5 of the best shows in London’s West End to see this summer

Theatre seats at best shows in London's west end

London is known for its spectacular West End theatre scene and a visit to a show is top of the list for many tourists visiting the capital. The vibrant theatre district is a mixture of large-scale theatres which showcase some of the biggest and best musical spectaculars, through to smaller scale venues which host intimate dramas and hilarious comedies. When visiting London, you will never be short of shows to pick from and may even want to see more than one. We explore some of the longstanding productions which are now classics within the West End circuit, as well as some of the new shows which are set to become firm favourites for theatre goers. Find out the 5 best shows in London’s West End to see this summer.

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How to make the most of your family stay in London this May

Boy and girl eating afternoon tea at DUKES during a family stay in London

The capital city is a diverse place, filled with so much to see and so much to do, there is always something new to explore.  That is why, here at DUKES LONDON, we believe there is no better place to take a holiday as a family. The last week in May is half term for many schools up and down the country and getting away for a family stay in London is an ideal break for everyone. From historical sights and royal palaces, to spectacular shows and an amazing selection of places to shop, London has something to entertain all ages and interests. Find out how to make the most out of your family stay in London at DUKES Hotel this May.

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6 things to do in London with children this half term

Half term at Hamley's Toy ShopHere at DUKES London, it feels as though we have only just got over the Christmas holidays and the half term holidays are upon us once again. Children and teenagers throughout the UK have left school behind them for the week and it is the perfect opportunity to spend some quality time together as a family.

London is the ideal place to take a family friendly break – with its diverse nature, there is something for all ages. With so much to see and do, you will certainly be spoilt for choice.

We have rounded up our top 5 things to do in London with children this half term, check them out below. Continue reading “6 things to do in London with children this half term”

How can you treat your mum this Mother’s Day? Let us help!

A mother and daughter enjoying afternoon tea at DUKES LondonOur mums have spent years upon years caring for us. From the very first moment they hold us in their arms, there’s a love that is so strong it’s impenetrable. A mother’s love for her children is unconditional.

As we grow older, we try to show our mums how much they mean to us. We draw them pictures as children, start buying them gifts when we’re teenagers, and it gets to the point where we realise the best thing we can do to show our mum we appreciate her is to spend time together.

It’s for this exact reason why we’ve pulled together a package to help you treat your mum to a wonderful night or two in London as a gift this Mother’s Day.

So what should your mum expect as her treat when staying with us this Mother’s Day?

A West End Show

What better way to spend a night in London than by having tickets to the theatre? It’s the traditionally perfect way to enjoy your evening, and one that is so perfectly representative of a trip to London.

In our package, you have two tickets for one of the three shows: Mamma Mia, Kinky Boots, or 42nd Street. With both evening and matinee shows available, the choice of which to see and when to do so completely up to you (and it’s a hard one – all three of them are widely regarded as some of the best shows in London, and we’ve all got our preferences between afternoon or evening performances!).

Champagne afternoon tea

One of the most quintessentially British things you can do, afternoon tea is such a brilliant way to while away your afternoon – and it’s made only more appealing with a glass of champagne!

Available to enjoy in either our GBR restaurant or our Drawing Rooms, you’ll be tasting everything from quaint finger sandwiches filled with the highest quality ingredients through to warm scones with delicious accompaniments. The afternoon tea is an iconic tradition and so we don’t try to revolutionise it at DUKES London – we simply make sure you leave feeling you’ve had the best afternoon tea experience you could possibly have.

Floris Hyacinth & Bluebell candle

If you feel afternoon tea followed by a West End show just needs a little something to finish the present off, a Floris Hyacinth & Bluebell candle should do just that perfectly.

One of the world’s most respected fragrance brands, Floris was founded in 1730 and the company is still owned and run by the same family today, nine generations on. A truly remarkable story, and one that shows the love and attention for the brand the family has, this is something that is clear in every candle produced.

Discounted rooms

We know everyone has different needs when staying in a hotel, so rather than stipulating you have to stay in a certain room with our Mother’s Day package, we’re instead letting you choose – and providing a 10% discount on whichever room you decide on.

What’s more, we appreciate not everyone can make it to London on Mother’s Day itself, so this is all available between 9th and 25th March 2018.

Mother’s Day is a wonderful time to visit London as there’s so much to see and do that every mum should find something perfect for them. But with afternoon tea, a West End show, a fantastic room and a beautiful candle, we think most mums would be over the moon at spending time with their beloved children in such fantastic settings.

We’re always proud that our Mother’s Day packages are extremely popular. See the offer for 2018 in full and book now.

How do you decide where to stay in London?

The city skyline of LondonWe love London. We know the 19 million people who visit us each year do, too. There’s so much to see, do, explore, taste, hear and experience, it’s hard not to fall in love with our fantastic city.

But before you even start enjoying the sights of London, you need to choose somewhere to stay – and that can be more of an arduous exercise than you might first think.

Sure, we want everyone to come stay with us at DUKES London. We love our hotel! But we also know it’s important you make a decision yourself, based on your own knowledge, research and information.

So, how do you choose where to stay when you’re visiting one of the most popular cities in the world?

Generally speaking, there are three things you need to take into account.

  1. Location

If you’re visiting London, it’s highly likely you’ll have a set reason for doing so. You’ll probably have a planned itinerary with key points that you want to check off, along with a whole host of additional things that you’ll do if you have the time to squeeze them in.

For this reason, it’s often vital that you pick a hotel based within the area you’re planning on spending the most time.

If you’re planning on being within the West End for most of it, it wouldn’t make sense to stay right over in an east borough. Sure, the Tube makes accessing our famous theatres easy wherever you are, but it’s not really ease that’s important, particularly if you’re only here for a night or two – it’s time.

A 10 minute walk is much better than a 60 minute Tube journey, especially when that’s 60 minutes back as well.

  1. Price

With that said, we fully appreciate that price is so important. You need to have somewhere that is perfect in location, but it needs to fall within your budget.

There are places all over the city at price points that vary considerably. There is, quite literally, a type of accommodation at a price for everyone.

But you need to remember that price is a direct reflection of what to expect in reality.

Paying £30 a night? You’re most likely going to be renting someone’s spare bedroom or staying in a hostel of some variety, usually in one of London’s outer zones.

Pay £3,000 a night, conversely, would get you a suite in a central location.

It’s a difficult decision to make, and very much one that needs an open mind and some personal negotiation.

  1. Amenities

And just like price is directly associated with location, the amenities you need are key to keeping mind in when you’re talking about price and making an overall decision on a hotel.

Are you planning on eating at some of the city’s culinary highlights? What about needing a relaxed atmosphere for an evening drink?

If you are, a hotel with such amenities is going to cost more than one without – but that additional cost will so often prove more cost-effective than visiting numerous different locations to achieve the same result.

Not only would you save money on travel, but it’s your time saving, too. As we mentioned above, when you’re in London, you want to achieve the most you can in the time you have. No one wants to be travelling unnecessarily across the city.

Staying in London is fantastic. We love it, you love it and the millions of people who visit each year love it.

Choosing the right place to stay is a key part of your visit. Get it wrong and it can truly impact on your time. Get it right, however, and it can turn a great break into a truly fantastic one.

Image courtesy of Colin

Matilda the Musical is coming to London!

The theatre sign for Matilda The Musical in LondonRoald Dahl’s classic children’s novel, Matilda, comes to the West End this spring, courtesy of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Originally performed at the Courtyard Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon in November 2011 to sold-out audiences, it was then transferred to the Cambridge Theatre in the West End in October 2011.

Matilda the musical is written by esteemed playwright Dennis Kelly, with music and lyrics being provided by much-loved Australian comedian and musician, Tim Minchin.  The performance is directed by Matthew Warchus, with choreography by Peter Darling.

Described by the Guardian as “an evening of unadulterated bliss”, the show follows the story of a very intelligent young girl named Matilda who possesses special powers.  Her unloving parents treat her awfully, and her sadistic teacher Miss Trunchbull is just as terrifying as she rules the school with cruelty and fear.  Eventually, Matilda decides that the grown-ups should be taught a lesson and with the help of her good friends, she succeeds.

Matilda the musical is running from now and tickets for the performance range from £20 to £65, available from both The Cambridge Theatre website and the RSC website.

To finish off your evening, why not visit DUKES London and embrace our range of special offers?

Image courtesy of Broadway Tour

It’s Chinese New Year: join in the year of the snake celebrations!

Chinese New Year celebrations in LondonKung Hei Fat Choi stands for Happy New Year in Chinese, and every year hundreds of thousands of people descend into London’s West End to wish each other a Happy Chinese New Year.

London’s celebrations are renowned for being the largest outside of Asia, offering people a taste of Chinese culture including a gravity defying lion dance, fireworks, Chinese nourishment, and an array of professional performances. The UK will commemorate the Year of the Snake, which focusses on action, change, innovation and achievement.

After a New Year’s parade around the West End, the celebration will officially start with a traditional Eye dotting ceremony, which will take place midday in Trafalgar Square. Dignitaries will include the Chinese Ambassador to the UK Liu Xiao Ming and the Deputy Mayor for Education and Culture Munira Mirza. A spectacular firecracker display will signify the start of the Chinese celebrations with music, dance and acrobatics.

Chinatown will be the centre of the New Year party, and the area will be overflowing with crowds, but there will be lots of activity including food and craft stalls that will line the streets, along with a lion dance that will meander through the public, stopping at restaurants and stores with the will to wish them good luck for the year.

For the Chinese communities in London and across the world, the Chinese New Year is a huge and very important festival for their culture. The festival is based on the lunar and solar calendars and each year the Chinese calendar is represented by one of the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac.

On 10th February at 10am the parade will begin in Trafalgar Square and the colourful floats and beating of the drums can be followed through Chinatown ending in Rupert Street at 11am. At 12pm on the main stage in Trafalgar Square the Ambassador and the Deputy Mayor will commence the Dotting of the Eye ceremony. Between 1pm and 5:30pm live performances from Hong Kong singer-songwriter Emmy The Great and a breath-taking performance by the famous Chen Brothers will entertain the crowds. Paul Potts and performers from the Guangdong and Sichuan Provinces will also be a part of the line-up for live entertainment. Finally at 5:55pm a dazzling firework display will signify the end of the day’s celebrations.

Whatever time you come, whatever you buy, you can be assured that you will be entertained by the festivities, but after a packed schedule why not properly wind down with one of DUKES’ world-famous martinis over in our stunning Bar?

Below you can see the highlights of last year’s event:

Image courtesy of Paul