Last Updated on 21. November 2020
In today’s episode of “Meet the Londoner” we meet Julia Huber who works in London as a tour guide. What brought the Austrian-born to London? Which insider tips does she have for us? Find out in this interview.
Julia, please introduce yourself briefly
Who are you?
Julia Huber (still) 39, married, 3 kids (twin boys of 11 years and a daughter of 9 years). I studies Social Economics in Vienna, Linz and Stirling (Scotland).
You are Austrian, what made you come to London?
Came to London with my boyfriend (now husband) and straight after graduating from university as boyfriend already had a job offer in Finance. I first started out doing an internship for the Austrian National Tourist Office in Soho which resulted in full-time employment after 6 months. The ANTO looks after Austrian business partners helping them promote Austria as a holiday destination in the UK and Ireland. So it’s essentially a marketing agency.
Where in London do you live?
I live in Twickenham, SW London, and close to the German School which all my children attend. Twickenham is famous for the history of Eel Pie Island (Rock & Roll) and England Rugby.
When did you start your business Julia City Guide?
In 2015 and after I had completed the City of London guiding course which is a year-long guiding qualification before obtaining the City of London Guide badge.
What was the motivation behind it?
I had eventually stopped working in Marketing when I had my children. Having twins and another baby following just 20 months later I had my hands full for a while, but when my youngest was 3 years old I felt I needed to start doing something for my mental wellbeing and get rid of my ‘baby brains.’
A wonderful guided tour in the Austrian city of Graz made me think: This is fun! I can do that, too! And I started looking into getting a guiding qualification in London.
To my surprise I realised that when working as a guide in the UK one doesn’t NEED a proper guiding qualification – anyone can sell tours and guide!
But I decided to get the qualification nevertheless (City of London Guide) and started guiding and selling my own tours in spring 2015. I also started working for a local guide company running their own tours.
Guiding was so much fun I threw myself into another guiding course – this time gaining the Westminster Guide badge (2016).
All this was topped off with the Blue Badge guiding qualification in spring 2020. This latest (and final!) qualification is the highest one you can get in the UK and it enables me to guide inside most top attractions including St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, … but also Oxford, Bath or Stonehenge.
What kind of tours do you offer?
I guide individuals as well as tour groups and offer Highlights Tours in Westminster and the City of London and on the GetYourGuide website. These are public tours (for a max of 10 people) for which guests can book individual tickets. I also do private walks which people book directly with me and via my email and website.
I have always enjoyed guiding children as they can be the most fun, interested and critical clients! In 2016 I started putting a bit more focus on visitors with children and came up with an idea of a dedicated kids tour. ‘Where does the Queen cuddle her Corgis?’ (Deutsch: ‘Wo kuschelt die Queen mit ihren Corgis?’ has been a firm favourite for bookings with young visitors to London. In 2018 I started offering new kids activity tours (Schnitzeljagden) through Westminster and the City of London which are always great fun: the children each get a clipboard with a questionnaire and need to answer various questions and spot things along the way to eventually gain a prize for having completed the trail.
Due to the current pandemic I have now started offering ONLINE kids tours via the app Zoom.
Kids and families join me on a fun and entertaining virtual tour through London: we start with a proper full English breakfast at Hyde Park, walk over to visit the Queen, fly on the London Eye together and hear the story about the famous #78 bus that crossed Tower Bridge – flying!
‘Von Bobbies, Corgis und dem fliegenden Doppeldecker …’ is a fun 70 mins visit to London and great entertainment for kids and grown-ups alike. The tour can be booked via a dedicated booking site for set dates or as an entertaining private tour for birthdays, get-togethers etc.
What do enjoy most of being a tour guide in London?
Every day and every tour is different! My husband sometimes asks: Aren’t you getting bored telling the same stories over and over again?
No, I am not! Because stories can be told in many different ways and my clients’ questions will always prompt me to tell them slightly differently and from a different angle. I love it and I could never imagine giving up guiding in one of the greatest cities in the world.
Julia Huber about London
What’s a must-see sight in London?
Try to get (free) tickets for the Sky Garden at 20 Fenchurch Street. And make sure you do walk all the way around and enjoy the 360° views!
3 words to describe London
Colour, Food, Forever changing
The best attraction for kids?
There are so many! I’ll go for the Hamley’s toy store. A parent’s nightmare. A child’s absolute joy.
Where do you go for a nice lunch?
I like Busaba for Thai food or really fresh sushi from the Japan Centre at Leicester Square. Then get yourself an ice cream treat from Milk Train in Covent Garden.
Your favourite café?
The Wolseley on Piccadilly and Sketch Parlour on Conduit Street.
A place/area/spot to find quiet and peace in busy London?
There is a nice hidden café upstairs in the L’Occitane flagship store on Piccadilly. It isn’t advertised very well so certainly not overrun! I like it as it is so central yet a quiet space where I can charge my phone whilst eating Battenberg cake or macaroons.
Fun stuff about Julia
Gin and Tonic or Pimm’s?
Milk in first or last?
Favourite Tube line?
Waterloo & City (it’s so efficient!)
Best advice you were given?
When living in London you won’t need a kitchen (although I do have one).
Julia Huber on Social Media
Julia has two brands: Julia City Guide for general tour guiding and London mit Familie dedicated to families visiting London. The Social Media channels for each site are linked on her websites. Dear Julia, thanks for taking your time for this interview. Next time we meet we’ll go for a tea at the hidden café at L’Occitane.
This post is also available in: Deutsch