23975
England

London's Neighborhoods: Kensington, Chelsea, Mayfair & Beyond

Get to know London’s most intriguing neighborhoods like a local as you embark on an inspiring walking adventure in Kensington, Chelsea, Mayfair and Camden Town.
Program No. 23975RJ
Length
9 days
Starts at
2,299
Flights start at
825
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9 days
8 nights
15 meals
7 B 2 L 6 D
DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrive London, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
London, England
D
Copthorne Tara Hotel London Kensington

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: After checking in to the hotel, we’ll have some time to settle in to our rooms before our Orientation session. Orientation: 5:00 p.m. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. This program is staffed with both a Group Leader, who will accompany us throughout the program and deal primarily with logistics, and a Study Leader who will lecture, conduct field trips, and serve as an information resource on program-related topics. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll have a 2-course plated meal with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
3
Camden Town, Regent’s Canal, Little Venice
London, England
B,D
Copthorne Tara Hotel London Kensington

Activity note: Getting on/off trains and boat; train journeys approximately 1 hour total; boat ride about 2.5 miles, approximately 1 hour. Walking about 3 miles, periods of standing; paved streets, some cobblestones. This day involves use of the London Underground; not all stations have step-free access from street level, platforms are typically accessed by escalators and underground pedestrian tunnels, and some journeys involve changing trains.

Breakfast: In the hotel dining room, the breakfast buffet offers a range of hot and cold items such as eggs, breakfast meats, hash browns, mushrooms, tomatoes, cereals, cheese, cold cuts, yoghurts, pastries, toast, milk, juices, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: We’ll walk to the nearby London Underground station and take the Tube to Camden Town in north London. Since the 1970s, this vibrant neighborhood has been renowned for its markets, which are a popular weekend destination for Londoners and visitors seeking “alternative” fashion, music, crafts, antiques, and street food. Our Study Leader will provide an introduction to the area, followed by some time for independent exploration during which our Study Leader will remain on hand to give advice. We’ll regroup in the late morning at Camden Lock, where we’ll board a narrowboat and ride along the Regent’s Canal to the picturesque west London neighborhood known as Little Venice. Our route will take us through The Regent’s Park —named for King George IV, who conceived of the park in 1811 while he was Prince Regent — to the triangular canal basin that forms the heart of Little Venice.

Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Afternoon: We’ll continue on foot alongside the Grand Union Canal, which was one of the most important transportation routes in Britain from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution until the introduction of the railway network. Our Study Leader will provide informative commentary on the history and culture of the area as we walk to Portobello Road, where we’ll have some time for independent exploration. Portobello Road is one of the most celebrated streets in the country, appearing in numerous films, books — including the Paddington Bear series — and popular songs. It hosts a daily street market, which is at its most lively on Saturdays when the focus of trade is antiques.

Dinner: At a local restaurant near Portobello Road we’ll have a 2-course plated meal with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: After returning to the hotel by public transport, the remainder of the evening is at leisure.

DAY
4
Hampstead, Keats House, Kenwood House
London, England
B,L,D
Copthorne Tara Hotel London Kensington

Activity note: Getting on/off trains; train journeys approximately 1.5 hours total. Walking about 4 miles, periods of standing; paved streets, some cobblestones, gravel paths, uneven grassy areas. This day involves use of the London Underground; not all stations have step-free access from street level, platforms are typically accessed by escalators and underground pedestrian tunnels, and some journeys involve changing trains.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll walk to the nearby London Underground station to begin a journey to Hampstead, an affluent area of north London. Once we arrive in Hampstead, we’ll walk with our Study Leader to Keats House where Romantic poet John Keats lived from 1818 to 1820, and where he wrote "Ode to a Nightingale" under a plum tree in the garden. After our expert-led visit to Keats House, we’ll continue on foot along Willow Road which runs alongside Hampstead Heath. The Modernist house at 2 Willow Road was designed by pioneering architect Erno Goldfinger and completed in 1939. The widespread influence of Goldfinger’s designs on mid-century house-building in Britain means that the house may look somewhat unassuming today to the casual observer. As we walk along Willow Road with our Study Leader, we’ll be able to appreciate how it was a radical and controversial departure from prevailing architectural trends in Hampstead at the time of its construction — leading neighbor Ian Fleming to name one of his best-known Bond villains after the architect!

Lunch: At a local pub in Hampstead we’ll have a 2-course plated meal with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We’ll join our Study Leader on a walk across Hampstead Heath to Kenwood House, a typically British stately home. Surrounded by 112 acres of parkland, it is one of the most popular open spaces in the capital and includes an ancient woodland, a fascinating dairy, and numerous beautiful sculptures. We’ll have some time to explore Kenwood House and its gardens independently, and return to the hotel by public transport after our field trip.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Mayfair & Piccadilly, Royal Academy, National Gallery
London, England
B,D
Copthorne Tara Hotel London Kensington

Activity note: Getting on/off trains; train journeys approximately 3/4 hour total. Walking about 3.5 miles, periods of standing; paved streets, some cobblestones. This day involves use of the London Underground; not all stations have step-free access from street level, platforms are typically accessed by escalators and underground pedestrian tunnels, and some journeys involve changing trains. Extent and duration of independent exploration according to personal choice.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll take the London Underground to begin a walking field trip through Mayfair and Piccadilly, exploring the London of Jane Austen’s "Sense and Sensibility." Mayfair was the London base of many aristocratic families from the 18th to 20th centuries, and remains one of the most expensive urban districts in the world. At its heart is Grosvenor Square, site of the U.S. embassy from 1936 to 2017. Piccadilly, which borders Mayfair to the south, has been an important London thoroughfare since the Middle Ages. As we walk with our Study Leader, we’ll learn how the establishment of Royal Parks in the area led to its rise to prominence as one of London’s most fashionable neighborhoods in the mid-16th century. The covered arcades of Piccadilly are reminiscent of the area’s Regency and Victorian heyday as an upmarket commercial district, which saw the growth of local grocery store Fortnum & Mason into one of Britain’s foremost department stores. Many of the grand houses that once lined Piccadilly’s north side no longer stand, but Burlington House — one of the earliest, and a fine example of Palladian style — remains. It is now owned by the British government and serves as the home of a number of learned societies, as well as the Royal Academy of Arts which we’ll explore on a docent-led field trip.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like in the Piccadilly area.

Afternoon: We’ll regroup on Piccadilly after lunch and walk to Trafalgar Square for a field trip to the National Gallery. This vast repository of artistic treasures contains classic pieces by luminaries such as Da Vinci, Caravaggio, and Van Gogh. Our Study Leader will provide an introduction, followed by time for independent exploration. After our field trip, we’ll take the London Underground to the City of London, where we’ll consider the role of London’s ancient center as an international financial hub as we walk through the storied back streets with our Study Leader.

Dinner: At a traditional City pub, we’ll have a 2-course plated meal with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: After returning to the hotel by motorcoach, the remainder of the evening is at leisure.

DAY
6
Kensington, Leighton House, Design Museum, Performance
London, England
B,L,D
Copthorne Tara Hotel London Kensington

Activity note: Getting on/off a public bus; driving about 1.5 miles, less than 1/2 hour. Walking about 2.5 miles, periods of standing; paved streets, some cobblestones, gravel paths. Transport arrangements for theater performance vary by venue.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll set out on foot for a field trip through Kensington with our Study Leader, learning about the Victorian development of this neighborhood following the Great Exhibition of 1851. Part of Kensington came to be known as Albertopolis as a result of Prince Albert’s involvement in the Great Exhibition and grand building projects in the 1850s. This unofficial nickname is still in occasional use today, but now relates more to the memorialization of the Prince here in the forms of the Royal Albert Hall, the Victoria & Albert Museum, and the Albert Monument. We’ll stop for a coffee break at the Royal Albert Hall, and finish our walk at Kensington Palace, the official London residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as well as Princess Eugenie. Our Study Leader will provide an introduction, after which we’ll have some time to explore Queen Victoria’s bedroom, George I’s staircase, and the spectacular King’s Gallery, among other fascinating snippets of history. The palace was also home to Princess Diana, and there remains a selection of her famous dresses in the Royal Ceremonial Dress collection.

Lunch: At The Orangery at Kensington Palace, we’ll have a 2-course plated meal with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We’ll continue by London bus along Kensington High Street, alighting close to Leighton House Museum and the Design Museum. Our Study Leader will introduce us to both museums, after which we’ll have time to explore them independently. Leighton House Museum is a purpose-built studio house constructed for the Victorian artist Frederic, Lord Leighton, to his exacting specifications. The palatial house was Leighton’s home, workplace and gallery for 30 years in the mid- to late 19th century, and features fantastic Orientalist interiors as well as significant collections of works by Pre-Raphaelite painters in addition to Leighton’s own works. The Design Museum was founded in 1989 by Sir Terence Conran, patriarch of the influential Conran family of designers and restaurateurs who have made their marks across London since the 1950s. The museum moved to its new Kensington site in 2016 from premises in Bermondsey to the east, and won the European Museum of the Year Award in 2018. Its permanent collection focuses on processes of design from initial idea to end user, encompassing all scales from sets of cutlery to the UK’s road and rail networks. It also hosts regularly changing temporary exhibitions. We’ll return to the hotel by public transport after our field trip.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like near the hotel.

Evening: We’ll attend a play at one of London’s renowned theaters. Our program was planned far in advance when details of performances were not available. When confirmed, the information will be posted on the Road Scholar website under this program number and will also be included in preparatory materials sent following enrollment.

DAY
7
Kew Gardens, Richmond, Riverboat to Docklands
London, England
B
Copthorne Tara Hotel London Kensington

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach and boat; driving about 6 miles, approximately 3/4 hour; boat journey about 10 miles, approximately 1 hour. Walking about 4 miles, periods of standing; paved streets, paved and gravel paths, grass lawns; step-free access to boat from floating pontoons.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll board a motorcoach and ride west to Kew Gardens, London's largest UNESCO World Heritage Site and the world’s largest collection of living plants. With world-famous glasshouses, galleries, historic buildings, and of course acres of verdant gardens, Kew has delighted visitors for centuries. We’ll consider its significance to London and the wider world as we walk through the 300-acre site with our Study Leader, then continue on foot into Richmond to the south.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like in Richmond.

Afternoon: We’ll regroup at Richmond train station, board a train and ride to nearby Putney, then walk along Putney High Street to a pier on the Thames. We’ll board a riverboat for a leisurely journey downstream, passing beneath 21 of London’s 34 bridges over the Thames, including the beautiful Albert Bridge and finally the famed Tower Bridge. Our river journey will finish at Canary Wharf, London’s modern financial heart built amongst the historic West India Docks on the Isle of Dogs — a peninsula with a hotly debated etymology, which was the site of one of the world’s busiest ports until the last dock closed in 1980. We’ll take a riverside walk, learning from our Study Leader how the area transformed from empty quaysides into a bustling business district as we make our way to The Grapes. When commercial activity in Docklands was at its peak, this historic pub on Narrow Street was popular with dockers and sailors from West India Docks to the east and Limehouse Basin to the west. Today it is frequented by workers from Canary Wharf, local Limehouse residents, and theatre and film buffs hoping to catch a glimpse of its part-owner, actor Sir Ian McKellen.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like in the Canary Wharf area.

Evening: We’ll regroup after dinner and return to the hotel by motorcoach, after which the remainder of the evening is at leisure.

DAY
8
Victoria & Albert Museum, Knightsbridge, Chelsea
London, England
B,D
Copthorne Tara Hotel London Kensington

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 8 miles, approximately 1 hour. Walking about 2.5 miles, periods of standing; paved streets.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll set out on foot and return to Albertopolis — South Kensington — for a field trip to the Victoria & Albert Museum led by our Study Leader. The museum, more commonly known to Londoners as the V&A, was founded in 1852 and is widely regarded as the world’s leading museum of art and design. The permanent collection of more than 2.3 million objects spans millennia of human creativity in architecture, Asian art and design, book arts, ceramics, fashion, furniture, glass, jewelry, painting, photography, sculpture, textiles, theatre and performance. After our field trip, we’ll take a walk with our Study Leader into nearby Knightsbridge, the wealthy neighborhood that is best known as the home of upmarket department stores Harrods and Harvey Nichols, as well as many of London’s most renowned restaurants.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Afternoon: We’ll begin the afternoon with some time for independent exploration. In the late afternoon, we’ll regroup at the hotel to board a motorcoach and ride into Chelsea. As we explore Chelsea aboard the motorcoach and on foot, our Study Leader will explain how this affluent neighborhood grew around King’s Road (named for King Charles II) to become a bohemian artists’ enclave in the 19th century and the fashionable heart of Swinging London in the 1960s.

Dinner: At a local restaurant in Chelsea, we’ll have a 3-course plated meal with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: After returning to the hotel by motorcoach, the remainder of the evening is at leisure. Prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

DAY
9
Program Concludes
In Flight
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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