(Please note that the route is subject to change)
Your trip will commence outside Stanfords, Covent Garden, home to the largest map and travel bookshop in the world since 1901, and continue along Long Acre, once the centre of London’s carriage making industry.
Turning onto Bow Street you will pass the magnificent Royal Opera House, first built on this site in 1732. Bow Street is also the birthplace of London’s first police force, the “Bow Street Runners”, founded in the 1740s by Henry Fielding.
After the Opera House you will turn right onto Tavistock Street and see on your right Covent Garden Market. Originally the site of the garden of the Abbot and Convent of Westminster, and later a famous working fruit and vegetable market, your guide will shed some (red) light on other moments from the area’s colourful past. Driving around the square you’ll pass St Paul’s, which was begun in 1631 before turning left onto Bedford Street - named for the Duke of Bedford whose family historically owned this part of London - and onto the Strand.
The name “strand” comes from an old English word for “shore” since - until the building of the Victoria Embankment - the river Thames reached right up to this point. Continuing along the Strand, with the grand Charing Cross Railway Station to your right, Trafalgar Square will begin to open up ahead of you, dominated by Nelson’s Column - with the hero of Trafalgar looking down at you. This is a feat the great man would have been unaccustomed to in life - he was at most 5ft 5in tall; almost exactly the same height as Napoleon.
The omnibus turns its back on Trafalgar Square as it proceeds down Northumberland Avenue - home to the Ministry of Defence - toward the Victoria Embankment. Rounding the corner with the National Liberal Club and Whitehall Gardens to your left, the road takes you alongside the River Thames, with views of the London Eye and County Hall on the South Bank. Approaching the iconic Westminster Bridge - often mistakenly referred to as London Bridge - you will enter Parliament Square and see on your left the Palace of Westminster and its famous clock tower which houses Big Ben - the palace’s Great Bell which chimes on the hour whilst four quarter bells play on the quarter hours.
Turning right onto Whitehall - the seat of power in the United Kingdom - you will pass the Churchill War Rooms, the Prime Minister’s residence - 10 Downing Street - and the Household Cavalry on the left as well as the Old War Office and various government departments on the right. As you return to Trafalgar Square you will be taken left down Pall Mall, home to many of the famous gentlemen’s clubs of the 19th and 20th centuries including the Athenaeum, Reform and Army and Navy Club.
At the site of the Crimean War Memorial, your omnibus will turn onto Waterloo Place and Lower Regent Street which lead into the world famous Piccadilly Circus - the ever bustling centre of the West End of London. From here you will be taken along Shaftesbury Avenue through the heart of London’s Theatreland district and Old Compton Street in Soho. As you pass theatres to the left, don’t forget to look down streets on the right-hand side to glimpse the city’s vibrant Chinatown.
Crossing Cambridge Circus - site of George Smiley’s branch of the Secret Service in John le Carré’s novels - you’ll take Monmouth Street, with its eclectic independent shops and eateries, down to the Seven Dials crossroads with its elegant sundial pillar which dates from the 1820s. Finally, you’ll rejoin Long Acre and disembark back where your journey began, at Stanfords.