Tell me more about Brown + Hudson

Sure, custom is a reasonable synonym. But we choose to call our trips bespoke because we feel it adds a bit of nuance to explaining our approach. The term dates back to the 17th century, when a gentleman visiting a tailor’s shop would select a particular bolt of cloth – at which point it was said to have “been spoken for.” In creating a suit of clothes for you, a bespoke tailor would take some 20 different measurements to arrive at patterns that belonged to you alone.

In a relationship that typically lasted a lifetime – and likely extended through several generations of your family – a tailor would get to know you intimately. If you mentioned that you were about to give up smoking (back when such sacrifices were still a novelty), your alert tailor would recall what happened last time you tried to quit and allow a little more room in the waistband. Or today, on hearing that you’re planning a hiking trip in the Himalayan foothills, he might make an adjustment in the opposite direction.

It is this sense of close dialogue, strengthened by accumulated wisdom and acute attention to detail, that makes “bespoke” the perfect word to describe what Brown + Hudson does. And while the word has gained a bit more currency over the past few years, in our view only a few travel professionals – and a few tailors – really appreciate what it means and are ready to deliver a truly bespoke experience.

Absolutely. We’re uniquely qualified – by experience as well as temperament – to research, design and lead trips specifically for adults travelling with children of all ages (including young people who no longer think of themselves as children at all). We keep in mind the family dynamic at every stage of the planning process, considering its impact on accommodations, transport, events, staffing, health, security, pricing and – most crucial of all – menu choices. And if the family trip you have in mind has an active component, naturally we provide kid-friendly bicycles and Burley-type bike trailers and life preservers for kayaking – whatever’s needed to keep things fun and safe for everyone.

We understand the importance of family time as you enjoy activities and explore incredible new places together. But we also allow for kid-specific time, arranging diversions such as castle tours, visits to prehistoric caves, cooking classes, scavenger hunts, you name it – all designed to make your younger companions’ trip as memorable as yours. (Not to mention giving you a bit of extra time poolside, in the antiques market, at a Michelin-starred dining table or just relaxing back in the room.) Your guides and support team will be specially chosen for their experience in providing the highest level of care, support and service to families travelling with children. They’re also fun, energetic, imaginative people who inspire young peoples’ enthusiasm and respect – and they love all those letters and emails they get after your young travellers are back home.

That depends entirely on you. The essence of a bespoke trip is that it’s designed to fit your tastes, aspirations and lifestyle. If you’d like to bike 25 miles before lunch and then relax all afternoon, that’s how we’ll plan your biking trip. Or perhaps you want a mix of activities: biking one day, walking the next, scuba diving on Wednesday, rafting on the weekend. If you’re hell-bent on summiting Aconcagua, we’ll spell out exactly what’s involved and help you get there. If your ambition is to stroll down from your bedroom to the villa garden, book in hand, we’ll make sure you get there, too. And see that the wine has been properly decanted.

Once you’ve outlined your activity needs and interests, we’ll suggest the kind of physical preparation you should consider to get the most out of your trip. Whatever you choose to do, your Brown + Hudson support team and vehicle will ensure your comfort and safety all along the way. (And if your exotic destination precludes this level of attentive service – for instance, if you’re trekking through the jungles of Papua New Guinea to make contact with a remote tribe – we’ll clarify exactly what kind of support you can expect.)

However you decide to spend each day, your Brown + Hudson guides will always give you options. A shorter or longer route on the road or trail. Zip-lining through the jungle canopy rather than swimming in the river with piranhas. A relaxing massage in the spa, or a chance to visit the murals of Banteay Srei one last time. The choice will be yours.

After an initial consultation to determine what kind of travel experience you have in mind, we ask for a non-refundable Trip Planning Fee (TPF) – typically a minimum of £1,000. This fee confirms your commitment to have us work on your behalf. Short notice, longer, more complex, or projects requiring an investment of over £60,000 will require a higher TPF. Once your TPF has been received we will begin working on your project.

We then commit whatever time and resources are required of the Brown + Hudson team in London, as well as in-country, to research and plan your experience.

The price of your trip of course will depend on countless variables, beginning with the really obvious ones: where you’re going, who’s going with you, what you’d like to do there and how long you plan to stay. The experiences we create are priced as complete packages, that include components with confidential contract rates with partners, as such Brown + Hudson is unable to itemise costs.

We’ve done this for many years and understand where the sensitivities may lie when it comes to balancing travel dreams with economic realities. And we always know, as we present the final trip itinerary and detailed cost breakdown, that what we’ve created represents superb value, given the unique nature of the Brown + Hudson approach.

Brown + Hudson is a team of inveterate travellers who journey the globe constantly in search of new regions to explore. So in this fundamental way we differ from many travel companies that don’t have direct experience of the countries or regions where they offer trips. They repackage someone else’s standardised tours and have little control over your final experience. Their trips are led by people who’ve done the same itinerary with monotonous regularity – and it usually shows. By contrast, we create our bespoke itineraries from scratch, based on our own travel experiences and, of course, tailored to your needs, goals, aspirations and whims. We’re fully responsible for the creation of your trip and can adapt or change any detail at any stage to ensure it suits you perfectly.

The Brown + Hudson difference goes further than that. We also bring our in-country contacts and friends into the planning process at an early stage, weaving their up-to-the-minute input into your bespoke itinerary. Moreover, most of our trips are led by a local expert alongside your Brown + Hudson guides. Involving our carefully cultivated local connections allows us to create travel experiences that reflect your interests and at the same time are fresh, insightful and impossible to duplicate.

Another factor differentiating Brown + Hudson is that we’re perfectionists. A common claim, we realise, but in our case we have clinical proof of our fanaticism for getting it right. It’s there in each planning step as we construct your comprehensive itinerary – with every request or ambition, large or small, neatly realised and dovetailed together. Our passion for detail is equally evident in the days before you arrive, when your guides head out on their final reconnaissance run to ensure every facet of your trip is perfectly prepared and delivered.

Finally, Brown + Hudson differs from other travel companies because, overturning industry convention, we’d rather deal in quality than quantity. We have a slightly contrarian streak, in the sense that we prefer to avoid the obvious and don’t do well with repetition – which is a great thing for our clients, who tend to be the same way. If avoiding the predictable in favour of the unforgettable means Brown + Hudson has a more narrow appeal, we can live with that. We’re quite content to work with fewer clients, establishing close, long-term relationships with people whose travel dreams we understand – and who in turn appreciate our ability to make them real.

Our firm was founded in 2008 by adman-turned-travel-consultant, location researcher and expedition leader Philippe Brown and inspired by his more elusive partner, William Henry Hudson.

Yes, we’re regularly asked to create bespoke trips for company retreats, executive team-building experiences or rewards for special achievements. We apply the same care and attention to detail in crafting trips for our corporate clients as we do for small groups and individuals. We work with your team to understand the organization’s objectives while bearing in mind the needs of every individual enjoying the trip. If you’d like to weave in specific team-building events, we involve expert partners and create a seamless travel experience to fit your brief.

No problem whatsoever. Again, “truly bespoke” means we take pains to ensure we understand the needs of everyone in your party. We keep those considerations in mind as we create the initial itinerary, and they shape your guide’s recommendations every step of the way – both in the final reconnaissance sweep before you arrive and, of course, throughout your trip. The key point is that each of you is there to enjoy the experience in your own way. Your guides may suggest an ideal flow for the day, but ultimately the pace you set and the things you choose to do are entirely up to each traveller.

As international tourism continues to grow dramatically, it puts more and more pressure on the regions, communities and sites we like to visit. At Brown + Hudson, we favour working with local partners and travel professionals who take the long view and share our devotion to sustainability and travelling responsibly. In crafting your bespoke trip, we’ll do all that we can to ensure your visit to a region causes no unwanted disruptions and leaves no unwelcome traces. Wherever we travel, our overriding commitment is to protect each corner of the Earth for future generations.

Founding partner Philippe Brown started out in advertising in London and Paris before embarking on a life of exploring the world’s far corners. Over many years of working with luxury active travel companies such as Butterfield & Robinson, Philippe researched, designed, guided and managed trips around the globe. Fluent in English, French, Italian and Spanish - with enough Vietnamese and Arabic (and a bit of Mandarin) to get local villagers into the spirit of things - he crisscrossed the planet constantly, researching fascinating places that he knew thoughtful travellers would want to explore.

In 1994 Philippe began shaping his vision for a new kind of company offering truly bespoke travel experiences. He imagined a new business model that would disrupt travel industry conventions by proposing to go deeper, explore further and try harder, embracing the vastness of the worlds possibilities while pausing to celebrate the beauty of its smallest moments. In the years since Philippe has built a team of regional experts who combine creativity and passion with deep specialized knowledge and on-the-ground experience. Among the many inspirations that shaped this unique enterprise were the writings of William Henry Hudson - naturalist, explorer and author of Idle Days in Patagonia, among dozens of other books. Hudson’s illuminating accounts of his adventures in far-flung places helped guide the evolution of a company dedicated to creating highly personalized travel experiences: Brown + Hudson

Our clients represent all imaginable walks of life and come from every corner of the globe, including the UK, the US, the Middle East, Russia and Hong Kong. More than half have travelled with Brown + Hudson before, and a large number come to us through the recommendations of friends. Our adult travellers range in age from 18 to 81 (though we’re always ready to push the upper end of that envelope, if you’re game). We create family trips to accommodate guests as young as – well, as young as they happen to be when you want to take a trip that includes them. Babies are most welcome, as are would-be parents with gleams in their eyes.

What do these diverse clients have in common? They’re curious, dynamic, adventurous people who’ve travelled a fair bit and know what goes into a great trip – but they also value their time and are happy to benefit from our vast experience in crafting unique, unforgettable travel experiences.

A completely understandable question – and one that’s difficult to answer without sounding rather full of ourselves. But that’s never stopped us before…

It’s quite possible that you have years of travel experience and speak several languages. You may also have the time to read countless guidebooks and wade through myriad websites offering advice and opinions – while filtering for inaccuracies and hyperbole. As a seasoned traveller, you may have the insights and resources required to make the right choices, along with the passion for detail that goes into crafting a perfect trip.

So if you have all of this working in your favour, you should by all means plan your own bespoke trip. It’s an immensely satisfying achievement – which is one of the main reasons we’re in this business.
But if you’re like most of our clients, you value your time too much to get caught up in all the logistical headaches, investigative dead ends and behind-the-scenes negotiations that come with the job. You’d prefer to leave the planning to experts who, for whatever perverse reason, love doing it and therefore do it well.

We have in-depth, firsthand experience of the areas where we create trips. We’ve driven, biked or walked along pretty well every backcountry road, lane or trail to find routes we feel you’d enjoy discovering for yourself. We also have a superb network of personal friends and influential contacts around the globe. We know the latest, greatest or most interesting places to stay and understand the subtleties of each. We also know when the best option is to create our own temporary but luxurious accommodations, whether in tents, tree houses or igloos.

We’ve spent time with enough local guides to distinguish the few who share vital insights in original and interesting ways from the many who wax on at brain-numbing length and effectively tell you nothing. We can give you fresh perspectives on the most important sights and lead you off the beaten path to rarely visited gems. We can introduce you to renowned and unknown chefs, and steer you toward the best restaurants (while regaling you with stories from the worst).

All this to say that in our time we’ve seen a lot of incredible things we’d love to share with you – and a lot of awful things you won’t have to waste your time on. That’s the beauty of an artfully crafted, truly bespoke trip. And it’s an art form in which we feel, with all humility, Brown + Hudson excels.

The nuts and bolts of a Brown + Hudson bespoke trip

We don’t, and here’s why: In addition to the potential hygiene issues, we know that loaner helmets rarely fit as perfectly as they should. And because your safety is of the utmost importance, we feel it’s far preferable that you bring the helmet you use for riding at home – or choose a new one that’s just right for you (and matches your outfit) before beginning your journey. And here’s a bonus tip: When packed in your luggage, a helmet is a great place for storing breakable items.

We select modes of transport that best reflect your tastes and our knowledge of the region. For larger parties, we may recommend private aircraft or helicopters, chartered yachts, 4x4s or comfortable minivans. Our choices are designed to ensure seamless, efficient and enjoyable transitions between the various parts of your journey.

Accommodations are likewise chosen to suit your preferences while taking advantage of our expertise. You might stay at a grand hotel or a chic new boutique property, in a royal palace or at a private villa, mansion or château. You could find yourself in a historic castle or a tropical island hideaway, at a tented desert camp or in some kind of indigenous dwelling – luxuriously upgraded, of course. Working with our network of insiders, we make all of the arrangements and negotiate any necessary approvals.

Smoothly, securely and for the most part invisibly. Whatever style of trip we create for you, rest assured you’ll rarely have to think about luggage. It’s all handled by hotel staff, local baggage handlers and/or your Brown + Hudson support vehicle. When your day’s explorations lead you to a new home base, you’ll find your bags waiting in your hotel room, château turret or luxuriously appointed yurt.

The sooner the better. Although we’ll always do our best to create a trip at short notice, it’s best to allow a fair bit of lead time. Hotels tend to get busy nine months ahead of booking dates, and many plane or yacht charters will be reserved a year or more in advance. Also, more remote or logistically complicated trips often require us to secure permits, government authorisations and landing or docking rights. Even with our great local connections, it can still take a while to nail down the bureaucratic details (so you never have to hear about them).

In this unusual situation, Brown + Hudson will either (a) refund your trip in its entirety, less any cancellation charges or nonrefundable costs incurred as set out in our Terms and Conditions, or (b) offer you an alternative trip to another destination, refunding or charging any difference in cost from the original trip. Please note that Brown + Hudson can bear no responsibility for those clients who insist on going ahead with their trip plans despite travel advisory warnings from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office or the US State Department.

In addition to all of your arrival and departure details, we provide an itinerary outlining all the details of your bespoke trip. For background on a region’s culture, history, wildlife, terrain and other insights, we direct you to our recommended guidebooks and other works of travel literature. For all the other minutiae of getting to or from your destination, we suggest that your preferred travel agent be the first point of contact.

The typical bespoke Brown + Hudson itinerary includes:

- An overview of the region or country you plan to explore
- Your departure date and suggested pick-up and drop-off points
- Details of each day’s route and activities or events – both planned and optional – with a sense of how things could flow and what choices you’ll want to consider
- A selection of FAQs on various aspects of your trip
- The per-person price, with detailed notes on what is and is not included
- Next steps and deadlines

This is the surcharge for a single traveller who wishes a private hotel room. Hotels typically charge a per-person rate based on two guests sharing a room. The single supplement covers part of the difference when a room has only one occupant.

On trips that involve biking or walking, the Brown + Hudson support vehicle sweeps back and forth along each day’s route offering refreshments, cultural insights and lifts to the top of the next hill – or, if you’re so inclined, right through the gates of that night’s hotel. If you expect your group is going to be spread out and operating at different energy levels, your guides will arrange specific rendezvous points so travellers can make the day as long or as short as they wish.

If the region you’re exploring is relatively remote (for example, Bhutan, Nepal, Namibia or Papua New Guinea), we’ll select a support team of porters, trackers, cooks and guides to provide the highest level of support and comfort. Don’t fancy the walk from base camp back to Lukla? We’ll find you a friendly dzopkio to ride back on.

Locally. In line with our sustainability policy, we’re committed to using the finest locally available bikes and technical equipment rather than increasing our carbon footprint (and adding needless expense) by shipping them over great distances. The only exception is if we judge that locally supplied bicycles, rafts, diving gear or other equipment do not meet our stringent quality, health and safety standards.

Brown + Hudson trips often involve activities that are unlikely to be covered by your existing insurance policy. The bespoke policy we’ve developed with Travel Guard provides a superior level of coverage for your trip and the activities you may choose to pursue. The price of this insurance is based on the cost of your trip, and the fee is nonrefundable.

Sometimes – it naturally depends on where and when you plan to travel. Because many countries’ immigration and health requirements change regularly, it’s difficult to publish specific information and feel confident it will remain up to date. We recommend that you refer to current guidebooks and websites or consult your preferred travel agent to get the latest information. And if your personal physician does not feel comfortable offering inoculation or health advice for the region you’re planning to visit, he or she should be able to recommend a specialist or dedicated travel clinic.