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On our recent trip to London, we were introduced to a tour agency website called Hi, hi Guide. The name “Hi, hi” is quite catchy and the concept of the company is to book a private tour with a local in the destination you are traveling to. As soon as we saw the words “local” and “private”, we knew this was an experience we couldn’t pass up. We are all about finding hidden gems and it’s usually the locals that know where they are.
Navigating Hi, hi Guide’s site is very easy. You simply input your destination and then a list of local profiles populate. Everyone offers a different type of guided tour, so you just have to pick which one you would be interested in. We reviewed several profiles and eventually came across the perfect guide, Sarbira. We clicked to view Sarbira’s profile because her opening headline caught our attention:
“Let’s have a calm and curious tour around the little hidden nooks of the city.”
This was exactly what we wanted to do in London. Her guided tours were customizable and her hobbies entailed photography, which was a huge plus for us. We sent in a request to see if she was available for the time and date we wanted to have the tour in London. Sarbira accepted our request and we were thrilled to hear that she was available.
The next steps were a breeze as Sarbira was very responsive and offered many suggestions based off of our interests. We told her that we wanted to take photos and explore the hidden gems of London, so she created a map that had various spots she could take us to on our private tour.
We were having afternoon tea at The Drawing Rooms so this is where Sarbira met us to start our tour. We met in the hotel lobby and Sarbira was super friendly and we immediately felt that we had picked the perfect guide. After the formal introductions and a bit of chit chat we started walking the streets of London.
Sarbira took us around these amazing little nooks in the city and showed us various mews. We had never heard of the term mews and were intrigued. Mews were built in the 18th and 19th century and were originally intended to stable horses and above them were living quarters where the servants lived. It’s a very charming row or street of unique houses with character and they were tucked away behind some of London’s most desirable residential areas.
We were taking photos at Stanhope Mews South when one of the residents, James, came out and began chatting with us. He informed us that the house at the very end of the street was used in the movie, Kingsman and used as agent Harry Hart’s home. He also mentioned that some of the big developers wanted to tear down these areas to build modern structures, but the residents fought hard not to let that happen and we’re glad it’s still here. It would be such a shame to tear down this beautiful nook!
It was so interesting to see how each individual dwelling had it’s own style and many of them had some sort of seating area with a bench or a little table with chairs out front. We saw a few of them with a small barbecue grill. The ones we walked through all had cobblestone streets and it was apparent that the plants and flowers were very well taken care of.
As we walked from one mews to the next we got to see some of the beautiful neighborhoods in London. We asked Sarbira for some of the classic London spots like the red telephone booth and a shot underneath London’s iconic Underground sign. We walked and took photos for two hours and the time really flew by. As we were approaching the end of our tour, we sat down at a little cafe to say our farewells. Sarbira helped us find our way back home and even showed us the way to the nearest bus stop that we needed to get on.
We could not have asked for a better time. We got to see some really unique hidden gems and even got to talk to another local who shared with us a fun movie tidbit. We really appreciated Sarbira being so accommodating and taking pictures of us. She had great photography skills and took so many great photos of us together.
If you are in London and want to experience a private tour, we highly recommend Sarbira. Remember that the tours our customizable, so you don’t have to do the exact same tour that we did. Hi, hi Guide also offers their services in many popular destinations like Barcelona, Hong Kong and Paris, so make sure to check them out on your next trip!