Today is the day I have been waiting for since deciding to go to London. IT’S HARRY POTTER DAY!!!!! We are also checking in to the Wizarding Chambers at the Georgian House Hotel. This, in my opinion, was the main and dare I say only reason to come to London. Excited beyond words!!! I decided to get us on the first tour of the day for the Harry Potter Studio Tour which meant our bus left at 8am. We had to leave our first hotel at 6:30am, get to the new hotel, check our bags, then head to the bus station. We made it with time to spare and began the wait for the bus. Before diving into the details of the tour and the rest of our day here is what we did: Studio Tour, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, Notting Hill, Kings Cross Station, Dinner, Hotel Tour. ***Fair warning…I took A LOT of pics at Harry Potter Tour, you have been warned*** PS—google photo animations complete me.
Harry Potter Tour: Don’t know what I’m talking about, here is the official site link. Ok so technically its called the Warner Brothers Studio Tour London…but its all Harry Potter and that’s all I care about. We booked the ticket that also included the transportation to and from the studio. It was really convenient and they showed Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone on the way!!!!!!! Plus, how cute is this bus. I mean come on!
The bus ride took about an hour but there was some pretty crazy traffic. Once we got there we had a little time until we could queue to get into the actual tour. In the Lobby was a giant Christmas tree that was used during filming. Now would be a good time to mention…we went during Hogwarts in the Snow so everything is decked out like its Christmas time. I was so happy we were there during one of the last weeks for this. Anyway…the tree. So pretty, I love Christmas.
Walking in the queue to get into the tour you walk past none other than the cupboard under the stairs!!!!!!! Ok sorry, Ill try to keep the exclamation points to a minimum. It had original props as well and was just so cool to peer inside.
Once you get past inside you are actually in a little theater where the cast and crew have put together a little video to welcome you to the tour. I’m no stranger to films before attractions and thought we would be exiting to the right and walking through the sound stages. NO SIR! The screen lifted and you are right in-front of the main doors to Hogwarts. There were so many people crammed up there I couldn’t get a picture of the doors closed, but it was amazing and I’m not even going to lie a little of an adrenaline rush. Don’t judge me.
The doors open and we walk into the great hall. Again, decked out for Christmas, the trees had animated tree toppers with tiny witches zooming around on brooms. The pudding had a special effect where they lit it on fire. Each house was represented, the house points were on display (dang Gryffindor), professor’s costumes were at the head table…it was truly breath-taking. I know that sounds lame, but when I watch the movies and read the books I picture myself there so actually being there was just beyond words.
After we had some time to check out the great hall the group was ushered into the actual studio tour (had to make room for the next time slot to come in). Here was where we found the rest of the magic. Sets from almost every major scene in the movie, beautiful props that were used during filming, costumes, a tribute to Alan Rickman, the list goes on and on.
They also had a few demos around. One I stopped and watched was how they did the goblet of fire. Very little CGI was used, this was the actual prop for the special effect.
Joe watched on how they made and used different types of snow for different effects. There was also a video section where you could cast spells but it seems a little awkward and we skipped that. The best part though was the green screen room. The first stop was the Ford Angelina. It was so cool, they did a video (not for purchase sadly) doing different things then took a still photo. Joe and I did this together and thought it was so cute. Then you could put on a house robe and get on a broom! Joe didn’t do this one but I HAD to. Of course with Ravenclaw robes, this one you also did a video (which I bought and I’m 0% sad about it) and took some still photos. I loved this part of the tour and can see why it wasn’t easy filming these scenes. Those brooms are cute but not comfortable!
After the green screen it was time to board a train…the HOGWARTS EXPRESS that is. This is the actual train used in filming and a few times while we were there it steamed up. You could walk into the train and see some props and scenes from the films. It was so cool and Universal Studios Orlando did a great job re-creating their train. There were a few photo ops for platform 9 3/4 which we stopped at and again there were props used from the films.
After the train there is a brief stop at a cafe where we had a boring lunch, butterbeer (not as good as Universal, sorry) then we were at Privet Drive! There was also the night bus, the Potter’s House and a bridge from Hogwarts. It ended up being a beautiful day too, the sun was shining and it had warmed up a little. Being outside Privet Drive was a little surreal.
Walking back inside was the section on animitronics, prosthetics and creatures used in the films. My favorite was Buckbeak, he actually moved. I don’t love prosthetics they freak me out a little so I kept moving, Joe watched a little of the videos they had.
Then we were off to Diagon Alley. Way cooler than Universal (because it seems just a smidge more like you are there) but wish you could have explored more than just the shop fronts. As you walk through Diagon Alley you then come to the paper models of different structures of the films. These were used as models for the eventual actual props or CGI used in the films. The detail in these paper models was insane. I took a zoomed in picture of the prefect’s bathroom so you can see.
But where is the actual model of Hogwarts? You know the one used in filming? Patience my friends, patience!
Beautiful, amazing, detailed, and covered in snow. I was blow away with the size, scale and detail that went into this model. I loved being able to see this with snow and the changing light to simulate different times of day was pretty cool too. After we took copious amounts of pictures we were on to the exit. Before you exited there was the wand room where there was a wand for everyone on the cast and crew. There was also a small tribute to Alan Rickman here too.
Last stop was the gift shop which had a lot of the same merchandise you can find at Universal but we did buy some Warner Bros Studio Tour specific merch. Our bus was set to depart at 1pm, so we headed back to the bus then made our way back to London proper. I loved every minute of this tour and was so happy we went in the winter and the first tour of the day because it was getting really crowded as we left and its not even peak season. If you have the time I would definitely recommend checking this out. I feel it was worth every penny we spent.
Buckingham Palace: Since we got back to London around 2:30pm we still have some daylight left. Our bus station was right by Buckingham Palace so we decided to stop by during the day and see the guards. They are in their winter gear so not as impressive but we did see someone come to the Palace in an old school carriage and that was pretty cool. We also saw some potholes being fixed, even royals have road problems yall!
Hyde Park: This was close to Buckingham and a park I wanted to see. We took a little stroll and again I have to say these parks are just so peaceful. You Londoner’s are a lucky bunch. We walked through the park to get to the Underground (which was our mode of transport the whole time BTW) and enjoyed every minute.
Notting Hill: I wanted to see if this neighborhood was as picturesque as they say. It took us a minute to get to Portobello Road (where there are tons of shops and markets) but once we got in the area we started seeing all the iconic pastel houses. It was so quaint I can see why people love this area. We didn’t walk down to where the more expensive houses were because of time but we did walk into some of the unique shops on Portobello Road. Once the sun started to set we made our way back to the train station for the stop I have been waiting all trip for (aside from the Studio Tour).
King Cross Station: Yes this is a real place and while it doesn’t look exactly like what you see in the movie or Universal Studios its still pretty cool. Its one of the larger stations that we stopped at and nicer too. We made our way to the 8-10 platform area and saw the little setup they had for platform 9 3/4. There was a pretty decent line to take a picture with the cart and the sign but that was the whole point of coming here so I waited about 20 minutes in line. It was pretty cool because they had a photographer and someone who would hold your scarf like you were running through the wall. All the crew had great energy and made it a lot of fun to watch other people jump up. I was the only one decked out in Harry Potter gear and I gave zero poops about it! I got tons of compliments on the hat and scarf though which is always fun. Once I took my pictures (Joe was standing next to the photographer so we didn’t have to buy more pictures) we went into the cute little store right next to it. I FINALLY got my Hedwig yall!!! Every other Hedwig I’ve found is a puppet but this one is a legit stuffed animal. I also got a pin and a shirt because I have a problem and I’m not afraid to admit it. After we walked through the small shop we walked to the memorial for Alan Rickman (right outside the shop). It was touching and beautiful to see all the tributes to such a great actor and man. I stood there for a few minutes taking it all in then we left because I was getting emotional and didn’t need any of that sadness. We were pretty hungry by this time so we headed off for dinner.
Cote: I was in the mood for french food so we settled on this one that had a decent menu and not stupid expensive. It was really cold today and by the time we had taken the tube and walked there I was ready for something warm. Inside the restaurant was very crowded, which at 6pm is always a good sign. We were seated right away and had a very friendly waiter. The decor of the place was a little more modern with a cozy feel. I know that sounds strange but that’s the best way I can describe it. I started with the French Onion Soup and Joe got the Charcuterie Board. I really enjoyed the soup, it had great flavor a good amount of cheese and the bread was sliced french baguette. I didn’t taste Joe’s appetizer but he said it was really good. For dinner I had the Roast Duck Breast and Joe had the 10 oz sirloin with garlic butter and frites (french fries). I loved my duck, paired with cherries you cant really go wrong. Perfectly cooked and a good portion size I was very happy with the meal. Joe liked his steak but said he might have liked something different. It was cooked fine and all but it just wasn’t as good as you would get at a steak place (obviously). For dessert we shared the creme caramel and for some stupid reason I thought this would not be like flan. WRONG. I really hate flan, the texture more than the flavor, and that’s what we got. The flavor was great but ugh, that eggy taste I just don’t like. Oh well, the rest of the dinner was great and I cant fault them for the dessert because I shouldn’t have ordered something I don’t like in the first place. After dinner we headed back to the hotel.
Wizarding Chambers at Georgian House: I wasn’t blogging back then, but early last year news broke that a hotel in London had created rooms themed to be Wizard Chambers from Hogwarts. I was so excited about this and KNEW I had to stay in them when I went to London. These rooms aren’t cheap, at 269 pounds I knew we couldn’t stay here the whole time we were in London but wanted at least 1 night. What better way to end our Harry Potter day then with the Wizarding Chambers. When we arrived at the hotel the Front Desk agent said he had to go check and make sure our room was ready (we had dropped our luggage off that morning). After a few minutes he took us back, through a bookcase that turned out to be a door and down into the “dungeon”. Ok, I just want you guys to know, walking through that bookcase, you hear the theme music from Harry Potter. There is smoke coming up from the bottom of the stair, candles are lit all the way down and I have excited chills running up and down my body. I know immediately we are in for a good time. He takes us down the stairs and shows us to our room (which has an owl key you guys) and I’m blown away. The decor, the smells, the details are just on point. That’s right I did say smells, they had air fresheners everywhere with what can only be described as old library. He showed us a little about or room, and said if we would like to watch one of the Harry Potter movies let him know. I immediately asked for the first movie and he brought it down a few minutes later. We settled in, got organized for our departure tomorrow and passed out under the canopy bed while watching Harry Potter. I will say the rooms aren’t the best functionality wise. The sink was a little weird, no holder for the toilet paper, and the shower clearly had flooding issues (the floor boards outside the bathroom were squishy which is a sure sign someone had flooded it before). I personally would not have enjoyed this room for a longer stay but 1-2 nights it was perfect. I was very sad to check out the next morning, but all good things must come to an end.
Well that’s it. That’s everything we did in London. We had a great time but realized, at least for this time of year, we could have used 1 more day. If there was more daylight we could have done everything in the 4 full days we had. Food, as was expected, was nothing that really blew my socks off but we didnt go hungry. My overall thoughts are, while I enjoyed London, I cant wait to explore somewhere a little more exotic and adventurous. I wont have to wait too long though, Paris is only a few months away!!!!!!!!!
CHIME IN!!! Would you stay in a fully-themed room? Are you a big Harry Potter fan? What’s your favorite travel memory?