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.

The Duchess of Malfi comes to Shakespeare’s Globe

The newly opened Jacobean-style theatre at Shakespeare’s Globe, the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, officially launches on Thursday 9th January with Webster’s amazing The Duchess of Malfi.  This macabre, tragic play written by John Webster in 1612-13, is the classic tale of corruption and the misuse of power within the Italian courts.

The brilliantly talented actress Gemma Arterton stars as the title role of the Duchess, and is returning to the Globe after she first made her acting debut there in 2007, as Rosaline in Love’s Labour’s Lost.  For avid theatre fans, or those who enjoy a shocking and dramatic storyline, this performance promises to deliver with its dominant themes of love, loss and revenge.

The Duchess of Malfi is running at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at the Globe from the 9th January to 16th February.  Tickets vary in price from £10 for standing, to £60 for a premium seat.  To book tickets, call the box office on 020 7401 9919 or visit Shakespeare’s Globe website.

Why not treat yourself to dinner at DUKES London either before or after the show? With a unique menu created by our wonderfully talented chef Nigel Mendham, you could enjoy our pre-theatre special offer from just £31 per person.

The National Theatre’s ‘Light Princess’

Known by many as the most anticipated production of the year, the National Theatre’s Light Princess is the ultimate modern fairy-tale with a twist.  The Daily Express has declared ‘The Light Princess’ an ‘entrancing, dreamlike show’ and many others have been astounded by its stunning visual effects.

The story contains both traditional fairy-tale components, as well as some much more sinister undertones.  The premise of the story is a prince and princess living in conflicting kingdoms who are both suffering from losing their mothers.  Althea, played by the enchanting Rosalie Craig, is unable to cry so floats with grief and is imprisoned as a result.  Meanwhile, Digby (Nick Hendrix) is trained as a warrior and one day, declares war on Althea’s kingdom.   Althea is forced out of hiding, but later escapes and meets the prince beside a lake, where they begin an affair.  But for Althea to find real love, she must confront the world’s darkness and face her own deepest fears.

Whether young or old, this visual extravaganza is, without a doubt, a must-see for all theatre-goers and play-lovers.  Performances are showing now until February 2nd.  For more information or to book tickets, visit the National Theatre’s website.

DUKES London is the perfect retreat to unwind and recharge after your day at the theatre – especially with the introduction of our new Winter Warmer offer.  Our fabulous promotion includes a complimentary room upgrade, full English breakfast and free Wi-Fi, and is available from the 1st January 2014 until 31st March 2014.

Festive fun with the Royal Ballet’s Nutcracker

The Royal Opera House, home of the world-renowned Royal Ballet is playing host to the most famous festive production of all time this winter, The Nutcracker, with 9 performances between the 2nd and 16th of January 2014. This classic, much-loved ballet was created by Marius Petipa, based on a fairytale by E. T. A Hoffman, and was first performed in 1892 at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg.  Peter Wright’s direction with score by Tchaikovsky and Trevelyan Oman’s 19TH-century Christmas stage design make The Nutcracker a classic production for the festive season.

 

The story begins with a Christmas party hosted by the parents of a little girl named Clara, who receives a Nutcracker doll from a magician named Drosselmeyer.  When all of the guests have left and the house is silent, Clara discovers that the Nutcracker is enchanted and is swept away on a magical adventure. The Nutcracker is now showing at the Royal Opera House until January 16th.  Tickets for the event cost from £8 and are available from the Royal Opera House website. After the majestic performance, why not come on over to DUKES London for some rest and relaxation and enjoy our Winter Warmer promotion? Included in the special offer is a complimentary room upgrade, full English breakfast and free Wi-Fi.  For more information, visit our website.

Whistler Exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery

This winter, the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London will be exhibiting a variety of paintings by American-born, British-based artist James Abbott McNeill Whistler, in a special exhibition entitled ‘An American in London.’  Born in America and raised in Russia, Whistler came to London in 1859, and his early paintings of this period marked one of his most successful and profound impacts on the art scene.

Whistler is best-known for his attitude of adversity towards morals and sentimentality in art, and was in favour of the principle ‘art for art’s sake.’  The artist is best-known for the portrait of his mother named ‘Whistler’s Mother’ and his signature, which is signed in the shape of a butterfly – a reflection of his love of Asian art. Deemed ‘captivating, erudite and unexpected’ by the Financial Times, the ‘An American in London’ exhibition includes a variety of paintings of Chelsea and the Thames as well as prints, drawings, watercolours and pastels.  The exhibition provides a detailed examination of Whistler’s composition, subject and technique and how it developed over the years. The highlight of the exhibition is a number of Whistler’s iconic Nocturnes, including Blue and Gold – Battersea Bridge (1872-1877.)  Although the selection is small, with a widely varied selection of his works, the ‘American in London’ exhibition contains something for all types of art-lover.

After soaking in the cultural offerings of the Whistler exhibition, why not come over to DUKES London and spoil yourself with our Winter Warmer package, including complimentary upgrade and a full English breakfast before you leave.

A Guide to Christmas Shopping in London

If you’re planning a Christmas shopping spree in London over the next few weeks, then we have the perfect guide for you. With no better time to visit than during the Christmas period, you’ll be sure to come away feeling full of festive cheer as you experience the city in all of its illuminated grandeur. To ensure you get your loved one that perfect Christmas gift and perhaps even a special something for yourself, we’ve collated our favourite Christmas stores, most of which are within 10 minutes’ walk of DUKES London, in which you’re guaranteed to find everything you need.

Harrods

If there’s one store that is guaranteed to put you in the festive mood it has to be Harrods. Famous for its annual Christmas window display, Harrods pulls out all the stops and this year’s theme is no exception, taking inspiration from the iconic British steam train. The lavish window display showcases the stores most luxurious fashions and you’ll soon feel like you’ve stepped into a scene of the Great Gatsby. For those of you visiting London this Christmas, make this your first stop!

Fortnum and Mason

Nowhere spreads Christmas cheer like the 307-year-old Fortnum and Mason as the store is transformed into a magical winter wonderland adorned with the most beautiful Christmas decorations. The store is renowned for creating the most decadent Christmas hampers full of tasty treats, making Fortnum and Mason a must for all food lovers.

Liberty

Located on the fourth floor, the Liberty Christmas shop is definitely worth a visit. With a beautiful range of vintage-looking Christmas wreaths and other intricate decorations, Liberty has something to suit everyone. For those of you with a sweet tooth, stop by Liberty’s chocolate shop on your way out for some sumptuously tasty goodness.

Hamley’s Toy Store

For anyone with young children this Christmas, you can’t visit London without taking a trip to the famous Hamley’s Toy Store. With more toys than you could imagine, this certainly is toy heaven and at Christmas time, could be mistaken for Santa’s grotto. So if there’s something left on Santa’s list, Hamley’s is sure to have it!

Selfridges

Last but not least on the list, the famous Selfridges of Oxford Street. If you’re yet to get a gift for that special someone, Selfridges is the answer. With a wide selection of stylish and quirky gifts for him and her, a trip to Selfridges is sure to put a smile on your better-half’s face this festive season.

After a busy day of Christmas shopping, what better way to unwind than with a festive glass of fizz in our Perrier-Jouet Champagne lounge, Festive Afternoon Tea in the Drawing Room or some Champagne & Canapes? We at DUKES London hope you have a sparkling Christmas!

 

 

The Natural History Museum Ice Rink

There’s something for everyone at the Natural History Museum Ice Rink this Christmas. Whether out for a romantic date or a family outing every single person leaves the Ice Rink with memories that can last a lifetime. With more than 1000 square meters of ice and over 75,000 fairy lights lacing the trees above, it guarantees one of the best festive atmospheres in London.

Entertainment is available for visitors of all ages: a fairground carousel, a junior rink for younger skaters and delicious festive-themed refreshments in the Café Bar. Offering sumptuous food, warming drinks and creative cocktails, families can feast on delicious treats, and couples can cosy up with a hot chocolate on the open-air balcony overlooking the Ice Rink.

Not to forget the museum itself, a day in the Natural History Museum is arguably the best museum experience in the world. With free entry, countless fossils and life-size replicas of dinosaurs including the majestic T-Rex.

Why not take a pleasant stroll from the museum, through Green Park and Knightsbridge, a great way to take in some of London’s most prestigious areas. After a crisp walk, come back and relax in DUKES Champagne Bar, featured in Made in Chelsea, to carry on the festive celebrations in style.

Christmas at Kew Gardens

This year, Kew Gardens’ annual seasonal makeover is not one to be missed. Take a stroll through the illuminated gardens as they are transformed with a series of lighting installations created by prestigious artists from all across the UK. As twilight falls and the magic begins, take in the enchanted gardens and beautiful winter landscape as you explore all that Kew has to offer. An enjoyable stroll through the gardens should take around one hour and 15 minutes.

Once you’ve explored the enchanted gardens, it’s time to get into the Christmas spirit and enjoy one of the many festive family attractions. Take a ride on the charming Victorian carousel and other vintage fairground rides, or visit the boutique Christmas market which promises foodie treats and festive music for all. There’s something for old and young alike and you can even visit Santa’s Grotto and meet the man himself. Kew Gardens promises to be a magical visit this Christmas and offers fun for all of the family.

The winter trails at Kew Gardens will take place from 4.30-10.00pm on a range of different dates between 28th November – 4th January. Visit http://www.kew.org/ for more details. Why not make the day really special and treat a loved one to festive afternoon tea at Dukes Hotel before whizzing on to Kew Gardens for the winter trails? Accompanied by a glass of champagne, it’s the perfect toast to the happiest season of all!