Based on one of the first Great Roads commissioned by the Kings of England, the Great West Way® winds its way through lush green landscapes filled with the world-famous and the yet-to-be-discovered.

Touch Royal Windsor, Roman Bath and timeless Stonehenge, immerse yourself in English village life and Bristol’s city energy. Follow the paths taken by generations of travelers and discover an essential strand of England.

On England’s Great West Way®, extraordinary history rubs shoulders with everyday life. Traditional pubs and inns with UNESCO World Heritage Sites on their doorsteps, serving craft ales and local farm food. Churches which have watched over their parishes for centuries. Independent shops and galleries filled with contemporary designs and creations. You don’t have to travel far to explore further and delve deeper into England.

The Great West Way® links London with Bristol through 125 miles of twists and turns and new discoveries. Explore by road, by railway or by waterway. Slow right down, base yourself along the route, walk it or cycle it. Welcome to the real England. It’s England undiluted…It’s England concentrated…It’s England undiscovered.

Now is the time to go in search of and explore “real” England. Whether it’s just for leisure, or to retrace your ancestral footsteps, we can tailor a bespoke holiday for you to England’s Great West Way®. Here are a couple of suggested itineraries: England & The Great West Way®; and our favorite themed itinerary – Downton Abbey & England’s Great West Way®. Call us today to start your Great West Way® adventure!

“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.”
– Anonymous

A Custom Designed 9-Day Themed Itinerary of “Downton Abbey” & England’s Great West Way!

Upon arrival in London Heathrow airport you will be met by a top Indulgent Vacations & Destinations Inc. driver/guide (please look for someone holding a sign with your name on it) and privately transferred to Newbury and The Vineyard, or similar for a 5-night stay in a deluxe room including daily English breakfast and VAT. The Vineyard is a Relais & Chåteaux 5-star hotel and spa, renowned for it impeccable service, 3 AA Rosette restaurant and award winning 30,000 bottle wine cellar. Once an 18th Century hunting lodge, The Vineyard has more recently been described as a temple to Californian Wine. Their impressive 30,000 bottle wine cellar is overseen by UK Young Sommelier of the year 2016, Romain Bourger, who is on hand to help guests find the perfect match. The cellar holds new and old-world wines, as well as the award-winning estate wines of the owner, Sir Peter Michael. Their 3AA Rosette restaurant with world-class chefs, is dedicated to creating a simple but perfect dining experience, taking local and sustained seasonal produce to deliver a triumphant blend of old-fashioned tase and new world values. A destination restaurant deserves a great hotel and again The Vineyard does not disappoint. Each of the 49 bedrooms and suites are individually styled and designed to tell you a story. Inspired by iconic wines from all over the world, you will find details such as luxurious marbled bathrooms filled with REN products, large flat screen televisions and personal Nespresso machines – just a few of the indulgent features that ensure you will enjoy a wonderful night’s stay, and works by Henry Tartin, Ronald Seale, Boris Simmoff and Doris Zinkeisen, The Vineyard is home to a superb private art collection.

Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure to relax after your journey. Tonight, we have included a welcome dinner at the hotel.

This morning meet with your driver/guide, in the hotel lobby, for a visit to Highclere Castle for the start of your “Downton Abbey” experience. Highclere Castle is the home of the Earl and Countess of Carnavon and features as Downton Abbey, the hugely successful drama series with over 13.3 million weekly viewers and was PBS’s top drama of all time and is still shown in over 100 countries around the world! Highclere is one of England’s most beautiful Victorian Castles set admist 1,000 acres of spectacular parkland. The Carnarvon family has lived at Highclere since 1679, and the current Castle stands on the site of an earlier house, which in turn was built on the foundations of the medieval palace owned by the Bishops of Winchester for some 800 years. During your visit you will be able to see all the interior and external areas which were used during filming such as the salon, library, dining room, entrance hall and grounds. Enrances to Highclere Castle included.

Today enjoy another full day of Downton Abbey sightseeing. Just a short drive, 30 minutes norht of England’s Great West Way® you will visit the village of Bampton and will end your day in Woodstock where we’ve included a vist to Blenheim Palace. The village of Bampton was used as Downton Abbey’s “Yorkshire Village.”

Bampton has a rich history that dates to the Iron Age, making it one of the oldest villages in England. The village has an entry in the Domesday Book of 1086, the nationwide survey commissioned by William the Conqueror.

St. Mary’s is Bampton’s parish church, so it was fitting that it served as the village church in Downton Abbey and the location where Matthew Crawley and Lady Mary Crawley were married in the first episode of Season 3. Though the present day building dates to the 12th century, it existed before the Norman Conquest. St. Mary’s was originally an Anglo-Saxon minster church. In 1069 William the Conqueror gave the church to Leofric, the Bishop of Exeter. Also see Bampton Library, which was used as the entrance to Lord Grantham’s Patrons’ Hospital and the location of many other scenes taking place in the hospital in the village.

From Bampton it’s on to Woodstock for an optional lunch at the Bear, followed by a visit to Bienheim Palace, home to the Dukes of Marlborough. Queen Anne gave the palace to John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, as a reward tfor his victory over the French at Blenheim, Bavaria in 1704. The stunning 180-foot long library is one of the most beautiful rooms in the palace. Jenny Jreome gave birth to Winston Churchill at Blenheim. She never actually lived there, but tow other American heiresses did: Lilian Price Hammersley, wife of the 8th Duke, and Consuelo Vanderbilt, wife of the 9th Duke. The Vanderbilt family contributed approximately 15 million dollars to make improvements at Blenheim Palace. The Palace is surrounded by over 2,000 acres of “Capability”  Brown landscaped parkland, the great lake, and beautiful formal gardens. The landscape setting, he devised in the 1760’s provided a sublime form of beauty and harmony that every generation of the Marlborough family has endeavored to preserve. Next visit the nearby town of Bladon to see the grave of Sir Winston Churchill. In July 1895 Winston wrote to his mother: ‘I went this morning to Bladon to look at Papa’s grave. . .. I was so struck by the sense of quietness and peace, as well as by the old-world air of the palace that my sadness was not unmixed with solace . . .’ He often visited his parent’s graves when he stayed at Blenheim and expressed the wish to be buried there himself. He died on 24th January 1965, exactly 70 years to the day after his father, and the funeral service took place at St. Paul’s Cathedral. It was a very moving occasion, marked with all the splendid panoply of Church and State; it was attended by the Queen together with rulers from all over the world and shared by the whole nation. In contrast, the burial at Bladon was private as Lady Churchill wished, with only close friends and family being present. Return to the hotel later this afternoon.

This morning meet with your driver/guide, in the hotel lobby, for a full day of sightseeing including Waddesdon Manor and Highgrove Gardens (subject to availability); both are just a short drive from The Great West Way®. During Season 2 Sir Richard Carlisle, who was tipped to marry Lady Mary, was considering buying ‘Haxby Park’ which was Waddesdon Manor, a Neo-Renaissance style country house located in Waddesdon village in the county of Buckinghamshire. Explore the stunning chateau, which was designed by the French architect Destailleur in 1874, and originally the home of the Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild.

On arrival in Highgrove enjoy a Champagne afternoon tea in the Orchard Room, followed by a guided tour of the gardens; which HRH the Prince of Wales has spent 30 years transforming into what have been acknowledged as some of the most inspired and innovative gardens in the United Kingdom. A specially built reed bed sewage system, much loved by dragonflies at its treatment end, is used for all Highgrove’s waste. Rare trees and plants are planted for future generations to enjoy and heritage seeds are planted in areas to keep the varieties going. This ethically-sound management is carried through to the house too, where bottles and cans are recycled, as are newspapers, cardboard and shredded white office paper, all kitchen waste goes through the composting system.

The Prince is proud of his garden and today, after much time and effort, the gardens at Highgrove and the Duchy Home Farm are flagship examples of the organic movement, both in terms of their environmental sustainability and their natural beauty. On the advice of Miriam Rothschild, one of the country’s leading advocates of biodiversity, the Prince re-created a lost habitat by re-establishing a wild flower meadow. The meadow now boasts over 30 different varieties of native plants including ox-eye daisies, yellow rattle, common spotted orchid, meadow crane’s bill and ragged robin, creating a rich taestry of color and diversity. The gardens are also home to part of the national collection of Beech trees and large leaved Hostas. Vegetables loved by His Royal Highness such as Charlotte potatoes, spring cabbage, brussel sprouts and carrots are grown in the Walled Kitchen Garden, as well as rare and endangered varieties that are vital in terms of biodiversity. A wide variety of apples are also grown, both next to the Orchard Room and the Walled Garden, including Nonpareil, Golden Knob, Cornish Aromatic and Lady’s Delight. There are also examples of some very rare cooking apples; varieties which are now virtually extinct.

Today you will enjoy another full day of touring just an hour drive from England’s Great West Way, including West Wycombe Park and Greys Court, with your driver/guide. West Wycombe Park is one of the most theatrical and Italianate of all English country houses, and Dashwood family home for over 300 years. Set in 45 acres of landscaped park, the house as we see it today is the creation of the 2nd Baronet in the 18th century. This Palladian gem is frequently featured in screen adaptations and was used for many of Downton Abbey’s interior shots.

From here you will head to the picturesque market town of Henley-on-Thames for you to visit Grey’s Court. Greys Court’s picturesque 16th-century mansion and tranquil gardens were home to the Brunner family until recent years. The house exudes a welcoming atmosphere with a well-stocked kitchen and homely living rooms. The series of walled gardens is a colorful patchwork of interest, set amid medieval ruins. The grounds of Greys Court were used in the 3rd season of Downton Abbey, where Lady Mary and Matthew Crawley can be seen for the first time since the wedding was revealed, taking a romantic stroll together through the garden of the stately home, and (later in Season 3) for an outdoor picnic. At the end of your tour enjoy afternoon tea at Greys Court in The Cowshed café.

This morning leave Newbury behind as you meet with your driver/guide and are privately transferred via Byfleet Manor, Dowager Violet’s (Maggie Smith) home in Downton Abbey (stop for outside view), and into London and the Great Northern Hotel – 5 Star hotel or similar, (subject to availability) for a 3-night stay in a double standard room with daily English breakfast. You will have ample time to check in (an early check in will be requested but cannot be guaranteed). The Great Northern Hotel is an exquisitely designed luxury boutique hotel with an extraordinary location, offering unrivaled value to the discerning traveler. They are perfectly situated just 25 meters from the Eurostar terminus in the heart of King’s Cross St Pancras. Designed by architect behind Kings Cross railway station, the Great Northern Hotel first opened in 1854. This was the golden age of steam with railway hotels seen as status symbols and the Great Northern Hotel soon became a Victorian landmark. Now skillfully renovated, features evoking the glamour of its extraordinary past. You will have the balance of the afternoon to explore at your leisure.

After some free time to freshen up, enjoy Bateaux Dinner Cruise along the Thames. Your experience will include a 3-course set menu including half a bottle of wine/champagne on a one-and-a-half-hour curise. Alternatively, you can do a lunch cruise.

Today you will be met by your driver/guide and privately transferred to board your boat that will take you to Hampton Court Palace. On arrival you will enjoy a private guided tour of the Palace and grounds. Hampton Court was orginally built by Cardinal Wolsey. He was “persuaded” to “give” the palace to King Henry VIII, but even this lavish gift did not save his position and he eventually died in disgrace. Henry VIII proceeded to give the Palace to his fiancée Anne Boleyn and throughout the Palace you will see the entwined initials of H and A. Visit the fascinating Henry VIII exhibit, featuring historic paintings from the Royal Collection. The re-presentation of the Wolsey Rooms and opening up previously hidden parts of the Tudor castle in 2009 was to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Henry’s accession to the throne. Try your navigational skills in the famous Hampton Court triangular maze. It’s fun! Most people wind up ringing the bell for help after getting hopelesly turned around. After your tour you will enjoy a lunch, followed by free time to explore the Palace at your leisure before heading back to the boat for your journey back. Following your boat ride, you will take to the sky on the London Eye, a major feature of London’s skyline. Standing 135 meters high on the South Bank of the Thames, the London Eye offers spectacular views across London and its famous landmarks.

This morning after breakfast, meet your driver in the htel lobby for a private transfer to Leeds Castle; which approximately an hour southwest from The Great West Way. On arrival, you will be welcomed at the entrance by your castle guide who will do a short talk about the castle and its history; you will enjoy coffee and cake before moving on from here for a guided tour of the castle. Lord Conway called Leeds “the loveliest castle in the world”. It is set on an island in the middle of a lake surrounded by beautifully landscaped gardens. Leeds is know as “Lady’s Castle” because eight of England’s Medieval Queens made it their home. Lunch will also be provided at the castle, where you have the coice of a 3-course menu in the Castle View Restaurant.

After lunch you will have a private guided tour of the castle’s gardens. Return to the hotel later this afternoon. After some time to fresehn up, enjoy a farewell dinner in the hotel.

Early this morning say farewell to the charm of England and England’s Great West Way®, as you meet with your driver in the hotel lobby and are privately transferred to London’s Heathrow airport in time to board your departing flight home. This ends our services.

We wish you a safe journey home.

Indulgent Vacations & Destinations is an Official Tour Operator and an Ambassador to England’s Great West Way ®. Call us toll free – 855.278.5515, or e-mail us at – info@indulgentvacations.com today to design your tailored experience to England.