There are many places to get a breathtaking view of London, from Hampstead Heath to the Shard. However, you can see the UK capital from a truly different perspective by booking onto a helicopter tour and spotting the city’s iconic landmarks from 1,000 feet in the air.
Luckily, there’s no shortage of companies offering these unique inner-city flights.
The London Helicopter is one of the leading names when it comes to providing spectacular unobstructed views of the city.
It claims to be the only company to offer sightseeings tours from a heliport in central London, which is certainly an advantage for guests at Grand Royale London hotel.
Flights with The London Helicopter can last for anything from 12 minutes to half an hour and take you past Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, Tower Bridge, Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace and many more, with nothing but thin air separating you from these world-famous landmarks.
Three routes are available: the basic package – London Buzz – lasts for 12 minutes and includes the Shard, London Eye, Trafalgar Square, Battersea Power Station, Royal Albert Hall, the Oval cricket ground and Marble Arch amongst others.
The second route – London Sights – is a little longer at 18 minutes and takes in all the landmarks just mentioned, as well as Canary Wharf and Craven Cottage – home of Fulham Football Club.
London Max is the flagship package with 36 landmarks included in its comprehensive sightseeing tour. Lasting 30 minutes, this route includes Richmond Park, Blackheath, the National Maritime Museum, The Dome, London City Airport and Thames Barrier.
For a fee, you can upgrade your flight with a post-flight glass of bubbly, which means after landing, you’ll be whisked off to one of London’s swankiest bars for a glass or bottle of top-shelf champagne. You won’t be able to sip any champers during the flight though and the organisers have the right to stop anyone deemed to be drunk or under the influence of drugs from flying.
There’s also a chauffeur service that will get you to the Battersea heliport on time and in comfort in a top-of-the-range Mercedes-Benz. It’s the perfect way to ensure your day is a complete luxury experience.
The London Helicopter also provides unofficial helicopter tours of Downton Abbey, allowing tourists to see the set of the popular TV show – Highclere Castle in Berkshire – from a state-of-the-art helicopter.
Other providers offer more affordable packages, but these tend to depart from outside of London, which means you’ll have to make your own way to airfields in either Essex, Surrey or Hertfordshire.
Based out of Benham Aerodrome, Heliair offers more time in the air too, lasting up to 40 minutes and covering around 77 miles.
Unless you’re able to really splash out, you can expect to share the flight with other passengers, with some flights carrying up to six passengers typically.
Height and weight restrictions apply with these London helicopter tours. Some won’t allow anyone taller than 6ft 3” or heavier than 18 stone to fly, while anyone with health concerns should consult their GP before purchasing a flight.
If you abide by all the stipulations, then your helicopter flight above London is virtually guaranteed to make for a truly memorable day.