United Kingdom Travel Guide

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Always Wanted to Drive the 'Top Gear' Test Track? This is Your Lucky Day

August 1, 2014 at 10:25 AM | by | Comments (0)

Fun fact: BBC's Top Gear is the most popular automotive show in history, broadcasting in about 170 different countries. Hundreds of millions of people tune in and watch the ragtag trio of presenters race, destroy cars, and chide each other in the process every week, so there is a pretty good chance you're one of those fans. If so, good news! The Top Gear Test Track is now open to the public, for a price of course.

That’s right. You can drive on the same track at Dunsfold Park (near Guildford in Surrey) where they do most of their tests and challenges, visit the Top Gear TV Studio, and catch a glimpse of that looming Boeing 747 in the process. The Top Gear Track Experience, as it's called, offers 8 different options ranging from the “Star In a Reasonably Priced Car” timed laps to off-roading in a Land Rover Defender.

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Why the UK Will Turn Off the Lights on Landmarks August 4

July 31, 2014 at 11:10 AM | by | Comments (0)

Travelers to the United Kingdom will be in for a surprise next Tuesday, August 4, when the country suddenly turns off the lights.

The Telegraph explains:

The Houses of Parliament, Blackpool Illuminations and Tower Bridge will go dark on August 4 to commemorate the outbreak of the First World War.

They are among hundreds of sites taking part in Lights Out, a Government-backed project aiming to achieve a nationwide switch-off from 10-11pm – the hour in which Britain declared itself at war with Germany 100 years ago.

The Foreign Office will leave a single lamp burning in a room overlooking the Cenotaph, and another in a room overlooking St James’s Park. The inspiration for the event is the remark made by Sir Edward Grey, foreign secretary, on August 3 1914.

Knowing that war was imminent, he gazed out at gas lamps being lit in St James’s Park and said: “The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.”

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Take an 'Outlander' Tour of Scotland Before They Sell Out

July 28, 2014 at 4:07 PM | by | Comments (0)

With the Starz series Outlander about to debut, there is more interest than ever in the books which inspired the show, not to mention the Scotland locations where both are set.

There are several tour companies throughout Scotland now offering Outlander tours, including Vacation Scotland's Outlandish Adventures, a 7-day exploration of book locations, from Edinburgh to the Isle of Skye.

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Frequent Flying Tips Straight from Virgin Atlantic's Flight Attendant Style Guide

July 28, 2014 at 1:30 PM | by | Comments (0)

This year's 30th Anniversary of Virgin Atlantic combined with the launch of the airline's snazzy new Vivienne Westwood-designed uniforms means more than just partytime in the skies on VS; these milestones will also bring about a revamped beauty and grooming guide for the already fresh and polished Virgin crew.

You see, when a new hire receives their uniform, they're also handed a Virgin-produced book titled Runway. It's essentially a guide to the "Virgin Atlantic look" regarding how to wear the uniform, suggested hair styles, and the like. It's meant for maintenance employees, gate agents and Clubhouse staff just as much as for cabin and flight crew, but the pages dedicated to the minutiae of a flight attendant's jet setting lifestyle are among the most enlightening.

Runway is right now in the process of being updated, but there are some choice sections worth preserving for all.

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Forget London; UK Looks to Scotland for Possible Spaceport

July 22, 2014 at 10:28 AM | by | Comments (0)

We usually turn our attention towards New Mexico when it comes to space travel and space tourism, as that’s where Virgin Galactic has been preparing and planning for the last few years. However, there’s another spot to add to your space race map; the United Kingdom have their own sky-high dreams and they're focusing them on Scotland.

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Airports and Airlines Step Up to Ensure Your Phone is Fully Charged

July 15, 2014 at 8:35 AM | by | Comments (0)

Until mobile devices somehow magically charge themselves throughout your journey—you’re going to need a spot to plug in and charge up at the airport. The concourses and terminals have gotten a little bit better at adding ports and plugs, and now it seems like there’s a push overseas to add even more spots to charge up before your trip.

With that pesky new requirement regarding devices to be operational at airport security airports in London are pushing to get more options available to flyers.

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The Little Things: Virgin Atlantic's Champagne Obsession

July 14, 2014 at 4:02 PM | by | Comments (0)

In the midst of the bustle of travel, it's all too easy to overlook the details. We're talking about special touches others have stressed over just so you can enjoy a unique experience, whether you know it or not. Every so often we'll highlight The Little Things like this, so now you will know.

The Little Thing: A dedication to serving Lanson Black Label champagne in Upper Class on Virgin Atlantic.

You've just settled back in the leather seat, put your smartphone on "airplane mode," and flipped open the Upper Class in-flight menu. Before you can turn to the extensive list of options "from the bar" on this Virgin Atlantic flight (and yes, there is a real bar), a flight attendant sashays your way with a tray of bubbly.

It's a scene now so signature to Virgin Atlantic service, this stylish pour of Lanson Black Label Brut accompanied by a scarlet smile, but it hasn't always been that way.

The coupe-shape glass was first introduced onboard Virgin Atlantic flights with the revamp of the A330 bar in 2012, but the glass is now part of all Upper Class services regardless of aircraft type. The long, thin stem topped with a sultry bowl evokes the glamor of old Hollywood, and champagne bubbles look damned fine in it.

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A Complete Look at Virgin Atlantic's Hotly High Style Vivienne Westwood Uniforms

July 7, 2014 at 3:17 PM | by | Comments (0)

The Virgin Atlantic look is sharp, iconic, sizzling; there’s no denying the head-turning appeal of a crisp white blouse tucked into a scorching red pencil skirt, topped off with red heels. But, with the celebration of the airline’s 30th Anniversary this year, it’s about that time for a snazzy refresh so as to continue “flying in the face of ordinary,” as the airline’s slogan goes. For this, Virgin Atlantic paired with UK designer and punk powerhouse Vivienne Westwood. The new uniforms were just unveiled July 1 in London, and will roll out for all Virgin Atlantic staff, from cabin crew to flight crew, and desk agents to Clubhouse hospitality.

Alas, a flash of the new uniform as it swishes down the airplane aisle isn't enough to appreciate the detail. Aside from the fact that it’s now easier to care for with a new tech “nano finish" (the earlier uniform was dry clean only) and yarn made from recycled plastic bottles, there are small secrets hidden in every dart and under each lapel, telling the story of the collaboration between England’s flag-carrying airline and one of the country's most iconic fashion influences.

Although the uniforms don’t officially take flight for the entire Virgin Atlantic fleet until September 1, keep an eye out for a preview on your next VS flight; crew have been heading to the airline’s Base near Gatwick Airport to pick up their full looks since this past weekend. Here's what to look for:

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How to Get Tickets to the UK's 'Festival Number 6'

July 1, 2014 at 3:44 PM | by | Comments (0)

If you decided to skip the Glastonbury Festival only to regret it, there is another UK music festival coming up that might be the next best thing.

Festival Number 6, taking place September 5 -7, 2014, has a musical lineup that includes Pet Shop Boys, Beck, London Calling, James Holden, Jon Hopkins and dozens more, along with comedians, artists, film premieres, pop-up raves, and gourmet treats.

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Inside the Amenity Kit: A Pouch and PJs in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class

July 1, 2014 at 1:51 PM | by | Comments (0)

We come across some downright awesome airline amenity kits in our travels, and the surprises of each zippered pouch can often make or break comfort on a premium flight. With this in mind, here's to our new series: Inside the Amenity Kit, wherein we unzip, unwrap, and expose the loot inside:

It's crazy to think that a passenger flying Virgin Atlantic's Upper Class could be in for more treats after experiencing the delights of the airline's airport Clubhouses, but it's true. Following a spa treatment, cocktails, and a full hot dinner (all complimentary) at the JFK Clubhouse, for example, Upper Class flyers then settle into the full-flat seats onboard and are handed an amenity kit (plus a small, appetizer snack bowl of Tyrrell's crisps).

The grey felt pouch has a looped leather-like strap and an interior lined in Virgin's signature scarlet. It's made of recycled materials, plus it's unisex, chic, and easy to reuse for purposes beyond stashing your in-flight amenities. In plainer terms, it's just right.

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What's the Deal with British Airways' 'Mood Blanket' Thing

July 1, 2014 at 8:50 AM | by | Comments (0)

Don’t expect to be cuddling up with the latest in in-flight blanket technology anytime soon, but the folks over at British Airways are testing out a new wool blend in the cabin—complete with embedded electronics.

Basically it’s a mood ring but in blanket form, as the thing has tiny little LEDs inside of it that change colors to blue or red depending on someone’s feelings. Travelers wear some kind of band thing on their heads, and then their feelings and what not are transmitted to the blanket over Bluetooth. Blankets that are blue reflect cool and comfortable travelers, and those that change to a shade of crimson indicate that there might be some stress going on—or that they need a refill on their drink.

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How to Get Tickets to the 2014 Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace

June 30, 2014 at 7:55 PM | by | Comments (0)

A little riddle for you: What costs $35 per person, doesn't allow you to take photographs, and is gold all over? Ding ding ding—the State Rooms at London's Buckingham Palace, which opens very soon for their annual round of public tours. To be specific, the Queen's address will accept visitors from July 26 - September 28, 2014.

As we've experienced in past years, travelers to London will be clamoring to get in, not only to tread on the Queen's lush carpets and gawk at heirlooms, but to view this year's exhibition on "The Royal Childhood" and what it's like to grow up living in a palace.

Tickets for walk-ups will be rare to nonexistent, so going online for guaranteed tix is the best route. Here's how to do it:

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