The Secret Sights Of London

london-skylineWhilst many visitors to London can appreciate the more notable attractions, here we want to highlight some of the lesser known sights that can be found in London.

A lot of people, especially Londoners themselves, appreciate these because they don’t always want to be a part of the hustle and bustle – sometimes it’s nice to have a bit of peace and quiet whilst visiting sights people don’t generally know about. Continue reading “The Secret Sights Of London”

Looking For A Quiet, Relaxing Break? London Can Offer That, Too!

IMAG0030.JPGAlthough there is a belief that London is a hustle and bustle type of city, which is true in many senses, it doesn’t always have to be that way.

There are a number of ways you can enjoy a quieter, more relaxed stay in our capital city; for example, do you know how many parks and open spaces there are in London?

If you count the City of London and Greater London, then you are looking at around 1,000 different green spaces to relax in.  These include Royal parks – such as those which surround DUKES – commons, public gardens and converted church yards. Continue reading “Looking For A Quiet, Relaxing Break? London Can Offer That, Too!”

Van Gogh’s Sunflowers

Bask in the spring air and immerse yourself in blooming flowers, whatever the weather at The National Gallery with its amazing new exhibition, Vincent Van Gogh’s ‘The Sunflowers’.

For the first time in 65 years, The National Gallery is reuniting two of the five paintings in his most celebrated series of works. ‘Sunflowers’ was created in 1888, two years prior to Van Gogh’s tragic death. The paintings are a reflection of his friendship with the French artist Paul Gauguin, for whom they were made to decorate his bedroom. The show also reveals new insights into their artistic collaboration, and offers a deeper understanding of these works of art.

‘Sunflowers’ is all the more fascinating when you consider the events surrounding its creation. Van Gogh himself described the paintings as “a decoration in which the raw and broken chrome yellow will blaze forth on various backgrounds”. These two works, one a replica of another, were produced throughout a period where his and Gauguin’s relationship dramatically deteriorated. Following it, Van Gogh suffered a breakdown and cut off his ear.

Don’t miss the opportunity to see this masterpiece, an artistic landmark, as the exhibition is in its last month, ending on 27th April. Top off your day by reflecting on Van Gogh’s genius talent with an afternoon tea at DUKES London. Just a short walk away, DUKES offers delicate finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones and a varied selection of cream cakes to enjoy in our elegant drawing room and conservatory whilst overlooking a peaceful courtyard garden.

Jean Paul Gautier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk

London’s most eagerly awaited fashion exhibition, The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gautier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, arrives at the Barbican Centre this April.  The show will display over 150 exquisite ready-to-wear and couture pieces from various stages of his 40-year career.

Gautier is renowned worldwide for his ability to push fashion boundaries with his daring designs and outrageous statements, and it’s this facet which has earned him a firm place in fashion and design history.  Well-known for his enthusiasm in erasing the boundaries between cultures and the sexes, Gautier has developed a strong international fanbase which will certainly be rewarded by this unique exhibition.

Highlights from the show include Madonna’s infamous conical corset from her 1990 Blonde Ambition tour, a variety of bespoke pieces designed for Kylie Minogue, and stunning footage of some of Gautier’s most fabulous, theatrical catwalk shows.

The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gautier is being held at The Barbican in London from 9th April until 17th August 2014, and tickets cost between £7.25 and £14.50. Whilst in London, come over to DUKES London and treat yourself to a luxury Easter break with us. Our Spring room prices include a complimentary upgrade to the next category, sweet treat upon arrival and full English breakfast. Or why not come and enjoy one of our fabulous cocktails?

Vogue Festival 2014: Southbank Centre 29th to 30th March

One of the most eagerly anticipated events of the year for fashionistas, The Vogue Festival will this year be held at the Queen Elizabeth Hall at the Southbank Centre. The festival offers a chance to see the glossy pages of Vogue up close and personal, and to experience the whirlwind world of fashion first hand.

This year’s event is sponsored by fashion powerhouse Harrods, and will include everything from interviews to panel discussions, makeovers to careers masterclasses, and an opportunity to see and hear from the most influential figures of the fashion industry to date.  Amongst the highlights of the festival are ten talks which you can book to see, including titles such as: ‘Valentino: King of Glamour’ and ‘Fashion Legends’ with Naomi Campbell. Guests confirmed for this year’s event include: Manolo Blahnik, Alexander McQueen’s Sarah Burton, Victoria Secret angel Karlie Kloss and Vogue Italia’s editor-in-chief, Franca Sozzani. The Vogue Festival takes place on the 29th and the 30th March and tickets are available from the Southbank Centre website.

After spending the day mingling with fashion’s elite, why not call in to DUKES London for dinner in our fabulous Thirty Six restaurant. Our three course dinner and bottle of wine costs £48 per person. To book, simply email [email protected].

Matilda the Musical

Roald Dahl’s classic children’s novel, Matilda, comes to the West End this spring, courtesy of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Originally performed at the Courtyard Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon in November 2011 to sold-out audiences, it was then transferred to the Cambridge Theatre in the West End in October 2011.

Matilda the musical is written by esteemed playwright Dennis Kelly, with music and lyrics being provided by much-loved Australian comedian and musician, Tim Minchin.  The performance is directed by Matthew Warchus, with choreography by Peter Darling.

Described by the Guardian as ‘an evening of unadulterated bliss’, the show follows the story of a very intelligent young girl named Matilda who possesses special powers.  Her unloving parents treat her awfully, and her sadistic teacher Miss Trunchbull is just as terrifying as she rules the school with cruelty and fear.  Eventually, Matilda decides that the grown-ups should be taught a lesson and with the help of her good friends, she succeeds.

Matilda the musical is running from now all the way through to December of this year. Tickets for the performance range from £20 to £65 and are available now from either The Cambridge Theatre website, or the RSC website. To finish off your evening, why not visit DUKES London and embrace our Winter Warmer offer, available throughout March.  The offer includes a complimentary room upgrade, full English breakfast and Wi-Fi. To book, visit the DUKES London website.

 

Designs of the Year 2014

The seventh annual Designs of the Year exhibition comes to London’s prestigious Design Museum on the 26th March. The modern museum is located on the banks of the Thames and boasts two main galleries containing collections tracing the development of design, from its origins to contemporary works.

This year’s 76 nominees include not only familiar brands and well-known designers such as David Chipperfield and Miuccia Prada, but also smaller names and student projects. The exhibition offers something to suit a variety of artistic tastes with its seven different categories, which are architecture, digital, fashion, furniture, graphic design, transport and product design. A high-profile judging panel will choose the shortlisted nominations, which will then be exhibited in the museum from the 26th March.  The overall champion of the competition will be announced in May, and the winner will hold the ‘Design of the Year’ title for a full 52 weeks.

The exhibition opens its doors on 28th March, and runs until 7th July.  Tickets cost £12.40 for adults, or £9.30 for students or the unemployed, and are available from the Design Museum website. Why not come over to DUKES London after checking out the finalists at the exhibition, for a luxurious meal cooked by our talented chef Nigel Mendham? Reservations can be made via the DUKES London website.

Turner Prize Winner at Hayward Gallery

If you’re a fan of contemporary art, the Hayward Gallery on London’s iconic Southbank Centre is currently playing host to one of the biggest names in the industry. Turner Prize winning artist Martin Creed is the main attraction at the Gallery until April, where the exhibition displays his take on playful contemporary art.

Creed has been one of the most significant names in British art since his 2001 Turner Prize win, in which his Work No. 227 centred around an empty room in which the lights went on and off. The Wakefield born artist has seen his success advance since the 2001 win, and for the past 13 years his exhibitions have been seen all around the globe.

Taking everyday materials and transforming them into surprising new forms, his artistic pieces aim to challenge the standard perceptions of run of the mill events and objects. The current exhibition displays pieces which incorporate a running theme of exploration of the invisible structures that run through our lives.

The exhibition is currently on display and runs until 27 April at Southbank’s Hayward Gallery, with tickets costing £11 per person. If you’re making the trip to London to sample some of the world’s best contemporary art, why not check into DUKES London and enjoy a full weekend of sightseeing in one of the world’s most cultural capital cities.

Late Night Keats on Valentine’s Day

Looking for something different to do this Valentine’s Day? Whether you’re one half of a happy couple or going it alone this year, Keats House is the perfect place to spend your evening on February the 14th.  The idyllic house in Hampstead, where legendary poet John Keats lived during the years 1818 to 1820, is opening its doors on Valentine’s evening, offering a unique and exclusive experience.

During this period, Keats was at his most productive, and the surroundings inspired some of his most memorable poetry.  According to his friend and lodger, Charles Brown, ‘Ode to a Nightingale’ was written under a plum tree in its very garden.  It was during Keats’ time in the Hampstead house that he fell in love with his ‘Bright Star’, a young girl named Fanny Brawne, the girl who lived next door.

Late Night Keats offers a variety of music, games and champagne whilst embarking on a journey of Keats’ poetry, romance and eventual heartbreak.  The perfect event for lovers of literature, this event is not to be missed. The event runs from 18.30 until 21.30 on Friday 14th February. Tickets for the event cost £8 including a glass of bubbly and are available from the event website.

After your romantic evening, why not check into DUKES London for one of our ultimate Valentine’s packages, including a luxury room and a box of lovingly handmade chocolates?

 

New Order II at Saatchi Gallery

London’s favourite one-stop destination for contemporary art, the Saatchi Gallery, is introducing its exciting new exhibition for Spring 2014, New Order II: British Art Today.

The Saatchi Gallery was opened in 1985 by Charles Saatchi to exhibit his extensive collections to the general public.  The Gallery hosts a variety of artwork genres; from minimalism and US artistry, to examples of contemporary Chinese art and works by Young British Artists. For 25 years, the Saatchi Gallery has strongly supported emerging artists and aims to make contemporary art as widely available as possible to both a British and an international audience.

The much-praised exposition is a sample of works from 13 of the most promising and talented up-and-coming artists of the moment. Highlights of the display include Virgile Ittah’s ‘Regarding the Pain of the Other’ – a wax and marble powder figure, portraying the concept of isolation by using the human body as a canvas.

New Order II: British Art Today is appearing at The Saatchi Gallery from the 24th January to the 23rd March 2014 and entry is completely free. After the exhibition, why not pop over to DUKES London for our delicious three-course lunch cooked by the brilliantly talented Nigel Mendham, for just £25 per person.