The Designs of the Year exhibition 2014 is on its way to London

An external shot of the London Design MuseumThe 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 River 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 and £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? The restaurant’s menus are all available online, and you can book online easily, too!

Image courtesy of Aurelien Guichard

A Whistler exhibition is coming to the Dulwich Picture Gallery

An external shot of Dulwich Picture Gallery, LondonThis 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 plentiful array of offers!

Image courtesy of tpholland

The PAD Art and Design Fair 2013: a must-see for art lovers

Berkeley Square, Mayfair is playing host to the PAD art and design fairThe 16th to the 20th of October sees the arrival of prestigious art and design fair – PAD – to Mayfair.  Regarded as ‘the best’ by art-lovers and keen collectors worldwide, this year’s fair is set to be even more of a success than the last, owing to its varied range of the very finest art.

For five days, the beautiful Berkeley Square will transform itself into the most stylish residence for a vast collection of modern art, design and photography, sourced from a collection of top international galleries.

The popular event enables art enthusiasts to view and purchase items of museum quality with a history of their own, while the winner of the much coveted 2013 PAD prize will be announced on the VIP opening on the 15th October.

For those who wish to discover the most iconic and innovative products available on today’s market, the PAD fair is not to be missed. Admission is free, and the event takes place from 11am – 8pm, Wednesday 16th October until Saturday 20th October 2013 in Berkeley Square.

Of course, if you’re looking to stay in London, check into one of DUKES London’s suites just around the corner and make the most of the experience.

Image courtesy of  Paul Farmer

Discover: ‘Lowry and the Painting of Modern Life’

An external shot of London's Tate BritainFor those who consider themselves to be art enthusiasts, an exciting exhibition celebrating the works of much-loved British painter L. S. Lowry, has arrived at the Tate Britain.

Lowry and the Painting of Modern Life displays a wealth of the artist’s urban scenes and industrial landscapes, making the exhibition the first of its kind held by a public institution in London since the artist’s death.

The extensive collection of Lowry’s works does much to demonstrate the painter’s contribution to art history and his matter-of-fact view of working-class society during the 20th century.  The exhibition also features interesting insights into Lowry’s connection to French painting styles and the extent of the influence of his French-born teacher, Adolphe Valette.  Labelled “exhibition of the year” the Lowry collection is one to be seen by art and history enthusiasts alike.

Exhibition highlights include Lowry’s Coming out of School (1927) and the enigmatic The Pond (1950).

Of course, to complement your cultural afternoon at the Tate, why not treat yourself to our beautiful DUKES LONDON afternoon tea to relax and refresh?

Image courtesy of Rept0n1x

Fashion Rules at Kensington Palace: a truly royal outfit

Princess Diana dancing with John TravoltaThis year, the picturesque Kensington Palace has added an exciting new collection to its existing exhibitions.  ‘Fashion Rules’ is a beautiful display of regal, designer dresses worn by Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Margaret and Diana, Princess of Wales throughout the years.

The exhibition follows the evolution of royal fashion starting from the Queen’s glamorous engagement dresses of the 50s right up to the brightly-coloured ball gowns worn by Princess Diana in the 80s.

The entire range of designer dresses is displayed alongside film and photography from the period to set the scene of fashion trends at the time. Vogue covers adorn the walls alongside the 21 never-seen-before dresses showing how the outfits reflected the trends of the moment; being both fashionable and suitable for royal attire.  A firm favourite among visitors is the stunning red gown worn by Princess Diana in Saudi Arabia in 1986.

Whether fashionista, royalist or historian, this exhibition, named “the most interesting, elegant exhibition of Kensington Palace” has much to offer all audiences by giving an interesting and engaging insight into the history of royal fashion over the past 60 years.

A brilliant exhibition, after absorbing the art and culture, come and relax in DUKES London: enjoy our afternoon tea, a three course meal or simply a ‘James Bond’ martini in our bar!

The Mayor Thames Festival 2013 returns to London

London's River Thames at duskIf you’re stopping by London this September, why not take a trip to the iconic Mayor Thames Festival, a free celebration of the history of the famous river and the city that sits on its banks? With a whole host of activities taking place across the 10-day spectacular, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Displays of river-related art, music and educational activities make it a gala of cultural diversity. What’s more, 2013 marks the first year the festival has been extended to 10 days, so you don’t want to miss out on the jam-packed line up of festivities and fun.

The highly anticipated annual Great River Race is due to take place on the 7th of September. 300 crews from across the globe gather to compete in this river-based marathon of speed and endurance, spanning a 21 mile distance that passes many of London’s most popular tourist attractions. Stand by the finish line at Ham House and cheer in the winning competitors.

As night descends upon the river on the 15th, stand witness to a maritime opera performance like no other. The main performers of the symposium are described as “an armada of historic vessels from the age of sail, steam and diesel”, gathering and exploding in a collective concerto of booming ship horns and blasting cannons. The river becomes the stage with the stunning O2 Academy lighting the performance against the darkness. The heady musical elements and outstanding display of historic vessels of long ago will culminate in a truly unique performance.

After all this cultural enrichment you’re going to need a place to relax, ready for what the rest of the festival has in store. Therefore, take time to enjoy delicate finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones and a choice of patisserie – all served with a choice of tea – here at DUKES.

Image courtesy of Elliott Brown

The details: the summer opening of Buckingham Palace 2013

An external, front-facing shot of Buckingham Palace, LondonThis summer you can explore the royal grounds of Buckingham Palace. You can take the opportunity to see some of the greatest treasures from the Royal Collection, as well as The Queen’s Coronation 1953 exhibition, featuring royal dresses, uniforms and jewellery!

You may already know that this summer marked the 60th anniversary of The Queen’s Coronation in 1953. To celebrate this special occasion the palace’s ballroom will be transformed into the largest exhibition that has taken place for this particular occasion since the day of the Coronation in June 1953.

The centrepiece is The Queen’s white satin coronation dress, designed by Norman Hartnell, and the English purple silk robe worn by The Queen on the day of her coronation, which took more than 3,500 hours to complete and is more than 6.5 metres long.

Guests will be able to appreciate close-up the Diamond Diadem, one of The Queen’s most recognisable jewels, which she is pictured wearing on postage stamps and some banknotes.

For more information on ticket prices and details of the event please click here.

Enjoy afternoon tea at DUKES after your visit to Buckingham Palace, as we’re one of the closest hotels to the Palace – just a short five minute stroll across Green Park.

Image courtesy of Michael Reeve

It’s the world’s biggest: the Royal Academy of Arts summer exhibition

An external shot of Burlington House, LondonUntil the 18th of August the world’s biggest open-submission art exhibition is back presenting more than 1,000 pieces in a variety of styles. With the exhibition being held at Burlington House only moments away from St. James Place, why not marvel at the art selected scrupulously by panel of artists and architects across the board from more than 10,000 entries?

The summer exhibition allows you to view the work of well-known and celebrated artists such as Anselm Kiefer, as well taking you into the creative world of upcoming artists showcasing their paintings, structures, photography, prints, architecture and films. There will be a room dedicated only to portraiture, displaying works from established artists such as, Frank Auerbach, Alex Katz and Tom Philip RA, which takes you through the importance the portrait genre has played in both previous Royal Academy Summer Exhibitions and in contemporary art.

Other highlights will be a new large-scale sculpture from Anthony Caro RA and the series of six sublime tapestry pieces ‘A Vanity of Small Differences’ by Grayson Perry.

Tickets cost £6.00 for children and £10.00 for adults and are available here. The exhibition is open from the 10th July until the 18th August. The majority of the work that is displayed is available for the public to purchase, with the proceeds going towards the Royal Academy’s Schools bursaries scheme, as the exhibition is directly helping to support future artistic talents.

The exhibition opens from 10am Monday to Thursday, Saturday and Sunday until 6pm and on Friday closes at a later time of 10pm.

So after wandering around and soaking in the beautiful art, why not treat yourself again, this time to one of our gorgeous cocktails at DUKES Bar?

Image courtesy of  Mike Peel

Notting Hill Carnival 2013 is nearly here!

Street performers at the Notting Hill Carnival, LondonFirst held in 1964, the Notting Hill Carnival has since become one of Europe’s diverse and largest street festivals, and it’s back this year from 25th-26th August.

The Caribbean theme inspired carnival in West London will be packed with steel bands, traditional Calypso music and tempting food stalls. As well as a day filled with great contemporary music, you can also take pleasure in tasting some of the best of West Indies-inspired food like jerk chicken, rice and peas and rum punch, as well as the odd taste of other exotic cuisines. This carnival is a celebration and a great way to get together and spend August bank holiday weekend in London!

You can expect to see 50,000 performers and around 2.5 million people over the Carnival weekend. For that reason, if you are planning on visiting the festival, please remember roads will be closed so transport to and from the carnival may have to be on foot! But don’t let that put you off as the carnival is well worth the few minutes’ walk!

After a long day soaking in the cultural atmosphere, take the time to wind down at our very own DUKES Bar? A relaxed setting, DUKES Bar is the perfect place to settle down for the evening, or you can head to our restaurant – ran by Nigel Mendham – where we can prepare a variety of mouth-watering dishes for you and your family.

Image courtesy of Cristiano Betta

It’s back: BBC Proms 2013 in London

An internal shot of the Royal Albert Hall for the BBC PromsThis summer from 12th July all through to 7th September, you can enjoy one of the most popular seasons for worldwide classical music at The BBC Proms 2013. Held yearly at the Royal Albert Hall, you can become immersed in the daily orchestral classical music concerts, taking place since 1895.

This year’s season focuses on one of the greatest British composers, Benjamin Britten, in honour of his centenary birth. Highlights of the proms include the return of Doctor Who to celebrate the TV series’ 50th anniversary, the emotive and richly varied world of gospel music, and other great composers including Les Siècles and Wagner.

The world famous Last Night of the Proms is not to be missed, in which everything is brought to a thrilling finale; tickets are like gold dust! In turn, you can join in with the celebrations with Terry Wogan and thousands of others in The Proms in the Park closing party, held in Hyde Park.

Between 500 and 1,400 standing tickets are available for each Prom so you can marvel at the world’s biggest orchestras and classical performers. Alternatively, if you wish to attend a particular night, tickets are available online.

After a glorious summer evening enjoying some of the world’s finest music, why not continue the atmosphere by staying at DUKES London? We have numerous offers to help you enjoy your time, all of which can be found here.

Image courtesy of Yuichi