In today’s “Meet the Londoner” Peter Steins tells us about his life in the City, about his company ATO-Tours and shares some culinary insider tipps with us.

Peter Steins, founder of ATO-Tours

Hi Peter, who are you and what made you move to London?

Born in Lippstadt I studied Tourism at the University of Paderborn. I didn’t really have any connection or particular passion for London/England but during these studies I won a scholarship at the University of Sheffield in 1999.

During my time in Sheffield I discovered my love for the British culture and made the plan to move once I finished my studies. 2 years later I packed my stuff and moved in to Walthamstow, London to live with my old uni mates. I only planned to stay for a bit and 14 years later I’m still here. Not in the same flat as I’ve moved around 12 times in these years and probably made all the bad experiences there are when it comes to renting in London. Dodgy landlords, horrible flatmates, crazy neighbours, leaking ceilings, no heating, you name it.

On the bright I got to know the city very well and met a lot of extraordinary, fantastic people. Workwise it’s been much more consistent. I only ever worked for 2 tour operators as a hotel buyer before deciding to set up my own tour operator, ATO-TOURS in February 2017. I always wanted to be my own boss and here I am.

What is the idea behind ATO-Tours?

Literally ATO stands for Authentic, Tailor-made, Original. ATO wants to take the hassle out of holiday planning. In times where people are overwhelmed by what’s on by online travel agencies and rate comparison sites and often simply don’t know where to go anymore or don’t have the time to plan their next holiday, ATO wants to help. We believe in a personal, efficient and budget sensitive approach to help organising your holidays. Our turnover time is 48h, we stick to your budget. With our Confidentials, the surprise trips we also want to awake people’s adventure spirit by sending them to an unknown destination. This is really the easiest and quickest way to plan your next holiday. All of these holidays are Europewide and most of the hotels we use have been vetted by us. The Uk and London are, being a British company based in London, our strongholds but we aren’t limited to it. At the moment I’m in charge and feel like a chef cooking on several pans! To help ATO employs several people as freelancers such as guides, accountants, bloggers and journalists.

What makes ATO-TOURS special?

Our Confidentials, the surprise holidays are for sure our USP. They are the quickest and most exciting way to book a holiday and come with a 100% budget guarantee. They are perfect for solo travellers and couples in search for something new and exciting alike. But they also work for group of friends, clubs, stag/hen nights as they are tailored around their needs and planned in minutes.

When it comes to the tailor-made tours, we are 100% flexible and can organise almost everything for the client. Being based in London, the UK is our stronghold but due to years of experience working with partners in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, France and Spain we have the expertise there too. ATO can send you to the classical touring hotspots but also gives you travel inspiration. We really tick a lot boxes whether you want a guided Scotland tour or a personal shopping tour in London. Football and festival tours, romantic weekends away or relaxing spa days, you name it.

We believe in an uncomplicated, personal and budget sensitive approach and even pick up the phone when someone calls us! 😉

Peter on London

Which is your favourite London sight and why?

Not so much of a site but I love to walk the canals and riverbanks. Whether it’s short stroll along the Southbank, a sneaky one in Little Venice or a long walk along Regent’s Canal from Victoria Park to Canary Wharf. You really get a feel for the city and find great places to stop for a cheeky pint or two.

Walking is something I’d recommend to everyone. The distances often aren’t too long and there are so many interesting things from small churches, beautiful squares to cool street art awaiting to be discovered everywhere.

Where to get nice breakfast/lunch/dinner?

When it comes to breakfast you can’t beat the Mess Café in Hackney next to Hack Central Station. It’s the only non-greasy greasy spoon in London. The food is unpretentious, reasonably priced and just delicious. The queues outside prove me right.

For lunch, GoGo Pocha on Lower Marsh Street next to Waterloo Station is an absolute gem if you like your Korean food. Their 5£ lunch deals are unbeatable. But be aware that the place is tiny and usually packed with local office workers and students from 1-2pm. If you can’t get the seat there are plenty of amazing food stalls on the market (weekdays only) and many small cafés and restaurants nearby.

When it comes to dinner, I like my gastropubs. The Pig & Butcher in Islington is on top of my list right now. They know their meat and are a great place, albeit not cheap, place if you like a good Sunday roast.

Which is the best bar?

My local pub, the Marquis of Granby in New Cross. You won’t find a more diverse and unpretentious pub in London. It’s not for the faint hearted but a home from home for me.

What makes living and working in London special to you?

I’m consider myself being fortunate to live in a quite suburb 40min away from central London. This allows me to enjoy the city life when I feel like it and the quietness of an almost rural spot.

What is your favourite time of the year in London?

Has to be summer. Can’t beat the colours and the happiness on people’s faces.

Which 3 words would you use to describe London?

Diverse, busy, positively exhausting – Sorry that’s 4.

Some fun facts about Peter:

  • Tea: Milk in first or milk in last? Coffee, black, no sugar. Sorry.
  • Gin and Tonic or Pimm’s? Pimm’s.

Hassle-free room bookings for London

Peter and I met at World Travel Market 2017 in London and we quickly decided to support each other. Therefore, I am very happy to tell that Peter is helping the readers of Totally-London with hotel bookings. If you want an easy and hassle-free way to find the perfect room for yourself, then contact Peter.

The necessary steps are as follows:

  • send an email to info@ato-tours.com and state:
    • travel dates
    • amount of people
    • kind of room you are looking for
    • max price you want to spend per night
    • if you need breakfast
    • give the code “TLN50” to let Peter know that you are a reader of Totally-London *

Peter will offer a selection of rooms matching your requirements. The whole booking process will be between ATO-Tours and yourself. Interested in the other offers of ATO-Tours as well? Then check out their website.

*This is an affiliate link. If you book a room via ATO-Tours, I will receive a small commission in return. This has no impact on your price. Thanks for your support!

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