I solemnly swear I am up to no good!
One of the best weekends I’ve ever had. I love London and I love Harry Potter so combine that in to one weekend and you’re on to a winner! Last year I was stuck trying to think what to get Jake for a Christmas present, he has so many things and instead of buying something materialistic I always like to think out of the box and arrange a trip away or a fun experience for the both of us, that’s when I thought of the Warner Bros. Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter. I’d been to the studios years ago when it was fairly new, with my sister Bex and I absolutely loved it. Both Jake and I are huge Harry Potter fans so this seemed like the perfect Christmas prezzie for him to enjoy! Safe to say, it went down a treat (even though he had to wait over 3 months to go) and even better, I got to go with him! I’d heard that the studios had changed since I had last been but I was not prepared for how much had been added and improved. We were booked in to start the tour at 10am and seen as the studios are based in Watford, a good 4 hour journey we had to set off at 5am to arrive on time. The journey down was great, I love driving so the early start and long trip didn’t really faze me. We finally arrived after stopping for a Greggs breakfast (proper English we are) and collected our tickets. The entrance to the building is spectacular and you haven’t even started the tour by this point. With the theme music playing and a Hungarian Horntail dragon looming above it gets you really excited for what’s to come!
We started our tour at 10am where you’re led past the Cupboard Under the Stairs and into a cinema. I did remember this from the first time I went but I was still so excited and kept my mouth shut so I didn’t ruin the opening for Jake. Whilst you’re seated you watch a short film about the making of Harry Potter until the screen comes up and there you see the doors to the Great Hall. Once opened you’re led in to the hall which is set up as the film would be. We spent a good while taking photos and checking out the different outfits worn by cast members and props used throughout their 10 years of filming. As you wander around the rest of the tour you come across all sorts of props, outfits and sets. Some of the sets are unbelievable and exactly how it looks in the films with Dumbledore’s office, the Gryffindor Common Room, the Weasley House and Hagrid’s Hut just to name a few.
Next comes the Forbidden Forest (this is new since I’d last been) and it is absolutely amazing! With smoke machines blowing out on to the ground and spiders hanging down from the roof you feel like you’re actually there. You can also control the wind and lightning in the room to give a bit of extra drama too. I think the main focal point for me was Buckbeak, the woman we spoke to told us it was made out of thousands of individual feathers and it looks unbelievably real. (it even bows down to you!) The next set you’re taken to is Platform 9 and 3/4 where you’ll get to see the Hogwarts Express, pretend you’re running through the wall with your luggage and have a wander through the train to see the different carriages laid out for different films.
There’s a good stopping point for food after this as they have a cafe and an outside area, where you can wander in to Privet Drive, check out the Night Bus and try Butter Beer. The next most impressive moment for us was Gringott’s Bank. The set was breathtaking and looked like we walked straight in to the film with goblins counting their money and the dragon guarding the vaults, so impressive! We spent some time here just to take in all the details they’d added when creating the set. From here you wander in to Diagon Alley with all the shops you’ll remember from the film like Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes and Ollivanders. The final and probably the most breathtaking part of the tour is the Hogwarts Castle Model which changes to daytime and nighttime every few minutes. The intricate details used to create this model is unbelievable and even though I’ve seen it before, it was still completely jaw dropping!
If anyone is thinking of doing the Harry Potter Studios Tour I’d strongly recommend it. It’s only £45 and you have hours to wander round and take pictures to look back on. The whole experience was incredible, it was so good that we didn’t want to leave! But we were making our way down to London to do some sightseeing and stay over for the night so we had to get on our way. It’s only an hour to get from Watford to Central London and we were heading in the direction of Westminster as I’d found a cracking deal at a Premier Inn Hub literally yards away from Westminster Abbey and I’d advise looking in to these rooms if you’re in and around London as they’re cheap but so modern and clean. We parked up dropped our bags and spent our evening strolling along Southbank in the sunshine listening to street musicians and watching performers and most importantly taking lots and lots of pictures. We decided to eat at Wahaca which is a colourful Mexican restaurant near the London Eye and we definitely made the right choice. After we’d stuffed ourselves with burritos and nachos we made our way back to the hotel for a few G&T’s and a good nights kip ready for our day of sightseeing.
On the first night of staying in a hotel I never sleep well, I don’t know what it is, whether it’s because I’m not used to the room or I think I can hear scary monsters outside (I’m such a child). So I didn’t sleep that well but woke up early in the morning to get a head start on our day. My main aim for our final day in London was to visit ELAN Cafe in Hans Crescent. I’d seen my Instagram feed absolutely full of girls having their pictures taken in front of pink walls covered in Love Heart sweets and sipping on pink coffee and I’d decided I wanted to drag Jake along to experience it. I’m so glad I did, it was amazing, a female heaven! Everything is pink, floral and there are cute quotes in neon signs covering the walls so we spent a good hour eating croissants and taking endless amounts of pictures there. Once I’d finally finished being a proper girly girl we wandered over to Buckingham Palace to visit Queenie and made our way back to our hotel. We took the long route and wandered through Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square and Trafalgar Square. I love walking through these areas, especially on a sunny day as they’re always absolutely buzzing and there’s so much to see! One tip I’ll give you is to visit Neals Yard, about 10 minutes from Leicester Square and 5 from Covent Garden. It’s a hidden gem, nestled in between a few cafe’s and barbers, a yard with a few small shops and everything is coloured like the rainbow! I love London, it’s one of my favourite cities and every time we go we discover something new. There are so many places and things I want to see and do so I’m sure we’ll be back very soon for another weekend of being a tourist!