In Travel

Culture Without The Crowds: The World’s Most Exclusive VIP Tours

Fancy dinner among the treasures of the Pharaohs? A date with da Vinci? A visit to regal Versailles?

Most iconic sights and monuments are littered with tourists. But if you look hard enough, it’s possible to find a way to experience them without. Read on for a few ideas of VIP tours – without the crowds.

See The Last Supper after-hours in Milan

Neue Luxury’s The Last Supper package includes two nights at the Mandarin Oriental Milan Image: Neue Luxury / supplied

The Last Supper is one of da Vinci’s most celebrated works, drawing in admirers from around the world since first being painted along the wall of Milan’s Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in 1495.

Normally, your visit would be restricted to 15 minutes and in a throng of fellow art enthusiasts, but a package organised by Neue Luxury changes that – provided you have the cash to splash and a fellow traveller to book with.

Accompanied by an art history guide, you’ll get to see the work after hours and appreciate the serenity of the convent itself, before returning to via private luxury transfer to your accommodation at Mandarin Oriental Milan for two nights.

Look at King Tut’s mask after-hours in Cairo

If you’re a massive fan of Egyptology and a guest of Four Seasons Cairo First Residence, this experience is a VIP tours must. See King Tut’s golden death mask among other glittering treasures of the ancient pharaohs (and a few of the pharaohs themselves) on a private, after-hours tour of the Egyptian Museum.

And if you aren’t quite sure what you’re marvelling at, Egyptologist and former Minister of Antiquities, Zahi Hawass, will be there to enlighten you. After your tourist-free tour of the museum, you’ll then be treated to a gourmet dinner for two in the museum’s garden, prepared by the hotel’s chefs.

Experience the best of city art in Amsterdam and Berlin

Black Tomato offers a double-bill artistic tour of Amsterdam and Berlin. Image: Black Tomato / supplied

Check two amazing artistic cities off in Black Tomato’s double-bill artistic tour. You’ll start in Berlin, with a visit to Museuminsel and Checkpoint Charlie. After spending the night at the very luxe, very cool Das Stue, you’ll spend the next day marvelling at Germany’s answer to Versaille Schloss Sanssouci.

A casual dinner at Brandenburg Gate wraps up the Germany leg of the tour, then it’s off to the ‘Dam for a couple of nights – and an after-hours private tour of the Van Gogh Museum, accompanied by an expert guide.

A VIP trip wouldn’t be complete without a little sparkle – and a masterclass in diamond polishing at Diamant Museum fits the brief.

Tour the Met and finish with cocktails in New York City

When you think of the Met, a VIP party of gala proportions probably comes to mind. And while an invitation from Anna Wintour might not be in the mail, If Only’s museum and cocktail experience is your next best bet.

For USD$200 per hour, you can tour the Met with an art historian who will curate the tour based on your creative interests. After making your way through some 5,000 years of art history, you can opt to end your experience with a cocktail or two or a wine tasting.

If you’ve got a taste for this VIP way of experiencing art in the Big Apple, you can even add private tours of the Guggenheim or the American Museum of Natural History to your itinerary.

Tour Versailles and finish with dinner in Paris

While there are plenty of VIP early-bird tours of Louis XIV’s lavish palace complex Versailles, the folks at Family Twist can help you take the experience up a notch. Upon your arrival to the palace – by horse and carriage, no less – you’ll have an after-hours visit to really appreciate the Hall of Mirrors and the King’s Apartments free of crowds.

A stroll around the gardens takes you through to dinnertime when a table at Michelin-starred Gordon Ramsay au Trianon awaits.

Tour the Louvre after-dark in Paris

Tauk’s London to Paris itinerary features a guided tour of the Louvre after-hours. The Louvre Image: Pixabay

Turns out Beyonce and Jay-Z’s private Louvre experience may be more accessible than you think. Day 5 of this luxe Tauck London and Paris itinerary features a guided tour of the Louvre’s artistic heavyweights after closing hours. Only select tour dates come with the after-dark option, so you’ll need to confirm when you book.

Is money no object? Then the bespoke travel team at Brown & Hudson can shut down the entire museum for you and your travelling companions, even arranging a Da Vinci Code-style treasure hunt if that’s your thing.

Design a custom watch in Geneva

To talk of Swiss art is to talk of watches. This Zodiac experience coincides with the annual Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) in Geneva, and starts from a cool USD$20,000.

Of course, you’ll start by designing a bespoke timepiece at Parmigiani Fleurier, in a workshop with the master himself, Michel Parmigiani. The package also includes a private dinner with Parmigiani as well as VIP access to SIHH, and five-star dining and accommodation throughout your stay.

(Lead image: Ninara / Flickr CC

Published 10 April, 2019