Martin Randall Travel is committed to providing the best planned, the best led and altogether the most fulfilling and enjoyable cultural tours available.
For 30 years we have been the most influential organisation in the field of cultural travel, offering an unequalled range of tours and events focusing on art, architecture, music, archaeology, history, gardens and gastronomy.
Operating in around 50 countries in Europe, Asia, the Americas and the Middle East, our mission is to deepen your understanding and enhance your appreciation of the achievements of civilisations around the world.
Pioneering and innovative, we have led the way with ideas and itineraries and by setting the benchmarks for customer service and administration.
We are delighted to have won Best Special Interest Holiday Company at the British Travel Awards for the fifth consecutive year (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 & 2019).
Read more: ‘The story of MRT – an interview with Martin Randall’
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.
Most of our tours are also accompanied by a trained tour manager who unobtrusively attends to administrative matters.
Rooted in the 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 reflection 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 are a feature of 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 more have been seen and rejected.
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.
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 10 and 20 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 are one of the most respected travel companies in the world, among both travellers and the tourism community.
We aim for faultless administration from your first encounter with us to the end of the holiday, and beyond. Personal service is a feature.
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 are a fair, inclusive company and we trust everyone who has dealings with MRT to treat our clients, suppliers and employees with courtesy, empathy and respect.
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 a 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.
We offer a number of departures each year dedicated to people travelling on their own. Currently these are:
Samarkand & Silk Road Cities, 16–27 April (MH704)
The price includes a contribution to what would usually be charged as a single supplement; some of it being absorbed by us.
Of course, solo travellers are welcome on all other departures of these tours too.
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 (contact us for a reduction if you don’t drink alcohol) 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.
Ours are active holidays. Walking, stair-climbing and standing around for lengthy periods are unavoidable aspects of every tour. These features should not present problems for anyone of normal fitness, but our tours and events are not suitable for those who walk slowly, need support, or lack stamina.
On many tours there is a lot of walking on streets, which may be steep or poorly paved. On some you may need to scramble over fallen masonry and very uneven ground. More usually, it is just a case of walking from one place to another – and getting on and off a coach several times a day.
Secondly, the tours are 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 everyone wishing to join a tour take the quick and simple self-assessment fitness tests described here. It is a condition of booking that you have passed these tests. (You do not have to pass the tests to attend music weekends and symposia in the UK.)
If during the tour it transpires that you are not adequately fit, you may be asked by the tour manager to opt out of certain visits, or requested to leave the tour altogether.
Tours do vary in their physical demands. Please refer to the ‘How strenuous?’ paragraph towards the end of each tour description.
Tours which are billed as walking tours, with hikes of up to four hours through often hilly countryside, require a different scale of fitness and agility. Please attend to the descriptions of these tours, as well as our walking grading system opposite, carefully.
If you have a medical condition or a disability which may affect your holiday or necessitate special arrangements being made for you, please discuss these with us before booking – or, if the condition develops or changes subsequently, as soon as possible before departure.
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 is that you should be able to walk unaided at a pace of 3 miles per hour for at least half an hour at a time, and to stand unsupported for at least 30 minutes.
On a tour that focuses on food, wine and cooking traditions, we regret that participants with special diets may not have the same gastronomic experience as those with no restrictions. Please discuss your requirements with us before booking.
Tours which are billed as walking tours, with hikes through hilly countryside, require a different scale of fitness and agility. Please attend to the descriptions of these tours carefully. We use the following grading system to describe individual walks and also the tours as a whole:
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:
Many of our tours can be combined, usually with a day or two in between. In some cases we publish a price for the combined arrangements, including any additional hotel and transport costs (see the list below).
The arrangements are pre-booked by us and we give you full details of these before departure, but you are unescorted. Where we have not published a combined price, we can still advise on the best way of linking two tours together. Please see the individual tour descriptions for recommendations and contact us for more information.