After 2 years serial-dating around the capital, I thought I knew London pretty well … and then I jumped into a mini! Last week I tried out Small Car, Big City‘s Romantic Tour package … and it is hand’s down one of the best things I’ve ever done in London.
The premise is simple. Your chauffeur/ tour guide arrives in a beautiful old school Mini Cooper. He or she then takes you on a personal tour of the city, tailoring the sight seeing to your plans, timing and budget. Meanwhile, you snuggle up in the back of the vehicle under a rug, so that the top of the car can be opened up, sipping champagne and eating chocolates. It sounds awesome, and it really is!
Our guide for the afternoon was Sam, hand’s down the most knowledgeable person about London I have ever met. Whether it was the old names of roads, the history of kings, or simply how to navigate the (in my opinion) rather scary London traffic, she knew it inside out. Sam picked us up in Soho, and we headed off to Fleet Street, via the West End, learning about the Royal Courts, Queen Victoria’s aversion to blue lighting, and the real City of London along the way. We took in all the modern landmarks – driving right past the Lloyds building, the Cheese Grater, the Walkie Talkie and the Gherkin. We marvelled up at St Paul’s through the open sun roof, and learned stories about the Great Fire Monument.
Tucked snuggly in the back of the mini, at times I found myself wondering whether we’d overrun – we had an hour and a half to see the city, and we were driving farther and farther afield. Sam showed us Borough Markets, driving down tiny cobbled streets I hadn’t even realised were navigable, and we drove right past the Golden Hinde and Vinopolis. At the Markets, Sam pointed out Bridget Jones’ flat (a landmark I’ve personally been looking around London for, for years!), as well as sites used in Lock Stock and Harry Potter.
The mini is small enough that no road is out of bounds, and we truly explored the hidden gems of the city, including the Necropolis Railway beneath Waterloo, a spot where graffiti is legal. At this point, we were presented with marker pens and allowed to doodle on the walls!
It was then back across the river, with views of Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and Downing Street along the way. We drove straight past Big Ben, and laughed and waved as we spotted tourists taking pictures of us in the car. There was no need to worry about timing, like her brave driving, Sam’s timing was also spot on.
Having let Sam know we wanted to head to Gordon’s Wine Bar for lunch, she expertly found her way to Charing Cross for us, and as the tour ended, I asked Sam how often they get proposals in the car. A lot by the sounds of things – and I could see why. It was one of the coolest, most interesting and yet romantic things I’ve done in London in ages!
Romantic tours, including champagne and chocolates, start at £139 for an hour and a half. (This technically allows for up to 3 passengers …. but 3 might be a bit of a crowd on a date!) Check out the Small Car, Big City website for more details of all their packages and tours.
If you’ve got an anniversary coming up, and you either live outside of London, or fancy seeing the city you live in from a different angle, this is a must do!
Miss Twenty-Nine xxx