The secret sights of London

The London Skyline - with the London Eye - as the sun is risingWhilst 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 our wonderful city.

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 great 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

A look down a path in Greenwich Park, LondonAlthough 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 us at DUKES – commons, public gardens and converted church yards. Continue reading “Looking for a quiet, relaxing break? London can offer that”

Van Gogh’s Sunflowers is now at The National Gallery!

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? Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond, loved our martinis!

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.

 

 

Swan Lake at Sadler’s Wells

Tchaikovsky’s classic ballet, Swan Lake, composed in 1875-76 returns to Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London’s chic Islington district.  The spectacle made its debut at the same theatre in 1995, and is returning to the place of its première after 18 years.

The performance, based on old Russian folktales, tells the beautiful story of a young prince who falls in love with Odette, a princess who is turned into a swan by the curse of an evil sorcerer. Throughout the story, we are drawn into the twists and turns of the relationship between the two leads and how it develops.

Britain’s most popular choreographer, Matthew Bourne, revolutionised the performance by replacing the traditional female corps de ballet with an all-male one.  The Times said of the show: “the impact of this vibrant staging is undiminished; if anything it’s even stronger.” Bourne’s adaptation of the show has made the classic story more modern and relevant to today’s society.

Swan Lake has achieved more than 30 international awards, and has become the longest-running ballet in the West End and on Broadway.  It encompasses dance, humour and award-winning designs by Lez Brotherston to create a breath-taking performance, enjoyed by those who know and love the traditional story as well as newcomers to the timeless tale.

The show is running at Saddler’s Wells theatre from now until the 26th January, and tickets range from £12 to £60 and are available from the theatre’s website.  After taking in the magnificent performance, why not extend your experience by coming to visit DUKES London for a glass of our Perrier-Jouet champagne and tasty canapés from just £21 per person.

Vodafone’s London Fashion Weekend

Somerset House is preparing itself for one of Britain’s biggest consumer fashion showcases: Vodafone’s London Fashion Weekend.  Designers such as Welsh favourite Julien Macdonald will be showcasing their latest collections ahead of next season. Amongst masses of designer shopping and expert fashion talks, the catwalks will take centre stage.

Designs from more than 100 of the top UK and universal designers will be showcased in four trend sections, each highlighting 40 minutes of fabulous fashion. Vodafone’s London Fashion Weekend offers a unique opportunity to see the best upcoming trends and exclusive first-class fashion advice from the experts. London’s Somerset House, located in The Strand at the heart of the city, will be host to the fashion extravaganza.

The show is running for a long weekend from 20th- 24th February 2014 and tickets range from £20 – £130 depending on your chosen package. A variety of extras will be offered, including tote bags with “luxe” treats to provide that VIP edge, including samples from fashion favourites Kurt Geiger and St Tropez.

After enjoying the show with the girls, why not continue your experience with our Ultimate girl’s night in package at DUKES London. Our exclusive offer includes relaxing beauty treatments and a complete goody hamper to share. For more information, or to book, visit our website or call +44 (0)207 491 4840.

The France Show in London

From the 17th-19th of January, Earl’s Court will undergo a continental-style makeover as it’s transformed into the host venue for the city’s annual France Show.  The show brings the best of France to the people of London in an exhibition honouring all the cultural quirks of our favourite Western European country.

View London states that the show possesses plenty of ‘joie de vivre’ and has dubbed the show ‘a full-on weekend of French fun’. There’s a huge variety of activities on offer for every kind of Francophile to enjoy, including a colossal traditional French market. The market comes complete with more than 50 hand-picked French stalls offering tempting treats like cheeses, charcuterie meats and a choice of French crafts.

The France Show runs from the 17th to the 19th of January at Earl’s Court in London.  Tickets for the event cost £10 in advance or £13 on the door and are available from The France Show website.

After taking in all of the cultural delights of France at the fair, why not come and sample the no less sophisticated atmosphere of the PJ Lounge at DUKES London.  Our champagne and canapés promotion costs from only £19 per person, and includes a glass of French bubbly from our partners Perrier-Jouet. Call 0207 318 6585 to book, or reserve yourself a place online through our website.