30 days to Christmas: 7 sights every visitor to London has to see this Christmas

A unique Christmas tree at Kew GardensIt’s hard to believe that just a few short weeks ago we were talking about all the things there are to do in London during the summer months. Now we’re in the home stretch to Christmas with little over four weeks to go until the big day is here.

Undoubtedly one of our favourite times of the year, London comes alive at Christmas. There’s so much to see and do in the city right the year round, but at Christmas we see a whole host of new sights and attractions to visit and experience.

With many of our guests exploring everything the city has to offer on the run up to Christmas before cosying up in DUKES Bar for the evening, let’s take a look at seven sights you really should be adding to your list of things to visit in London this Christmas. Continue reading “30 days to Christmas: 7 sights every visitor to London has to see this Christmas”

40 Days To Christmas: 4 Things Every Visitor Needs To Know About Winter In London

Winter in LondonAs it’s the middle of November, officially we’re still in autumn. Winter doesn’t technically begin until Friday 21st December, but with the dark nights, cold mornings and the fact we’re less than six weeks from Christmas, it’s no surprise that many of us are feeling like winter in London has arrived.

And as we’ve talked about before, it’s the summer months when so many people prefer to come to visit London, as there seems to be so much to do for all the family. From relaxing under the sun in a park through to strolling through the hustle and bustle of London late into the warm summer’s evening, visiting in summer definitely offers something for everyone.

Continue reading “40 Days To Christmas: 4 Things Every Visitor Needs To Know About Winter In London”

50 days to Christmas: treat yourself to a weekend of Christmas shopping

A view of Carnaby Street, London at ChristmasIt’s official – there are now just 50 days to go until the most magical time of the year. With it seeming like only days ago that our courtyard was full of guests enjoying a morning coffee in the warm summer sun and a drop of cognac and a cigar in the late evening warmth, we can hardly believe we’ll soon be celebrating the Christmas festivities.

And whilst there are some truly fantastic places to soak up the festive atmosphere, for us, it’s difficult to beat London. There’s something truly magical about our capital city whenever you visit, but the entire city comes alive for Christmas.

Continue reading “50 days to Christmas: treat yourself to a weekend of Christmas shopping”

5 things you can do in Mayfair within walking distance of DUKES London

External shot of Burlington Arcade in Mayfair, LondonNestled in a quiet corner of Mayfair, our location is often said to be one of our most revered qualities by our guests. We’re a very short stroll from Green Park station, offering easy access to all of London, and just steps from St James’s Street, which provides direct access to the busy city streets of Piccadilly and Pall Mall.

However, sit with a coffee in our courtyard and you could be mistaken for thinking you’re miles away from the heart of one of the world’s busiest cities.

Undoubtedly a great base from which you can explore the whole of London, what many are often surprised by is just how much you can experience within the immediate vicinity of Mayfair. Sure, London has a vast array of sights and attractions, restaurants and shops – but so does Mayfair.

Continue reading “5 things you can do in Mayfair within walking distance of DUKES London”

As one of the oldest cities in the world, what do you need to see when staying in London?

External shot of Kensington Palace, LondonThere are very few exceptions to the argument that London is the best place to visit if you have a love for history. We can maybe look to places such as Athens in Greece, Istanbul in Turkey or Beijing in China, but London is without doubt up there competing against them.

Now those three cities – and several others – have history that extends beyond London’s by some stretch. By comparison, London is relatively new, having been settled in around AD 47 as the Roman Londinium. But it’s the fact it’s younger than some of the others that make it so appealing to history fans – it may be nearly 2,000 years old, but its entire history can be tracked with considerable accuracy.

So with this in mind, if you’re visiting London and are a lover of all things historical, where do you need to visit? What do you need to see? What will truly open your eyes to the sheer awe-inspiring stories of London’s past? Continue reading “As one of the oldest cities in the world, what do you need to see when staying in London?”

Is it really possible to see London in a day?

A variety of London sights and attractions in one photo, including London buses and St Paul's CathedralWhen you think of visiting London, you quite possibly think of spending at least a long weekend here as a minimum. People travel from all over the world to spend a week or two here, and there are more who move to the city temporarily for longer periods to fully experience what it has to offer.

And with so much to see and do, it’s understandable. There are people who return several times a year, each and every year, and still don’t see everything the city has to offer. Apart from anything else, new attractions, sights and exhibitions are opening up constantly, so there’s always something fresh to experience.

So with this said, is it worth simply spending a single day in London? Can you really experience what London has to offer in only a matter of hours?

Continue reading “Is it really possible to see London in a day?”

8 things everyone visiting London during the summer must do

A summer's evening in LondonSummer has officially started. Marked by the ‘longest day of the year’ on 21st June, summer is here, the sun is shining and we’re ready to enjoy it.

One of our favourite times of the year, ask around the city when someone should visit London and it would be surprising if the vast majority didn’t say the summer. The winter is definitely quieter, which is a plus for some, and both spring and autumn have their own draws, but we can’t deny that London truly comes alive in the summer.

Continue reading “8 things everyone visiting London during the summer must do”

Why London is the best place in the country to watch this summer’s sports

Henman Hill at WimbledonThe summer is always a favourite time of the year for sports fans here in the UK. The football league season might be over, but over the coming weeks this year we’ve got the FA Cup final, the World Cup, and Wimbledon to name just three of the main sporting events taking place.

Perhaps saying “just” isn’t quite right here – the FA Cup final is arguably the most coveted match on the UK football calendar, the World Cup is the biggest football event on earth and Wimbledon is the most popular of the four Grand Slam tennis events. These aren’t “just” sporting events – they’re some of the most followed, watched and anticipated events in the sporting calendar.

So if we couple this with the fact London is at its busiest in terms of visitors during the summer months, it’s no real surprise that we’re often asked where you can watch X match or Y game, regardless of the day of the week or in fact, time of the day.

And the great thing about London? As with everything, no matter how specific your tastes may be, you’ll always be able to find somewhere perfect for you. It really is one of the best cities to visit if you’re a sports fan wanting to keep up-to-date with every kick of the ball or serve of the racket, and we wanted to take some time to explain exactly why.

You can watch the event (almost) at the venue without needing a ticket

Let’s take Wimbledon as an example. Tickets are traditionally hard to come by – and that’s no different for Wimbledon 2018 – and so getting seated to watch a match, particularly on one of the main courts or later in the tournament, can be more difficult than many might expect.

Rather than just settling for this fact and disappointing swathes of fans, organisers arrange for each match to be shown on huge screens outside of the venue (home to the ever-popular “Henman Hill”). You can head to Wimbledon, soak up the atmosphere and watch every match outside of the venue, enjoying your own food and drink and having a wonderfully relaxing and enjoyable day.

What’s more, some fans actually prefer this approach as it means they can make it a family occasion. If you have young children, taking them to Wimbledon can induce all sorts of headaches. But if you’re outside of the venue, you can have a picnic, take as many toys as you can carry and let them play freely whilst you enjoy the tennis.

Late night sports bar aren’t just for America

Moving inside, the ‘sports bar’ might be an American tradition, but over the years they’ve gradually made their way to the UK and London in particular has a variety of bars showing every sport imaginable.

And whilst we’re quite fortunate this year in terms of the World Cup – the fixtures for the 2018 World Cup mean if you’re staying with us in London you’ll be able to view most games at reasonable times of the day – the sports bars will undoubtedly be showing them, and any replays or insights, whatever time it is.

They make for really great places if you’re a solo traveller and a sports fan, too. You might be able to watch the FA Cup final in your hotel room, but soaking up the atmosphere in a place where you know everyone else is a sports fan? Now that’s appealing.

One of the most popular examples in London of such a sports bar is ‘The Carlsberg Sports Bar’ located on the other side of St James’s to us here at DUKES Hotel – and being located in the Empire casino, not only is it 24/7, but it’s the perfect connection to our third point.

Casinos often have it all

London may not have the same ‘city that never sleeps’ moniker as some other cities around the world, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find what you want if you look for it.

The city is scattered with casinos and many have a 24/7 license, giving you the opportunity to eat, drink and enjoy whatever casino game takes your fancy irrelevant of the time of day – and for most, having a lounge area to kick back and watch sports in is a key part of their offering.

Often the go to place for US boxing matches that don’t start until the early hours of the morning here in the UK, the atmosphere is very much relaxed, informal and especially in the early hours, it can be surprisingly quiet.

Enjoying the summer sports in London

London loves sports. From the mainstream to the niche, whatever your chosen sport is, you’ll be able to find it in London – and with this summer one packed full of sport, you’ll find fewer places better to enjoy them than those right here in the city.

Image courtesy of Jonathanawhite

8 of the most romantic things you can do in London

It’s the beginning of February. Valentine’s Day is just around the corner; that one day of the year where we treat our loved ones with flowers and chocolates whilst expressing our love in written words. It’s something we’ve done for centuries, with it already a firmly established tradition in the early 1600s: Shakespeare mentions it openly in Ophelia’s lament in Hamlet by saying “To-morrow is Saint Valentine’s day, All in the morning betime, And I a maid at your window, To be your Valentine.”

Over the years we’ve become even more focused on dedicating the day to those we love, going above and beyond the traditional flowers and cards.

And so being in one of the most vast and varied cities in the world, where there’s something for everyone, we’ve compiled our list of eight of the most romantic things you can do in London (whether you decide to visit us on Valentine’s Day or simply want some romantic inspiration at any point throughout the year!).

1. A picnic in the park

One of our most popular requests at DUKES, there are fewer more romantic ways to spend an afternoon than a stroll to nearby Green Park, unspoilt by little and dominated by natural beauty, with a prepared picnic hamper ready for you to enjoy under the London sky.

But to add a little something extra, our picnic in the park is inclusive of your own butler service. A butler will meet you at the park, lay your rug, set up your food and serve your drinks before leaving you to enjoy your time alone.

You might need a few extra layers to enjoy it on Valentine’s Day, but in the warmer months it can be one of the most relaxing – and romantic – ways to spend an afternoon.

2. London through the Eye

Whilst it’s ‘only’ been a fixture of the London skyline for 18 years, the London Eye has become synonymous with the city. Allowing you to see unparalleled views of all of London from the comfort of an enclosed pod, the experience of being on the London Eye itself is fantastic – but it can be made all that more special for those looking for something a little more romantic.

Taking advantage of the ‘Cupid’s Capsule’, you can enjoy a 30 minute rotation of the Eye whilst sipping a bottle of champagne and nibbling on luxury chocolates. Time it for when the sun is setting and you have an ideal way to finish a day (or start an evening!).

3. Dine on the Thames

If the London Eye offers a brilliant experience of London from above, why not step out of your Cupid’s Capsule and straight onto a river cruise along the Thames to enjoy a bite to eat?

Available for lunch, dinner and afternoon tea, you can sail along the Thames, taking in some of the most notable sights that the city has to offer, at a truly leisurely pace, whilst continuing your loving indulgence with food and drink.

4. Take a trip to the USA

One of the more untraditional romantic options when in London, there’s no arguing, however, that if you’re a fan of life across the Atlantic, a visit to somewhere such as The Love Shake or The Diner can be a brilliant way to while away the time.

With the former a particularly accurate USA dinner in Shoreditch (inclusive of free coffee) and the latter having an extensive menu that could have been taken straight out of any Hollywood movie from the 1950s, you can cuddle up in a booth and chat away whilst eating, drinking and thinking you’re in that movie yourselves.

5. Get tucked away for the night

Sometimes, after busy weeks working, family commitments and everything else life throws at you, your idea of a ‘romantic break’ is one where you can fall into your hotel room and not have to reemerge for at least 24 hours.

And that’s exactly what we’ve perfected at DUKES.

Looking at our romantic escapes, you could take up residence in our Duke of Clarence Penthouse Suite, which has its own private balcony, and enjoy 24 red roses, chilled champagne and luxury Fortnum & Mason chocolates on arrival.

Including a massage for two (available in the suite itself), and breakfast in the room the following day, you only need to leave to enjoy the five course meal in our Great British Restaurant (GBR) and a wonderful romantic horse and carriage ride around Hyde Park – bliss!

6. Looking longingly to the stars

Sometimes, the stars align perfectly and everything falls into place. Whether that’s work or relationships, it can be a truly breathtaking experience to see the London sky lit up and dominated by the glorious stars.

With it possible to enjoy a spot of stargazing easily (Morden Hall Park is a renowned location for it), the Royal Observatory in Greenwich is perfect for a bit of advice and guidance – and use of their Victorian telescope – to help all starry-eyed romantics enjoy the wonders of our universe.

7. Go back to the Roaring Twenties

Whether it’s the smarter attire, formal pleasantries or the music of the time, it’s hard to argue the 1920s doesn’t have a romantic appeal to it. And whilst London can’t whisk you back in time directly, it can do a very good impression with some beautifully themed bars and restaurants.

Giving you the opportunity to get truly suited and booted, there are numerous bars and restaurants that allow you to enjoy the era, but few do so as well as The Candlelight Club.

A ‘pop up’ that doesn’t have a permanent home, it moves around London with events throughout the year that allow you to become fully immersed in the 1920s era – and that includes only being lit by very romantic and cosy candlelight.

8. Get lost and explore

One of the most alluring qualities of London for many is being such a vast city, you can easily fade into a crowd. You can be anybody you want to be and enjoy the anonymity that you simply don’t get elsewhere.

And if this is particularly appealing, holding your loved one by the hand, jumping on a Tube or into a taxi and heading to a random location can be such a liberating experience.

Whether you decide to head to a part of Central London you’ve never been to before or explore the likes of Hampstead Village a little further out, you can find shops, try food and enjoy a tipple or two in places you simply won’t have come across by sticking to a strict schedule.

It takes a little bit of an adventurous mind, but sometimes that’s what keeps a relationship as healthy as ever.

Want to stay in London this Valentine’s Day? Explore our romantic offers for something truly special and memorable.

Image courtesy of Shaherald Chia

Is spring the best time to visit London?

It’s over a month since the festivities of Christmas. We’ve all put up with the cold weather, most people have been back into the swing of work for several weeks and at DUKES we’ve been looking forward to the year ahead.

Being located in St James’s, we know we’re fortunate to have the opportunity to visit the sights, enjoy the atmosphere and take in everything this wonderful city has to offer every single day of the week.

As Walter Besant said: “I’ve been walking about London for the last thirty years, and I find something fresh in it every day.”

From the bitter cold of late through to the blazing hot summer days, you’re never at a loss of something to do when you’re staying in London. Indoors or out, right in the middle of the City or at the very edge of the outer boroughs, it’s somewhat of a cliché now, but there really is something for all.

With that said, everyone has their favourite part of the year when they like to spend time in London; that time where everything just falls into place and you have the brilliant mornings, the best days and wonderful evenings.

And it’s hard to argue with the people who say spring is the best time to visit.

The best British weather

Kicking off the reasons why, let’s start with one of our favourite things to talk about – the weather!

Generally seeing temperatures of between 11 and 15 degrees during the day, it’s the ideal temperature for everything. You can wrap up with a jacket if you’re feeling cold, but don’t need to wear half a dozen layers to combat the icy winds of wintertime..

Similarly, with these higher temperatures comes very little by the way of rainfall (at least not of the torrential variety). A shower here and there is easy to cope with – perhaps even enjoy – when you can jump in and out of somewhere to shop, or grab a bite to eat without needing to take off coats, jumpers and hats..

But whilst the milder weather is undoubtedly an attractive part of springtime in London, it has to be the longer days that are particularly pleasing – by the time we’re into May, it’s generally light well past 8pm, making the days seem longer, which is fantastic when you’re trying to see as much as you can on your visit.

Sights and attractions for everyone

And if you’re visiting in spring, you can be certain there’ll be enough for you to see and do.

By way of an example, let’s take a look at some of the events we’re looking forward to between 1st March and 31st May this year:

  • St Patrick’s Day: 17th March
  • Good Friday: 30th March
  • Easter Sunday: 1st April
  • Easter Monday: 2nd April
  • London Marathon: 22nd April
  • St George’s Day: 23rd April
  • The Royal Wedding: 19th May
  • FA Cup Final: 27th May

And these are just eight of the most notable events that come to mind straightaway – it doesn’t include some of the others that we’re particularly looking forward to, including International Health Day on 7th April and – conversely – National Hamburger Day on 28th May!

You can make it a family break

As mentioned above, Easter falls right in the middle of spring this year. With many schools closing for two weeks, it’s this time of year when a family visit to London can be ideal.

If you’re restricted to school holidays, the summer break is a brilliant time to come, but it’s undoubtedly warmer and busier. This can bring with it a fantastic atmosphere, but we can’t get away from the fact you’ll also see more queues for most attractions.

This isn’t the case over Easter. Easter week is definitely busier than those before and after, but it seems more manageable; there aren’t as many people compared to the height of summer, but all of the attractions are open – including the ever-popular street performers of Covent Garden – and so you get all of the benefits with none of the downsides.

Plus, it can be warm enough to take a picnic along to Green Park (a very short walk from DUKES) and spend a day enjoying a part of London that’s over 400 years old and where you’ll find arguably the most ‘natural’ part of the city – unlike many of the other parks in London, Green Park is almost completely free of buildings, statues or monuments, instead dominated by towering trees and wildflowers.

Visit when you can

We love London in the springtime. It’s a truly magical time to visit this wonderful city.

But we also love it in summer, winter and autumn. Each season really does bring something new to London.

If you only have the opportunity to come and see us in the months outside of spring, we’re confident you’ll have as spectacular of time as if you were visiting in spring itself. Yes, spring in London is fantastic – but the reality is, London has so much to see, do and experience that it’s impossible to say that one time of the year is better than the other. It’s always a fantastic time when you’re walking the streets of London!

Planning a trip to London this spring? We’ve got an array of offers to make your stay as enjoyable as it can, from half term breaks through to romantic escapes!

Image courtesy of Cristian Bortes.