FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

We have designed and operated hundreds of amazing private tours of Wales over the past ten years. Naturally, people come with many different questions, demands and requests to taking a tour in Wales. We would like to take this opportunity to help you with the most popular questions asked, but should you find your question not answered in this section, then please feel free to contact us in person by telephone or email and we will do our best to answer your queries raised.

We are local and live in Wales and know the region for its history, its unique culture but best of all we know all the best places, secret locations and best routes for touring.  You have definitely made the correct decision in choosing a specialist who knows and lives in the country.

We work with travel agents and tour planners from all over the world.  Wales is our speciality and we will help make your job so much easier.  We can help with lots of ideas to enhance your clients visit and tour.  So think of us as your partner and concierge herein Wales.  Your clients will love you for the experience that we deliver and ‘they will just love where take them’ on their very own Boutique Tour of Wales.

It is our policy to make sure that we comply with the legislation in the UK.  We are fully licensed and approved by the local authority of Conwy County Council and in order to get these licences, we have to provide adequate insurance cover for operating our tour and transfer services:

Our operator license is PO0222

Our vehicle is also licensed and checked for safe operating PV0582

Our driver guide also has a licence: PD0612

 

We carry the relevant vehicle and tour liability insurance and are also checked and screened for your safety and security by the authorities.

Even if you don’t book with us at Boutique Tours of Wales, you should make it your priority to check with whoever you choose to operate your tour that they are licensed and in particular that the touring vehicle and driver is licensed through the local authority.

If they are not licensed, then the insurance companies will not provide cover to the operator and the driver to carry you as paying passengers.  These operators also sit outside of the regulations of the Road Traffic Act and therefore the vehicle safety checks are avoided on their vehicles.  Do you really want to take that risk? 

We operate with one of the most spacious and comfortable executive touring vehicles (MPV/Van) with a Tourneo Custom Titanium that seats up to a maximum of 7 persons.  In fact, our seat pitches and leg room are one of the most generous that you will find in a touring vehicle.  The vehicle features leather seats with elevated seating for excellent all-round views, plus there are wide sliding doors on both sides to access and exit the rear passenger compartment.  The vehicle has an air-conditioning cooling system, plus we have USB charging points for every seat in the vehicle and we also provide a cool box with complimentary mineral (still) water.  The vehicle also has one of the largest luggage compartments, without compromising leg room in the touring vehicle. 

As we only operate private tours, it’s your tour, so the minimum number is one person and the maximum we are licensed and insured to carry is seven persons. 

Yes.  Each seat in the vehicle has access to a USB socket, so there are plenty of plug in options for your various mobile devices and cameras, etc.

Yes.  This is a big plus factor for you as often when we are driving and talking, you will clearly the tour narration from your driver guide.

We always lock the vehicle when we stop and you are out of the vehicle visiting an attraction.

Our vehicle is also armed with an alarm.  Unfortunately, our vehicle insurance would not cover theft, so make sure that you have adequate insurance in place.  We also recommend that you take valuables such as money, passport and cameras with you whenever you leave the vehicle and that you hide any handbags or ruck-sacks under the seats to avoid temptation.  That’s said, Wales is generally a safe place with very low crime rates.

As an individual you may not be aware of the demand for our highly acclaimed private tour services and at certain times of the year we sell out for every day of the calendar month.  For example May, June and September – these are the most popular touring months and international visitors can be booking dates up to 12 months in advance.  We also have cruise ships visiting and with a shortage of driver guides – we recommend that you book as early as possible.

Don’t delay, Check our availability and book online now

We make every effort to respond to our guests as quickly as possible. But we are a small specialist tour company, receiving a great many tour requests from all over the world.  Naturally with all the different time zones and the fact that we are out most days driving and guiding tours, we aim to respond within 24 hours.  We also suggest that you check your JUNK MAIL folder if you have sensitive security settings as this may account for our response not reaching your inbox.

If you need an urgent response, you can telephone us during the UK evening time between 19:00 and 22:30

We regularly check our tour prices to make sure that we are competitive and in line with the Freelance Driver Guide rates quoted by The Guild of Professional Tour Guides, along with the Association of Professional Tourist Guides and the Driver-Guides Association

Whilst we are not the most expensive private tour company, we do have high operating costs to account for with modern, spacious and well maintained executive standard touring vehicles.  We also make sure that we are licensed and insured correctly to operate our tour and transfer services, which some of the cheaper operators tend to cut corners on and so leave you at risk and exposed if there were any accidents. 

Our driver-guide not only drives your tour, they narrate it and guide you through all attractions and sites.  This is an area where many other driver guides fall short and they just drop you off and leave you to wander on your own.  We also provide a professional tour planning service and tour concierge service.  We always go the extra mile for our clients to ensure their entire trip is memorable, not just the time they spend with us.  Our vehicle comes complete with complimentary mineral water and we also provide you with a high-quality full colour Ordnance Survey Tour map, which is yours to keep as a souvenir of your tour with us.

Our tour rates that we quote are based on the number of participants that you confirm taking the tour in our vehicle.  This is a vehicle rate for the number of passengers that you confirm will be participating in the private tour.  However, we do reserve the right to charge for any extra passengers who you may invite to join you on your private tour at a later stage.  This would be subject to our agreement and amended charges which will affect the overall tour booking costs.  If your party size increases from the original booking, then please contact us to discuss the supplementary charges involved.

In order to book a tour, we need to collect the booking data so we have a legal record of who you are, where you come from and also your contact details, which are important for the operation of tours

We will require your name, full postal address of your residence, Email Address, Home and Cell Phone numbers.

If you ask us to make reservations on your behalf, then your personal data will be shared with the relevant organisation such as hotels, trains, ferries and any attraction or activity operators that you request us to book on your behalf.  All personal details such as email address and phone numbers will be taken in the strictest confidence and will NOT be passed onto any third party outside of the tour requirements.  For tax reasons we have to hold your data and records on file for a minimum of five years.

For your convenience, we accept payment by American Express, Visa and Mastercard credit cards, Visa Debit Card or alternatively via Electronic Direct Bank Transfer (Wire). 

In the case of paying by credit card, we can provide direct secure links for payments to be processed directly by yourself.

Click Here to view our full terms and conditions

When we commit the booking to you, your deposit secures the dates reserved exclusively to you and your party.  In the meantime, we may well turn away a lot of other potential tour enquiries, who will go on to book elsewhere and these enquiries we can never get back.  So given our commitment to operate the tour date/s as booked and your commitment to paying for our services exclusively for your booking, we do in fact lose out when a cancellation happens.  We therefore highly recommend that you cover yourself against cancellation by taking out comprehensive travel insurance. 

When you notify us of a cancellation, we will confirm the cancellation of your booking in writing and provide a cancellation invoice, which may be provided as evidence to your insurance company if you are making a claim on your policy.

  • 85 days or more before the tour commencement date – Loss of Deposit.
  • 84 to 57 days before the tour commencement date – 25% Cancellation Fee
  • 56 to 42 days before the tour commencement date – 50% Cancellation Fee
  • 41 to 29 days before the tour commencement date – 75% Cancellation Fee
  • 28 days or less prior to the tour commencement date or on the day the tour commences or during the tour – 100% Cancellation Fee.  

 

Once a tour has commenced, if you choose to cut short the tour or end the tour day early, then this is your own decision howsoever this eventuality may be occasioned, including where you decide to leave or end the tour early and no refund can be made on services that were booked and the proportion of tour not used for that day.  Please note that any payments that we have had to commit and pay in advance on your behalf to secure the tour arrangements, then these amounts will be also deducted from any refund due.

Our tour prices will depend on the number of persons participating in the tour, the daily tour duration, the time of year, the mileage involved in operating the tour and other factors such as pick up and drop off locations and any relevant empty leg factors.  Tour prices are quoted for each tour, per day and are in pounds Sterling (£s) and include the cost and insurance of vehicle, driver-guide services, itinerary planning, all fuel and maintenance costs, car parking fees, tolls, guides daily expenses, transfers and local taxes. There are no hidden costs.

Accommodation, entrance fees attractions, meals/snacks, refreshments and driver-guide gratuities. 

As with most other private tour operators, we don’t include any entrance fees to any of the attractions that you choose to visit.  You will pay for access into sites such as castles and museums as you arrive. Most of these venues accept both cash and credit/debit cards. We can assist in helping you gain discounts on some of the entrance fees at selected attractions.

A guideline for driver-guide gratuity is £50 to £100 per day, but this in entirely at your own discretion and depends on level of service received.

Yes, we operate a combined service and your driver-guide has considerable expertise in Wales from many different perspectives. These include history, Geography, current affairs, restaurants, and the best driving routes, best time of day to visit attractions as well as a host of other topics such as activities, local events and festivals.  If required, your driver-guide will accompany you at attractions and help point you in the right direction at each of the tour stops.

Because you are touring as a private party, you have total flexibility to decide how much free time you want to take during your touring day.  We simply agree this in the planning stages for your outline tour schedule.

It’s your tour so you decide.  Our driver guide will highlight various places during the touring day for refreshments, bathroom stops and also if required a lunch stop.

If you want to travel through Wales it’s almost impossible to use the public transport buses and trains.

There are no direct services between the North and South that operate through the heart of Wales.

If you want to tour through Wales, pretty much the only way to get through is in hiring a driver guide.

We regularly take international visitors through Wales, often from Chester or Conwy areas through to the capital Cardiff or out to Pembrokeshire to the resort town of Tenby and St David’s.

If you want to start or end in the Cotswolds, The Lake District, York, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Heathrow Airport or Southampton for the cruise ships, then we can provide a transfer or transfer tour one way for you.

The ship tours generally are quite limited in what they offer for a full day ashore and we can guarantee that you will see far much more than any cruise ship tour.  You will see from our customer testimonials that we get rated as operating the best cruise tour of the whole cruise on a regular basis!

Cruise ship dates sell out first in our operating year and with the lack of driver-guides at the port you don’t want to take a chance and miss out.  Make sure you book now before someone else beats you to our availability!

There are several ways that we can assist your arrival and departure as part of a tour and visit to Wales.

Train stations:   Chester, Colwyn Bay, Llandudno Junction, Bangor

Ports:  Holyhead, Pembroke, Fishguard.

Airports:  Anglesey, Cardiff, Manchester, Liverpool, Heathrow, Gatwick.

We have a number of drivers who can meet and greet you and transfer you efficiently and quickly to your accommodation, ready to start your tour the next day. 

We also help you make the most of your visit without wasting any time – so we do operate transfer tours to help you position between the various locations – such as between Ireland and Wales or Scotland and Wales and England and Wales.   Our ‘Tour Concierge’ service will assist in pre and post tour transfer services.

We operate our private tour services all year round and of course travelling in winter can be the most spectacular time to visit Wales with snow-capped hills and mountains, clear blue skies and the odd bit of rain.  Naturally at this time of year there are not the volume of tourists, so it is much quieter on the roads.  Some of the attractions are closed between Autumn and Spring, but the medieval castle are open year round.

Clear spoken English.

This depends on the time you allocate to Wales for your visit.  From a single touring day – our North Wales in a Nutshell is probably one most international visitors sign up for. 

If you mix in multi day tours from one base like Llandudno or Conwy, then there are excellent touring areas featuring the Snowdonia National Park, The Isle of Anglesey, The Scenic and Historic Borderlands or perhaps the Llyn Peninsula.  All offer different tour content and very different itineraries each day. 

If you want to tour Wales, then we can cover it in a single day touring through the country from North to South and vice versa, up to a comprehensive 10 day tour of the country. 

One recommendation that we can make is that you should not underestimate the country for its history, beauty and culture.  There is so much to see and do and as a guideline, a 5 day tour of Wales is the ideal option.

There are lots of facilities in most villages and towns. We can easily make a detour.

There will always be lots of change for “Pay Facilities”.

With so much to see and do in Wales, you could book two, three or even four consecutive days from one tour base – such as Llandudno or Conway and enjoy a variety of interesting and fascinating touring days.  There would be no repetition of attractions. 

There is plenty of space in the back of the vehicle for a collapsible mobility scooter, folding wheelchair and even collapsible walkers.  With the aid of a step and a grab handle, there is easy access through the large sliding doors.  However, the step is 12 inches and there’s a further 8 inches to step up into the touring van.

No. From young children to over 90’s, we take passengers of all ages.  If you wish to enquire about the physical demands of a tour, then please contact us and we can hopefully answer your questions.

We are parents ourselves, so have been used to travelling with children.  In fact we carry lots of families, with grand-parents, parents and children.  If your child or children are less than 1.35m tall, you should let us know in advance, so that we can provide them with a suitable booster seat or if you prefer, you can bring your own.

Our tours often include short walks on uneven ground or cobblestones. Your trip may also visit historical sites with access restrictions. Everything is optional, so you’re welcome to do as much or as little as you please and we will do our best to get you up as close as possible to the front doors of attractions, restaurants, cafes and of course, your accommodation.

So that we can ensure you’re comfortable travelling with us, let us know about any special requirements or needs at the time of booking. It’s essential that you give us prior notice if you’re bringing a wheelchair (14kg/31lb max), a mobility aid, etc

You need to be fit enough to get in and out of the tour vehicle on a regular basis, and to walk both to attractions and around towns and villages.  You also need to be able to walk up and down stairs in the hotels and use a shower over the bath. We frequently use lots of older country style houses, Guest Houses, Inns traditional style hotels and the majority will not have lifts or ground floor rooms.

If you have any medical issues, please declare them to us in advance of your tour. If you are in any doubt as to whether our tours are suitable for you, please check with us.

All our private tours start right from the front door of where you are staying and at the end of the touring day, we drop you right back at the door.  It’s door to door touring and you can decide at what time we collect you and the tour duration for the day.

Our tours are conducted at a leisurely pace; we take our time and avoid rushing from place to place. Stops are made frequently during the day to avoid extended periods of time in the vehicle.   A typical touring day is around 8 hours in duration and this would see us starting out between 09:30 and 10:00am and running through to 17:30 to 18:00.

Sometimes we are also asked to operate 4 hours (half day tour) or even a short day tour of 6 hours.  We also sometimes extend our touring day.  When we are called on to operate transfer tours to Cardiff, London, Southampton and Edinburgh these can be as long as10 or even 12 hours.  To help avoid driver fatigue we make a policy of stopping at least every 90 minutes which allows for rest breaks, as well as making lots of interesting stops at attractions and places of interest.

It’s your tour, so whenever you see a view that you like and as long as it is safe enough, we will stop for you.

Every season has its charms and advantages for visiting Wales and we operate our tours all year round.

Spring:  March, April, May and June is always a sell out period for us as this is a beautiful time of the year and one of the most popular season to visit. Daffodils, Bluebell woodlands and new born lambs bring the country side alive.

Summer:  July and August is the peak holiday season and accommodation is generally more expensive

You can experience the warmest temperatures of the year.  The rolling hills, valleys and mountains come alive with lush green pastures and the longest touring days of the year

Autumn:  October and November nature always provides a spectacular display of colour during the Autumn months as the leaves on the trees turn from green to golds, reds, yellows and oranges.  The roads and attractions* are generally quieter and the crowds have gone (except for the October school holiday week). *A lot of attractions close for the season at the end of October and don’t reopen until the Spring.

Winter:  December, January and February the touring days are shorter because of the daylight hours.  We often operate 6 hour touring days at this time of year.  It will be colder and wetter, with a chance of snow and even ice.  All that said, the scenery is still as breath taking with the mountains looking their best with a dusting of snow set against a blue winter sky on crisp bright cold day

Some will say the culture, others will say the scenery.  We are slightly biased living here in the North and we would most likely say the North has more to offer if you are on a time precious visit.  You are also more likely to hear the mother tongue of Wales being spoken in the North!  The south features the capital city Cardiff and you have two National Parks with the Brecon Beacons and the stunning coastline of the Pembrokeshire Coastal National Park.  There’s a bigger population in the South, so you can get congestion on the roads and the only Motorway in Wales the M4, whereas in the north we are less populated and we like to think we have the better scenery.  That said, Wales is a small country and one of the most beautiful places to tour in the world.  So don’t worry, if you have the time, let us show you the best of Wales without rushing through.  You won’t be disappointed.

All our tours are strictly private tours and exclusively for you.  We know other operators pressure clients who have booked a private tour and hope to make extra money by pushing the extra passengers to join you.  So we do not even approach the subject, we simply say that we are already committed to operating a private tour with you and you can be confident with our commitment to you with our agreement to operate an exclusive private tour experience.

For cruise tours, we do know that several cruise passengers will come together through a leader/organsier and invite others to join them on a tour and therefore spread the cost between themselves.  We have rates set based on the agreed numbers booked to participate in a tour, so supplements would apply to an extra passengers that you would add to your booking and these details are listed on our confirmation of booking and payable before the tour commences.

Each tour we operate is unique and is exclusively tailor-made to the requirements of the customer.  So just let us know what you want to do and we can design your very own personal and exclusive tour just for you!

If that is what you desire during your,  just ask us to build in some shopping time.  We are flexible and we don’t have any affinity or loyalty to any shops – so when you shop you can be confident that we don’t work on commission. 

We design our tours so that there is as little time as possible in the vehicle and plenty to see while on board. We travel along the scenic roads wherever possible, meaning you’ll see more of the countryside and local village life than on a regular tour.  Inevitably, there are days when travelling between locations may involve motorway or highway driving and more mileage.  We will not drive more than 90 minutes without making a break.  Generally, driving time will not last for more than three or four hours per day unless we are covering extra-long distances such as Scotland or London.

The tour is your own and you are in control of times and the itinerary.  Unlike the large coach tours which tend to only stop at limited locations, you will get to see so much more on a private tour.  You will experience so much more of Wales and given we don’t have highways through Wales, we are often found touring on the back roads and introducing you to the best of Wales, reaching lots of places where the big tour buses can’t reach.  So it really is a truly personal experience and there is no comparison to sharing a tour experience with lots of other passengers.

Your tour excludes accommodation; But once you’ve booked and secured your tour dates with us at Boutique Tours of Wales, you can take advantage of our ‘Tour Concierge Service’.  We are able to suggest a wide variety of accommodation and we generally look to offer 4 or 5 star Visit Wales graded accommodation.  You can choose from a variety of accommodation styles, from Hotels, to traditional Bed and Breakfast family run Guest Houses, to beautiful Country Houses.  We even have a selection of beautiful remote Farmhouses and lovely Pubs/Inns with rooms.   If you are looking for something different, then how about a castle or a lighthouse?

What we normally do is contact the properties on your behalf and put them in direct contact with you.  You will be responsible for confirming your arrangements and making payment direct to the accommodation.

Normally we will work with you and you can advise us on where your preferred location is to stay and we need to confirm that we can also work to your plans as we also have to consider accommodating your driver guide if they are away from their tour base overnight.  Once you’ve booked your accommodation, you’ll need to send us an email with the accommodation name and address.  Please, only reserve accommodation within the overnight towns that your tour stops in. And if you’re unsure, please check with us first.

Accommodation – is in high demand especially at weekends and holidays.  One night stays in Wales can be a problem for Friday and Saturday nights and also Sundays over a Bank Holiday Weekends.  Many properties insist on a minimum stay of two nights, so we could look to work your tour with a two night stop and arrange for suitable touring days to come and go from the property over the three days.

You can quickly check availability and rates and also make bookings for a wide range of properties through our on-line accommodation booking service operate by Booking.Com

In Wales, the Pound Sterling is the currency.

Visa and Mastercard, along with debit cards are generally accepted at most of the attractions, shops, bars and restaurants.  However, you won’t find many establishments accepting American Express.

Some of the small businesses and attractions in the small towns and villages may only take cash or not accept credit cards, so, we advise you have cash on hand to avoid disappointment and inconvenience.

We like to take you off the beaten track so that you can experience the remote locations many tour companies cannot access. So, naturally, you may not have mobile reception in some of the remote areas that we tour through in Wales.

We don’t provide WiFi in our vehicle. This is a chance for you to disconnect, unwind and take in the stunning scenery. But don’t worry, there’ll be plenty of opportunities for you to get your updates when we stop for refreshments/lunch and when you get to your accommodation.  Most of the properties offer guest Wifi free of charge.

We strongly recommend that you purchase comprehensive travel insurance cover before your trip to Britain and Wales.  Your policy should cover medical cover and additional travel expenses such as flight cancellation, personal accident, lost/stolen personal luggage, lost/stolen money and public liability, etc.

As it’s your private tour, we have a boot compartment that has enough room for one large suitcase per person.  Some folk arrive with two smaller suitcases per person, so this is fine.  All that we ask is that the large suitcases don’t weigh more than 20 Kilos (44 lbs).  You can of course carry a small bag or rucksack for onboard personal items in the seating area of the vehicle.

We like our guests to be comfortable and wear what they feel good in.  We like to give you plenty of opportunities to go on nature walks on the coast, maybe along the beach or through a beautiful riverside meadow or a short hike in the hills and mountains around lakes etc.  Also when we visit a castle site we visit ruins which have little shelter and uneven ground.  So we do recommend you bring comfortable waterproofs and footwear for your tour and of course layers will always keep you warm.

For the Winter, Spring and Autumn seasons gloves, hat and a scarf to help keep you warm and if you did not want to pack them to travel with, then you can always purchase them quite reasonably whilst here in Wales from one of the outdoor retailers on the high street.

We love to see what you’ve been up to on our tours! You can share photos of your experiences and places that you have visited on Instagram by using the hashtag #boutiquetourswales.  You are also welcome to post some of your photos on Trip Advisor or Facebook when you submit your reviews.

At the end of each tour we present you with our business cards and also a souvenir bookmark.  You’ll also automatically receive an email direct from Trip Advisor where you can submit and post your review direct from the email link.  You can also post on Cruise Critic, Facebook and Google Reviews.

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