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An Evening on the Thames with CityCruises London Sundowner

 

 

 

Starting as we mean to go on…

 

A few weeks ago my sister and I had the pleasure of hopping on board The Sundowner, London’s number one evening cruise, hosted by the wonderful City Cruises team. This 2 and a half hour cruise showcases iconic London landmarks that line up along the Thames and can be seen from every angle, both in light and in the dark too. Canapes and sparkling wine greet you on arrival, whilst a local musician or jazz band play on board as you sail down the river. Sound too good to be true? It really was something special…

The cruise departs Westminster Pier at 6.30pm and lasts for approximately two hours. Once on board you’ll be treated to a complimentary glass of fizz before a delightful selection of canapes are passed round. The cruise is named The Sundowner in summer and Riverlights in winter which I think is super cool as everything is completely lit up after dark during the colder months! The boats’ downstairs has a large seating area with panoramic windows and a fully stocked bar, whilst upstairs holds plenty of uncovered seating and offers amazing views.

 

The upper deck of the Sundowner

 

As the Sundowner starts at Westminster Pier, it’s only right that the first landmarks you’ll spot are the iconic Big Ben and Houses of Parliament. You’ll get an amazing view of both as you pass them by, and you’ll see them again on the return journey too. The cruise then passes under several bridges before turning around and taking in some of the most famous sights in the city, such as The London Eye, The Globe Theatre, The Shard and HMS Belfast before going underneath the glorious Tower Bridge.

Tower Bridge is undoubtedly the highlight of the cruise, and passing underneath it is definitely one of those ‘bucket list’ moments! You’ll get photo opportunities aplenty as the boat goes quite slowly and there’s plenty of time to take pictures from every angle you can think of whilst gazing in awe at one of London’s most iconic symbols.

 

The mighty Tower Bridge

 

 

There was a really nice atmosphere on board, everyone was super friendly and the jazz musician who entertained us for the duration did a fantastic job. He played an eclectic range of golden oldies and recent chart hits, offering something to suit everyone. There were couples, solo travellers, families and groups of friends on board showing that this type of cruise really is perfect for all.

I really enjoyed my time on board The Sundowner and would recommend it to anyone looking to see the sights of the city from the comfort of the River Thames. There’s nothing quite like enjoying a warm summers evening in the heart of our capital city, and unwinding with bubbly and canapes was the perfect way to end a lovely day in London.

 

The Shard – the tallest building in the UK

 

The Sundowner cruise runs Wednesday-Sunday and departs Westminster Pier at 6.30pm, returning at around 8.30pm. Tickets are priced at ยฃ32pp. Children under 13 years of age are sadly not allowed on board. CityCruises are currently offering a fantastic FLASH DEAL on all Sundowner cruises – book before 18th September to receive a 20% discount! Travel must be taken Sunday-Friday before 31st October.

What are you waiting for?! Treat yourself or your loved ones to a delightful cruise along the Thames – you can thank me later!

Love Jess x

NB. I was invited by CityCruises as a guest for the purpose of this review, but all words, thoughts and photos are of course my own. A big thank you t

 

 

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*GIVEAWAY* A day out in London with Thames Rockets – and how you can win tickets! ๐Ÿš€๐Ÿš€

 

 

Last week I was lucky enough to hop aboard a speedboat on the Thames for a collaboration with a very special company. How cool is that?! Part of my job was to review a speedboat, and not just any old speedboat, a Thames Rocket if you please. Formerly known as London Rib Voyages, Thames Rockets has been renamed and rebranded since it was first launched in 2006, and has previously been awarded the #1 thing to do in London by TripAdvisor, the best tourist attraction by Visit London and, most recently, Family Friendly Attraction of the Year by Visit England. Fresh after their latest award win, the team at Thames Rockets seem to be getting bigger and better, with their awesome speed adventures offering quite possibly the best way to see London. Here’s how my trip went, and how you can WIN a pair of tickets for yourself too…

 

Boarding

 

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Hopping on boardย ๐Ÿš€๐Ÿš€

 

Boarding for any Thames Rocket trip takes place on the London Eye Pier, at the heart of Westminster, right underneath the London Eye. Guests are advised to arrive 15 mins ahead of their allocated booking time and are given life jackets and a safety briefing before stepping on board the speedboat. The boats seat up to 12 people and no matter where you sit, you’ll get an amazing view of the sights from every angle! I took my little sister along for the ride and we were booked on to the Ultimate London Adventure, a 50 minute part guided tour/part speed experience showcasing the best that London has to offer.

 

The Tour

 

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Our tour guide, Rory, showing us the sights!

 

Our speed boat experience gave us the best of both worlds; an informative tour and history of all the famous landmarks along the river for 25 minutes, and then 25 minutes of full frontal speed as we broke through the Thames barrier, and the speed restrictions, and whizzed from one side of the riverbank to the other for as long we could. Our guide, Rory, was so much fun – he told us fun facts about each of the iconic sights whilst not making it sound like a history lesson! I’ve walked and toured London many times before, but I still found out things I hadn’t known about purely from Rory’s fantastic knowledge.

 

The Sights

 

 

Starting at The London Eye, the tour took us backwards to catch a glimpse of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament before heading up river all the way towards Tower Bridge. We passed 22 iconic landmarks along the way including St Paul’s Cathedral, The Shard, The Gherkin, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, HMS Belfast and The Tower of London. Although I’ve seen them all before, gazing at all these amazing monuments from the river gave me a totally new perspective and made me fall in love with them all over again. We also rode under all the famous bridges, from Blackfriars and the Millennium to Waterloo and London Bridge. If I had to pick just one though, it would be the mighty Tower Bridge; it’s somewhere that has a really special place in my heart and I can never ever tire of looking at it – it’s my favourite place in the world!

 

The Speed

 

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Hanging on for dear life… We went SO fast but it was SO much fun!ย ๐Ÿš€๐Ÿš€

 

Ok so I know I was on a speedboat tour, but I did NOT expect us to go so frikkin fast! Once we’d got past the barrier and the speed restrictions had lifted, our wonderful driver Nick went full throttle on the acceleration and we were blasting past Tower Bridge quicker than we could have ever imagined. We rode up and down the river, side to side and round and round whilst the speakers were blaring loud music and giving us a party experience to remember. It was literally so much fun, just like being on a fast roller-coaster at a theme park, but even better as the sights of London were all around us. We had to grab on to our seats but we were in no danger at all of falling out as our crew kept us safe the whole time – just make sure you hold on to anything loose as they can’t be held responsible for flying hats or scarves!

My sister and I absolutely adored our time spent with the Thames Rockets team; the tour, the speed and the music were amazing, we just wish we could have had longer on board! The Ultimate London adventure was perfect for us, but you can choose from a variety of other experiences to suit your needs. Why not hop on board the Thames Lates cruise to see the city sights lit up in all their glory? Or if your need for speed outweighs your need for sightseeing, the Break The Barrier tour is the one for you! Whatever tour you choose, Thames Rockets will not disappoint! Summer is a great time to visit whilst the sun is shining and the landmarks look even more glorious, but this experience can be taken at any time of year, weather permitting of course.

 

 

As part of this review, I’m delighted to announce that I also have a pair of tickets for you to WIN so that you can experience The Ultimate London adventure too! All you have to do to win is:

  • Follow me on Twitter – @jessica16_x
  • Follow Thames Rockets on Twitter – @thamesrockets
  • Retweet my competition tweet (pinned tweet on my Twitter page)

**Competition opens 12/07/17 and closes 31/07/17 – entrants must do all three of the above to qualify. Quoted tweets will not count. Winners to be announced on my Twitter page 03/08/17 and will be sent a pair of Thames Rockets tickets via email.**

 

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What an amazing adventure we had with the Thames Rockets crewย 

 

Wishing you all the best of luck with the competition – this really is an amazing prize and I know whoever wins will have the most amazing day out in our beautiful capital city! I’m rather jealous that I won’t get to do The Ultimate London Adventure all over again, but I will most definitely be back on board with Thames Rockets again soon and can’t wait to try another one of their tours.

GOOD LUCK!

Love Jess x

NB. I was invited as a guest of Thames Rockets for the purpose of this review and giveaway but, as always, all thoughts, opinions and photos are my own.ย A big thank you to Rory, Kai, Nick, Greg and the rest of the Thames Rockets team for looking after us, and for making our day so special.

 

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Thanks for having me guys – had a blast!ย ๐Ÿš€๐Ÿš€

Westminster Review: Top Bars and Restaurants

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Hi everyone,

So I recently had the pleasure of spending the day in London reviewing bars and restaurants for a neighbourhood project that Iโ€™m currently working on for The Culture Trip. Iโ€™ve never done anything like this before, most of my write ups have been based on internet research rather than personal experience as I can’t put too much first person writing into my Culture Trip articles! As you can imagine,ย I jumped at the chance to review some of the trendiest bars and restaurantsย in one of the best parts of London, the beautiful borough of Westminster. Itโ€™s no secret that Iโ€™ve always loved London and I have a particular soft spot for Westminster so was delighted to be able to take on this area for one of my neighbourhood projects.

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I didn’t have long in the capital and knew I had to plan my day as best as I could so I emailed a few of my chosen establishments in advance to set up some meetings. To my delight, managers from my top 2 bars and restaurants replied and I set up meetings with them both; Didier Agueh (Executive Host & Artistic Director) and Gregory (Restaurant Manager)ย of Primo Bar, Park Plaza Hotelย and Sergio of The Zander Bar, part of Bank Westminster. Both interviews went brilliantly and I was able to learn a lot about the establishments as well as get an understanding of the menus andย the types of customers that pass through the doors. My friend and Iย were even treated to some lovely complimentary drinks- thanks guys! So without further ado, here are the big interviews …

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Primo Bar, Park Plaza Westminster Hotel

When did you first open? March 2010

Most popular time of day? After work for business people, or after 9pm on events nights. Primo Bar is proud to host a number of events and music nights throughout the year, includingย  shows from top tribute acts and jazz and soul artists.

Who are your target audience? We attract guests of all ages, but our main target audience are adults over the age of 25. Most are of course hotel guests but we do get large numbers of locals and tourists looking for a luxurious place to relax and unwind after a hard day at work, or to enjoy their Saturday night out.

Signature drink? We run a Cocktail of the Month promotion, and October’s special is a fantastic Spiced Rum Sour for ยฃ12.95. Alternatively we runย a 2-4-1 cocktail deal every weekday from 5-8pm only.

Any famous celebrity spots? Bruno Mars, Nicole Scherzinger, the cast of Fast & Furious 7 and our very own Prime Minister David Cameron!

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Brasserie Joel, Park Plaza Westminster Hotel

When did you first open? March 2010

Most popular time of day? Evening mealย times between Thursdays and Saturdays.

Who are your target audience? Mainly hotel residents, it’s about a 75% to 25% split between residents and members of the public.

Signature dish? Chef Walter Ishizuka is known for his excellent Tournedos Rossini, a fillet of beef served in a truffle sauce.

Any famous celebrity spots? Jessica Wright (of hit TV show The Only Way is Essex) dined here last week actually!

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The Zander Bar, Bank Restaurant

When did you first open? 2007

Most popular time of day? Straight after work for locals, and on into the early part of the evening. We run a Happy Hour promotion between 5pm and 9pm Tuesdays-Fridays.

Who are your target audience? Business people

Signature drink? Our cocktails and our selection of Martini’s

Any famous celebrity spots? Because of our close proximity to The Houses of Parliament we oftenย attract many politicians, one of the most well known being Nick Clegg.

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Bank Restaurant

When did you first open? 2007.

Most popular time of day? Early evening for after work locals and business people, where corporate events and meetings are often held in our private dining rooms.

Who are your target audience?ย Business people during the week, but we also attract tourists and locals during weekend leisure.

Signature dish? We serve a range of meats and steaks in our fantastic tandoori clay oven- they are always popular with our customers!

Any famous celebrity spots? As above, many politicians visit due to our brilliant Westminster location.

My published articles for Best Bars and Best Restaurantsย have just gone live, and I wrote a post on Top Things to See and Do in Westminster a while back. I’d just like to say a big THANK YOU again to Didier, Gregoryย and Sergio for having me- I’ll certainly be back! My next neighbourhood projects are Covent Garden and Canary Wharf so I’ll be heading back down to the capital for some more research soon and will beย posting my reviews and interviews afterwards. I’m thoroughly enjoying my latest projects and cannot wait to share more ofย my handy tips with you and all of The Culture Trip readers.

Speak soon!

Love Jess x

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