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Martin Randall Travel is committed to providing the best planned, best led and altogether
the most fulfilling and enjoyable cultural tours available.
In the areas of the world where we operate – Britain, Europe, the Middle East, India, China and the Americas – we offer an unequalled range of tours and events focusing on art, architecture, music, archaeology, history, literature and gastronomy. They are designed for people with enquiring minds and a desire to learn, to understand and to enhance their appreciation.
For most of our twenty-five years we have been the dominating force in intellectual travel. Inventive, pioneering and innovative – and widely imitated – we have led the way not only with new ideas and itineraries but also by setting the benchmark for customer service and administration.
Martin Randall Travel is one of the most respected travel companies in the world.
Expert speakers are a key ingredient in nearly all our tours and events. Academics, curators, writers, broadcasters and researchers, they are selected not only for their knowledge but also for their ability to communicate clearly and engagingly to a lay audience. Their brief is to enlighten and stimulate, not merely to inform. And they also have to be good travelling companions.
We select our lecturers through reputation, interview and audition, and provide them with guidance and training. Many of them are the leading experts in their field.
Nearly all of our tours are also accompanied by a trained tour manager, one of our staff or a freelance professional.
Rooted in knowledge of the destination and subject matter of the tour, the outcome of assiduous research and reconnaissance, and underpinned by twenty-five years of experience, our itineraries are second
They are original and imaginative, well-paced and carefully balanced, while meticulous attention to practical matters ensures a smooth-running as well as an enriching experience. To our large and complex events, principally our all-inclusive music festivals, we bring organisational skills of a high order.
Special arrangements for admission to places not generally open to travellers, or for access at times when they are closed to the public, are a feature of nearly all our tours.
In innumerable ways, large and small, we lift our clients’ experience far above standards which are regarded as normal for tourists.
We select our hotels with great care. Not
only have they all been inspected by members of our staff, we have stayed in most of them. Hundreds of others have been seen and rejected.
Obviously comfort ranks high among our criteria, together with good service and warmth of welcome. We also set high priority on charm and style, and location is also an important consideration, with a preference for the historic town centre. Most of the hotels we use are rated as 4-star, with some 5-star and a few 3-star.
We invest similar efforts into the selection of restaurants, menus and wines.
For flights and trains we try to choose the most convenient departure times. Rail journeys are usually in first-class carriages.
We can provide a holiday without the international flights or trains if you prefer, allowing you to make your own arrangements for international travel. It is also usually possible to make other variations to the package. (There is an administration fee for this, from £40.)
Most of our tours run with between ten and twenty participants. We strictly limit numbers, specifying the maximum in each tour description, which is rarely more than twenty-two and often fewer. Walking tours have a maximum of eighteen.
The higher costs of smaller numbers are outweighed by the benefits of manoeuvrability, social cohesion and access to the lecturer.
The small-group principle is diluted when there are private concerts arranged by ourselves exclusively for our clients.
Not the least attractive aspect of travelling with MRT is that you are highly likely to find yourself in congenial company, self-selected by common interests and endorsement of the company’s ethos.
We aim for faultless administration from your first encounter with us to the end of the holiday, and beyond. Personal service is a feature. And if anything does go wrong, we will put it right or compensate appropriately. We want you to come back again and again – as most of our clients do.
We never forget our clients are responsible adults, deserving of respect and courtesy at all times.
The price includes nearly everything, not only the major ingredients such as hotel, transport and the costs of the lecturer but also tips for waiters, drivers and guides,
wine with meals, airport taxes and credit card charges.
We do not levy surcharges for fuel price increases, exchange rate changes, additional taxes or for any other reason. The price published here is the price you pay.
We welcome solo travellers. Our tours are ideal for people who are on their own, as so many of our clients testify. Often there are several solo participants on a tour, but no one need fear feeling excluded, and the small numbers (maximum group size is 22) ensure better social cohesion and access to the lecturer. Furthermore, on the few evenings when dinner is not included there is always the option of dining with the tour manager.
Regrettably, hotels usually charge a supplement for single occupancy of a room, but we never add anything to this – indeed, most of the supplements we charge are subsidised by ourselves, sometimes by hundreds of pounds.
Where we are able to, we assign those travelling on their own to rooms which are normally sold as doubles.
Ours are active holidays. Walking, stair-climbing and standing around for lengthy periods are unavoidable on every tour.
The tours should not present problems for anyone of normal fitness but they are not suitable for those who are slow, need support or are low on stamina.
On many tours there is a lot of walking on streets that may be steep or poorly paved. On others you may need to scramble over fallen masonry and very uneven ground. More usually it is just a case of getting from one place to another, and getting on and off coaches several times a day.
The tours are also group events. The presence of even one person who is not fit enough to cope can spoil the experience for everyone else.
We therefore ask that people wishing to join a tour take some quick and simple self-assessment tests to ascertain whether they have an adequate level of fitness. These are described below. Acceptance of this forms part of our Booking Conditions.
1. Chair stands.
Sit in a dining chair, with arms folded and hands on opposite shoulders. Stand up and sit down at least eight times in thirty seconds.
2. Step test
Mark a wall at a height that is halfway between your knee and your hip bone. Raise each knee in turn to the mark at least sixty times in two minutes.
3. Agility test
Place an object three yards from the edge of a chair, sit, and record the time it takes to stand up, walk to the object and sit back down. You should be able to do this in under seven seconds.
If during the tour it transpires you are not adequately fit, you may be asked to opt out of certain visits, or invited to leave the tour altogether. This would be at your own expense.
Tours do vary. Please refer to the How strenuous? paragraph in the Practicalities section of the tour description.
Tours which are billed as walking tours, with hikes over hills (usually) of up to three hours, require a different scale of fitness and agility. Please attend to the descriptions of these tours carefully.
Another indication of the fitness required, though we are not asking you to measure this, is that you should be able to walk unaided at a pace of three miles per hour for at least half an hour at a time, and to stand unsupported for at least fifteen minutes.
Included in the price for every tour:
- The services of the lecturer and often a tour manager; sometimes also local guides
- Hotel accommodation, as described in the brochure or on the website
- All admissions to museums, galleries and sites included in the itinerary
- If a music tour, good tickets to all performances listed on the itinerary (unless marked as optional)
- Travel by private coach for excursions included in the itinerary and, where applicable, airport transfers
- Wine or beer, water, soft drinks and tea or coffee are provided with all included meals
- Gratuities for restaurant staff, porters, drivers and guides
- All state and airport taxes
- For tours outside the UK, return travel between London and the destination – with only the occasional exception
- If you are travelling with the group, and there is a group visa arrangement, this is also included in the tour price.