The area of St James' in the centre of London is known unofficially as London's Royal Village because of its many royal connections. Prepare to be amazed as the tour takes you past not one but two world famous palaces namely Buckingham Palace and St James' Palace. Both are surrounded by royal parks and included in this tour is a stroll through leafy Green Park before meandering beside the ornamental lake in St James' Park to watch the wild life frolicking at the water's edge. But St James' is also set in the midst of Gentlemen's London and this tour takes you past six clubs which flourish more than 200 years after they were established. These clubs are in the midst of exclusive shops, many set up to supply the gentlemen with everything they could possibly need from cheese and wine to shirts and shoes. If you're lucky, your tour date might coincide with an ancient ceremony called the Changing of the Guard, a chance to see royal pageantry at its best.
This intriguing walking tour of London's Royal Village starts at 10:00 a.m. under the colonnade of the Ritz Hotel on Piccadilly not far from Green Park underground station. As you leave the stunning colonnade, the tour begins by walking through Green Park where your guide Sandy will introduce the royal dynasties which form the backbone of St James' development. After hearing the legend of how the park got its name, the tour continues through narrow passageways to reach St James' Street with a spectacular view of St James' Palace and the first sightings of the exclusive shops that have served the royals so well for hundreds of years. You will see where the Queen buys her hats and the Duke of Edinburgh his shoes before diving down a narrow alleyway to find the smallest square in London! As you wander beside the ancient walls of St James' Palace, Sandy will explain how it has been at the heart of royal history with tales of births and marriages, death and execution. If it is a day for the Changing of the Guard ceremony, be prepared to move quickly as we rush from watching the old guard in Friary Court at St James' Palace to the new guard at Wellington Barracks - it is great fun identifying which regiment the soldiers are from and hearing from Sandy the background to this magnificent ceremony. After a look at, and hearing the history of, the majestic Buckingham Palace, we wander through St James' Park admiring both its beauty and the magnificent view from the bridge across its ornamental lake. From there, the tour takes you through St James' Square, the centrepiece of Henry Jermyn's original estate, to reach Jermyn Street named after its founder. There you will find the most exclusive shops in town: Floris the perfumery established in the 1730s; Paxton & Whitfield, the artisan cheese shop where it might be possible to sample some of the cheeses and Fortnum & Mason, one of London's most sophisticated department stores. You will stroll through the ground floor marvelling at the 200 varieties of tea on display and the sumptuous chocolates for sale! The tour ends back at St James' Street outside the three oldest gentlemen's clubs in the world, establishments where in days gone by entire fortunes were won and lost on the turn of a card. The St James' area of London offers everything: palaces, parks, clubs, shops, stunning architecture and amusing stories told by Sandy in her own inimitable style. You will find Sandy a fun, entertaining and informative guide. She has your best interests at heart and if you want to stop for a coffee or comfort break, that is fine with her. Sandy will make your tour the best it can be and will ensure that you leave with happy memories of this grand area. Check out Sandy's website at www.hobnobtours.london and click on the link to Trip Advisor to see what others have thought of Sandy's tours. She has a Certificate of Excellence from Trip Advisor for 2017 and 2018.