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.

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4 reasons autumn is the best time to visit London

A shot of London in autumn, showing Big Ben and the River ThamesThe summer is undoubtedly a great time of the year to take a trip to London. The long, bright days that are filled with sunshine and warm weather put everyone in a great mood. There’s a generally fantastic atmosphere that’s easy to soak up and enjoy, adding a touch of positivity wherever you go.

But whilst this may be the case, it’s hard to argue when people say autumn is their favourite time of the year to visit London.

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100 days until Christmas: is London really the best place to experience it?

As of today it is The Christmas lights on Oxford Street, Londonexactly 100 days until Christmas 2018.

2400 hours. 144,000 minutes. Or alternatively, just 14 weekends before the man in the red suit comes down the chimney to leave all the boys and girls gifts.

Obviously a universal occasion that’s celebrated right around the world, there are some brilliant locations to enjoy Christmas in, but many would argue that London is one of the best – if not the best.

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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

The Natural History Museum ice rink is here!

The ice rink at the National History Museum, LondonThere’s something for everyone at the Natural History Museum ice rink this Christmas. Whether out for a romantic rendezvous or a family outing, every single person leaves the ice rink with memories that can last a lifetime.

With more than 1,000 square meters of ice and over 75,000 fairy lights lacing the trees above, it guarantees one of the best festive atmospheres in London.

Entertainment is available for visitors of all ages: a fairground carousel, a junior rink for younger skaters and delicious festive-themed refreshments in the Café Bar. Offering sumptuous food, warming drinks and creative cocktails, families can feast on delicious treats, and couples can cosy up with a hot chocolate on the open-air balcony overlooking the rink.

Not to forget the museum itself, a day in the Natural History Museum is arguably the best museum experience in the world. With free entry, countless fossils and life-size replicas of dinosaurs including the majestic T-Rex, it’s truly breathtaking.

And to finish your day? Take a pleasant stroll from the museum, through Green Park and Knightsbridge (which isa great way to take in some of London’s most prestigious areas), and finish with a drink in DUKES Champagne Bar, as featured on Made in Chelsea!

Image courtesy of David Hawgood

Christmas at Kew Gardens: explore the winter trails!

Kew Gardens at ChristmasThis year, Kew Gardens’ annual seasonal makeover is not one to be missed. Take a stroll through the illuminated gardens as they are transformed with a series of lighting installations created by prestigious artists from all across the UK.

As twilight falls and the magic begins, take in the enchanted gardens and beautiful winter landscape as you explore all that Kew has to offer. An enjoyable stroll through the gardens should take around one hour and 15 minutes.

Once you’ve explored the enchanted gardens, it’s time to get into the Christmas spirit and enjoy one of the many festive family attractions!

Take a ride on the charming Victorian carousel and other vintage fairground rides, or visit the boutique Christmas market which promises foodie treats and festive music for all.

There’s something for old and young alike and you can even visit Santa’s Grotto and meet the man himself. Kew Gardens really does promise to be a magical visit this Christmas and offers fun for all of the family.

The winter trails at Kew Gardens will take place from 4.30-10.00pm on a range of different dates between 28th November – 4th January. Visit http://www.kew.org/ for more details.

And if you’re heading to London for this, why not make the day really special and treat a loved one to festive afternoon tea at Dukes Hotel before whizzing on to Kew Gardens for the winter trails? Accompanied by a glass of champagne, it’s the perfect toast to the happiest season of all!

Image courtesy of Alex Liivet

Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland: a truly festive experience

An evening shot of the Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park, LondonWinter Wonderland returns to London’s Hyde Park this winter, transforming the vast park into a festive fairyland.

This free event offers a range of fun, festive activities for the whole family, including an illuminated ice rink, magical Santa’s grotto and a plethora of fairground rides. Visitors’ favourites include the Christmas market with a traditional Bavarian theme running through its cafés and bars, as well as the undercover restaurant, Spiegel Saloon.

One of the main attractions of this year’s Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is the Magical Ice Kingdom, which will be returning with its breath-taking ice sculptures. The Kingdom is the largest of its kind in the UK, and was created exclusively for the Winter Wonderland.

What’s more, Zippos’ evening circus spectacle – Cirque Berserk – pushes the boundaries of traditional circus entertainment with a death-defying knife throwing act and daring high wire performance.

The Winter Wonderland starts on the 22nd November and runs until the 5th January. Booking in advance may be required for some of the attractions and events, so check out www.hydeparkwinterwonderland.com for more information.

And of course, after embracing the winter weather in Hyde Park, why not come and warm up at DUKES London in our gorgeous bar, which serves the finest Perrier Jouet champagne and champagne cocktails, or treat the family to an overnight stay at reduced rates in one of our Luxury Suites?

Image courtesy of Christine Matthews

Need a memorable Christmas gift? Discover the Spirit of Christmas Fair

An internal view of the Olympia Exhibition Centre's roof, LondonDuring the festive period, Olympia exhibition centre in London will be playing host to the veritable home of Christmas shopping, the Spirit of Christmas Fair.  The popular annual event includes new collections of independent boutiques, which have all been approved by domestic powerhouse, House and Garden.

Branded ‘the home of Christmas shopping’, the Spirit of Christmas Fair comprises of more than 600 companies presenting their giftware and festive products to the eager shoppers of London – and importantly, which can’t be found on the high street.

Offering a wide range of seasonal products, from festive accessories and interior decorations to gorgeous bespoke gift items, all under one roof, the fair is the perfect place to combine a day out and tackle the yearly festive shop in one.

Highlights of the fair include the House and Garden workshop and Designer Guild’s gorgeous homeware and accessories collection.  Tickets cost £17.50 and can be purchased online.

What’s more, after your trip to the fair, why not prolong the Christmas atmosphere with a trip to DUKES London to take advantage of our amazing offers?

Image courtesy of Christine Matthews

BOING! is here to bring you a magical Christmas

An external shot of the Sadler's Wells theatre in LondonBOING! made it as one of London’s debut performances at the Lilian Baylis Studio last year and returns this year promising a bigger and better performance at the Sadler’s Wells. BOING! is a children’s dance theatre production based on the magical moments two brothers experience leading up to one of the most special days of the year. Sadler Wells Boing

The play is cleverly set out on a huge bed in the centre of the stage, which miraculously turns into a giant trampoline helping engage the younger audience throughout the show. However, do not be fooled to think this is child’s play as adults are also expected to be astonished with the performances. Offering a variety of comedy, break dancing and acrobatics it will keep both younger and older generations enticed till the very end.

The play is directed by one of the best in children’s theatre, Sally Cookson, and performed by the award winning Wilkie Branson and Joel Daniel, so you are guaranteed to experience one of the best acts in British theatre to date.

This fast paced play is fun, festive and an all round exciting show, making it the perfect entertainment for the kids and the family. It is one theatre production not to miss! So if you are interested do not miss out on a chance to witness a wonderfully animated Christmas show. Tickets are on sale now.

After building up an appetite watching an exhilarating theatre performance, why not head over to our restaurant to try the capital’s finest cuisine? You can try our dinner menu after first having one of our famous martinis in DUKES Bar – have a very Merry Christmas!

Image courtesy of Sadler’s Wells Theatre

Ready to try the Christmas markets for something different?

The London Eye at Christmas, at nightLondon is possibly one of the finest cities to spend the Christmas holidays in on the planet. Christmas is when our impressive city really does come to life. Offering entertaining days out like ‘Winter Wonderland’, Christmas markets and special festive events from music, arts, and to the lively West End, there is always something to enjoy at this time of year.

This season is an excuse to pile on a few extra pounds and take pleasure in the finest food and drink around. So if you are looking to experience food with a difference this Christmas then look no further as we have gathered together a few places that are worth a visit this December.

The bustling markets always provide a great opportunity to get up and personal with street cooking, to buy some tasty ingredients, to try locally prepared wines or simply to absorb their fantastic atmospheres.

The Real Food Christmas market, which is held weekly (Friday-Sunday), on the South Bank offers you an amazing variety of ingredients to use in your food this winter. “Straight from the fisherman, buying your ingredients from markets can give you tasty food at unbeatable value”. Surely food can’t get any fresher than this unless you grow it yourself! So if you want to get your hands on some of the best ingredients in the capital then head down to the Real Food Market.

If you fancy showing off your culinary skills and adding the wow factor to your Christmas dinner, then why not take a Carving Class at Hix Mayfair. The talented Chef Mark Hix will be hosting a session that will include a cheese course, dessert, and a bottle of wine per person, and to top it off a cookbook signed by Mark Hix (which could also be a handy present for a Hix lover).

The Gingerline Clandstine winter dining experience is an exclusive Christmas dining experience, which offers a great atmosphere and awesome food for those who are looking for something different. The menu is still to be confirmed, however the event promises five course meals and lively entertainment. It could definitely become a highlight of your holiday, so be sure to consider giving it a try.

However, if you really want to treat yourself with some of the finest cuisine in London, why not pay our own Nigel Mendham’s restaurant a try? Widely appreciated for his culinary skills, Nigel’s menus are first class – and the food backs that up!

Image courtesy of Robin Sones