with touring schedules and with the genuine desire to meet with all the clients’ wishes. I have worked with many luxury travel companies and AAV rates very highly in my estimation.Leonie C. Expert Guide
5 things you don’t know
about the U.K.
The United Kingdom has given us all so much: tea, golf, football (soccer for Americans), Peter Pan, Mr. Bean, Peter Mayle, and, more seriously, the basis of the American legal system. If you have a stiff upper lip, you might feel you’re already an expert on the country, yet, there are a few things about the U.K. you might not know:
No matter where you go in the U.K., you are never more than 125 km (77 miles) from the sea.
In the quaint town of Windsor in the south of England is Windsor Castle, the royal residence built in the 11th century. Windsor Castle is the largest inhabited castle in the world.
Stonehenge, the famous monument of standing stones in Wiltshire, is older than the pyramids. The site dates back over 3,000 years, making it the oldest monument in the world.
English is relatively recent in the U.K. French was actually the official language in the U.K. for about 300 years (1066 – 1362).
The worldwide web (internet) was invented by a Britt, researcher Tim Berners-Lee. He was working in Switzerland at the time.
Where to stay in the U.K.?
A luxury holiday would not be complete without beautiful high-end accommodations. In the U.K., AAV has found hotels for you which are both exquisite and oh so British.
The Lanesborough in London is a grand mansion of unbridled luxury, overlooking Hyde Park and a stroll away from Harrods, Sloane Square and Knightsbridge. Inside your room or suite, your butler will be available around the clock. Outside your room, the entire staff will ensure you enjoy the beautifully decorated Garden Room, Library Bar, Withdrawing Room, fitness and wellness center, and the Michelin-starred restaurant, Céleste.
The Balmoral is said to be a love letter to Scotland, that’s how beautiful it is. Many of the rooms of this legendary hotel have views over the main Edinburgh landmarks: Edinburgh Castle, Arthur’s Seat and the Old Town. The rooms and suites are beautifully decorated with luxury furnishings such as handmade beds from Glencraft, suppliers to the Queen. The hotel has a luxury spa and several restaurants, including the Number One, which has received a Michelin star.
The Old Bank Hotel in Oxford has taken a historic building and completely modernized it, adding great style and fabulous modern art. The independently owned hotel is centrally located on Oxford’s famous High, with views of the city’s most famous
landmarks. Be sure to dine at the hotel’s restaurant, Quod. With its show-stopping onyx bar and stylish Italian terrace, it has become one of the most prestigious restaurants in the city.
In the historic center of Bath, the Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa offers you a fire-star haven of elegance. Set in an acre of gardens, the luxury hotel offers an extraordinary spa with its relaxation pool, vitality pool and six rooms with relaxing treatments by Elemental Herbology and luxurious manicures or pedicures by Jessica Nails. The beautiful bedrooms have each been uniquely designed with spectacular views. For more privacy, choose the Garden Villa, your own private residence within the heart of this five-star hotel.
The Wheatsheaf Inn in the Cotswolds is the summum of English charm. The 17th century coaching inn has 14 bespoke bedrooms, beautiful beer gardens, and one of the best restaurants in the Cotswolds with delicious seasonal fare showcasing the best of the British countryside. If you want a true English experience, the Wheatsheaf Inn is where to go.
Best luxury experiences in the U.K.
Fashionistas in London
A fashion force since its Bohemian era in the 1980s, Notting Hill is home to both up-and-coming and established designers. Paul Smith, Diane von Furstenberg, Sézane, … they are all here. Your AAV personal shopper and stylist will create a tailor-made tour just for you, taking advantage of her insider access to connect you with the best designers.
Straight up or on the rocks?
Whiskey lovers will enjoy a special day when our AAV specialist guide takes you on a tour to taste the different malts and understand the distilling and ageing processes. If time permits, you will also join a Scotch Whisky Club for an evening where you will meet other whisky enthusiasts and taste some of Scotland’s finest whiskeys.
Visit Oxford with a local expert who will show you some extraordinary—and very English– architecture. You’ll see the top landmarks (Radcliffe Square, Magdalen College, Bodleian Library, Oxford Castle, Blenheim Palace, the Bridge of Sighs…) as well as other sites, treasures known only to insiders.
Time travel in Bath
A visit to Bath is like travelling through time, with architecture from Roman times, neoclassical and Georgian styles. Your AAV specialist guide will show you all. You will visit Roman Baths, Pulteney Bridge, the Royal Crescent and The Circus, among other sites. The stunning town, a World Heritage Site since 1987, will open its doors to you.
Rolling hills, medieval villages, churches and manor homes—the Cotswolds are spectacular. To do this beautiful region justice, take at least two days and spend at least one night in some of England’s most charming and coziest Inns such as The Seagrave Arms in Chipping Campden, The Village Pub in Cirencester, The Plough in Kelmscott, or Killingworth Castle in Wootton. True English charm.
When is the best time to visit the United Kingdom?
The U.K. is a surprising, charming, beautiful place. The oceanic climate is temperate, often cloudy and rainy—but never extremely cold or hot. This makes it a nice place to visit year-round.
The United Kingdom in winter:
The most surprising thing to do in the U.K. in winter is surfing. Head to Cornwall where the water is icey but the waves are at their best this time of year. Here to Ireland where you can see the Northern Lights from the Wild Atlantic Way. Or, for something cozier, see the illuminated Christmas decorations at Blenheim Palace near Oxford. One of the Palace’s decorations, the vaulted Tunnel of Light, has more than 100,000 white light bulbs.
The United Kingdom in spring:
Spring is a beautiful time in the U.K., a land famous for its gardens which are all in bloom in this season. Visit Ashridge Estate in Hertfordshire, where you can admire carpets of bluebells in the woods. Spring is also a wonderful moment for visiting Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel. You’ll see puffins and seals, and very few tourists.
The United Kingdom in summer:
June, July and August are the warmest months, with long sunny days, and occasional thunderstorms. It’s a great time for hiking and swimming. Try half-wild swimming in the many tidal sea pools along the Devon and Cornwall coastline, or visit Rhossili beach, a gorgeous site in South Wales.
The United Kingdom in autumn:
Fewer people visit the U.K. in autumn, so you can see all the great sites, without all the crowds. The weather is still good, and there are many places where you can see the fall colors. For example, Tintern Abbey in Monmouthshire, where the 12th century ruins are even more beautiful when surrounded by reds and golds.
Travel tips about
the United Kingdom
Perhaps because they are islands, separated from the rest of Europe by water, perhaps for other reasons, the U.K. has been able to keep its strong identity and strong cultural heritage and traditions, which makes it a delightful place to visit. Even crossing the street is an experience (in London, the city has kindly painted reminders on the asphalt, in case you forget which way to look since, you know, they drive on the other side there).
Venture off the beaten path and enjoy the unusual sites and surprising quirkiness.
Try high tea at the Thames Foyer in the Savoy in London, and you’ll understand why English people consume more tea than anyone else in the world. You will be served beautifully prepared traditional fare such as coronation chicken finger sandwiches, scones with homemade lemon curd, jam and clotted cream, an array of handmade cakes. Very English.
The West End in London is full of theatres, with some of the world’s finest productions. Treat yourself to an evening at the Adelphi, the Aldwych, the Apollo, the Apollo Victoria, Cambridge, Charing Cross, Dominion or Duchess Theatre.
Visit a garden—in the winter
Just outside of Cambridge is the Anglesey Abbey whose Winter Garden has been designed as a showcase to winter. Flaming scarlet willow, red-barked dogwood, the Killarney strawberry tree—all are at their most beautiful in December, January and February. An unusual experience for garden lovers.
British cuisine has come a long way since lamb and peas with mint jelly. Kent has an astounding number of must-try restaurants. The Fordwich Arms and the Sportman in Seasalter are both Michelin-starred gastro-pubs. For simpler fare, stop by the Goods Shed farmers market and food hall in Canterbury.
For Harry Potter fans
Take a steam train to tour the breathtaking Scottish landscape from the comfort of a luxury railway carriage. You will admire the misty mountains, glittering lochs, quaint villages and elegant mansions. Harry Potter fans will be delighted to cross the Glenfinnan viaduct, recognizable from the films.
If you wish to schedule a time to speak about the trip you have in mind, please click on the “Tailor my trip” button and fill in our form. We will get back to you very shortly after reception of your request.