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Looking for knowledgeable and fun tour guide and driver

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Looking for knowledgeable and fun tour guide and driver

Looking for advice, especially from someone who has done something like what I describe below.

In a single sentence: Can you recommend a knowledgeable and fun tour guide and driver who could meet us at London Heathrow, tour all day, then transfer us back to London Gatwick later that evening?

Here's the scoop:

I'm planning a mid-December holiday. My flight booking via American Airlines creates just under a 24 hour layover in London. We arrive London Heathrow mid-morning, and depart London Gatwick the next day.

Time planning:

- 1 hr to clear Heathrow customs. Meet guide.

(I hope that luggage could stay with guide car all day, so we don't have to check into hotel till before bedtime.)

- 10 hrs for actual touring, lunch and dinner

We love architecture, culture, historical sights and we absolutely can't miss Harrods :-)!

Basically, whatever makes a given city compelling, interesting, and unique, we will love.

- 3 hours transit time, from:

.. Heathrow into London

.. Transits between sites

.. London to Sofitel Gatwick @ $193 for the night which they explicitly say is "Tax-inclusive price"

- 7 hrs to sleep

- 3 hours for breakfast and Gatwick morning checkin

I did find these links from other threads:

www.britainsbestguides.org/driver-guides/

tripadvisor.com/…23639799

walks.com/London_Walks_Home/…default.aspx

Anyone out there have personal experience doing something like this?

What did you actually end out paying?

A couple other links for anyone 'in the same boat':

www.britainsbestguides.org/fees-information/

"As an example, fees for an English speaking Blue Badge Guide in 2012-2013 are likely to start at around £136 per half day and £211 per full day."

and with a private car:

dgatours.com/tour-prices-2/…

Rochester, United...
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1. Re: Looking for knowledgeable and fun tour guide and driver

try Tourguides International - it is a booking agency for qualified blue badge guides in London, including Driver Guides which is probably what you would need.www.tourguides.co.uk

UK
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2. Re: Looking for knowledgeable and fun tour guide and driver

There is a lady who runs a service that does exactly this sort of thing perhaps one of the regulars can recall a link for her, she does get booked up way in advance but you are looking way in advance as well!

Google shows many others layoverguide.com/2010/05/london-layover-tour…

One thing for you to consider, it will be dark by around 330pm so "sightseeing" may be more limited than you think, I suppose visiting Harrods after that time would be best use of limited daylight.

Also, whilst you say you have 10 hours sightseeing, I'm not sure in practice it will work out like that. If you arrive mid morning, say 10am, you are *very* unlikely to be in London before noon. So you only have 3, perhaps 4 hours to see anything before its dark. Then Harrods, then perhaps dinner and then to Gatwick, though given you are paying for the cars time, my suggestion after Harrods would be to head to Gatwick by train (car would be least 2 hours and maybe 3 what with traffic and rush hour ).

The car can take you to Victoria train station and then its 30 minutes by train to Gatwick.

Then eat at the hotel or nearby.

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3. Re: Looking for knowledgeable and fun tour guide and driver

Looked at their web page.

http://www.tourguides.co.uk/

How would I do this?

"Tour Guides Ltd cannot accept responsibility for interpretation of the insurance requirements covering a driver guide's services; >>> the user of any driver guide's vehicle must ensure that legal insurance cover is provided in accordance with the Road Traffic Acts. In this context "User" shall include any person booking, hiring, being a passenger in or acting as an agent for the owner or other user."

??

Edited: 14 May 2012, 09:48
London, United...
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4. Re: Looking for knowledgeable and fun tour guide and driver

I wouldn't worry too much . The website is just making it clear that they are only a booking agency, the drivers/ guides are self employed and the agency doesn't take any responsibility for insurance etc.

A legitimate business/individual will have the proper insurance, and when you communicate with them to book you can just ask, if you want to be on the safe side.

The danger is only when someone sidles up to you at an airport or similar and asks if you are looking for a taxi/ guide etc

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5. Re: Looking for knowledgeable and fun tour guide and driver

JoeInTheUK>>it will be dark by around 330pm so sightseeing" may be more limited than you think,

Wow, I didn't think of that!!

JoeInTheUK>> I suppose visiting Harrods after that time would be best use of limited daylight.

Great point!

JoeInTheUK>> Then Harrods, then perhaps dinner and then to Gatwick, though given you are paying for the cars time, my suggestion after Harrods would be to head to Gatwick by train (car would be least 2 hours and maybe 3 what with traffic and rush hour ). The car can take you to Victoria train station and then its 30 minutes by train to Gatwick.

Sounds like great advice; thanks! (I will look forward to tube rides assuming I can limit myself to 1 carry-on and one backpack for this multi-week vacation in the middle of winter when I will need layers to keep from freezing my Floridian blood! That packing challenge will be a surpreme test my mind over matter.)

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6. Re: Looking for knowledgeable and fun tour guide and driver

That is just a ´get out´phrase of the type that is often found in contracts. If you engage a qualified blue badge guide who is a registered driver/guide they will have the public liability insurance. I would read that clause as simply saying that it is your responsibility to check that is the case if you want reassurance

The guide will have a copy of the insurance and any reputable guide would be prepared to show you a copy if required.

London, England
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7. Re: Looking for knowledgeable and fun tour guide and driver

I would certainly go with a Blue Badge Guide.

They take are used to just the sort of tailored trip you are talking about. http://www.britainsbestguides.org/

It is going to be fairly expensive whoever you go with, so why risk anyone but a properly qualified guide.

BTW, The outside of Harrods is very pretty lit up at night, but there are much better places for shopping in London.

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8. Re: Looking for knowledgeable and fun tour guide and driver

Leagle>> I would certainly go with a Blue Badge Guide. They take are used to just the sort of tailored trip you are talking about. http://www.britainsbestguides.org/

Yes, I do intend to. One of the links I posted above came from there in fact.

Is there any one guide or guide service from the companies in the links who you would personally recommend?

Leagle>> BTW, The outside of Harrods is very pretty lit up at night, but there are much better places for shopping in London.

Well don't keep it a secret ! Christmas is coming !! :-)

Edited: 14 May 2012, 12:43
London, UK
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9. Re: Looking for knowledgeable and fun tour guide and driver

Leagle>> BTW, The outside of Harrods is very pretty lit up at night, but there are much better places for shopping in London.

Well don't keep it a secret ! Christmas is coming !! :-)

I think what Leagle means is that no local would recommend Harrods for shopping. It's overcrowded, overpriced and (by visitors at least) overhyped. But given that you only have a few hours in London, most of them in the dark, there's probably nowhere more practical to go, unless you can specify a particular type of thing you're shopping for. At least Harrods has a bit of everything under one roof, and the building is impressive and nicely lit.

Watford
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10. Re: Looking for knowledgeable and fun tour guide and driver

This is the link to the guide that Joe was thinking of - http://www.windsordaytours.co.uk/