Wembley Stadium: London’s most notable sporting venue

An external, nighttime shot of London's Wembley stadium

The discussion around London’s most notable sporting venue can be a heated one. There are a number of claimants to that venerable crown and your views will no doubt depend on which sport your allegiances lie with.

If you are a tennis fan, your choice may be Wimbledon. A cricket fan will always go for Lords, whilst a rugby fan would choose Twickenham and for the all-round athletics fan, the choice would be the new Olympic Park, built especially for the London Olympics of 2012.

We’ll be providing details on each of these venues in future articles, but for now we will focus on Wembley Stadium, the home of English football, located in North London in the borough of Brent.

Built in 1923 for the British Empire exhibition and originally called the Empire Stadium, the first major event Wembley hosted was the FA Cup final of 1923. The original structure survived until 2003 when it was demolished,, eventually reopening in 2007 as the new Wembley Stadium.

Whilst the old stadium was famous for its twin towers, the new stadium is famous for its arch which, at a height of 440 feet (133 m) and with a span of just over 1,000 feet (305 m), is the world’s longest single span roof. Moreover the roof slides to ensure that all spectators can be covered yet at the same time allows direct sunlight to all parts of the pitch. The pitch itself is a mixture of synthetic and natural grass ensuring a high-quality playing surface all year round.

Containing 90,000 seats and boasting 98 kitchens (just enough to be able to feed 90,000 hungry spectators!), Wembley has seen many famous visitors over the years, particularly when you realise it’s been so much more than a fotball venue.

For example, it’s hosted many music concerts over the years, including Live Aid in 1985, whilst also being home to the Olympics in 1948 and the football World Cup final in 1966 when England famously won in the final against West Germany.. but only after extra time!

Wembley has even been host to a number of American Football matches in recent times and you might be able to catch a game if you are coming to see us in the next few weeks to take advantage of our Autumn Flutter offer (on any weekend in September or October).  The dates for the NFL games at Wembley are currently set to be:

  • 28th September – Miami Dolphins v Oakland Raiders
  • 26th October – Detroit Lions v Atlanta Falcons
  • 9th November – Dallas Cowboys v Jacksonville

Tickets for these events are in short supply at this late stage, but if anyone can find them, our concierge can so why not set him the challenge!

Able to help you get the most from your time with us at DUKES, our concierge will do as much as they can to make sure you see and experience Wembley Stadium exactly as you want to, whether that’s by attending a game, simply walking past, or via the way that’s always recommended: by taking part in one of the much revered stadium tours – enjoy!

5 fantastic things you can expect to see during the Thames Festival

The Totally Thames logoTaking place for the first time throughout the month of September, the Thames Festival (also known as Totally Thames) is an exciting, new month-long celebration of the river across its 42 London miles.

This 30-day spectacular programme of events will feature arts, music, colourful regattas, river races, archaeology, environmental and educational activities; as well as river-linked activities throughout the 17 London riverside boroughs.

Here, we suggest five events that you definitely should try to see whilst Totally Thames is in full swing.

1.  Florentijn Hofman Commission

Something extremely large is coming to the Thames this September!

On Tuesday 2nd, renowned Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman will create an extraordinary new sculpture, which will be his first in the UK, and it’ll be situated at Nine Elms on the South Bank for the length of the Festival.

Inspired by the fascinating prehistory of the river, the installation will be semi-immersed in the water and will rise and fall with the tide.

2.  Richmond Riverside Festival

Every weekend in September, from 11am until 6pm, you can take advantage of live music, stalls and family entertainment.

Richmond can boast to having the longest single stretch of the river in London, and with its beautiful royal parks, theatres and town centre bursting with shops and restaurants, this September there’s even more reason to visit Richmond.

Plus, every weekend has a different theme, with local charities benefiting from each one. Perfect.

3.  Tower Bridge: A Celebration of 120 Years

Starting on the 12th September and running seven days a week is an exhibition showcasing the many different ways artists have pictured London’s most iconic bridge in its 120 year history. The show includes paintings from the Guildhall Yard Gallery’s permanent collection, contemporary interpretations and a fascinating array of ephemera and archive material.

4.  Handel’s Fireworks Music and Illuminations

Throughout the festival the historic Royal Palaces will host what promises to be an unforgettable performance of Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks.

Taking place in the romantic, riverside Privy Garden at Hampton Court Palace, it will be performed by Arcangelo, a 30-piece orchestra, and followed by a breath-taking Georgian fireworks display.

Be prepared for a magical evening in a spectacular, historic setting.

5.  The Great River Race

The 27th September sees the London River Marathon, a race up the Thames from Millwall in the east to Ham in the west in spectacular style. The awe-inspiring scene of 300 crews racing on the river is one not to be missed!

All levels of competitor are welcome, from fancy dress to serious sports individuals, and all will compete to become UK Traditional Boat Champions in the process.

These are just five of the events we think you should try to take in throughout the Thames Festival, but there are many, many others, including screenings of some of the best films ever made – E.T., The Goonies, and Raiders of the Lost Ark to name just a few (these are being shown at the More London Free Film Festival).

But whatever it is you choose to take part in, you definitely need to be in London during the month of September to just feel a part of the celebrations and events. It’s going to be a fantastic atmosphere!

Looking for somewhere to stay to make for a truly memorable visit? Check out our latest offers and give us a call here at DUKES Hotel to find out more.

DUKES Wins World’s Leading Classic Boutique Hotel 2012

Debrah Dhuggah at the World Travel Awards, 2012Last night DUKES London picked up the award for the World’s Leading Classic Boutique Hotel with Outstanding Service 2012, in front of hundreds of guests at a packed out World Travel Awards in Delhi, India.

Debrah Dhugga, our General Manager said “Wow, what a team I have! I am the proudest lady in hospitality. DUKES is very special and it is really an honour to be recognised and awarded both personally and for our team; they are the most important people without whom I am no one.”

DUKES Wins European Boutique Hotel Award at World Travel Awards

DUKES ST. JAMES LONDON is delighted to announce its success at the World Travel Awards on Saturday 6th October, with the hotel being awarded the respected title of ‘European Boutique Hotel Of The Year’.

Debrah Dhugga with the coveted "Europe's Leading Boutique Hotel" Award
Debrah Dhugga with the coveted ‘Europe’s Leading Boutique Hotel’ Award.

General Manager Debrah Dhugga attended the awards, which were held in Portugal, on behalf of DUKES ST. JAMES LONDON and commented “Myself and the DUKES ST. JAMES LONDON team are absolutely thrilled to be awarded such a fantastic and prestigious title. After DUKES’ success at the World Travel Awards last year, where we received two awards, including ‘England’s Leading Boutique Hotel’, we are delighted that DUKES has been recognized yet again, this time, as ‘European Boutique Hotel Of The Year’”.

DUKES ST. JAMES LONDON is tucked away in a cobbled court yard off St James’ and is a member of the prestigious, Small Luxury Hotels of The World. To book please visit www.dukeshotel.com or contact the DUKES reservation team on 020 7491 4840.

3 AA rosettes and 5 red stars for DUKES at AA Hospitality Awards

An exquisite piece of food from Nigel MendhamWe are delighted to announce Nigel Mendham’s success at this year’s AA Hospitality Awards. Competing against some of London’s best chefs and restaurants, Nigel was extremely proud to be awarded three AA Rosettes for outstanding service and food. In a second win, we were also named a ‘Five Red Star Hotel’ therefore receiving the highest accolade a hotel can achieve and making us the real stars of the night.

Five AA Red Stars are only ever awarded to the very best hotels where “impeccably dressed staff provide attentive and unobtrusive service. All bedrooms have an en suite bathroom with a bath and thermostatically controlled shower and meals are cooked and presented to an excellent standard using high quality ingredients.”

AA Winners are selected in recognition of excellence and success within their award category, proving their dedication to raising industry standards and enhancing both their guest and diner experiences. It is for this reason that both Nigel and ourselves are extremely proud of winning these prestigious awards.

Nigel Mendham strives to serve dishes that are created using the finest quality seasonal and, where possible, locally sourced produce, pairing this with an extensive wine list and excellent service, to create a fine dining experience for all tastes.

Nigel Mendham’s new dishes for the autumn season include:

Goat Cheese Flan, variations of beetroot, celery sorbet

Line caught Sea Bass, white crab cannelloni, organic carrot, courgettes

Spring Chicken Pie, young leeks, sage & onion

Turbot Salsify, foraged mushrooms, parsley puree, roast chicken jus

Previously employed as head chef at The Samling Hotel in the Lake District, Nigel Mendham’s cuisine has in the past been awarded three AA rosettes, three red stars and a Michelin star in 2010. Considering this, Nigel commented:

“Starting here was an exciting transition for me, having worked for most of my career in the countryside. However, I was determined to win back the recognition and awards base I had built up at The Samling, here in London. Being awarded three AA rosettes at a restaurant that has my name on the door is a real honour and I hope it will provide benefits for everyone involved with the restaurant and DUKES.”

Debrah Dhugga, General Manager of DUKES also mentioned:

“Nigel’s well recognised food is some of the best in Britain and DUKES is delighted to have him on board as executive Head Chef. Nigel’s food is both stunning in presentation and taste and we are thrilled that the AA has acknowledged this.

We are also delighted that the AA has added to Nigel’s success by awarding DUKES with a ‘Five Red Star’ title, which we would not have received without the hard work and dedication of all hotel and restaurant staff.”

To make a reservation at DUKES ST. JAMES LONDON or our restaurant please call 0207 491 4840.