At Martin Randall Travel we are committed to providing the best planned, the best led and altogether the most fulfilling and enjoyable cultural tours available.
We offer an unequalled range of tours and events focusing on art, architecture, music, archaeology, history, gardens and gastronomy. Our mission is to deepen your understanding and enhance your appreciation of the achievements of civilizations around the world.
For almost thirty years we have been the most influential organisation in the field of cultural travel. Pioneering and innovative, we have led the way with ideas and itineraries and by setting the benchmarks for customer service and administration.
Martin Randall Travel is one of the most respected travel companies in the world, among both travellers and within the tourism community.
We are delighted to have recently won the British Travel Awards' Best Small Special Interest Holiday Company award for the third consecutive year, as well as a silver award for Best Small Escorted Tours Holiday Company.
Expert speakers are a key ingredient in 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.
Nearly all of our tours are also accompanied by a trained tour manager who unobtrusively attends to administrative matters.
Rooted in knowledge of the destination and of the subject matter of the tour, the outcome of assiduous research and reconnaissance, and underpinned by many years of thought and experience, our itineraries are second to none.
They are original and imaginative, well-paced and carefully balanced. Meticulous attention to practical matters ensures a smooth-running as well as an enriching experience.
Special arrangements feature on nearly all our tours – for admission to places not generally open to travellers, for access outside public hours, for private concerts and extraordinary events.
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 nearly all been inspected by members of our staff, but 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 an important consideration. Most of the hotels we use are rated as 4-star, with some 5-star and a few 3-star (one is 2-star, but pleases every time).
We invest similar efforts in the selection of restaurants, menus and wines, aided by staff with a specialist knowledge of these areas. For flights and trains we try to choose the most convenient departure times. Rail journeys are usually in first-class seats.
We can provide a holiday without international travel if you prefer, allowing you to make your own arrangements. It is also usually possible to make other variations to the package.
Most of our tours run with between ten and twenty participants. We strictly limit numbers, specifying the applicable maximum in each tour description.
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 or several speakers 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. We won Best Holiday Company for Customer Service in three consecutive years (2014, 2015 and 2016) at the British Travel Awards.
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.
Martin Randall Travel and its management team attach the upmost importance to the health and safety of clients, tour leaders and employees travelling on our tours and events. It is our duty to comply with relevant health and safety legislation, and we take seriously our 'duty of care' to all who travel with us. Employees and tour leaders cooperate with the company in fulfilling our duty of care by following company rules on safety and codes of practice – which together form our Health and Safety Policy.
– We allocate clear responsibilities and accountabilities to implement our Health and Safety Policy.
– We set clear direction for the business to follow our Policy, supported by the Board and senior management.
– We adopt and review health and safety management systems.
– We make available suitable resources to meet our commitments.
– We maintain consultation and dialogue with employees.
– We assess travel-related risks faced by clients and staff.
– We provide clients and staff with information to the risks they may face and the preventative and protective measures there are to control these risks.
We are a fair, inclusive company and we trust everyone who has dealings with Martin Randall Travel to treat our clients, suppliers and employees with courtesy, empathy and respect.
The price includes nearly everything, not only the major ingredients such as hotel, transport and the costs of the lecturer and manager but also tips, drinks with meals and airport taxes.
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 people travelling on their own, for whom our tours are ideal, as many of our clients testify. There are usually several solo travellers on tour. On evenings when dinner is not included there is always the option of dining with the tour manager.
Hotels usually charge a supplement for single occupancy of a room, but we never add anything to this – indeed, some 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.
For 2018 we have three tours dedicated to people travelling on their own: St Petersburg in late September, Samarkand & Silk Road Cities in October and Civilizations of Sicily in November. The basic price includes a contribution to what would usually be charged by way of a single supplement; the bulk of it being absorbed by us. Of course, solo travellers are welcome on all other departures of these tours too.
Ours are active holidays. Walking, stair-climbing and standing around for lengthy periods are unavoidable aspects of every tour. They 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 moving from one place to another, and getting on and off coaches several times a day. Tours do vary. Please refer to the How strenuous? paragraph in each tour description.
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 people wishing to join a tour to take the quick and simple self-assessment tests described here to ascertain whether they have an adequate level of fitness. By signing the booking form you are stating that you have passed these tests. (It is not necessary to take the tests to attend our music weekends and symposia in the UK.) 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.
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 3 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.
An additional 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.
Tours which are billed as walking tours require a different scale of fitness and agility. You should be used to country walking and have a good level of fitness and balance. There are ascents and descents, climbs over stiles and terrain which can be uneven, loose, slippery or muddy. Appropriate footwear and clothing are essential. Only in weather conditions which are so extreme as to be dangerous would a walk be cancelled.
To help you make an informed decision each tour description gives details of the distances covered, lengths of walks and type of terrain. We have also graded both individual walks and tours as a whole using the following system:
Easy. A short and mostly flat walk lasting 1–2 hours, on well maintained footpaths or roads, perhaps with short periods of gentle ascent or descent. An ‘easy’ tour will consist of mostly ‘easy’ walks, perhaps with a couple of ‘moderate’ ones. There might not be a walk every day.
Moderate. A walk of 2–3 hours’ duration, with significant elevation gain, or stretches of rocky, gravelly or slippery paths. A moderate tour will consist mostly of moderate walks, perhaps with a couple of easy or challenging ones, too. There is likely to be a walk every day.
Challenging. A walk that is longer than 3 hours, has steeper, longer or more frequent episodes of ascent and descent, or is tricky under foot. Tours graded as ‘challenging’ will consist mostly or entirely of this level of walk, perhaps with some moderate or easier walks too.
Our upcoming walking tours are listed here, in order of strenuousness: