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Exploring London in a New Era

London Primary

The Future of Cities

Join NPR to explore the changing face of one of Europe’s most vibrant cities. In preparation for the Summer Olympics in 2012, London celebrated a boost in popularity and the completion of a variety of major architectural projects. Now, a decade later, examine the legacy of the 2012 Olympics and how the city continues to manage the competing challenges of historic preservation, urban development, and the desire to create sustainable new neighborhoods. Visit the Docklands and Canary Wharf transformed in the late 80s; see the ever-changing soaring skyline of The City, once the financial hub of Europe and discover the iconic Battersea Power Station; after decades of delay this landmark has been turned into a new luxury and sustainable neighborhood, an area also chosen as the site for the new US Embassy. Delve into formerly abandoned areas of the city and see how urban planners are meeting population needs while preserving historic land and monuments. As you contemplate the evolution of London over the course of the past century, consider the impact on housing and commercial real estate from current challenges: Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic. Immigration has historically fueled economic growth in London, yet recent reports show that 700,000 Europeans have left London and returned to their homelands in the past year. Meet with people actively engaged in urban planning and design and experience private tours and discussions with key players as we explore the diverse areas of London and contemplate the future of this city.


  • Discover the ever-changing face of London, as disused areas are turned into modern neighborhoods including the Docklands and Coal Drops Yard
  • Join an architect-led tour of the iconic Battersea Power Station
  • Explore the skyscrapers of London, visit the Sky Garden and also ride to the top of The Shard
  • Meet with an urban planner to discuss the challenges involved with redeveloping former industrial locations
  • Indulge in English cuisine from traditional pub fare and afternoon tea to top London restaurants and tasty, aromatic Indian dishes

Tour Pricing

  • Departure

  • Single Occupancy

  • Double Occupancy

  • Deposit

  • October 9-15, 2022

  • $7,330

  • $5,990

  • $500

London Day 1

Day 1

Welcome to London

Arrive into London Heathrow this morning and transfer to Mayfair in central London and check into the quintessentially English townhouse hotel, The Chesterfield. Gather with fellow travelers for afternoon tea. As you feast on scones and clotted cream, your host sets the scene for your discoveries this week: delve into London’s varied neighborhoods from the previously neglected areas in the East End turned into the Docklands and the Olympic Park to Battersea’s iconic Power station south of the river and much more. Learn how the city has worked to revitalize and regenerate areas by providing housing, commercial space and offices to London’s burgeoning population in a sustainable way. Dinner is at leisure.


Afternoon tea


The Chesterfield

Day 2

East End Transformed

The creation of The Olympic Park has remarkably transformed one square mile of industrial land in East London to a landscape of green space and wildlife habitat, imaginative art installations, and sports venues, including the Olympic Stadium, the Aquatics Centre, and Velodrome. Meet with Jonathan Kendall, a practicing urban designer and professor at the Bartlett School of Architecture as you explore The Olympic Park; learn how its development has affected the nearby neighborhoods. Explore the park’s four different zones—the Street Market, Britannia Row, World Square, and Orbit Circus—each with a unique atmosphere and design features. At 377 feet high, the Orbit is Britain’s tallest art structure. Learn about the demolition and salvage of materials used to build Olympic Park, including the green building designs to create energy efficiency. After lunch continue to the docklands and learn about the regeneration of this area – one of the first modern regeneration projects to take place in London in the late 80s. From the busiest port in the world to one of London’s most derelict areas to one of the city’s—and the world’s—most extensive revitalization projects, the vibrancy of the Docklands is palpable. Today the area is a major European financial district, and the warehouses are among some of the best preserved in London. Learn how it had become (at least pre-Brexit) a pulsating center for businesses, restaurants, museums, and shopping. Discover past and present concerns about the on-going development and how the Docklands’ transformation has affected East Londoners. Return to the hotel for an evening at leisure.


Breakfast & lunch


The Chesterfield
London Day 3

Day 3

Power Station to Contemporary Living

Explore Battersea Power Station this morning. This iconic London landmark, south of the river, designed by Sir Gilbert Scott in the 1930s was originally a coal-fired power station, it has sat derelict and abandoned for decades and in 1980 was declared a Grade II listed building. Multiple projects to regenerate this enormous space have been thwarted by planning permission or lack of funds. Now it has been transformed at great cost, into a magnificent urban complex; a world within a world containing everything from a microbrewery, eateries, cafes, events spaces, cinema, The Turbine Theatre, and the UK Apple campus. Hear from renowned architectural critic, Jonathan Glancey FRIBA about the depth and breadth of the renovation of this massive heritage project and the regeneration of the surrounding area of Nine Elms complex, creating a hugely ambitious new district of London. Enjoy a sumptuous seafood lunch, locally sourced from the historic Billingsgate Market; from the Wrights Brother restaurant admire the spectacular views over Battersea Power Station and the river Thames. A little further along the river, admire the new location of the US Embassy. As one of the first to invest into this area of the city, the US government has helped refuel economic revitalization of this once industrial neighborhood. Completed in 2017 the contemporary translucent crystalline cube has received mixed reviews. The façade allows generous natural light into the interior. Its form is meant to represent transparency, openness and equality, core to American democratic values. The design of the building and the landscaping around the Embassy display a strong commitment to sustainable technologies (subject to confirmation, we will try to request a visit inside but will definitely view from the exterior) Return to the hotel. Early this evening sample gins during a curated tasting followed by a lecture by your host on regeneration and rejuvenation versus gentrification in London. The evening is at leisure to discover one of the many international culinary delights on offer in London or enjoy a night at the theater.


Breakfast & lunch


The Chesterfield

Day 4

Soaring Skyline

Stroll through the City of London. Cast your gaze upwards to see how the City has transformed in recent decades; the multitude of new skyscrapers are a testament to the financial muscle of London in recent history. A local expert leads you on a walking tour that will take in 30 St Mary Axe (also known as The Gherkin), originally built by Swiss Re and now known by its street address and designed by Foster + Partners, 20 Fenchurch Street (The Walkie Talkie), The Leadenhall Building (The Cheese Grater), Heron Tower, and perhaps the most controversial 22 Bishopsgate (The Wodge). Pause for morning coffee at the top of the “Walkie Talkie” in the famous Sky Garden. This is London’s highest public garden with the ultimate views of London’s skyline from the north side of the river Thames. Opinion in London is divided over these new high-rise buildings of epic proportions and contemplate how Brexit and the post-Covid era and the new “office normal” will affect these monoliths. Juxtaposed among these financial powerhouses are some of London’s most historic quarters. Sit down for lunch in Leadenhall at an historic English pub and feast on typical pub fare and a pint. The rest of the day and evening are at leisure to check out some of the many wonderful museums and sites.


Breakfast & lunch


The Chesterfield
London Day 5

Day 5

Industrial Area to Thriving Urban Neighborhood

Enjoy a leisurely start today with a free morning, perhaps visit the Royal Academy of Arts or explore the elegant shops in Mayfair and Piccadilly or stroll through St James’ Park. This afternoon head to the north of the city. Until very recently, Kings Cross was notorious for the lack of investment in the area. While it had thrived in the late 19th century as an industrial transportation hub with the reliance on railways and narrowboats, when road replaced rail freight post WWII, the area went into rapid decline; with run-down train stations at Kings Cross and St Pancras and abandoned Victorian warehouses, the railway sidings, disused buildings and contaminated land. A local project manager will set the scene and explain how this mammoth regeneration project got off the ground. Wander through the Kings Cross area and into Coal Drops Yard; these former Victorian warehouses that would receive the coal from the north have been renovated and brought life back into the neighborhood. This pleasant pedestrian urban quarter is now filled with restaurants, retail outlets and exhibition spaces and is rapidly becoming a “must-see” part of town. The afternoon’s stroll concludes at St Pancras, a station revitalized as the hub for the fast train connections to the north and as the key connection to Europe through the Eurostar train link. Inside the beautifully restored Victorian St Pancras hotel, dine in the Gilbert Scott Brasserie tonight. London chef Marcus Wareing has worked with top chefs including Gordon Ramsay and owns several restaurants around London that have already earned several Michelin stars.


Breakfast & dinner


The Chesterfield

Day 6

South of the River

Venture across the river to view another new hot spot. Discover the origin of the name ‘Elephant and Castle’ as you walk through this area, a thriving hub for the technology industry. The local Southwark Council has earmarked it for new homes, meeting spaces, and entertainment venues. At the heart of Southwark stands the iconic Shard designed by Renzo Piano. Take the lift to the Viewing Gallery for a spectacular view (weather permitting) over this metropolis and try to grasp the magnitude of London’s reinvention in recent decades through the revitalization of disused quarters into thriving neighborhood hubs. This afternoon is at leisure, you might like to amble through the bustling Borough Market, London’s premier food market or wander along the South Bank to Shakespeare’s Globe or return to the hotel to relax. Gather tonight for a farewell dinner at the highly acclaimed Indian restaurant, Chutney Mary’s where colorful dishes are infused with an aromatic blend of spices and flavors.


Breakfast, reception, & dinner


The Chesterfield
London Day 7

Day 7


Transfer back to London Heathrow for individual flights home.





Meet Your Trip Expert

Frances Anderton covers Los Angeles design and architecture in print, radio, podcasts, and at public events. She is currently writing a book, "Common Ground: Multifamily Housing in Los Angeles," for Angel City Press. She also co-curates public events and talks for the Design Center at the Helms Bakery District. She curated the exhibition Sink Or Swim: Designing For a Sea Change, about resilient architecture, shown at the Annenberg Space for Photography. She has served as correspondent on West Coast Design for the New York Times and Dwell magazine. Her books include Grand Illusion: A Story of Ambition, and its Limits, on LA’s Bunker Hill, based on a studio she co-taught with Frank Gehry and partners at USC School of Architecture. For many years she worked at KCRW public radio station, first as producer of Warren Olney’s current affairs show "Which Way, LA?" and "To the Point," and then as host of the radio show DnA: Design and Architecture radio show. She now produces independent podcasts; they include Desert X and Rodeo Drive: The Podcast. Anderton was raised in the UK, in the city of Bath. She then studied architecture at the Bartlett School at UCL in London and became an editor at The Architectural Review magazine. Her first assignment was a 1987 special issue on Los Angeles architecture; four years later she moved to Los Angeles. Honors include the Esther McCoy 2010 Award for her work in educating the public about architecture and urbanism from USC School of Architecture’s Architectural Guild, and the 2020 ICON Award from the Los Angeles Design Festival. Follow Frances on Twitter @FrancesAnderton

Note: Frances Anderton is not an NPR employee or NPR expert