Everything you need to know for visiting and staying in London for the Royal Wedding

Afternoon tea at DUKES Hotel, LondonExpected to be one of the most momentous occasions of the year, Prince Harry is set to marry Meghan Markle this summer. Having been in a relationship since 2016, the wedding marks a particularly interesting point in British Royal Family history, as back in 1936, Prince Harry’s great-great uncle, King Edward VIII, also married a divorced American – but for the pleasure of doing so, he had to abdicate the throne.

Whilst Prince Harry is not yet king, the wedding shows the change in views the Family has, taking a more modern approach that some may not have expected but which is undoubtedly seen as a positive across the board.

And with people from all around the world wanting to share in Prince Harry’s and Meghan’s big day, if you’re joining us in London for the day of the wedding, a little planning can go a long way to making sure you have a truly fantastic time.

When is the wedding?

The official date of the wedding is Saturday 19th May 2018, having been announced via Twitter on Friday 15th December 2017.

Interestingly, this breaks from tradition once again, as whilst there have been some notable exceptions, most Royal weddings are usually held on a weekday.

Whilst this does mean there won’t be an official Bank Holiday, a weekend is great for many people wishing to visit London for the wedding. However, that weekend is going to be a popular one regardless – the FA Cup Final is scheduled for the same day!

With that said, it is important to keep in mind that London really is likely to be a lot busier than normal, so do give yourself enough time in all respects.

From booking your hotel before you even get here through to setting off earlier than you thought you might need (particularly if you’re taking the Tube – you may not get the first one that arrives at the station), the day of the Royal Wedding and FA Cup Final is going to be a busy one, so be sure to plan your journeys in particular (whether that’s on foot, by car or public transport) beforehand.

Where is it taking place?

The wedding ceremony itself is taking place in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle at 2pm, about 25 miles outside of London’s city centre. Expecting in the region of 600 guests (according to Kensington Palace), it’s relatively small in comparison to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding, who wed in front of nearly 2,000 people in 2011.

After the ceremony, the couple will journey through Windsor before returning along the Long Walk to Windsor Castle. With the reception taking place in St George’s Hall, Prince Charles will later host a private evening reception for the couple’s close friends and family.

Whilst the wedding is taking place in Windsor, given it’s only a relatively small town, so many are staying in London itself. Accommodation is much more readily available in general in London, but we’d definitely recommend you heed our advice above regarding giving yourself enough time here – although you may be able to book a hotel hours before you stay normally, over the weekend of the Royal Wedding, it’s anticipated most hotels in and around London will have limited availability. Book quickly!

What celebrations are taking place?

The primary celebrations for the wedding are without doubt going to be in Windsor itself. Big screens are planned to be erected on the Long Walk and in Alexandra Gardens, allowing for the anticipated tens of thousands of people to watch the wedding live. Food and drink will be available right throughout the outdoors of Windsor, and it’s undoubtedly going to be a brilliant atmosphere for the entire day.

However, Windsor itself isn’t a huge location. 6,000 car parking spaces are able to be pre-booked (but are quickly filling up) and extra trains are being made available to transfer people to and from the wedding location from all across the south.

But one of the great things about Royal events in the UK is wherever you are, we’re almost certain you’ll be able to find a celebration to join in with. Venues will be showing the wedding live. Outdoor parties will be in full swing. There’s talk of opening times for bars and restaurants to be extended, too.

Simply put, whether you’re in Windsor or not you’ll be able to join in with the wedding festivities and thoroughly enjoy the day.

Staying in London for the Royal wedding

Our location in London is one of our favourite aspects of DUKES (and as Travelmag pointed out, we’ve been here since 1908!). Within walking distance to so many fantastic attractions, it’s particularly beneficial if you’re planning on heading into Windsor on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s big day – we’re a short walk to Green Park tube station, from which you can travel directly to Victoria and jump on trains right throughout the day to Windsor & Eton station (itself just a short walk from Windsor Castle).

What’s more, for use over the coming weeks we’ve put together an exclusive ‘Royal Escape’ package, which includes a three hour guided walking tour of Westminster for two, complimentary afternoon tea for two in our Drawing Rooms, a complimentary four hour Windsor excursion for two, including a picnic breakfast in the car, and much more.

With there little doubt that the atmosphere in Windsor, London and right throughout the country is set to be electric on 19th May, we really do hope you’re looking forward to celebrating the Royal wedding as much as we are.

How to visit London with small children (and have the best time)

An external view of Hamleys on Regent's Street, LondonIt’s a well-known fact that London is one of the most visited cities in the world. In 2017 the city saw over 19 million international visitors make at least one trip to London. That’s a huge figure – and in context, it’s around one third of the UK’s population visiting the comparatively small capital.

One of the city’s main attractions is the fact there’s something for all. Young or old, first visit or fiftieth, foodie or outdoorsy, you can truly flourish in London.

And this is without doubt the case for families. Travelling to London with children be a truly unforgettable experience (for all the right reasons!).

As with any trip in which children are in tow, a little preparation can go a long way – and with a large focus on accommodating families here at DUKES, we like to think we know at least a few ways to make your trip to London with children as great as it can be.

Choose the right hotel

And it can all start with the hotel itself.

Given the brilliant transport links we have in London, to a certain degree it’s almost irrelevant where it is you’re staying in any of the central or outer boroughs. Of course, everyone wants to stay close to the action (and for the most part, we’d always recommend it – the least travelling you have to do with children, the better!), but choosing the right place to stay is arguably more important.

We’re fortunate enough to be well-located in central London at DUKES, making a whole host of attractions easily accessible, but we’re also particularly family orientated.

Rooms with adjoining doors that give you and your little ones separate space whilst still being connected. Children’s food and drink from breakfast through to dinner. Readily accessible services, such as childcare (in fact, our family escapes package comes with five hours complementary childcare).

It’s these things we know families benefit from, and when you’re travelling with children, you need to make sure they’re all readily accessible wherever it is you choose to stay. You could choose to stay right next door to the main attraction you’re planning on visiting, but if the hotel is not in anyway child-friendly, is it really that great of a choice?

Do a little research before you arrive

When travelling with children, it’s so easy to think that days need to be spent doing activities that offer no excitement for adults, or that meals are bland and boring.

But when you’re visiting London, this really doesn’t have to be the case.

Take the last point. There are so many fantastic restaurants dotted right around the city that cater for both children and adults alike. The ever-popular Rainforest Cafe is a great example. The surroundings will keep little ones gripped, whilst the food on offer has something for all tastes (and there’s alcohol available, too, should it be needed!).

With the first point, one of the parts of being a parent is doing things that offer little value to you but excite your children immensely – but there are so many family-friendly activities and attractions in London that the whole family can have a brilliant time together.

Tower of London. London Eye. British Museum. Warner Bros Studio Tour. Natural History Museum. Seeing a show in the West End.

There’s more than a long weekend’s worth of family activities there, but we’ve only really picked out the most popular attractions.

And of course, it doesn’t matter how old you are, a trip to Hamleys is without doubt a brilliant experience. A must for all families.

Create an itinerary

Following on from the last point, with so much to do, if you don’t plan, you can risk doing nothing.

Slow, lazy mornings can be great as a couple, but when you have some excited children, you need at least some type of plan as to what to do and where to go to ensure you fit everything in.

It may seem a little structured for some, but particularly those families with at least two or three children – and especially children who have ideas of what they want to do themselves – an itinerary can ensure everyone gets a say in what you’re going to be doing when you’re here.

And when everyone has a say, everyone can be happy, knowing that at some point during the trip, they’ll be doing something that they are particularly looking forward to.

Visiting London with children

If you’ve ever thought of visiting London with children but not made plans as you believed it wouldn’t be suitable, please do rethink your trip. London is one of the world’s most wonderful cities, regardless of almost every possible requirement or expectation you might have.

Home to everything from expansive tranquil gardens through to the world’s greatest toy shops (we’ll repeat it – definitely do visit Hamleys!), a visit to London with small children can be a magical and truly memorable experience.

Image courtesy of Richard Law

10 quotes about London from inspirational women

A postcard with an image of Charlotte BronteInternational Women’s Day prompted us to take a few moments out to think about all the brilliant things the ladies of the world have done, are doing and will do.

We’re so fortunate to see inspirational women making huge strides in their industries here in London; women changing the status quo and truly standing out. We’ve seen it first hand at DUKES – our Managing Director is the hugely inspirational Debrah Dhugga, a working mum from the North East who has been leading the charge here at DUKES London for over 8 years.

And whilst location might only play a minor role in success, it’s often hard to get away from the fact that so many inspirational women have fallen in love with London.

There are a huge number of quotes from women about our wonderful city, and we’ve pulled together 10 of our favourites, giving a wonderfully insightful view of London through the eyes of some of the world’s most inspirational women.

  1. “The interesting thing about London is that there are always stylish surprises around every corner.” – Natalie Massenet

  2. “I like the spirit of this great London which I feel around me. Who but a coward would pass his whole life in hamlets; and for ever abandon his faculties to the eating rust of obscurity?” – Charlotte Brontë

  3. “I think London’s sexy because it’s so full of eccentrics” – Rachel Weisz

  4. “One of the the things she most liked about the city – apart from all its obvious attractions, the theatre, the galleries, the exhilarating walks by the river – was that so few people ever asked you personal questions.” – Julia Gregson

  5. “There’s nowhere else like London. Nothing at all, anywhere.” – Vivienne Westwood

  6. “As an actress and comedienne, I’m a huge fan of the theatre and the Tricycle in Kilburn is my favourite in London. I dragged my kids to a performance of ‘Twelfth Night’ there, where they handed out pizza. Who knew that all it takes to get children interested in Shakespeare is a snack?” – Arabella Weir

  7. “The City seems so much more in earnest: its business, its rush, its roar are such serious things, sights and sounds. The City is getting its living – the West-End but enjoying its pleasure.” – Charlotte Brontë

  8. “When I was a teenager in Iceland people would throw rocks and shout abuse at me because they thought I was weird. I never got that in London no matter what I wore.” – Bjork

  9. “I divide my time between all the mud and open space in Surrey and the social life and work in London, particularly Chelsea, which still has the same village feel that it had in the swinging Sixties.” – Mary Quant

  10. “The 2012 London Olympic Games fostered a generation of hope. I witnessed women participating for the very first time, representing every nation.” – Jackie Joyner-Kersee

Come and see first hand why so many fall in love with London. Millions visit every year, so take advantage of one of our offers and come discover one of the world’s most loved cities for yourself.

Image courtesy of summonedbyfells.

5 celebrities who completely and utterly fell in love with London

Sir Paul McCartney on stageMillions upon millions of people visit London each year and immediately fall in love with it. Some are coming for the first time, others for their hundredth. Some people work routine jobs, and others are some of the world’s most well-known faces.

With some of those celebrities having truly fallen head over heels for the city, here we take a look in a little more detail at five of them.

  1. Vivienne Westwood

Born in the countryside of Cheshire, like so many others Vivienne Westwood – now one of the world’s most prominent fashion designers – was attracted by the bright lights of London. Moving with her family when she was 17 to Harrow, North West London, she’s found it hard to leave ever since.

Once saying saying “There’s nowhere else like London. Nothing at all, anywhere” this phrase alone is a perfect insight into how so many view the city. It’s unique. It’s individual. It can be everything you want it to be whatever that is. You can fly all around the world looking for something, but be able to discover it after just a short walk in London.

Living in London’s popular Clapham borough for over three decades, she may have moved out of her ex-council flat, but she is still very much in love with the city that started it all for her.

  1. Sir Paul McCartney

Having a career that makes him one of the most recognised names and faces in music, by the time he was 20, Sir Paul McCartney was making a global name for himself as one of The Beatles. From this point onwards, he had the opportunity to live wherever in the world he wished.

And he chose London.

Buying a house in St John’s Wood in 1965 (where he still owns a property), like many celebrities, Sir Paul has had houses all around the world – most recently he purchased a penthouse in New York – but he still maintains his love for the city that really propelled him into the global spotlight.

  1. Bjork

One of the world’s most unique music artists, Iceland’s Bjork is known for her individuality. Receiving immense critical acclaim for it over the years, this wasn’t always the case, particularly when she was growing up.

In an interview, she once explained “When I was a teenager in Iceland people would throw rocks and shout abuse at me because they thought I was weird. I never got that in London no matter what I wore.”

It’s no surprise then that Bjork moved to London in the early 1990s, and whilst she has since moved to live in various places across the globe – from Spain to New York – she can still often be seen spending time around her cherished streets of London.

  1. Robert Pattinson

Known the world over by a generation as Edward Cullen from ‘The Twilight Saga’ films, Robert Pattinson is an interesting one to include on this list – as he’s actually from London.

Cosying up with his Twilight co-star Kristen Stewart, he moved to Los Angeles to live with her, and whilst he still considers the city his primary residence – even though he and Stewart separated in 2012 – he’s often spoken freely about his desire to return to his home (and is regularly spotted here throughout the capital).

In fact, Pattinson once said in a tweet “When I was flying to Rome, we flew over London; I felt like bursting into tears. It’s part of me, so I can’t leave London behind for good”.

  1. Samuel Johnson

Arguably one of the most famous quotes ever said about London was penned by Samuel Johnson over two centuries ago in 1777: “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of all life”.

Born in Staffordshire, Samuel Johnson went on to be one of the country’s most notable writers of the time. Starting as a teacher, he moved to London to pursue his preference for writing, and wrote everything from a regular magazine piece to now famous poems. At the age of 46, he published ‘A Dictionary of the English Language’, widely regarded as one of the most influential publications on the English language.

Remaining in London for the rest of his life (he was buried in Westminster Abbey), Samuel Johnson may not be widely known as a celebrity today, but at the time, he was one of the city’s most noted individuals.

Ready to fall in love with London yourself? Come and see what we’ve got to offer at the moment.

How do you decide where to stay in London?

The city skyline of LondonWe love London. We know the 19 million people who visit us each year do, too. There’s so much to see, do, explore, taste, hear and experience, it’s hard not to fall in love with our fantastic city.

But before you even start enjoying the sights of London, you need to choose somewhere to stay – and that can be more of an arduous exercise than you might first think.

Sure, we want everyone to come stay with us at DUKES London. We love our hotel! But we also know it’s important you make a decision yourself, based on your own knowledge, research and information.

So, how do you choose where to stay when you’re visiting one of the most popular cities in the world?

Generally speaking, there are three things you need to take into account.

  1. Location

If you’re visiting London, it’s highly likely you’ll have a set reason for doing so. You’ll probably have a planned itinerary with key points that you want to check off, along with a whole host of additional things that you’ll do if you have the time to squeeze them in.

For this reason, it’s often vital that you pick a hotel based within the area you’re planning on spending the most time.

If you’re planning on being within the West End for most of it, it wouldn’t make sense to stay right over in an east borough. Sure, the Tube makes accessing our famous theatres easy wherever you are, but it’s not really ease that’s important, particularly if you’re only here for a night or two – it’s time.

A 10 minute walk is much better than a 60 minute Tube journey, especially when that’s 60 minutes back as well.

  1. Price

With that said, we fully appreciate that price is so important. You need to have somewhere that is perfect in location, but it needs to fall within your budget.

There are places all over the city at price points that vary considerably. There is, quite literally, a type of accommodation at a price for everyone.

But you need to remember that price is a direct reflection of what to expect in reality.

Paying £30 a night? You’re most likely going to be renting someone’s spare bedroom or staying in a hostel of some variety, usually in one of London’s outer zones.

Pay £3,000 a night, conversely, would get you a suite in a central location.

It’s a difficult decision to make, and very much one that needs an open mind and some personal negotiation.

  1. Amenities

And just like price is directly associated with location, the amenities you need are key to keeping mind in when you’re talking about price and making an overall decision on a hotel.

Are you planning on eating at some of the city’s culinary highlights? What about needing a relaxed atmosphere for an evening drink?

If you are, a hotel with such amenities is going to cost more than one without – but that additional cost will so often prove more cost-effective than visiting numerous different locations to achieve the same result.

Not only would you save money on travel, but it’s your time saving, too. As we mentioned above, when you’re in London, you want to achieve the most you can in the time you have. No one wants to be travelling unnecessarily across the city.

Staying in London is fantastic. We love it, you love it and the millions of people who visit each year love it.

Choosing the right place to stay is a key part of your visit. Get it wrong and it can truly impact on your time. Get it right, however, and it can turn a great break into a truly fantastic one.

Image courtesy of Colin

7 fantastic quotes that will make you want to visit London – again!

The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, London at nightFor hundreds of years, people have come to London from all over the world and fallen for its beauty and charm.

Some, more gifted than us when it comes to the spoken or written word, have left a legacy of quotes that have become synonymous with the city. Continue reading “7 fantastic quotes that will make you want to visit London – again!”

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”

4 historical occasions that shaped London

A London Tube trainNow we all know that London is one of the greatest places on Earth, with some of the most incredible attractions and hotels, including us here at DUKES Hotel and DUKES Bar (we are known as the ‘James Bond Martini Bar!’), of course.

But London isn’t famous only for the here and now – the long legacy of historical events plays a huge role in why the city is loved so much and is such a huge attraction for visitors. Continue reading “4 historical occasions that shaped London”

10 things you didn’t know about London – Part 2

A view of St Paul's Cathedral, London, from across the ThamesFollowing on from the first blog post in a two part series, which can be read in full here, today we’re providing another five things you probably didn’t already know about London. Continue reading “10 things you didn’t know about London – Part 2”

10 things you didn’t know about London – Part 1

A view of the clock on Big Ben, LondonWhen it comes to London, there will be hundreds of things you – and the majority of people – will know.

Things such as London being the capital city of England, where Buckingham Palace and Big Ben are and being a city that’s packed full of history. All three of these are great examples of things that a lot of people are already aware of, regardless of where they are from. Continue reading “10 things you didn’t know about London – Part 1”