London is a city with a million things to do. There are classic experiences everyone will want to try on their first visit such as Buckingham Palace or the London Eye, but there are also plenty of ways to have adventures that are unique and help travelers take in the many different faces of this amazing city. London is famous for its Underground subway system, and you can try these four under-the-radar experiences to have your own unique "London Underground" experience.
While a visit to the Tower of London during the day is a popular pastime that draws millions of people every year, there is also a nighttime experience played out in front of a very small audience. Since the Tower is still a national military installation staffed by the Beefeater guards, it must be closed up every night. Visitors can watch as the Beefeaters go through a process that has taken place nightly in the same way for hundreds of years. You'll get chills as you stand below Bloody Tower and listen as the guards call out the same phrases that were in use when the Bloody Tower was also in use. Tickets are free, but the audience for the ceremony is generally limited to about 20 people per night, and tickets typically need to be ordered months in advance.
The Crowne Plaza London the City is a hotel sitting atop what used to be dungeons for Bridewell Palace. Stone vaults where prisoners were once held still have a lock and key on the gated fronts, but have now been turned into private luxury areas where a couple or a small group of friends can retreat to enjoy champagne, cigars or a unique martini menu. Each vault has its own name relating to the author/philosopher Voltaire - The Talker, The Contradiction, The Aphorist, etc. - to go along with each room's very own style and decor. While there, how can you resist not trying a martini called the Bloody Cell?
Feel like you're a character in a James Bond movie as you ride through the city in a classic Morris Minor, the 1948 precursor to the Mini Cooper. You'll not only get to see the city, you'll find you're the one being seen as heads turn and necks crane to look at who is in that oh-so-cool car. What's even better is that the Minor, as well as other car choices that are offered, is small enough and quick enough to get you into lots of tight spaces where a tour bus just won't fit. Best of all, you can have somebody drive you so you don't have to worry about the roundabouts or driving on the left side of the road. Cars can be booked for a variety of different times ranging from a quick couple of hours to a full day.You set your own itinerary or take their expert recommendations.
Why trust the memories of your trip to a bunch of cell-phone selfies? Book a session with Trip Shooter, and a professional photographer will show up to take photos of you and your family in classic London places ranging from Big Ben to the local tube station. When your trip is over, you get emailed a range of photos to choose from that will make your trip to London your own unique experience.
While London has its famous sights, it's also a place where you can go underground to find new ways to see the city.
What is your favorite underground or lesser-known travel experience in London?
Note: Available plans and coverages may have changed since this blog was published.
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Kathleen Curry and Geoff Griffin are hosts of The Travel Brigade Show - a weekly travel and destination podcast. Kathleen Curry is experienced in both the travel industry and broadcasting. She has worn the hats of travel writer, photographer, travel agent and hospitality evaluator. Her advice of, “No excuses, just travel!” reaches out to listeners who pick up on her enthusiasm for travel and benefit from her savvy advice. Her travel guilty pleasures are eating at a street-cart vendor so she can splurge later to order room service, finding deals to rack up sky miles so she can book her next flight and hoping her social security comes through some day because she has spent her future retirement savings trekking the globe.
Geoff Griffin is a reformed attorney turned travel junkie with over two decades of experience as a journalist and editor specializing in sports, outdoor recreation and travel. His current philosophy is that there are two stages in life - You’re either on a trip, or you’re planning your next trip. His travel guilty pleasure is trying recreation adventures that require the use of an expert guide to keep him from harming himself or hopping on a plane knowing nothing about his destination other than the airport code and wandering about a new town while relying on the locals to point him to the best places.
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