I am interested in the Best of England tour and would like to know the name of the guide before II choose the date. Can this be accomplished? For us the most important part of any tour is the expertise and organizational ability of the main guide and the city/area guides. Can anyone advise me?
You can always call the tour office and ask.
I doubt that the guides have been assigned yet. You'll just have to take your chances. Frankly, on my tours, I've found that they are ALL good.
Patricia, have you browsed the reviews on this tour? I've just scanned them all the way back to June and couldn't find a single complaint about the RS guides. In fact the quality the guides are mentioned frequently, and all of them - whether called out by name or not - given high praise for organization, knowledge and/or personal attention. There are many positive mentions of the drivers as well.
I think the assignments are done pretty late. I called once and was told it had not been assigned yet and two weeks later got the information with the guides name! If you read these various posts you will find, among a group of really terrific RS guides, some appear to be superstars. We lucked out last summer and got two of those in Portugal and London. But, aside from a personality clash we had with the guide on the Adriatic tour, they have all been splendid. I think RS tours deliberately avoids the model of having people book tours based on a particular guide. Probably makes good business sense.
I have seen wonderful comments about the guides. I have taken 2 RS tours in The past but one was a MY Way and the director was not a guide and knew nothing to help us while on the tour. We have used other tour groups with varying degrees of satisfaction with the guides. So, I would appreciate the best guides. The RS office says they won’t be assigned until much later and sometimes are changed at the last minute. There are several Sept dates. I guess I’ll just have to take a leap of fate. Thanks for the feedback.
Can anyone give me feedback on the accommodations on this itinerary?
Can I find out name of guide before I book.
Are you trying to get someone in particular , or trying to avoid someone?
From most of the tour reviews I have read, the huge majority of people express the sentiment that 'our guide was the best', with everyone naming someone different.
RS seems to do a very good job in hiring only top tier guides.
I have taken 2 RS tours in The past but one was a MY Way and the
director was not a guide and knew nothing to help us while on the
I haven't taken either type but the My Way vacations strike me as completely different animals compared to the fully scheduled tours. I would expect minimal attention/assistance from a "tour manager" versus a dedicated "guide", and that is essentially stated in the information:
This is an "un-guided" tour — giving you the freedom (and
responsibility) to manage your daily sightseeing schedule and meals
Anyway, they are built for the independent and/or budget traveler who wants to manage all but their accommodations and transport themselves; that's why they're less expensive. The tour you're looking at handles more of the details plus provides guide services that the other does not.
We have taken 7 RS tours, none of the My Way tours. I have been under the impression that the Guides for the fully guided tours are not the same as the ones (tour directors?) on the my way tours.
I would suggest calling the office and asking specific questions about the differences if you are still concerned. And if you were unhappy with the My Way guide, I hope you let them know that with details about what you were unhappy with. That's the only way they can correct it.
I would suggest taking the tour and Have a Great Time!
Yes, the tour guides assigned can change up until the tour participants listing is mailed out (and probably even after that in some cases as mine did for this tour). So as you noted, it is not really possible to find that out before your tour even if the office might know. The guide we ended up with was extremely organized, knowledgeable and a fun person to hang out with. She was also a fully registered official tour guide so she could accompany us into museums and such in London.
The hotels used vary from tour to tour so the ones used on the tours last season may or may not have any connection to the ones used on your tour. I found the hotels and B&B selection when I was on the BoEngland tour to be some of the better ones I found in RS tours. I was especially happy that the hotel in London at the end of the tour was air conditioned as Europe was going through a severe heat wave by the end of the tour.
In talking with a few guides it seems they do not submit their availability or are given their assignments until around March. They mentioned that these stay relatively unchanged. The later tours or those that may not be filled are then assigned with less notice and those are subject to change due to changes in the guides availability. We have been on 5 tours and have not had a guide who was not top notch and well prepared for the area we were touring.
I often go up to the RS headquarters in Edmonds, WA, as it is only a 25 minute drive from our Seattle home. I have taken 14 RS tours and have asked several times for the guides names early on. I have been told several times that RS does not want prospective tour members shopping tours by guides. On the 14 RS tours we have taken, 13 of the guides were 5 star with one being a 4 star.
I would invite most of them to stay with us if they ever come to Seattle.
Perhaps there is a concern that guides might be stalked by RS customers and thus RS Europe wants to protect them. Makes sense not to reveal their identities early on.
It's probably a matter of valuing all of their lead guides equally. I wouldn't imagine that individuals who are up to the standards and challenges of the role are exactly a dime a dozen?
Patricia, I'm responding to your question "Can anyone give me feedback on the accommodations on this itinerary?"
I took this tour in 2015 (Tom was the guide and Ben was the bus driver and wow, what a team!). They don't always stay in the same places but here was the line up for the tour I took.
Bath - Brooks Guesthouse (I arrived in Bath 2 or 3 nights before the tour. It was the first weekend of the Jane Austen Festival and I wanted to enjoy some of the activities surrounding that. I love Regency era books and was delighted to see people all over Bath in period costume. Tom, our guide, laughingly referred to them all as Jane Austen! As in Oh look, there goes Jane Austen!) I would stay in this hotel again. I liked the location and the breakfast spread was very good.
Stow-on-the-Wold - The Old Stocks Inn (very nice accommodation. I get the single supplement so sometimes my rooms are smaller but here it was huge with gorgeous wood beams)
Conwy - Castle Hotel (again quite nice but more Victorian flavor. Excellent location. If you like Elizabethan things, pop in to Plas Mawr, an Elizabethan home just 1/2 a block from the hotel. It's an English Heritage site so you'll pay an entry fee but it's worth it.)
Keswick - Crow Park Hotel - Now this one was a bit odd. My single was pretty small but the hotel is in a great location. The breakfast staff clearly loved the RS guide and bus driver and were hilarious with them over the meals. So very funny!
York - The Churchill Hotel - This one was very nice as well and also, as with all RS hotels, well located.
London - The Fielding Hotel - Back to a really small single which did not surprise me for London. This is just a block from Covent Garden and was in a great location. I've not been back to this one as they do not have breakfast here. With the RS tour we went as a group to a nearby cafe for breakfast provided by the tour. I DID like that the owner or manager recognized each tour member after a day or so and could automatically hand out the correct room key. When I travel solo I like to know the staff are making sure they recognize people. I did stay here a couple of extra nights at the end and popped out to the nearby Starbucks for breakfast or as Tom, the guide said St. Arbucks.
I'm happy to answer other questions about this tour. I did research ahead for what to do in my free time and in general that worked out really well.
I’ll just add a comment on one point. My first RS Tour was My Way Italy back in fall of 2013. Our tour director was in fact a longtime, very experienced guide, who knew everything, but it appeared he had to force himself to hold back from being a real guide, because that was not his role on this tour. Still he had “office hours” at breakfast, and was available on the bus, to give individual guidance about possible experiences, sites, tickets, public transit, restaurants, shopping, etc. at each stop. In addition, while we were all free, and supposed to, choose our own activities and meal plans, he would often say “I’m going to do this” or “I’m going to eat at my favorite restaurant here”, anyone is welcome to come along, Dutch treat, and various people did.
I also went on the Best of England Tour in 2015, stayed in those same hotels, and our guide was Mark, our driver James, both excellent!
Patricia, I'd pay close attention to what Larry posted. As someone else mentioned, MyWay tours and the guided tours are very different.
We've taken 11 RS tours, and have been very impressed with (almost) all our guides. They are knowledgeable, helpful, flexible, competent, and (almost always) unfailingly cheerful. We did have one guide that I thought wasn't yet ready to lead a tour on her own, and one other who was amazing in most ways, but had one habit that we found unhelpful. (I'm trying to be tactful here. She was absolutely wonderful, but tended to head out without doing the "buddy check," which meant we almost lost people a couple of times.)
But I would not hesitate to say that your guide will be great. We've had a couple of the England guides, both of them outstanding, and have heard great things about others. Book your tour, relax, and have a great time.
I'll share my experience for one RS guided tour. I read all the reviews posted on the tour website and was really hoping to get Guide A or Guide B, because everyone raved about them. Instead I got Guide K - never even mentioned in any of the reviews. K was absolutely wonderful and by Day 2, I was so glad I had K rather than A or B.
I think you had really bad luck with your My Way tour. On mine, both the "tour escort" and the bus driver were absolutely fantastic. The tour options were mainly hiking (Alpine tour) and the escort had done all the hikes previously so could advise on the suitability for the various tour members - young kids, experienced hikers, complete non-hikers and everything in-between. She offered an orientation walk at the start of every new stop, organized happy hours, and so much more.
While I understand not shopping your tour by guide, I do believe that ALL the guides that are assigned tours should have bios on the website or no bios for anyone. When you finally get your guides name I believe most of us go right to the website to see who it is. If your assigned guide is not there, you start to wonder if you have been assigned a “B” team guide. Listing everyone with bio would just give you a little hint of things to come and start all your tours off on the same foot!
Just my humble opinion.
Patricia, we took Best of England 5/17. It was great and our guide, Nigel, who had no bio on the RS site, was excellent!!!!
My sister and I took our first RS My Way tour this past fall. We had taken guided tours on two separate occasions and thrilled with both the itinerary and especially the guide. Our previous travels were guided tours as well as our first European trip that was independent. I enjoy the planning aspect of travel as it builds the excitement as the trip nears. So we decided that a My Way tour was something that we would probably enjoy. We felt that this format was the best of both worlds and our tour director was very knowledgeable, enthusiastic, energetic and attentive to each of the members needs. I was able to research and arrange our daily events and not have to worry about the logistics of travel between cities, and the hotels were also not a concern. There have been lots of comments directed toward the RS hotel choices but I have to say that we have loved almost each and every one! They really show you the local flavor. We headed out on our My Way tour with our own agenda and in most cases pre purchased passes to the places we planned on visiting. We were a bit surprised that we seemed to be the only ones that had plotted it out like that. Most of our tour mates poured over guide books and maps on the bus between destinations. But although we were accompanied by a director and not a guide, each day she had suggestions of what was available and how to go about it. It was obvious that either method worked well because there was an experienced person to offer advice. We always look forward to hearing about who will be accompany us, but don't get hung up on one particular guide over another. Guide or director, it didn't matter, the RS guides are well prepared, know what they are doing and seem to enjoy sharing their expertise!
Some MYWAY tours may be lead by people in "try-out" positions to see if they can handle the requirements of the job.