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

The National Theatre’s ‘Light Princess’ is here!

An external shot of The National Theatre in LondonKnown 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 fairytale components, as well as some much more sinister undertones.  The premise of the story is a prince and princess are living in conflicting kingdoms and 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 and 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 your favourite drink in DUKES Bar!

It’s time for some festive fun with the Royal Ballet’s Nutcracker!

A nighttime, external shot of the Royal Opera House, LondonThe 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 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 a culinary delight in our ever-popular restaurant?

Image courtesy of Peter Suranyi

A guide to Christmas shopping in London

Oxford Street in London at ChristmasIf 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 store’s most luxurious fashions and you’ll soon feel like you’ve stepped into a scene from the Great Gatsby.

For those of you visiting London this Christmas, make Harrods 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.

And 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 famed DUKES Bar?

We at DUKES London hope you have a sparkling Christmas!

Image courtesy of Kyle Taylor