It is possible to see some of the most beautiful landscapes and historic attractions that England has to offer, without travelling far from London. Why not take a private tour during your England vacation, to the west of London, passing Hampton Court Palace, Henry VIII's magnificent Tudor home by the River Thames and Windsor Castle, the Queen's favourite home and probably the finest castle in England.
From Windsor Castle, travel to Bray, a short distance from London it is an essential part of any tour, for lunch in this tiny village which is home to two of only three restaurants in England which boast three Michelin Stars. From this gastronomic haven you pass into the glorious chalk landscape of the Chiltern Hills, with its chocolate-box villages, flint and brick homes and hidden treasures, away from the tourist crowds.
Whilst ion your tour from London see Henley on Thames, famous for its summer boating regatta and wind up the stunning Hambleden Valley, through the villages of Skirmett, Fingest and Turville, settings for a whole host of films and TV shows such as Chitty,Chitty, Bang, Bang; Midsomer Murders and the Vicar of Dibley. Set in this area of outstanding natural beauty, your private tour will take you to Old Luxters, home to 'Chiltern Valley Wines' whose award winning wines have been described by Vogue magazine as having 'a fabulous, exotic and heady mix of exquisitely fine flavours'.
Your England tour through the Chilterns uncovers some of the most exquisite country estates any England vacation could offer. For example, you could stay overnight in Cliveden, built in 1666 by the Duke of Buckingham amidst beautifully landscaped gardens set in the chalk cliffs overlooking the Thames. It was acquired by William Waldorf Astor, who commissioned an American sculptor to create the unforgettable Fountain of Love at the entrance to the house.
This same sculptor made large groups of opulent sculptures for the Rothschild family at Waddesdon Manor, on the northern edge of the Chilterns. No tour from London can take you anywhere more sumptuous. Dripping with the finest displays of art, tapestries, arms and Sevres china, this mansion, built in the French renaissance style, cannot be missed.
Descending from the rolling hills, your tour from London takes you to Oxford, whose world famous university, founded in 1167, created the spectacular skyline of tall towers and 'dreaming spires'. Visit Christ Church College, one of the 36 colleges which cluster around the city centre and which contains the dramatic setting of the Hogwarts dining room from the Harry Potter films.
Nearby, Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, is a palatial house built by Queen Anne in 1704 as a gift to the Duke of Marlborough, who defeated the French at the battle of Blenheim. It is a baroque masterpiece, with beautifully landscaped gardens by Capability Brown.
From here, you enter the Cotswold Hills, with its quaint villages and churches hewn from the golden limestone of the area. The wealth engendered by the medieval wool trade poured into the building of majestic churches and town houses. Your England vacation to the Cotswold area reveals the beautiful villages of Chipping Campden, Burford, Stow on the Wold, Lower Slaughter and Bourton on the Water, the Venice of the Cotswolds, built by Italian wool merchants with picturesque bridges over the River Windrush, to remind them of home. A gentle drive along the country lanes of the Cotswolds could end with a visit to Shakespeare's Stratford in the north, or the magnificent Georgian spa town of Bath in the south.
A private tour of these areas is within easy reach of London and should be considered by any discerning traveller embarking on an England vacation. Every traveller in England should head out from London and sample some of the quintessential English life and experience the beauty of the English countryside.
Travel expert Thomas Pretty strongly advises a London tour and a trip into the fabulous English countryside when staying in England.