3 reasons to visit London this summer

A view of Wimbledon tennis courtsThis was was written for summer 2014 – we’ll be updating it for summer 2018 soon!

With summer officially due to begin on the 21st June, it is just around the corner – whether the sunshine plays by the rules is another question all together.

If you want to enjoy the summer months, then London is the place to be – there is so much going on every day! Continue reading “3 reasons to visit London this summer”

The Queen’s birthday parade – a Royal reason to stay in London

The Palace Guards at Buckingham PalaceDid you know that each and every year, the Queen celebrates two birthdays?

And it is soon to be one of them – on the 14th June (at the time of writing), the Queen will celebrate her official birthday, even though her ‘actual’ birthday is on the 21st April.

Interestingly, her official birthday doesn’t have a fixed date (hence our ‘at the time of writing’ comment above!), but it is always a Saturday in June, so that there is good weather (hopefully!) for an outdoor event. Continue reading “The Queen’s birthday parade – a Royal reason to stay in London”

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!

Late Night Keats on February 14: a perfect Valentine’s Day treat

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 Day 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.

What’s more, 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.

And after your romantic evening, why not check into DUKES London with one of our many offers for a truly memorable stay in London?

Image courtesy of Cj1340

Explore New Order II at Saatchi Gallery

The Saatchi Gallery in LondonLondon’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, pop over to DUKES London for a delicious three-course lunch cooked by the brilliantly talented Nigel Mendham – or our wonderful afternoon tea!

Image courtesy of Jack Gavigan

Swan Lake is back at Sadler’s Wells Theatre!

An external shot of the Saddler's Wells Theatre in Islington, LondonTchaikovsky’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 both 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. Tickets range from £12 to £60 and are available from the theatre’s website.

Plus, after taking in the magnificent performance, why not extend your experience by coming to visit DUKES London for a drink (James Bond Martini, anyone?) in our famed DUKES Bar?

Image courtesy of David Hawgood

Ready for Vodafone’s London Fashion Weekend?

An external shot of Somerset House, LondonSomerset 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 to 24th February 2014 and tickets range from £20 to £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, why not continue your time in London with a drink at our famous DUKES Bar? We’ve got drinks of all variety, including our ever-popular martini – said to be the inspiration behind James Bond’s favourite tipple!

Image courtesy of Elliott Brown

Grab your tickets for London’s annual ‘France Show’!

The French FlagFrom the 17th to 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 DUKES Bar, and take a sip of one of our ever-popular ‘James Bond’ martinis?

The Duchess of Malfi is heading to Shakespeare’s Globe

An external shot of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in LondonThe 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.

And 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 start or finish your evening perfectly!

Image courtesy of Wally Gobetz