The highlight of the fascinating gardening year, the Chelsea Flower Show, is an event in the year simply not to be missed for any horticulturalist (or want to be horticulturalist)! Be surprised by the award-winning gardens, learn new gardening tips and admire the resplendent flower displays. This multi day tour includes some of London's most iconic gardens, an escorted day at the Chelsea Flower Show and an exploration of the homes and gardens of Kent. Take inspiration from the gardens, learn their history from the passionate guides and enjoy this truly unique and fascinating tour.
With a maximum group size of 15, you will benefit from the customised services of a knowledgeable driver/guide, shared guided tours at places of interest along the way and travel in style in a premium mini-coach. This special Small group tour begins on May 17, 2015 and is guaranteed with a minimum of 4 participants. Add as many days before and after the event as you wish with private guides, transportation and destinations within England or beyond.
Meet your driver at Heathrow airport, and take a private transfer to your hotel.
A welcome package with a city map, train tickets (if relevant), and any other touristic information that we deem you may find useful will be waiting for you upon your arrival at your first hotel on your trip.
One of the world's great cities, vibrant London manages to shine in the grayest weather and its diversity defies a simple definition. This sprawling city has drawn people for centuries, looking for something and finding the unexpected. It's one of the world's most international cities and its influences blend to create something uniquely wonderful. Let your Guide know your particular interests and they will help you discover the city on your half day walking tour of central London. Learn how to take the "tube", explore the cobblestone streets, gardens, and markets, and be a Londoner for a day. Your Guide will meet you at your hotel. Please note that one should wear comfortable shoes and a hat; suitable for children. (No entrance fees included)
There are some great restaurants in the West End of London.Here are a few suggestions: J Sheekey, an incredibly smart seafood restaurant, Mildred's, London's best veggie restaurant, Sketch, the trendiest place in London, specializing in some of the best French food you'll ever taste, or for those looking for something simple and cheerful, enjoy a nice meal out at Zipangu. Or try the amazingly stylish Corrigan’s Mayfair.
Transfer using a local taxi. Please note that this is not included in trip price and is payable locally.
Meet up with your fellow floral enthusiasts this morning (approx. 8.30am) at the Grange Wellington Hotel, (Address: 71-72 Vincent Square, London, SW1P 2PA) and get ready to see some of southern England's best horitcultural examples and fine manor houses and estates. (It is recommended to arrive at the hotel at 8am if you have not overnighted here).
Leaving London you head first to Wisley, the world-renowned home of the Royal Horticultural Society, where you will have plenty of time to explore the spectacular and varied gardens. Explore the beautiful Bowes-Lyon Rose Garden, the picturesque orchard and the huge cathedral-like glass house with its world class tropical plant collection.
In the afternoon you will visit Hever Castle, set in the Kent countryside and once home to Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s second wife. This historic castle with its double moat and 125 acres of spectacular gardens offers visitors plenty to discover.
Enjoy a delicious welcome dinner with the other members of your tour.
Today you will travel to Ightham Mote, deservedly one of the most popular small gardens in the region. Built nearly 700 years ago this house has been owned by medieval knights and courtiers to Henry VIII. Highlights include the Great Hall, the Tudor painted celling and the peaceful garden with an orchard, lake and woodland walks.
This afternoon, visit Sissinghurst Castle Gardens, created by novelist Vita Sackville-West and her husband Harold Nicolson in the 1930's. This outstanding garden showcases strict geometry and an intimate atmosphere. Visit the rose garden, the white garden, the cottage garden and parts of the house open to the public.
Your first visit today is to Merriments Gardens, blessed with delightful homes and gardens. Merriments Gardens is, in the words of the RHS Garden Finder, “one of the best show gardens in England”. It boasts a stunningly beautiful four acres of densely-planted borders, where the plants grown in the nursery can be seen in an imaginative garden context. Highlights include the ponds and tropical border, the wild area and the blue gravel garden.
Then it's on to another icon, The Great Dixter, the largest half-timbered house in England. It is the garden however, that really grabs the attention with its wild meadows and famed Long Border. A fabulous mix of yew topiary, meadow flowers, natural ponds and the wonderful Exotic Garden, it is one that cannot be missed.
This morning you will visit Scotney Castle, a fourteenth century moated castle surrounded by picturesque gardens and over 770 acres of woodland and parkland. Voted among one of the best gardens in England, it boasts a suburb display of rhododendrons and azaleas.
Winston Churchill's home of Chartwell requires no introduction. What makes it such a memorable visit is not only the view from the garden which inspired his painting, but the fact that the interior is almost as he left it. You can almost smell the cigars! Churchill loved the house, especially the view over the Weald of Kent, and he transformed the grounds with new lakes and brickwork built with his own hands.
The world famous CHELSEA FLOWER SHOW is on your agenda today! Organized by the Royal Horticultural Society, The Chelsea Flower Show is the most prestigious flower shows in the world. Held in the grounds of the Chelsea Hospital every year since 1913, apart from gaps during the two World Wars, it is the flower show most associated with the Royal family, who attend the opening day every year. See award winning gardens, learn new gardening tips and admire the magnificent flower displays in the Grand Pavilion.
Begin your day in the famed Royal Botanic Gardens of Kew, which is responsible for the world’s largest collection of living plants. With over 750 acres of beautiful landscape and an outstanding collection of plants, this World Heritage site is an absolute must-see. These living collections include more than 30,000 different kinds of plant. The gardens and magnificent glasshouses are set in a beautiful landscape beside the Thames. Highlights include the Treetop walkway, the Water Lily House and The Princess of Wales Conservatory.
In the afternoon you will visit Ham House, one of Europe’s greatest 17th century houses. Discover its outstanding collection of furniture and textiles and explore the famous cherry garden and orangery.
Savill Garden near Windsor is one of Britain’s greatest ornamental gardens, enjoyed by horticulturalists and enthusiasts alike. Explore its 35 acres of contemporary and classically designed gardens and exotic woodland. The Savill Garden mixes native and exotic species and has bred many important garden hybrids.
Then travel to Cliveden House, known particularly for its links with the Astors. Surrounded by 376 acres of magnificent formal gardens and parkland the Cliveden offers wonderful panoramic views over the River Thames.
Your first visit today is to Painshill Park, where you will enjoy the tranquil beauty of this carefully restored 18th century landscaped park and garden in the heart of Surrey.
Then make your way to Chawton House, a 17th century house where Jane Austen once lived. Here, you will find a Jane Austen collection with objects including letters written by Austen and many of her music books with pieces transcribed in her own hand.
The Isle of Wight offers you a unique day out with some fabulous sightseeing opportunities. Your first visit is to Ventnor Botanic Garden. This unique garden is unrivalled for its collections of subtropical and exotic plants grown unprotected out of doors.
Next, you travel to Queen Victoria's summer retreat - Osborne House. Take an intimate glimpse into Queen Victoria’s family life as you tour the private rooms and royal apartments. Wander amongst the extensive grounds and visit the Queen’s private beach.
Today you will head first to Heale House, set in eight acres of beautiful gardens beside the River Avon in Middle Woodford. Highlights include the 20th century arts and crafts garden, the tranquil Japanese garden and a landing stage by the River Avon where you may catch a glimpse of trout swimming by.
Next, you make your way to Mottisfont, a garden noted for its colourful herbaceous borders, grassy terraces planted with fruit trees and stunning views.
Your last visit of the day is to Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, with 180 acres of grounds and over 42,000 plants this garden offers plenty to discover and enjoy.
Visit Wilton House, one of England’s great houses. Wilton House has been lived in continuously by successive generations for over 460 years. It has been welcoming film crews for many years and films shot here include Sense and Sensibility, The Madness of King George, Mrs. Brown, Pride and Prejudice and The Young Victoria. You will have time to explore the house and its extensive grounds before we continue on to Houghton Lodge, a picturesque 18th Grade II Historic House. Explore its glorious gardens including its beautiful herb garden, rose arbour, avenue of old apple trees and tranquil riverside walks.
Your Small Group Tour ends this afternoon upon arrival at The Grange Wellington Hotel at approximately 5.30pm. Bid farewell to your Guide and fellow travellers as you close the chapter on this part of your travels.
Please note that since there will be various small group departures around this event all starting and ending at the same time, each mini-coach will follow a different itinerary in order to maintain the small group feel of your trip. Whilst all of the gardens and stately home listed above will be visited, the days in which they are visited and the order of the visits will vary from what has been published.
Meet your driver at your hotel and be taken to Heathrow Airport by a private transfer.
Built by the Victorian railway pioneers in 1862, The Grosvenor Hotel (formerly the Thistle Victoria) ushered in a golden age of travel. Restored to its former glory in a multi-million pound refurbishment, this Grade II listed building combines modern luxury, including free wi-fi throughout the hotel, with the finest Victorian architecture and unique period features. Enjoy the best of London from the 4-star Grosvenor Hotel, located within walking distance of Buckingham Palace and to Victoria mainline railway station.
The Royal Wells Hotel provides a delightful setting for a stay in the charming spa town of Royal Tunbridge Wells. A perfect blend of Victorian elegance and modern comfort and luxury, all individually designed rooms offer a calm haven after a busy day, whilst Chalybeate Restaurant and Beau Nash pub provide an extensive range of eating and drinking options. The Royal Wells Hotel owes it regal title to Queen Victoria, who made frequent visits as a young princess in the early nineteenth century. She later granted the use of her coat of arms, which is proudly displayed at the top of the building.
Please note that your hotel may be the above, or a hotel of similar standard and will be confirmed prior to departure.
Kew Gardens hotel is situated in the heart of Kew Village West London, away from the hustle & bustle of the city life but with a superb location for travel in and out of the city. The hotel features boutique bedrooms, ground floor gastro pub and restaurant, and private dining/ function mezzanine. Kew Gardens is also only a 10-minute walk from the Historic Royal Botanic Gardens and The National Archives, and a quick tube ride to Richmond upon Thames with all of its shopping, restaurants and riverside walks…a perfect escape from the hectic day to day life of the city of London, or leisurely weekend break.
Set in the middle of vast, open heathland is The Beaulieu Hotel. This pretty hotel, a former coaching inn, is on the outskirts of the village of Beaulieu and a welcome sight after a day spent hiking across the stunning New Forest. If you're looking for things to do on your break then try the indoor swimming pool, play croquet and badminton, relax in a Nordic sauna.
Vanessa Oquendo ,
April 21, 2014
"Melissa Field was extremely helpful! She was courteous, professional, knowledgeable, and friendly! She kept me updated on the status of everything and provided timely correspondence. She took ownership for any problems I had and remedied them. I had the most amazing time of my life in Iceland and Paris! I would not have experienced everything without the help of Kensington Tours."
Marilynn Weaver ,
April 21, 2014
"All of our guides were beyond fabulous! Our time in Dublin was much too short, would have loved to stay there at least one more full day. Would recommend extending this package to 15 days for any future visits. The train to Edinburgh was super! Beautiful scenery and great steak pies!"
Ann Saxon ,
November 06, 2013
"Our trip was fantastic!!! I cannot say enough good things. Lianne worked with our exact dates and time frame beautifully.Our drivers were prompt and friendly. The private guides were so knowledgeable. We left with an appreciation of the history, the culture, and the beauty of Andulasia. We were very pleased and will certainly recommend your company to friends and family."
Coby Scherr ,
November 05, 2013
"Everyone involved in our Portugal trip made it terrific. Exactly as advertised. Every event on time and most pleasant. Guides were well-informed, courteous and friendly. Really made for a great journey every time. Each hotel was clean, upgraded and staffed with knowledgeable and friendly folks. Breakfasts were complete -- almost too much to eat. It will always be a wonderful memory thanks to Kensington Tours."
Couples Dellinger & Hubbell ,
November 06, 2013
"We've been raving to everyone about the food, the friendliness of the people and the amazing history and sites in Turkey. Yes, we want to go back."
John Edstrom ,
October 22, 2013
"Overall, our tour in Spain was very enjoyable, and well planned and executed. Our private tour of the Alhambra was excellent. Virginia, tour guide for royal palace ruins outside of Cordoba, was also excellent. In Seville, we went to the Flamenco Show/dinner, and the Flamenco was outstanding!"
Kevin Wilshere ,
October 19, 2013
"Great trip to Spain! Thanks again for all your help, Lianne. The destinations, hotels, guides and everything were all top notch."
Chery Westlund ,
November 07, 2013
"My husband and I took a 3 week vacation to southern Europe and North Africa and had a great time. All the guides were very knowledgeable and bent over backwards to accommodate us. The arrangements made by Kensington went off without a hitch. This is our second trip with Kensington (we went to Peru in 2009) and we will certainly book with them again."
Randy Gramlich ,
October 07, 2013
"Thank you for your follow up, we both loved our time in Croatia. It’s really a beautiful place, especially the coast. Your choice of hotels was great. It was an incredible view from the Bellevue hotel in Dubrovnik and the Vestibule in Split was in the best possible location. We were able to relax in our room listening to the wonderful singers in the courtyard and its central location made it so easy to walk anywhere we wanted to see with ease. "
Jay Steffan ,
September 24, 2013
"We just returned from a 10 day trip to Paris and Normandy. We spent three nights in Paris and then enjoyed a seven night cruise on the Seine to Normandy with AMA Waterways. The time in Paris was well spent and has piqued our interest to return for a more thorough visit. Guide Wafaa Lankey was superb in our visit to Versailles. The Seine cruise was relaxing and beautiful. So many wonderful little towns and we wished we had more time in each one to explore and enjoy.
We traveled to Croatia and Slovenia using Kensington earlier this year which was a fantastic trip."
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