Elegant England

Enjoy the freedom of self drive as you discover some of England’s literary heroes, university cities, areas of outstanding natural beauty and private touring as you explore the old and new of the city of London. Premier accommodation, unique experiences and culture make this itinerary the perfect blend to see England in style.

from $4,699 per person*
9 days / 8 nights
includes coach airfare
Based on 2 travelers

* From $4,699 per person

Day 1 – Depart US.

Day 2 – Arrive London Heathrow – collect rental vehicle – Bletchley Park tour

Day 3 – Stratford-upon-Avon – Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Day 4 – Oxford – Chauffeured Punt

Day 5 – Cotswold – Sheepdogs Experience

Day 6 – Audley End House and Cambridge

Day 7 – London – Churchill War Rooms and Rubens at The Palace

Day 8 – London – Guided walking tour and View from the Shard

Day 9 – Departure – Transfer to Heathrow airport and depart for US.

Day 1 – Depart US

Day 2 – Arrive Heathrow

Upon arrival at Heathrow Airport, collect your rental vehicle and set off for Stratford-upon-Avon. On your way, stop at Bletchley Park to explore its history and connection to the World War II Code Cracking. Check in to your hotel and relax in your surroundings.

Bletchley Park was a converted private house which was taken over by the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6 to you and me) in 1938. There was a small code-breaking organization between the wars called the Government Code & Cypher School, which was part of MI6, and they moved in just before the war began. In the months before then, GC&CS had been out recruiting extra staff to put on their ‘emergency list’—effectively a reserve list. On the list were 24 academics from Cambridge and 13 from Oxford, and a handful of others, but it gives you an idea of the sort of people they thought would be useful. Alan Turing was one of these academics: he was recruited in 1938 and sent on a training course to learn about codes (and the Enigma machine) early in 1939.

Accommodation: Macdonald Alveston Manor, Stratford-upon-Avon

With a spa, the Macdonald Alveston Manor Hotel & Spa has an award-winning restaurant and gardens and terrace. The River Avon is 400 meters away and Stratford-Upon-Avon is a 5-minute walk. The Manor Restaurant serves a creative menu using fresh local produce, and the modern bar is stocked with quality whiskies and fine wines. Blue Lounge offers morning coffee and afternoon teas. The timber-framed Tudor building is surrounded by peaceful grounds, said to have held the first performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. There is also a spa with a swimming pool, gym, sauna and beauty centre.

Day 3 – Stratford-upon-Avon

This morning after breakfast, meet your guide for a morning guided walk of Stratford-upon-Avon. You will make visits to the homes of Shakespeare’s family including his birthplace and Anne Hathaway’s Cottage. Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure.

William Shakespeare’s birthplace straddles the River Avon as it slides south west and a large canal basin adds to the watery feel. It was the eighteenth-century actor David Garrick who staged the first major ‘Shakespeare Jubilee’ here (inadvertently causing the destruction of the playwright’s fine house at New Place, razed to the ground by an owner enraged by nosy Bardophiles). The Royal Shakespeare Theatre originally opened in 1879 and with its two sister theatres – The Swan and The Other Place – is the lifeblood of the town

Walk in Shakespeare’s footsteps and explore the house where he was born and grew up. This is the house where William Shakespeare was born, grew up and played. He ate meals in the hall and he slept and dreamt in these rooms. Shakespeare also spent the first five years of married life in this house with his new wife, Anne Hathaway. A modern visitor center is attached to the house, and here you will find detailed exhibits covering Shakespeare’s work, his life, and times. The visitor center is extremely well done, and contains a wealth of detail on Shakespeare’s life and career. One of the most intriguing exhibits is a scale model of the Globe Theatre in London, in which Shakespeare was part owner.

Accommodation: Macdonald Alveston Manor, Stratford-upon-Avon

Day 4 – Oxford

The importance and wealth of Oxford University is projected through the scale and grandeur of the college buildings throughout the city. Pass some of the oldest colleges such as the 13th century Exeter College, the impressive Bodleian Library and Balliol College, which is something of an assembly line for British Prime Ministers. Other Oxford highlights include the pretty Bridge of Sighs which connects two parts of Hertford College, and the Eagle and Child Pub where famous authors JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis would regularly meet. Oxford was also the perfect setting for the Harry Potter film series.

Enjoy the ultimate in relaxation as you take a chauffeured punt along the River Cherwell passing by Oxford’s famous Botanic Gardens, past Magdalen College School fields, through Christ Church Meadows, where Lewis Carroll wrote Alice Through the Looking Glass and Alice in Wonderland whilst teaching students in the mid-19th century.

Enjoy some free time in Oxford for lunch before returning to Stratford upon Avon via thebeautiful village of Bampton in the scenic Cotswolds. For first-time visitors Bampton may seem oddly familiar as it was used for filming the village scenes in Downton Abbey.

Accommodation: Macdonald Alveston Manor, Stratford-upon-Avon

Day 5 – Cotswolds

Today you will encounter one of England’s most famous Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The Cotswolds is a region of gentle rolling hills dotted with market towns, unspoiled countryside and beautiful honey-colored limestone villages offering the perfect haven to get away from it all. Naturally, with some of the prettiest villages in the UK, such as Bourton-on-the-Water and Stow-on-the-Wold, the Cotswolds is very popular but it’s so easy to get off the beaten track. Hailes Abbey is one such option, where the fascinating stories of this 13th century Cistercian Abbey can be heard away from the main thoroughfares. Traditional skills such as dry-stone walling, hedge laying and woodland coppicing have played an important role in molding the distinctive landscape. Meet with a local farmer and enjoy a private sheepdog demonstration.

Sheepdog Experience

Meet one of the finest shepherds and sheepdog handlers in the world on this unique private experience. Be collected in the morning at your hotel in the Cotswolds and enjoy the scenic drive through the glorious Cotswold countryside to the farm near the beautiful town of Northleach. Once arrived, have tea and coffee in a 17th century farm cottage before you head out into the fields to learn about the skills of a shepherd. Witness the shepherd working his award winning sheepdogs and even have a chance to try your hand at working them yourself. The experience will be around 1-3 hours depending on how much you wish to do and is a fun unique experience for all ages.

Accommodation: Macdonald Alveston Manor, Stratford-upon-Avon

Day 6 – Audley End House and Cambridge

Today explore what relationships were really like between the upstairs and downstairs residents of Britain’s big houses. One of the most opulent houses in Jacobean England, Audley End House is a beautiful 17th-Century country house. Many who visit are struck by the grandeur of the Great Hall which has stood in for Balmoral and Windsor on screen. To run houses of this scale required hard labor and to get a sense of the work that was needed a visit to the service wing is a must. View the coal room and the wet laundry, and learn about the specific hierarchy, not just between those who lived below and above stairs, but also between the servants, who themselves had a pecking order. Return to Stratford upon Avon with a stop at the university city of Cambridge where you can wander the streets and soak up the atmosphere in this pretty English city.

Enjoy a day out exploring the spacious grounds and estate of one of England’s grandest mansions, Audley End. Whether you’re exploring the servant’s wing, state rooms, stables, kitchen garden or beautiful grounds, you’ll discover how a what life was like above and below stairs at a Victorian country house.

Wander the glorious state rooms, reflecting the taste of the third Lord Braybrooke, who redecorated many of its rooms in the Jacobean style in the 1820s. Make yourself at home and feel free to play the piano, play with the toys in the nursery or step into Lady Braybrooke’s private apartments, lit for her return from an evening party. Explore the Service Wing including historic kitchens, a dairy and laundry rooms to see what life would have been like for the Victorian servants that worked here. Take a stroll over to the stable yard to meet the horses and find out the story of the estate at work and play.

Wander the award-winning gardens, remodeled by Capability Brown. Marvel at the formal, beautifully restored parterre and cloud hedge before admiring the organic kitchen garden. Wander through the acres of parkland to discover the peaceful Elysian Garden, Temple of Concord and memorial to the Second World War Polish resistance soldiers.

Cambridge is a historic city on the River Cam in eastern England. Along with Oxford it is one of the great university cities of England and has been the study place of many famous people. Cambridge is a very old town and it is worth visiting because it’s small and you can easily walk around it in a day. It escaped the destruction of the second world war, unlike many other towns in England, so it has old buildings and it still has narrow, medieval streets.

Accommodation: Macdonald Alveston Manor, Stratford-upon-Avon

Day 7 – London

This morning set off for London. Arrive and drop your luggage off at the hotel before returning your hire vehicle. In the afternoon pay a visit to Churchill War rooms to see first-hand where Churchill sat and planned out all the strategies. Enjoy the evening at leisure.

One of the world’s most visited cities, London has something for everyone: from history and culture to fine food and good times. Immersed in history, London’s rich seams of eye-opening antiquity are everywhere. The city’s buildings are striking milestones in a unique and beguiling biography, and a great many of them are instantly recognizable landmarks. Architectural grandeur rises up all around you in the West End, ancient remains dot the City and charming pubs punctuate the historic quarters, leafy suburbs and riverbanks. It is also one of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities, and diversity infuses daily life, food, music and fashion. London is as much about wide-open vistas and leafy landscape escapes, as it is high-density, sight-packed urban exploration. Central London is where the major museums, galleries and most iconic sights congregate, but visit Hampstead Heath or the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to flee the crowds and frolic in wide-open green expanses. You can also venture further out to Kew Gardens, Richmond or Hampton Court Palace for beautiful panoramas of riverside London followed by a pint in a quiet waterside pub.

Churchill War Rooms

History was made in Churchill War Rooms – an underground bunker that allowed Britain’s leaders to plot the allied route to victory during the Second World War. Walk the labyrinth of rooms and corridors that stretch below Westminster that sheltered Winston Churchill and his war cabinet from the German bombing raids, and explore the Churchill museum to learn the story of his life and legacy.

Rubens at the Palace Hotel

Situated in a prime location, The Rubens at the Palace is opposite the Royal Mews of Buckingham Palace and is moments from Victoria Station and some of London’s best shops and restaurants. Attentive staff will make you feel like royalty, anticipating your every need. Find aristocratic grandeur, serene comfort and traditional hospitality, combined with the latest technology. Enjoy a traditional Afternoon Tea in the Palace Lounge facing the Royal Mews.

Accommodation: Rubens at the Palace, London

Day 8 – London

This morning you will meet with your local London guide for a full day guided tour of the city. Travel like the locals on the extensive transport network of buses and tubes are you make your way around the city. Pay a visit to the Tower of London for a guided tour before enjoying a trip up the Shard where you will be greeted with views over London and a glass of champagne.

Tower of London

On the banks of the River Thames in the heart of London stands the Tower of London and nearly 1000 years of history and intrigue. The Tower of London has been used at various times as a palace, barracks, military stronghold, Zoo and most famously as a prison incarcerating famous names like Sir Walter Raleigh, Anne Boleyn and Guy Fawkes. During a visit to the Tower visitors can see crown jewels worth over £20 billion, meet the ravens who legends say have the fate of the Kingdom in their claws, talk to the distinctive Yoeman guards with their white ruffs, and learn about the gruesome torture that went on within the walls. The Tower is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the only intact medieval buildings on the list. At the Tower there are also cafes and a shop


The Shard was conceived as a building with multiple uses: a vertical city where people could live, work and relax. It comprises world-class offices, award-wining restaurants, the 5-star Shangri-La Hotel, exclusive residences and the UK’s highest viewing gallery, The View from The Shard, offering 360-degree views. Well-connected and comprehensively serviced by central London’s transport infrastructure, facilities and amenities, The Shard is a timeless reminder of the power of imagination to inspire change.

Accommodation: Rubens at the Palace, London

Day 9 – Departure

Meet your private chauffer for transfer to London Heathrow Airport.

  • Round Trip Economy airfare New York to London
  • 6 days Premium Automatic vehicle rental
  • Private Transfer to Heathrow on departure
  • 5 nights Macdonald Alveston Manor, Stratford-upon-Avon
  • 2 nights Rubens at the Palace, London
  • Daily Breakfast
  • Touring as outlined in itinerary
  • All taxes.

  • Lunch and dinner
  • Services on site that are not included in the itinerary.
  • Travel insurance
  • Gratitudes
  • Any items of personal nature.

Please contact an Aspire Expert for pricing on the following:

  • Extra legroom/exit row seating in Economy (Coach)
  • Premium Economy
  • Business Class

Starting from prices are per person based on double occupancy departures from New York. Add-on fares are available from other cities. Certain black out dates apply on the accommodation and tour value add offers – check with your Aspire consultant. Seats are limited and may not be available on every flight. Hotels are subject to availability. All prices reflect a discount for purchases made by cash/wire transfer/check, please see terms and conditions for credit card payments. There are no discounts for payment made by credit cards. Cancellation penalties and other restrictions apply.

Images: Visit Britain

Inquire about this trip

    • Fully Customized – your custom journey is designed around your requirements, interests and preferred style.
    • Expert Knowledge – all our specalists have traveled extensively or lived in the destinations we recommend.
    • Boutique Touring – small group tour operators, hand picked by us or our local partners as the best available with private touring available as desired
    • Fully Protected – the Aspire family of companies have been established since 2003, are fully accredited and our 24/7 local offices provide immediate assistance as needed when you are traveling.
    Do U.S. Citizens Need a Visa for England (UK)?

    To enter the United Kingdom, your passport must be valid for the entire duration of your planned stay.

    Starting June 2019, U.S. passport holders will be able to use the ePassport Gates upon arrival in the United Kingdom. U.S. citizens who had previously registered for the UK’s Registered Traveller Service (RTS) should now also use the ePassport Gates on arrival in the UK.

    If you are planning onward travel after departing the UK, note that many other countries require at least six months’ remaining validity on your passport to enter.

    What currency is used in England?

    The pound sterling (£) is the official currency of the United Kingdom. It is highly recommended that you change your national currency into pounds as it is uncommon for any other national currency, not even euros, to be accepted for payments in England.

    Spring in England

    By March, temperatures in England start to warm up and frost is more uncommon. Temperatures typically range from 48 degrees to 60 degrees, but the weather is often wet and windy. Daylight starts to increase, ranging from 11 to 15 hours depending on the month.

    What to Pack: Regardless of when you visit, you should expect rain and damp weather, but especially in the spring. Make sure to pack waterproof footwear, an umbrella, and a waterproof coat..

    Summer in England

    A temperate season with temperatures rarely exceeding 80 degrees F. Rain is still a possibility though, so you’ll want to be prepared. At the peak of summer, London experiences nearly 17 hours of daylight.

    What to Pack: Bring your umbrella along, but in the summer months, you might also want to pack a swimsuit and other summer-appropriate attire. When the weather warms up, people flock to Britain’s beaches—and you should do the same!

    Autumn in England

    Fall, or autumn, typically has the most weather variability of all the seasons. September and October can still be quite warm, but November is typically quite cold and is among the wettest months of the year. There is usually between 10 and 14 hours of daylight.

    What to Pack: Pack a few wool tops and sweaters, which are ideal for their lightweight and breathability. Pair this with a water-resistant (or ideally, waterproof) jacket for periodic rain showers, as well as waterproof shoes. As always, an umbrella is a must!

    Winter in England

    Temperatures often drop to freezing. Luckily, they very rarely dip below that. Frost is common and occasionally snow, but the season is mostly wet and windy. Additionally, adding to the gloomy weather, there is minimal daylight throughout the winter, with London receiving as little as eight hours at the season’s peak.

    What to Pack: Bring a raincoat, a thick woolly sweater and a good pair of waterproof walking shoes. While the U.K.’s winter climate is still relatively moderate, getting wet can make you feel colder than the temperature would suggest.

    Is England a family friendly destination?

    England is host to a range of family-friendly attractions, sites, and natural wonders. Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, fascinating historic sites like Stongehenge and Warwick Castle and thematic attractions like the London Eye and the Warner Bros Studio (with it’s incredible “The Making of Harry Potter” experience) are all sure to delight families of all stripes and sizes.