Director of Transatlantic Relations The Bertelsmann Foundation Washington, DC
The Bertelsmann Foundation, a transatlantic think-tank based in Washington, DC, was in London shooting a documentary on the impact of Brexit on various parts of the United Kingdom. As part of that production, we were seeking a tour guide who could not only show us key sites, but someone who would also draw historical parallels that would give our film additional depth. We recognized that this combination would not be easy to find, so we felt like we had struck gold with Penny Bowden.
From our first conversation, Penny asked probing questions and noted every detail so she could construct a tour that would fulfil all our expectations. She exceeded them. Penny selected the sites most relevant to our project, and conducted extensive background research on each to ensure that she could provide the content and experience that we needed. During our day together, we traversed Greater London hearing tales of political intrigue that brought us to this particularly volatile moment in British history.
Penny is a tremendous asset as a guide and historian, but her qualities as a person are equally notable. Her energy and good humour propelled our team throughout the day. She delivered on every aspect of this tour with precision and professionalism. Penny was also flexible enough to adapt to additional requests as opportunities arose, which was much appreciated. Whether you find yourself in London for work or leisure, we wholeheartedly recommend spending the day with Penny. We’re certainly glad we did!
Vickie Finney White
Owner Vickie White Group Tours and Travel Sherman, Texas, USA
After more than 40 years in the travel industry escorting groups all over the UK, it’s one of the easiest exercises ever to pick my favourite guide…Penny Bowden has proven herself more than capable in challenging situations, creative in easier ones and always charming and charismatic. We have stayed in touch over the years, and she’s my point of reference for anything British. She’s the one I always depend on for information that only comes from experience and caring. We’re looking forward to our next visit to the UK, and especially travelling with Penny!
Riva del Garda
My 11-year-old son and I hired Penny as our all day Blue Badge guide round London, and how pleased we were!
As well as walking around, she had us riding the tube and on the iconic red double decker buses to get us easily from one London area to another and to give us the grass roots experience.
We were both desperate to see the Changing of the Guard. Little did we know that we would see many sections of it, not just the bit at Buckingham Palace, and that our time with the military would also include the mounted guard.
She knew exactly where to position us and when to move us on so we got the best view and the best photos. What a treat!
Above all, she helped us make the most of our day in London and left us with lots of tips on where to go, what to do and how to do it for the rest of our time in the city without her.
We had three days in London, with our niece and six kids, and wanted them to see as much as possible. Not only the typical destinations, but also some further out of the city. Penny took on the challenge happily! We booked a full day tour with her out to Stonehenge and Windsor castle. We had a wonderful coach arranged by her with a wonderful driver, Clive. Penny regaled us with info on the way to Stonehenge and then gave the jetlagged kids (and adults) some quiet time to rest on the long drive out. Our visit at the site was organised and efficient. We came, we saw, we conquered! Penny had the tickets ready, expertly guided us through the historic site, and even took some excellent photos! She also knew just the right place to stop for us to eat our lunch which accommodated our dietary requirements. We then moved on to Windsor Castle were Penny whisked us through each room with knowledge and wonderful stories. She even tried to get the timing right to get inside and in place to see a mini-changing of the guard.
Penny was a really wonderful tour guide and wonderful company for the day. She is full of energy, has a great sense of humour, and goes out of her way to make things work. We had an ambitious itinerary and Penny was on board to make it happen! She kept adults, teens, and small kids engaged and made the day truly memorable!
If you ever want to go to Europe please check this lady out she is worth every Penny you pay her! 😉 My girls and I had a blast with her for our 10 day stay.
Nancy de P
We had a whirlwind visit in London that was highlighted by a private walking tour led by Penny Bowden. Penny met us at our hotel in the morning and after hearing what was on our wish list to see and determining how much time we had, we set about seeing London from an insider’s perspective.
Penny’s knowledge of history and all things that make London what it is, is quite remarkable. With our limited time, we felt we got to see the sites that you should not miss and Penny gave thorough explanations at every turn. We then went back the next day to some of the locations that called for additional exploration.
Penny was approachable and engaging. I would highly recommend her services as a tour guide in London.
I work as a tour manager with very demanding and exacting groups who want the best. As a Blue Badge guide myself in Yorkshire, I know what standard groups are looking for because I ask it of myself, and on our tour of London Penny didn’t disappoint.
We had a tight schedule but she managed to give my group an unforgettable tour of the main highlights using her skill and know-how to get us round and off the coach for the best photo opportunities.
She was absolutely outstanding and so engaging that it made my task easier for the rest of the tour. My people were absolutely blown away by her – and so was I!
Isle of White
If you want someone to banish jetlag and give a tour group something to remember, Penny’s the one for you! I was the tour director when she took my US group on a full day’s guided coach panoramic round London with time slotted in to visit Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London.
We saw and enjoyed guided tours with her round those two places, she manoeuvred all 30 of them into the best place to see the Changing of the Guard and managed lunch as well. And not one of them felt at all rushed such was her expertise and charm!
She managed to pull everything together, guide us and the driver through the nightmare London traffic and timed it just right to get everyone where they were supposed to be to see everything and get great photos.
Not only that but the commentary was spot on, entertaining and hilarious in some sections. My group was suffering badly from jetlag when they started, but by the end they were exhilarated and had aching sides from all the laughter!
There’s nobody else they or I would have for any tour of London or the other country areas she covers. Please God that’s soon!!
East London, UK
I was lucky enough to go on a tour of the Houses of Parliament, and even luckier that my guide was Penny! She pitched the tour perfectly. I was worried I would be bombarded with dates, but they were fed into the narrative, which flowed seamlessly as we moved around the building. We were all put at ease at the beginning by her good-humoured approach, and at the end, as well as answering questions relating to the tour, Penny advised visitors on other places of interest in London.
I travelled with my son to the UK to celebrate his 10th birthday. I spent a lot of time researching where to go and who would guide us around the various wonders in the country. For our day touring London I went straight to the best and searched for a Blue Badge Tourist Guide and was introduced to Penny. We wanted a private tour so she could create the perfect day for us from start to finish. Going with a private tour was a great choice for us. Prior to our trip we told Penny what we were interested in seeing and she plotted our day from there. We hit all the main historical attractions: Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Parliament, Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guard, Tower of London, Tower Bridge and we finished the day off with a boat ride down to Greenwich.
Penny had a lot of ground to cover, literally and historically. She had to be mindful of the interests and attention span of my son. She kept things fun and interesting. She mixed in history with facts that would appeal to a young person. When she saw his interest rise in what we were seeing or what she was speaking about she would spend more time on it and when she saw him distracted she would move us along.
We had a magical day learning about the historical side of London. I highly recommend working with Penny. She cared so much about finding out about our interests prior to our trip, planning a thoughtful route and giving recommendations on where else to tour outside of London. She was great to work with and made our day extremely memorable.