‚Äú A relaxed and enjoyable view of the capital¬ís famous landmarks from open-topped buses. ‚Äě
I had some reservations about the open top bus tour due to its price (¬£24 per person, ¬£22 online for 24 hours) but i couldnt have been more wrong. It was absolutely fantastic! There are different routes depending on what you want to see, we (Me, 26 and my girlfriend, 20) first went on the 'Yellow' route as we liked the prospect of a live tour guide. When we boarded and went upstairs to sit down we realised that there was no live tour guide but instead a loud recorded voice (i assume its due to the time we went not being popular enough); I thought this would take away from the enjoyment of the tour but it didnt at all it was absolutely brilliant! Got to see a lot of cool sights including a lot i didnt even know of before the tour, and i found out a lot about the sights that London is famous for. We got off the tour at the Tower of London and used it to get home at around 5pm that evening and, again, had no problems at all.
The next day, as it was a 24 hour ticket, we had until 12:15 (the time we had booked it the previous day) to use the ticket, so this time we decided to go on the 'Red' tour, to get a different tour. The first third of the tour was almost exactly the same as the 'Yellow' tour, including the facts and information we were told, and we felt it was a bit of a waste of time. However, almost to the minute we said that we found that the red tour went on a very long, interesting and different route to the yellow tour. So if you plan on doing more than one, make sure you stick with the tours as they are so interesting.
One thing i would say is definitely dont count on the tour as a quick way to get around London. Its a guided tour, so of course it takes a slow, unusual route around London in order to get around all of the sites. Using it as a quick way to get around is, in my opinion, an absolutely ridiculous idea to start off with. It stops a lot, goes to a lot of different places and goes past a lot of different sights. It will get you to where you want to go, but it doesnt go directly there. Its not a regular bus.
Absolutely fantastic, definitely something you should do as it gives you a fantastic view as well as a lot of knowledge about both the well known and secret sights of London.
Last year i went to london and went on the The Original London Sightseeing Tour.
It was a great way to see the capital city from an open top bus.
The place it pickes you up from is a nice little office, but like an other user has stated there is only one loo in the middle of the street so people will know you have been.
The bus's are very clean and you get earphones you can plug into this socket next to your seat to select the language you would like the tour to be in.
You go right round the city and over tower bridge, The tour only lasts a hour or so but you do get to see lots of the city during that time.
I personaly would recomend you walk to the places you want to see other that seeing them from a bus.
-Sorry for any spelling mistakes i have made.
There are 2 very similar sightseeing tours of London - The Original Tour and The Big Bus and are very similarly priced at ¬£24 and ¬£25 respectively. Each offers a hop on or off service with a free boat ride on board City Cruises from Westminster Pier to the Tower of London Pier or to Greenwich (return) and a ticket valid for 24 hours.
Sue (my partner) and I chose The Original Tour as we were planning a hectic few days in London and with everything else going on wanted to keep costs down - this we achieved by using up a lot of my old Tesco clubcard vouchers, and for this we only actually paid ¬£8 which in view of what we got for our money was absolutely excellent value.
This particular tour is split in 3 - The Original Tour (yellow), City Sightseeing Tour (red) and Museum Tour (Blue) as well as 3 connecting routes - Loop Line (green), Station Connector (Black) and the Capital Connector (pink - which only has limited running times).
We began our journey Tuesday morning from the District Line at Earls Court and as we began we both had an uncontrollable urge for the loo, so we thought we'd venture to Gloucester Road where we could pick up the tour and meet our other needs. WRONG! In such a busy area only one loo existed on the middle of the street and in such an embarassing place that everyone would know where you'd been, and despite walking up and down nearby streets not one was to be found and at 10 in the morning venturing into a pub was not a good idea.
In case anyone from either tour company is looking at these sights - what about including the loos in your tours!
Anyway I digress. We picked up the tour at Gloucester Road which is part of the museum circuit. We were handed a pair of headphones and the bus we caught had multi lingual plug in sockets so that you could understand the sights as you were passing them. We intended to take the blue route as far as Piccadilly Circus and then transfer to the yellow one. On the part of the blue tour we went on we passed the Natural History Museum and Victoria and Albert as well as taking in Harrods and Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge and Apsley House (former home of the Duke of Wellington - also known as No 1 London). The weather was not great and there were frequent light showers whilst we were on the first bus, but without doubt if you are doing a sightseeing tour by bus you have to be on the top deck.
As we had planned we transferred from the blue tour to the yellow one at Piccadilly Circus and had a very minor walk between stops - after the driver ran over to get our change from their main office.
The yellow route takes in many of Londons attractions including marble arch, Trafalgar Square, Westminster - Houses of Parliament and Abbey, St Pauls Cathedral along the Embankment and across Tower Bridge to the Tower of London at Tower Hill and of course around Buckingham Palace.
There is an awful amount to see and do on this tour and unless you do it for yourself you really won't understand just what great value is offered on this tour.
In our case, as I mentioned near the start we were a little in need of the loos, so we left the tour at Westminster and after a while walked to the pier and hopped on the cruise. We were a little sceptical as we'd planned to visit another attraction at 3pm but it wasn't an issue as we sailed down the Thames towards the Tower of London. Initially Sue was happy to just go as far as the Tower, but she felt she wanted more so we expected to go as far as Greenwich and then get the boat back at least as far as the Tower where we could use our zone 1-2 passes. It tuned out the boat was only going as far as the Tower anyway.
We could have picked up the bus from there, but we decided to take the underground and pick it up back at Westminster - it sounded a good idea particularly as they do say you can hop on or off at any of there stopping points. Buses are normally every 10-15 minutes, however whether due to congestion or other reasons it was a good 30 minutes before the bus arrived and we were a little worried about getting a seat after watching at least 3 other of their tour buses going the other way over Westminster Bridge absolutely full. We were lucky and our bus had plenty of seats but getting a top deck seat anywhere other than the start point is a risky business.
We completed our tour and after disembarking took the underground to our other destination - at Baker Street.
We could have reused our tickets the following morning to get to our next destination, but we thought it would take too long as we were cramming so much in anyway.
Definitely I would recommend either of the 2 sightseeing bus companies to anyone and it would be difficult to choose between them. Certainly for me it was the Tesco vouchers that did it, but the next time we go we will take our time to see London properly. They are certainly worth 5*
For more information:
In September I am going to be moving away from London and a couple of months ago I realised that although I've been living in London for a year and a half I haven't seen much of London. My first step to fix this problem was to take a bus tour around London. I love to learn about history so the tour seemed like the perfect day out.
-Buying the Tickets-
We bought the tickets at Visitors Centre in Trafalgar Square. We did have some difficulty finding the visitors centre, but this is my own fault entirely as I didn't bother to look for directions, I just turned up in Trafalgar Square and hoped that I would be able to see it! Fortunately the building is very noticeable with big, bright window displays.
The service we received at the Visitors Centre was excellent. The woman who served us was really friendly and helpful. She explained what the tour would include and where we could get the buses and boats from. Throughout the whole conversation she remained incredibly cheerful and she was constantly smiling. If I was working with her it would really annoy me but as a customer it was quite nice to actually get friendly service in London!
The staff at the Visitors Centre seem to be consistently cheerful. While we were waiting for our tickets to print off I watched the other person who was working there selling tickets to a family. He was chatting with the children, making jokes and generally being very friendly and helpful.
I can think of a number of places in London that could do with recruiting from wherever the Original London Sightseeing Tour recruit!
There was a lot of information on display at the Visitors Centre but we didn't stick around to look at it all. The woman gave us our tickets, a map and some advice about making the most of our tickets and then we went on our way to enjoy what I hoped would be an educational day out in London.
Discounts are available online but if you buy tickets from the Visitors Centre the costs are:
(Read the rest of this review and you can get 20% discount.)
The tickets include:
-The Bus Tour. There are three different routes and you can hop on and off of the bus at designated bus stops around London for 24 hours. The buses don't actually run for 24 hours but the tickets are valid for that time.
-The Thames River Cruise
I think that this is actually really good value for money, considering what you could be paying to do all three things. If you want to make the most of your ticket you will need to get up early and spend the day doing the tours.
As soon as we left the Visitors Centre a bus pulled up to the stop and we hopped on it. I thought this was great because I hate waiting. Unfortunately the bus was not one of the buses with an actual person giving the tour, this was entirely my own fault though. I was quite aware that some buses had people giving the tour and others had pre-recorded information but I was so impatient to get on the tour that I didn't bother to check.
Although I had wanted a live tour I was quite pleased with the pre-recorded one. We were given those little earpiece things, I can't remember what they're called! Anyway, you plug them into the wall next to the seats which is not ideal because I had to sit next to a stranger and it was awkward leaning over him to plug them in. It would be much better if the plug was in the middle of the two people.
The tour was fantastic. It was wonderful being able to go around London and take the time to actually see things. Most of what we passed I had seen many times, some things I walk by regularly and just never look at. Some of the views, particularly of the Thames were beautiful.
The best thing for me though, and the main reason why I decided to take the tour, was all of the information that was provided. The information was very basic. It would tell you what things were and maybe a few interesting facts about attractions but it didn't go into nearly as much depth as I would have liked. It has inspired me to actually visit a lot of the places that we passed by which is a good thing but I do wish that they had given us more information. However, the information that was provided was very interesting and probably just enough for most people to take in without getting bored.
The buses were comfortable enough, pretty much the same as any bus. There were people smoking on the top of the bus but you can't really blame that on the company. There were clear no smoking signs but obviously no one to enforce the rules. I hate smoking so this did ruin my enjoyment slightly but like I said, it's not the fault of the company.
Unfortunately I was only able to do the one bus route so I can't comment on the live commentary.
My first impression of the Thames Cruise was not a good one. The woman who greeted us and gave us directions to the boat was really rude. She answered our questions but she did so in one word answers without once smiling and rarely making eye contact. She didn't say please or thank you when she asked for our tickets.
However, the cruise was lovely. We travelled from Westminster to Greenwich.
Downstairs there are a number of chairs and tables and the room is surrounded by windows so you can look outside. The view from the bottom deck is not very good, it's too low down to really see anything but it is nice being able to see the river. I found it too hot to sit on this level and it felt quite suffocating. They do have toilets and a bar on this level. The drinks are quite expensive, I can't remember the exact cost but it was something like ¬£1.50 for a bottle of water so I would recommend bringing your own. The toilets were disgusting. They were dark and while they weren't exactly dirty they were very messy. There was water on the floor in front of the sinks and toilet roll on the floor of the cubicles.
The top deck is just row after row of chairs and the view from here is wonderful. You can see so much from this deck and the views are absolutely breath taking. The weather was lovely the day that we visited, which of course makes a big difference. There would be absolutely no point in doing this tour if you couldn't sit on the top deck.
The people who work on the cruise are not professional tour guides but I think they should be. They were so amusing and knew so much about the buildings along the banks of the Thames and about the history of London. They delivered it all with a huge dose of humour that had me laughing throughout most of the cruise. You can hear this throughout the boat, even in the toilets!
We spent some time in Greenwich before getting back on the boat and going back to London Bridge. On the way back they didn't give any information, which is understandable, you wouldn't want to hear the same thing twice. On the way back we sat on the top deck again, even though it was getting cooler and the sun was going down. I did have cause to complain when some of the customers asked the man who was working if they could have a cigarette. He responded that they could as long as they gave him a cigarette. I was very annoyed, I hate smoking.
I did make a complaint about the smoking to the bus tour company. They responded asking for a copy of my ticket, so I sent them a copy. They didn't respond for almost a month so I emailed them again earlier this week. They finally responded saying:
"We provide the complimentary river cruise tickets in order to enhance our customers visit to London and we are sorry to hear that people were smoking on the boat. Please be assured that your comments will be passed onto the River Cruise supplier City Cruises." (The Original Tour)
They did offer me, my friends and my family 20% discount if we book online. As everyone I don't know is just a friend I have yet to meet I am passing on this discount code to you.
"I would like to offer you a promotional code for future bookings with The Original Tour. Just book via our website www.theoriginaltour.com, or over the phone (020 8877 2120) and use the promotional code 'relations' you will receive a 20% discount off your tickets. This promotional code can be used as often as you like, and can be passed on to family and friends."
Although it took them a long time to respond to my complaint and they only responded when I prompted them I was quite pleased with how they did deal with my complaint. All I wanted was an apology and to know that my complaints would be passed onto the relevant people. I thought the discount was a nice gesture, although more likely just a way for them to ensure that I would spend more money with them.
I did enjoy the tour and thought that the tickets were really good value for money. I felt that the information provided on the tour was interesting but didn't go into enough detail for me personally, for many people it may be a sufficient amount of information. I guess it depends entirely on if you take the tour just to see London, or if you really want to learn about the city as I did.
The cruise was also very informative, amusing and the views from the boat were beautiful.
I wish I had had time to do the walking tour but unfortunately your tickets give you access to so much that you will never have enough time to do it all.
For more information visit: http://www.theoriginaltour.com/