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

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory arrives in London!

An external shot of the Royal Drury Lane Theatre, London, with the 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' signRoald Dahl’s delicious and mysterious tale of the young Charlie Bucket and the extraordinary confectioner Willy Wonka is coming to life as a musical at the Royal Drury Lane Theatre.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the plot, the story takes place in an unknown city where Mr Willy Wonka is the owner of the greatest chocolate factory in the world. He decides to open up the doors of his factory to five privileged children. In order to choose who should be so lucky, Willy Wonka hides five golden tickets in his famous chocolate bars. These tickets are VIP access to the chocolate factory. Amongst the winners is the unsuspecting hero of the book, Charlie Bucket, who has grown up with stories about the factory. Nothing could prepare the winners for what was beyond the gates.

The story continues with incredible and astonishing sugary delights, however not everything is a sweet as it seems – unlike the theatre which is offering a sweet £10 off all prices for the preview performances taking place from 18th May to 24th June 2013.

And after a sugar-filled day, you and your family can take some time out to unwind in one of our luxurious suites here at DUKES. Enjoy!

Image courtesy of Elliott Brown

Fashion lovers take note: ‘Valentino: Master of Couture’ opens

Valentino with Liz Hurley at CannesMore than 130 delicate haute couture designs worn by top icons such as Grace Kelly, Gwyneth Paltrow and Sophia Loren will be showcased by the Italian fashion designer Valentino at a new major exhibition celebrating his life and work. Valentino: Master of Couture opens its doors at the Embankment Galleries in Somerset House, The Strand today and will run until 3rd March 2013.

Valentino is the founder of SpA brand and company and his main lines include Valentino Garavani, Valentino Roma, and R.E.D Valentino. The Italian fashion guru has one simple principle when it comes to design “I know what women want, they want to be beautiful.”

Valentino has designed for princesses, first ladies and Hollywood icons and has often been described as having an ‘abundance of raw talent.’ His dresses are described as clean and modern but completely feminine.

The exhibition will be divided into three sections. The first section offers fashion lovers the opportunity to privately view Valentino’s world through photographs from his personal archive, giving an intimate portrait of his life.

In the second section, Valentino rebels against the typical fashion show by reversing the roles of the visitors and the models. Visitors will be the ones walking the catwalk to view an astounding 130 pieces of haute couture designs.

The final section then unravels the intense yet detailed and precise processes of crafting couture, illustrated initially by the magnificent wedding dress of Princess Marie Chantel of Greece. Visitors will also be given the chance to view a select group of films that peep behind-the-scenes of being a designer.

Highlights of this exciting exhibition include the vintage dress worn by Julia Roberts when she won the Academy Award in 2001 and Jackie Onassis’s wedding dress from Valentino’s 1968 White Collection. Valentino: Master of Couture promises a voyage into the mysterious world of Italian couture.

This elite, fashionable experience is being held at Somerset House, The Strand, London, WCR 1LA, with tickets costing £12.50.

After enjoying some of the world’s finest fashion designs, why not pay our chef Nigel Mendham a visit and enjoy some of the world’s finest tasting cuisine, too?

Image courtesy of Georges Biard