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Exploring London the ‘Original Travel’ Way

We’re all travelling less these days, so it makes sense that when we do actually manage to get away we make a positive change in the way we explore the world. Whether it’s at home or overseas, our travel experiences should be more memorable, more mindful and more meaningful. Who better than Original Travel to help us do that.

Editorial Feature sponsored by Original Travel

A Day Out with Original Travel

‘Travel less, travel better’ is at the centre of Original Travel’s new travel collection. I was invited on a mini press trip to learn more about their ethos. You may think this was just a day out in London but Original Travel made it special in so many ways. Here’s how.

Original Travel could have sent a press release or invited us to lunch for a briefing about their new collection but these guys like to do things in their own particular way and they do it so incredibly well.

Bespoke handmade globes from Bellerby’s

The name says it all. Original Travel. The company specialises in luxury personalised holidays with exceptional attention to detail, unique touches and exclusive access. From holidays in the UK to adventures in far-away places they go the extra mile to ensure you have an outstanding holiday. 

A small group of bloggers, journalists and members of the Original Travel team gathered in Shoreditch for lunch before our East London tour. Located near to Shoreditch Station, on the corner of Great Eastern Street, you’ll find Gloria and she’s really rather fabulous.

Gloria, Shoreditch
Gloria, Shoreditch

Trattoria Gloria brings with her an authentic Italian vibe and excellent food in a glamorous setting. Stepping through the door you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d been transported to the Italian Riviera. The theme is seventies Capri and all the glitz, polished marble, gold leaf mirrors and candelabras that accompany it. Gloria is vivacious, vibrant and voluptuous. She’s fun too.

We ensconce ourselves in the convivial private wine room lined with an insurmountable wine collection. But what of the food, could it compete with it its surroundings? It can and it does. The food is first-rate and pairs beautifully with the ambiance.

Ingredients are carefully sourced from selected producers around Italy. The food was pre-ordered and to start we enjoyed antipasti sharing dishes of fennel salami, pesto drizzled burrata, arancini and sun-dried tomatoes.

Contemporary Italian classics followed for our main course. The soft doughy Neapolitan pizza hit the spot but the Mafalda pasta served with fresh black Molise truffle and mascarpone was unforgettable.

Just when we thought we couldn’t eat any more the lemon meringue pie made an entrance. Not just any lemon meringue pie, this foot high dome was torched to golden perfection in front of our eyes. Sliced with ceremony and precision, a teetering slice was delivered to our table. Delectable? Yes. Memorable? Totally.

I’d have been happy to stay in the company of Gloria but the street art of Shoreditch was calling…

Shoreditch Street Art Tour

We met our guide, arranged by Original Travel, outside the restaurant and hot-footed it straight into a Shoreditch street art tour. Not just any street art tour, this was an Original Travel street art tour with all the unique experiences and interesting facts about London that come with it.

Romeo and Juliet mural Shoreditch
Romeo and Juliet mural, Shoreditch

For our first stop, the Horse and Groom pub is where we lay our scene… Street artist Osch has created a mural of two star-crossed lovers close to the site where London’s second oldest playhouse, the Curtain theatre, once stood.

The Curtain was built in 1577 and is where the first performances of Romeo and Juliet took place. Look closely and you’ll see a clue on the book – the initials R and J. The remains of the theatre, where Shakespeare himself performed, were discovered by archaeologists in 2012.

Photoshoot and Street Art on Ebor Street, Shoreditch.jpg
Photoshoot on Ebor Street, Shoreditch

Colourful Ebor Street is our next stop where we see a mural painting in progress and pass one of David Speed’s popping neon works. There’s also a photo shoot with both model and photographer blending into Ben Eine’s I don’t like this anymore. It’s all happening in Ebor Street.

Our final stop on the street art tour is Bubble Girl by Jimmy C aka Australian artist James Cochrane. This mural has graced the wall of Whitby Street for over ten years and is frequently de-tagged and spruced up by the artist who now lives in London.

Bubble Girl with artist Jimmy C
Bubble Girl with artist Jimmy C

As our guide tells us about the mural a guy comes over to join us. Original Travel has arranged for Bubble Girl artist Jimmy C to join us on the tour. He explains how the mural is a fusion of oil painting and graffiti painted entirely from dots and dashes of spray paint, a technique he calls ‘drip painting’. 

How many street art tours have you been on where you get to meet a world-renowned artist? It’s unique experiences like this that Original Travel excel at be it in Shoreditch, Shanghai or even the Seychelles.

Cargo in Shoreditch

Next stop is Cargo London where we’re given a canvas, a short tutorial and a raft of spray paints. It’s time to try our hand at spray painting our own mural. My technique obviously needs a bit of work…

I didn’t realise at the time but looking at my canvas now I can see I was totally influenced by the colours in Bubble Girl!

Before leaving Cargo we stop by the garden to take a peek at the Banksy that adorns the outside wall. A street art tour wouldn’t be a street art tour without a Banksy would it…

Roman London

Outside Cargo we’re met by one of Original Travel’s ‘past preserver’ experts. We learn about some fascinating Roman history in London from the nearby A10 which started life as the first Roman road in Britain to a Roman amphitheatre which can be found under the streets of London. I’m definitely going to check that out next year.

A fleet of shiny black London cabs await kerb side and we dive in and head off for our next activity.

Our London cab driver is also an Original Travel concierge. The company have a network of well-connected concierges around the world. These concierges live locally and have in-depth insider knowledge on their destination so they can advise on the best things to see and do that suit you. They’ll ensure that your holiday runs smoothly and they are best-placed to secure that hard-to-get restaurant reservation or out-of-hours access to museums and galleries.

Bellerby & Co Globe Makers

I was very excited about our final stop of the day because I’m a bit of a cartophile. That’s a map lover to the uninitiated. In fact, I’m a total map geek – even our wedding had a map and travel theme and I’ve adored maps, atlases and globes since I was a child.

Bellerby’s bespoke globe makers is my idea of heaven and this exclusive visit is extra special because they don’t usually open to the public. 

Upstairs, the studio is festooned in fairy lights and foliage. It’s filled with heavy old furniture, colourful rugs and all the trappings that go into artisan globe making. It’s a magical space with globes in progress of all sizes, colours and themes perched on bookshelves, desks and chests. We spend a couple of hours travelling the world without even leaving London.

Strips of map, called gores, are strung up around the studio to dry before being pasted onto naked spheres. The pasting process is called ‘goreing the globe’. We had a chance to try this and I can tell you it’s not easy.

The gores are dampened before being pasted onto the globe. The paper is pressed down and gently stretched to line up with the neighbouring gore. Let’s just say damp paper is incredibly delicate and it takes around six months to learn how to do this expertly. My five minute attempt left a lot to be desired.

Artists paint intricate coastlines, mountain ranges, flora and fauna onto the globes. Themes are designed around the customer’s wishes and range from animals and cities to personal travel routes and interests. Downstairs, plinths and stands are expertly crafted to display the globes.

Founder, Peter Bellerby, explained how the business started after he’d tried to buy a bespoke globe for his father’s 80th birthday. He couldn’t find one anywhere and after much trial and error he made the globe himself. Along the way a business was born.

Bellerby's Globes, Shoreditch
Bellerby’s Globes

The globes are entirely bespoke and made to each customer’s exact requirements including themes, colours and size. The smaller globes take a minimum of 3-4 months to craft and some of the giants take as long as four years. Each globe is a work of art and a thing of beauty.

Original Travel

It’s apt that we end our day at Bellerby’s because their values align perfectly with those of Original Travel’s. Each globe is bespoke, designed and made with the incredible care, thought and the utmost attention to detail – just like the itineraries and programs that Original Travel create.

Original Travel Day

Original Travel work with you to create the tailor-made holiday of your dreams incorporating all your personal wish list items. Local concierges, expert guides, fast track check-in and airport meet and greet and lounge access are all available to keep things stress-free. Then they work their magic and add in special exclusive elements and extras you didn’t even know were possible.

Original Travel’s ‘Travel Less Travel Better‘ is all about taking fewer trips but making those trips more meaningful and memorable. It’s about taking the time to travel longer, caring about the places you’re visiting, having a more immersive experience and making a positive impact on the community. There are big overseas milestone trips to choose from or UK holidays and experiences closer to home.

Make 2022 the year you do something or go somewhere you’ve always wanted to experience but do it the Original Travel way and enjoy an amazing holiday that will also become a very special lifetime memory.