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Context Private Tours: Inside Guides to London

LUXE has partnered with pride of guides Context Travel, who run private and small group tours led by an armed cotillion of art historians, PhDs, culture mavens + specialists. They’ll enlighten you via themed itins or bespoke jaunts, so you can spend time taking in the sights, not with your head buried in a book. What’s more, now you can book tours directly through our app. Glam gallivants ahead!

British Museum: A Guided Tour

Don’t lose your (Elgin) marbles, lift the lid on London’s archaeology history with this illuminating tour of treasure trove motherlode, the British Museum.

Culture vultures know that one of London’s most alluring assets is free entry into her major museums and galls – the creaky-antiquey British Museum being one of them. But you could lose hours (not to mention your mind) wandering these vast corridors without direction or insight.

Aspiring Indiana Joneses need not fret, though. Starting in the very room where the pursuit of archaeology and art history began, Context’s historian-led, three-hour, in-depth amble unearths the stories behind ancient greats like the Rosetta Stone, Parthenon Marble and Assyrian lion hunt, and sheds light on the art of deciphering a dead language. Dig in!

Insider Tip: Book ahead, this is Context’s most popular London jaunt. Starts at 10am or 2pm, so preface or follow up with a bite at grandiose all-day salon The Delaunay.

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Gastronomic London

Think London’s all milky tea and rubbery roast beef? Not so, silly! Context charts its trajectory from fusty backwater to multi-culti melting pot to world-renowned culinary capital.

\The food anthropologists and chefs at Context sure know their scotch eggs from their jellied eels, which is why you should join them on this three-hour gastro gander, expounding Britain’s most mystifying and mouth-watering traditions. Chat with shopkeepers, discover royal purveyors, and – most importantly – taste the artisanal prods on display.

Sweet tooths will go gaga for violet creams (Her Maj’s rumoured fave) at spiffy old-school grocer, Fortnum & Mason. Or get your Augustus Gloop on at colourful rococoa boite Prestat of Piccadilly (the inspiration for Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory).

Meanwhile, savoury types can nibble on regional cheeses at London’s oldest (and whiffiest) cheesemonger Paxton & Whitfield, souvenir up at family-run deli Lina Stores and dip down into Chinatown for divine dumplings and Sri Lankan pol sambol. Sod the diet, this city is for scoffing!

Insider Tip: You’ve no doubt done enough eating for one day, so why not retire to the ECC for cocktail hour? (If beer is more your bag, try Context’s Ales and Pubs potter)

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Of Inns and Wigs: Understanding Legal London

Evade the hordes with this secretive stroll through London’s Inns of Court, and decipher the centuries-old customs and quirks that make the Brit justice system what it is today.

If you’ve ever dreamed of being called to the bar (not of the liquid kind, mind) this is the walk for you. Follow a legal expert on a three-hour ramble through secluded squares, alleyways, chapels and gardens to see where the country’s top legal brains have been working since the Middle Ages.

From the horsehair wig to the Queen’s Counsel, trace the eccentric evolution of the English legal system, while taking in archi marvels like the C.12th Temple Church (once home to the medieval Knights Templar), the Tudor gateway at Lincoln’s Inn and the only timber facade to survive the Great Fire in 1666. Walk where Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night first showed, and gaze upon the inspiration for Charles Dickens’ Bleak House. Gettin’ wiggy with it.

Insider Tip: Take home your own piece of history at the Silver Vaults, the largest retail collection of antique silver in the world, then finish with sips at the Rosewood’s swellegant Scarfes Bar.

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Westminster Abbey: Britain Through The Ages

Skip through 1,000 years of British history (and the queues) with this inside scoop on the Royals and their prime place of worship, Westminster Abbey.

This once marshy knoll on the banks of the Thames is home to Gothic great Westminster Abbey, the beating heart of the Anglican church, the setting for all royal coronations and burials and an immovable force in English history. Pff! No big deal then.

Context’s expert in Brit royal history will reveal a millennium of intrigue over three hours, explaining its founding in the C.11th, the conflict between Protestants and Catholics, its role in the World Wars and the wedding of Will and Kate.

A palimpsest of periods and styles, probe hidden areas like the gardens and beguiling cloisters, sleb-spot in the graveyard (top names incl. Liz I and Darwin), and witness the ancient daily rite said over the medieval tomb of Edward the Confessor. Amen to that.

Insider Tip: And now for something completely different, nip across the river to Damien Hirst’s smart art hub, Newport Street Gallery, with clever gifting at Other Criteria and sceney grazing at Mark Hix resto Pharmacy 2.

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