The Original Tour, London
During the school holidays, we wanted to take the girls on a short trip to London. This trip was to be the first time they’d actually visited London so we tried to fit as much in as possible. We felt the best way to achieve this was to get on an open top bus, the Original Tour was the one we decided to pick.
A quick look on the internet tells you that this is the most recommended one so it was the obvious choice. We had a hotel booked which was near The Monument and noticed that just around the corner was one of the Original Tour bus stops so we planned on picking it up there both mornings to get to where we wanted to visit.
Types of Tickets
There are a few different types of tickets that you can buy, a 24 hour one, 48-hour ticket one and depending on which one you purchase it has different options and inclusions. As we were there for 2 days we picked the 48-hour one which also included the Thames River cruise (I’ll write about that in another post).
All of the tickets allow you to jump on and off of the bus as you please. There are over 60 stops around London and most of them are by icon landmarks such as Buckingham Palace, the History Museum and Tower of London. There are 3 main routes for you to enjoy depending on where you want to go. Yellow takes you on the main tour with the top locations, the blue is sort of the shopping and Kensington area and orange is the British Museum and Chinatown route.
The Original Tour Buses
There is little point going on the buses if they’re unreliable, uncomfortable and just not very good. Around London, there are a few different tour operators but the Original Tour ones stand out. Their buses have Union Jack decor and look brilliant in the sunshine.
Each one was clean and tidy on the outside and onboard. The weather for us was glorious sunshine so we sat on the upper deck each time and really enjoyed the views. They offer headphones to everyone so you can plug them into the seats to get commentary on the landmarks that you’re passing.
Depending on which route you’re on you either have prerecorded commentary which is available in 11 different languages (blue & orange). However, if you’re on the yellow route you have live guides or recorded commentary which again is available in 11 languages.
On each of the stops, there is a member of the Original Tour guides nearby and you can buy attraction tickets from them such as The London Eye or Tower of London.
Ease of use
The stops for the buses are in really popular places like Buckingham Palace, M&M World, Westminster Pier, Tower of London, St Paul’s and so on. This allows you to jump on and off without walking too far. They seem to arrive every 10 – 15 minutes from about 9 am to 8 pm…I think this might change seasonally so best to check on the day you want to use them.
There are of course busier times of the day and traffic can play a part in this but hey it’s London so it’s to be expected.
Using the tour meant that we didn’t have to go on the underground with the girls which would have been a right nightmare.
We picked up the stop near The Monument which was 500 metres from our hotel room and every morning that is where our journey started.
On the first day, we went from The Monument to Pall Mall, then later that day from Buckingham Palace to The V&A Museum and then at the end of the day back to The Monument. We changed from one route to the other without any issue. If we’d of done this in a taxi or on the underground it would have cost a lot more and given us too much stress to deal with.
The reason for going on the tour is to see London. The thought this would be the best way for the girls to see as much of London as possible. There was a few places we wanted to get off and see up close or shops we wanted to visit.
We wanted to enjoy the walk down The Mall and we had lunch in St James’s Park before we went to Buckingham Palace. We also wanted to visit M&M World and Lego shop before making a trip to Hamley’s. Most of the other places we were happy to sit on the top deck of the bus and take in the sights.
Now we spend most of the time on the yellow route and this is a few things we got to see up close.
- Tower Bridge
- Tower of London
- London Eye
- Big Ben (covered up)
- Parliment Square
- Downing Street
- St Paul’s Cathedral
- Buckingham Palace
- Marble Arch
We did swap at times to the blue route which allowed us to see.
- V&A Museum
- Royal Albert Hall
The Original Tour Conclusion
The tour made a huge difference to our stay in London, it was stress-free and so easy to use. Without any shadow of a doubt, we’d use this as a way to get around London again. We all came away having learnt something from the guides.
As mentioned our tickets came with River Cruise tickets which are included in all 48-hour tickets. This runs from Tower of London to Westminster Pier and you again can use this as much as you like. I will post a full review of this at a later date but I will say this made a great addition to our break. It felt calm on the boat and allowed you to see a different angle on London.
We were given these tickets for the purpose of this post, all photos and opinions are our own.