DestinationsFit for any Duke and Duchesses, these Bridgerton, Downton Abbey and James Bond themed tours bring the top TV shows and movies to life.

Travel like royalty on these Netflix-inspired tours

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The UNESCO World Heritage City of Bath with its many historical buildings is a dream destination for Bridgerton fans.
The UNESCO World Heritage City of Bath with its many historical buildings is a dream destination for Bridgerton fans. Photo Credit: Gettyimages/Leonid Andronov

While the sites of film and television shows set in the UK have always drawn travellers across the pond, a new season of fan-favorite "Bridgerton" (premiering March 25) and a new "Downton Abbey" movie — along with "No Time to Die", a new James Bond film released last year — will surely generate renewed interest.

And with the 18 March easement of all travel requirements for inbound travellers, now is a perfect time to visit.

"Films and TV are powerful motivators for travel,” said Patricia Yates, deputy CEO for VisitBritain. “Upcoming releases … provide valuable opportunities to promote our world-renowned culture, history, heritage, stunning countryside and associated experiences that you can only have in the UK, ultimately inspiring visitors to come here and see the destinations and locations for themselves.”

Here’s how travellers can walk in the footsteps of Lady Whistledown, the Earl of Grantham and, yes, even 007.

Bridgerton-themed UK tours

Travellers can live out their "Bridgerton" fantasies on a tour that takes them to Lady Danbury’s mansion.
Travellers can live out their "Bridgerton" fantasies on a tour that takes them to Lady Danbury’s mansion. Photo Credit: 2022 Visit Britain

Since Christmas Day in 2020, the world fell madly in love with “Bridgerton", a Netflix drama that takes place in London, yet films in the Georgian city of Bath.

With the second season premiering recently and continuing the scintillating story, fans are naturally eager to lay eyes on the newest filming locations.

Blue Badge tour guide (and Bath local) Fred Mawer leads a two-hour “Bridgerton” walking tour that takes clients to all 14 season-one filming locations — including the Modiste on Abbey Green, the Featheringtons’ home (No. 1 Royal Crescent), and Lady Danbury’s mansion (The Holburne Museum) — plus locations for season two.

In true “Bridgerton” form, tour guide Mawer also has a few secrets for his guests.

"My Bridgerton and More tour includes insider snippets about the filming (as I picked up some juicy nuggets from a family member who worked on the production),” Mawer said. “The tour also touches on other films and TV shows shot in Bath … like Netflix’s upcoming new adaptation of Jane Austen’s 'Persuasion', and Warner Bros’ ‘Wonka’, a prequel to Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory story [starring Timothee Chalamet].”

Downton Abbey experiences in London

Guests can dine in one of Highclere Castle's formal dining room like the aristocrats from "Downton Abbey".
Guests can dine in one of Highclere Castle's formal dining room like the aristocrats from "Downton Abbey". Photo Credit: 2019 Focus Features, LLC./Jaap Buitendijk

Records for Highclere Castle in Hampshire date back to 749, but the magnificent estate gained widespread attention in 2010 as the “star” of the "Downton Abbey" television series (and, in 2019, in the first Downton Abbey movie).

As a result, fans have flocked to Highclere to relive their favourite moments, and a second movie – "Downton Abbey: A New Era" – premiering this May, will provide a reason to return.

Bespoke tour operator Humphreys of Henley offers private guided tours of Highclere’s state rooms and castle bedrooms, complete with lunch in the formal dining room. (Clients may even hear the ghost of a former housekeeper whose keys jangle as she moves from room to room.)

“We believe the British countryside is the most beautiful place in the world,” said Samantha Evans, founder of Humphreys of Henley. “That’s why we dedicate so much time and effort…to creating the very best experiences … so your clients can ensure they make the very best of their holiday time.”

No tour of Highclere — aka Downton — would be complete without seeing the green silk-walled drawing room, which is one of “Downton Abbey's" central filming locations. According to Lady Carnarvon (wife of the 8th Earl), it was decorated by her predecessor with a bolt of green silk received as a wedding gift. The previous countess also converted the castle to a hospital during World War I, a bit of Highclere history that found its way into the second season of “Downton Abbey”.

“She was trying to heal people and return sons, fathers and brothers to their families,” Lady Carnarvon said in a video tour with Evans. “That was an extraordinary part of the story, so this room is still a tribute to her.”

Highclere will also be open for public tours this summer from July 10 to 5 September (closed Fridays and Saturdays).

Embrace your inner James Bond

Race down the Thames James Bond style in a speedboat.
Race down the Thames James Bond style in a speedboat. Photo Credit: 2022 Visit Britain

British secret agent James Bond has thrilled audiences in action-packed films starting from “Dr. No” (1962) to “No Time to Die” (2021). The chance to explore Bond’s London has always been a draw for travellers, and while the city was closed to tourists, new tour operator Imagine Experiences was developing its Bond for a Day Experience.

You look forward for so many months to your journey — it might be the holiday of a lifetime — and you want to do what you’ve seen in movies,” said Brendan Murphy, co-founder of Imagine Experiences. “[We] make it authentic and experiential, so when visitors come on [our tour], they'll see some hidden London, go off the beaten track a little bit but still tick those boxes that they want to tick.”

The five-hour guided tour provides opportunities to do all that (and more) during an elegant and adventurous mission a la 007 — asking, “What would James Bond do?”

Naturally, he’d start his day at Great Scotland Yard, where plenty of on-screen Bond action has taken place.

According to Murphy, along with visiting film locations, clients will also learn about the “murky world of espionage” and see where the first professional spy network was started — including the offices of the real C, Q and M. They’ll also visit Floris London fragrance shop for a whiff of Bond creator Ian Fleming’s favorite scent: Floris No. 89. (Rumor has it Daniel Craig prepared for his first Bond movie by purchasing a bottle.)

But that’s not all. Fans can then choose to try their hand at target practice at a London gun club or take a Bond-style speedboat ride on the Thames River.

The tour ends — like all proper James Bond missions should — with a Vesper Martini, shaken, not stirred (of course).

Source: TravelAge West

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