July is on the horizon – and it’s perfect weather for a picnic in the park

A picnic in the park arranged by DUKES London in one of the surrounding Royal Parks with a hamper, blanket and wine.

After an unusually cold start to the summer months, the weather is finally starting to pick up and there is the glimmer of some sunnier weeks ahead. With the warmer weather comes the promise of great opportunity – you can finally get out and fully enjoy all that the city of London has to offer. DUKES London believes there is no better place than London in the sunshine and both the locals and tourists agree. If you are looking to relax during your visit to the capital, The Royal Parks of London are the perfect location to take advantage of the climate and step away from the hustle and bustle of London which the season brings. And DUKES has the perfect summer day activity – a picnic in the park.

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An inside look at DUKES: our food and drink

Afternoon tea at DUKES Hotel, LondonAs we mentioned in a previous post, one of the pieces of criteria behind DUKES being a five star hotel is the ability to provide our guests with dining options whatever day you stay with us and whatever time it may be.

London is a city that never sleeps, and so if you’re checking out early and need something savoury and substantial to set you up for the day, or have spent all evening at the theatre and need a little something to satisfy your sweet tooth before you get into bed, you can rest assured we can provide it all at DUKES.

For this reason, it’s no real surprise that food and drink is really important to us. We want everyone who spends time with us to feel as though there’s something to eat and drink that’s perfectly suited to their individual needs.

And it’s because of this why we have so many different options available.

DUKES Bar

Our bar is a favourite with our guests and locals actually some guests come to DUKES just to experience our martinis. In the words of others it’s legendary, enviable and as the New York Times once said it’s the bar “which some say concocts one of the world’s best Martinis”.

Open from 2pm to 11pm Monday to Saturday (4pm to 10.30pm on Sundays), spending time in DUKES Bar is somewhat of an event. You aren’t simply dropping by for a quick beer or glass of wine – we want you to savour the whole experience; to enjoy time testing our bartenders’ knowledge to create a drink that’s perfectly suited to you.

Having a drink in DUKES Bar is in many ways about harking back to a time before mobile phones, the internet or television. It’s about choosing a seat, having a drink made for you, and wiling away the time with your loved one, a group of friends or simply by yourself.

GBR

Headed up by renowned chef Nigel Mendham, GBR is a truly ‘Great British Restaurant’. It’s all about providing a dining experience built around homegrown produce from here on our wonderful British Isles, or menus that follow – or are inspired by – some of the country’s most traditional dishes.

An all-day dining experience (you can grab breakfast, brunch, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner here), the team at GBR don’t try to overcomplicate the dishes on offer. They know what works, what our guests want and bring the two together perfectly.

And with the bar overlooking the restaurant, if you’d prefer a few light snacks with a drink here instead of a meal, we’d be only too happy to oblige.

Afternoon tea

A truly British occasion, afternoon tea is something we can all enjoy. After all, who doesn’t enjoy taking some time out of their day to eat sandwiches, cakes and pastries and drink tea?

However, knowing that everyone has different tastes, we’ve produced a variety of options when it comes to afternoon tea.

For instance, we have our DUKES afternoon tea, which includes an array of sandwiches, warm scones and a variety of pastries served with a choice of tea. However, for something a little more ‘relaxing’ you can enjoy our ‘gin and tonic afternoon tea’ or our ‘champagne afternoon tea’ – all the same delights to eat, but with an alcoholic alternative to tea!

Served in our elegant drawing room and conservatory, there aren’t many better ways to spend an afternoon in London.

Picnic in the park

We really do love it when our guests stay with us for a meal or a drink, but we also know London has a whole host of sights and attractions to take in, including a vast array of beautiful parks.

Not wishing for you to miss out on the culinary delights our chefs create, we provide a particularly popular option for our guests to take a picnic to one of the nearby Royal Parks.

A real decadent treat, your personal butler will meet you at the park, lay out your rug and picnic basket and then serve your drinks before leaving you to enjoy the great outdoors of our city with a selection of tempting treats.

Cognac and cigar garden

Open throughout the week from 6pm to 11pm, our outdoor cognac and cigar area is particularly popular for those looking for a break away from the hustle and bustle of London life.

Providing our guests with the ability to sample some of the world’s finest cigars alongside some truly favourable cognac, if you’re a fan of a cigar, we’re confident saying you’ll be hard-pressed to find somewhere better to enjoy one in London.

Being real foodies at DUKES – and with a particular passion for high quality drinks, too – we aim to show this to each and every one of our guests. Only wanting you to have the best dining experiences possible, we do our utmost to cater for every need, no matter how diverse it may be. Just ask!

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.