Original Bus Tour review (May 2013)
This is an old review Read my most recent review here
I was quite looking forward to doing the Original Bus Tour. What could be nicer than sitting on the top deck of a double decker bus being whizzed around the city, wind in your hair, relaxing in your seat and learning all there is to know about London? That sounded like a decent way to pass an afternoon, I thought.
Alas I was wrong...
First of all, it was freezing cold, but that's hardly the bus company's fault. I don't blame them for the weather. But it's not so much fun sitting on the open top-deck when there are icicles hanging off your face. Secondly, and more importantly, the price was a total rip-off -- 28 quid for one person! Thirty quid for a bus trip! You can get the National Express all the way to Spain for that price. And what's worse, is that they have reduced the ticket validity from 2 days to just one. I swear on my life that you used to be able to use these ticket things spread over two days, which wouldn't be quite so bad, but now you only get 24 hours. And when you buy the ticket they give you a whole list of things that you can do with it... six different bus routes, three walking tours and a river trip, which sounds like great value for money... but I was sitting on the bus for two hours just doing ONE of the routes (the red route), so there's no way that you could cram them all in. Especially when you stop and do some other stuff along the way too... like have lunch. I reckon the most that you could feasibly do in 24 hours is one full bus route and one walking tour -- the rest of the stuff will be totally wasted because you'll run out of time.
They also make a big play on the fact that you can use the ticket as a sort of travelcard, hopping-on and off the bus whenever and wherever you want, which sounds quite handy. But a real travelcard only costs 8 quid, and you can use it on every bus in London. Whereas with this one, you are restricted to only using it on the sightseeing buses (with very limited routes). And a travelcard also gets you onto the tube too -- this one doesn't. And London buses run all evening and through the night, but according to my ticket the last sightseeing bus leaves at 5 o'clock in the evening! So it's hardly the same as a travelcard.
But what about the actual sightseeing trip? Is that any good? The commentary is not too bad I suppose. You get a little pair of headphones which you plug into your seat, and there's about ten languages to choose from. The lady tells you all the usual touristy stuff as you go past the buildings. She doesn't have too much time to go into detail, of course, because you are driving past on the road at the time, but at least you get to see all of the major sights.
But that brings me to the traffic... once again, it's not the bus company's fault that the traffic in London sometimes crawls around at a snail's pace, but for large parts of the trip you will find yourself tootling around at 2 miles per hour. So you get twenty seconds of commentary, and then five minutes of listening to lift music as you inch your way to the next destination. I am not kidding when I say that the 'red route' took me two hours to complete -- I timed it. Why would you want to do any of the other routes when you've just spent two hours sitting on the first one?
And that leads me to a major problem... there is no one route that covers all of the sights. The red route does most of them, but doesnt go any farther west than Hyde Park Corner. So you never get to see places like Harrods, the Royal Albert Hall and the big major museums. If you want to see those then you'll have to get the Blue route, but that doesn't go anywhere near the City, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, St. Paul's and Parliament. It's basically impossible to see every sight unless you do two different routes, which means sitting on the bus for 4 hours.
I've got one last complaint... and this is last one, I promise... Because they are trying their best to be a hop-on hop-off bus, you end up visiting places that have no real interest for the camera clickers. The red route takes a little detour to Victoria Coach Station, for example. It even drives right inside it, in case some tourists want to get off and catch their coach back home. So that's a boring ten-minute detour that has no sightseeing interest whatsoever.
If a ticket was half the price, or lasted 48 hours instead of 24, then I might have recommended it. But spending the thick end of 30 quid on this is a waste of money. Take my advice and give it a miss!
[Edit: I've since had a little read of the small print on the leaflet and it says "The ticket is valid for use for 24 hours, or 48 hours on occasions when such tickets are available". So it seems that they must reduce it down to 24 hours at busy periods. So be aware!]
Guest – My daughter and I are coming to Europe September 9, 2014 we will be spending two days in London Sept. 9-11. What would you suggest as the best way to get around to see all that we can see for a good price. We definitely would like to see the Changing of the Guards!! I have been researching and so far I got bad reviews for The Big Bus Co. and The Original Bus Tour another company I checked out is Viator they have a Royal London sightseeing tour. This is our first time coming to Europe so this all so new to me and I need some help. When I clicked on London Drum city guide there is a good 2 day itinerary that starts with Day 1 on the London Eye but it looks to me that this route is done completely on our own and I'm not sure how easy that will be for us.
Admin – I'll try and answer this on the other topic you posted - www.londondrum.com/frm/?f=3&t=3885
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