So, are you Harry Potter fan? And will you soon be visiting London? If so, consider yourself luckier than a Hogwarts first year who’s just realised how to execute a charm spell to make themselves the most popular burgeoning wizard/ witch in the whole school!
Yes, the UK capital’s absolutely jam-packed full of Potter goodness; several of its nooks and crannies being home to locations from both the books and movies. So, just what should you get up to during your time in the city (maybe while staying at a Kensington London hotel) to sate your need for that ultimate Rowling-fuelled geek-out…?
Catch a train’ at Platform 9 ¾
Yes, sadly you can’t actually catch the Hogwarts Express from King’s Cross station in the heart of Central London but, hey, you can do the next best thing… visit Platform 9 ¾ – and get yourself photographed while doing it. Talk about a selfie moment! Indeed, the site’s come some way since the books were first published and the movies were first showing in cinemas. Back in the early Noughties, for instance, the exact spot was marked only by a dinky sign on the wall, which took some effort to locate.
But, since then, Platform 9 ¾ has become a major destination for Potterheads and, some days, even has queues of peeps lining up for that perfect photo opportunity. So why not have a snap of you taken as you recreate that moment of pushing luggage through the wall to the magical platform beyond the humdrum Muggle universe? Best of all, staff are on hand to help you pick out one of the four Hogwarts house scarves and advise you how best to pose for your photo. Now that’s what you call service! And next door there’s an essential gift shop that vends everything from wands to chocolates, shirts to bags and even a ‘train ticket to Hogwarts’. Squee!
Take in the Warner Bros Studio’s official set tour
Even if you’re staying in the centre of town (at, say, the London Premier Kensington hotel), the pilgrimage site for so many Potterheads that’s the Warner Bros Studio in Leavesden is only 24 miles away and relatively easy to reach – not least if you book the popular coach service to the place or catch a Tube train to Watford Junction and then board a connecting shuttle bus service. Where the movies were principally filmed, of course, the studios’ best visitor option is maybe the self-guided ‘Making of Harry Potter’ tour, which enables you to check out the actual sets, board a replica Knight Bus, discover costumes and props that the film series’ wore and performed with, ride a broomstick in front of greenscreen, sip a butterbeer (or lick a butterbeer ice cream) and, fascinatingly, get up close to the animatronic creatures that also populated the movies.
Walk the talk on a Muggle Walking tour
Finally, how better to see the sights – the Potter-related ones, most of all, of course – than to pop along with fellow enthusiasts on a two-and-a-half-hour-long ‘Muggle Walking Tour’ of the centre of the capital? Perfect if you and yours are staying in nearby accommodation (and taking advantage of the Grand Royale London Hyde Park reward scheme), it covers many a London landmark that crops up in both Harry’s literary and cinematic escapades, such as Number 12 Grimmauld Place and the Ministry of Magic (or, at least, their real-life counterparts). Moreover, it takes in a number of streets and alleys that served as inspiration for the likes of Diagon Alley and Knockturn Alley. And, don’t doubt it, the genned-up and (naturally) costumed tour guides are on hand to provide revealing insight into the popular (Potter-related and non-Potter-y) sights and sounds to look out for along the route. You’ll have a wizard of a time, all right!