Bloomin’ Marvellous: Seasonal Afternoon Tea in Celebration of the Chelsea Flower Show

Flowers at The Strand Palace Hotel

The month of May has certainly been busy for the Strand Palace Hotel. The spectacular Chelsea Flower Show took place last week and to celebrate, the Hotel was offering customers the opportunity to relax and enjoy a delicious Seasonal Afternoon Tea for only £21.95, or £28.95 with champagne.

To make the week extra special, each day one lucky customer was presented with a beautiful bouquet of traditional English country garden flowers (pictured above) courtesy of Mark Siredzuk at ‘Flowers at One Aldwych’.

The Chelsea Flower Show was held in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea so the Hotel was delighted when two dashing Chelsea Pensioners popped by to indulge in the Hotel’s Seasonal Afternoon Tea.

Royal Hospital Chelsea Pensionists at the Strand Palace Hotel

Dave Thomson (left) and Jim Fahy (right) were kind enough to set aside some time to have to chat over Afternoon Tea.

Dave is originally from North London but left at the young age of fourteen to pursue a career in the Army which took him all around the world. Dave said ‘I loved it and I have fond memories from those years, but by the age of twenty-eight I wanted to try my hand at something different, so I worked on a P&O cruise ship as a chef for eighteen months.’

With a food connoisseur in our midst we asked him what he thought of our Seasonal Afternoon Tea. ‘It’s excellent’ Dave responded ‘I love the smoked salmon sandwiches, I could eat them everyday.’ He went on to tell us that by the age of thirty he chose to settle in Australia and joined the Australian Army, where he served for five years. After the death of his father in 1996, Dave returned to Midlands where he resided for sixteen years before coming to London to join the Royal Hospital Chelsea (RHC).

Meanwhile, his friend Jim has been a member of the RHC since December 2014. His wife Ann lived in Bangor, Northern Ireland and so he moved there to work in Crawfordsburn Country Park as a Ranger for ten years. ‘It’s a beautiful place and I enjoyed my work there. I became confident enough to become self-employed and set up my own landscape business’ said Jim.

This was a resounding success but once retirement age hit, Jim and his wife made the move to sunny Spain. After the sad death of his beloved wife Ann, Jim finally moved to London last year. When we asked him if he enjoyed his Afternoon Tea at the Hotel, he replied, ‘I think celebrating the Chelsea Flower Show with a traditional Afternoon Tea is a brilliant idea, I’ve really enjoyed my afternoon at the Strand Palace Hotel and the food is top class.’

Hats off to the chef…best in class!

Things to Do in June, Inside and Out

The British weather gods are a fickle bunch, sending rain one minute and glorious sunshine the next. Planning a trip to London in June can be a challenge, as the weather can quickly swing between hot and cool, calm and windy, wet and dry. Thankfully, the capital offers plenty to do and plans can be easily adapted if the weather takes a turn. Here at Strand Palace Hotel, we’ve put together a list of things to do both indoors and outdoors, so you can explore our great city no matter what the weather.

 

Indoors:

Southbank Centre

When skies are cloudy, head indoors to the Southbank Centre, a premier cultural venue in London. See the free Adopting Britain exhibition for a fresh look at immigration in the UK. Using media such as photography and film, the exhibit profiles the recent history of immigration to the country. Southbank Centre is less than 15 minutes’ walk from Strand Palace, but if it’s really pouring down, buses will get you there even quicker.

National Portrait Gallery

Even closer to us here at Strand Palace Hotel is the National Portrait Gallery, a fascinating place to take cover during a downpour. Catch the Wellington: Triumphs, Politics and Passions exhibition, where portraits of the Duke of Wellington help explain the exciting life of the man who led Britain to victory at Waterloo. There is no entry fee and you can walk there in under 10 minutes.

London Eye

Take a ride on the giant wheel for captivating panoramas of the capital from the shelter of its glass capsules. Get a bird’s-eye view of the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace, among other major landmarks. Consider buying tickets in advance to avoid queues. The wheel is just a 15-minute walk from Strand Palace Hotel.

 

Outdoors:

St. James’s Park

The impeccably groomed lawns of St. James’s Park look their best when the sun’s rays are streaming down upon them. Take a 15-minute stroll from Strand Palace to reach the tree-lined royal road, the Mall, which runs along the edge of the park up to Buckingham Palace. Look out for the stately Admiralty Arch, which you may remember from the Olympics in 2012. Inside the park, the Memorial Gardens for Queen Victoria are a pretty place to explore.

Hyde Park

When the sun shines, Hyde Park comes alive. Visit Speakers’ Corner, where people from many different walks of life passionately put across their opinions to the public, grab a spot in the sun and unwind or take to the Serpentine River on a boat. The park is just over 30 minutes’ walk from Strand Palace Hotel. Alternatively, you can take the Piccadilly line to Hyde Park Corner from Leicester Square, which will take under 15 minutes.

Shakespeare’s Globe

The open-air Shakespeare’s Globe is made for fine weather. You’ll get to experience theatre in the same way as Shakespeare and his contemporaries would have done several centuries ago. On at the moment is the popular Shakespearean play, The Merchant of Venice. It takes about 25 minutes to walk there from Strand Palace Hotel or you can take the riverboat, bus or Tube to reduce your journey time.

Need a hotel near Shakespeare’s Globe and the Southbank Centre? With its location in the heart of London, Strand Palace Hotel puts you in the centre of the action, come rain or shine.

Footwear in Focus: Rayne Shoes for Stars

Indulge in the ultimate window shopping experience at the Rayne Shoes for Stars exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum. The exhibition, which starts today and runs until 30 August, showcases the stunning shoes created by the British Rayne brand, whose illustrious clientele included Queen Elizabeth II and Brigitte Bardot. Whether you are fashionista with a serious shoe addiction or just a lover of fine design, it’s a show not to be missed.

The collection: an overview

Rayne is a firm part of the British establishment. Since it started production in 1885, the beloved footwear brand has received three royal warrants. However, it’s not just high-ranking royals that favour the esteemed label; Rayne has also drawn a diverse range of glamorous patrons over the years, including Marlene Dietrich and Vivien Leigh.

A host of renowned designers have also crafted shoes for the pedigreed brand. More than 100 pairs are featured in the exhibit, so you will get a great flavour of the kind of designs that have been produced. Big names like Mary Quant and Bruce Oldfield are responsible for these show creations, so go along to see their handiwork up close. French designer Laurence Dacade is now designing for Rayne and the exhibition will include shoes he has masterminded too.

Look and listen

Several different events will be happening throughout the course of the show, helping you to learn more about Rayne. Combine your visit to the exhibition with the Life on Foot: Fashion Heritage Walking Tour on 6 June. Discover the products created in the area and see Camper shoes at the Design Museum.

Another highlight of the accompanying programme is the evening tour on 9 July. The tour will be led by Nick Rayne, great grandson of the brand founders, and an expert curator who will tell you about the evolution of Rayne. This event is included as part of the ticket price, but be sure to reserve your seat beforehand as there are only 20 places.

A bonus exhibit

Admission for Rayne Shoes for Stars also includes entrance to the Riviera Style Resort & Swimwear since 1900 exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum. See examples of classic beach style from around the world, including sarongs and palazzo trousers. The items range in origin from the United Kingdom to California and they span more than a century.

Getting there

The journey from Strand Palace Hotel to the Fashion and Textile Museum is quick and convenient. Just take the Tube from nearby Charing Cross station to Waterloo, then switch to the Waterloo Line for London Bridge. From there, it is just ten minutes’ walk to the museum. Alternatively, take the number 1 bus from outside Somerset House. The bus stop is less than 5 minutes’ walk from Strand Palace Hotel.

Heading to Rayne Shoes for Stars and looking for a hotel near central London? Strand Palace Hotel is in a fantastic location, with the shopping and sightseeing hub of Covent Garden just a 3-minute walk away.

London in Bloom: The Chelsea Flower Show

Perhaps you have seen the vivid colours of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flower Show shining out from your television screen over the years. Well, take our advice – the gorgeous gardens are even better in person. If you’re staying with us at Strand Palace Hotel and are considering a trip out to the Chelsea Flower Show, be sure to read our guide below, which will get you up to speed with this popular event.

Background

The first Chelsea Flower Show was held at its current home, Chelsea Hospital, in 1913. It enjoys a reputation as Britain’s most well-respected flower show due to the quality of flora on offer. The show runs for five days and the Queen and other high-profile royals are habitual attendees, so you may even spot a few famous faces among the blooms.

What to see

It can be a little overwhelming for the senses to be confronted with the choice at the Chelsea Flower Show, so let us tell you about a few of the must-sees. Be sure to stop by the M&G show garden, the Retreat. Designed by the renowned Jo Thompson, it combines irises, roses and various trees with oak garden features and a dipping pool. It is the dream garden for those who treasure a place for quiet reflection.

Fans of the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red feature recently in residence at the Tower of London will be pleased to know that the man behind it, Paul Cummins, will have another sculpture on show at the Chelsea Flower Show. This time, he has swapped poppies for tulips, but it still promises to be stunning. Another highlight is the Positive Power of Plants. David Domoney, who you may recognise as the gardener from ITV’S Love Your Garden, has worked with horticultural charity Thrive to create an exhibit that investigates how plants can make us more upbeat.

How to get there

From Strand Palace Hotel, it is easy to reach the Flower Show using public transport. Our hotel is near Embankment Tube station, so walk there and take either the Circle or District lines to the Sloane Square stop. It is just a few minutes’ walk from there to the show. The journey from our hotel to the Chelsea Flower Show should take just over 20 minutes. Afterwards, head back to Strand Palace Hotel and grab a bite to eat at Daawat or the Carvery & Grill restaurant, or a cocktail at the Mask Bar.

Are you looking for a hotel near the Chelsea Flower Show? Book a room at Strand Palace Hotel and enjoy a comfortable stay during the world-renowned event.

Olympia International Arts and Antiques Fair

Olympia International Arts and Antiques Fair is a chance to see and learn about antiques in a refined setting. The fair runs from 18 to 28 June and will give the public and those from the art world the chance to examine a variety of high-quality antiques, attend talks and enjoy drinks and entertainment at the Kensington Olympia Exhibition Centre. If you’re staying at Strand Palace Hotel and are planning to attend, here’s a little look at what you can expect.

The Sinquefield Collection

The guest exhibition at this year’s show is ‘There’s No Place Like Home: American Scene Painting (1850s-1940s) in the Sinquefield Collection’. American philanthropist and eminent collector Rex Sinquefield will be giving the public a rare glimpse into his private collection of American Regionalist art, which has never before been shown outside of the United States. Expect to see works by the likes of Thomas Hart Benton and Grant Wood, major proponents of this style, which focuses on life in 20th-century rural America.

Exhibitors

Among the galleries exhibiting is Austin Desmond Fine Art, which specialises in 20th century and modern art. Items available to buy include Complex Yellows by abstract and figurative artist Patrick Heron and Tamarisk by Cornish painter Peter Lanyon. Head to Manuel Castilho Antiguidades stand to learn more about Indo-Portuguese and Oriental art. Elsewhere, Paul Mayhew Fine Art will shine a spotlight on the Old Masters, as well as sculptures and fabric-based art. Hali magazine will also be bringing a variety of rugs and other fabric sellers to the Olympia after a decade’s absence.

Lectures

A series of enlightening lectures will also take place over the duration of the fair. Get a sneak peek at the Victoria and Albert Museum’s upcoming exhibition on luxury during a talk by curators Leanne Wierzba and Jana Scholtze on 19 June. On 24 June, Dr. Dora Thornton will give an introductory lecture on the British Museum’s Waddesdon Bequest, which includes 300 or so precious objects from Renaissance Europe. Rosemary Crill, a senior curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum, will also be delivering a lecture entitled Hali: The Fabric of India on 26 June. It will be about the exciting collection of Indian fabric that’s due to exhibit there later in the year.

Anything else?

Outlets selling champagne, juices, light bites and pizza will be available for the fair’s patrons. Those visiting the Spirit of Summer Fair (17 to 20 June) at the Olympia will be able to visit the arts and antiques fair for no extra cost. Ticket prices and opening times can be found here.

How to get there

Strand Palace Hotel is within easy reach of Olympia. Just take the District line from Embankment Tube station, get off at West Kensington and walk to the Olympia. The journey should take just over half-an-hour. Strand Palace Hotel is also near Leicester Square where you can take the Piccadilly line to Barons Court then make your way on foot to the fair.

If you want a hotel near the Olympia International Arts and Antiques Fair, why not opt for Strand Palace Hotel? It is easy to catch the Tube to the venue and our hotel is also near other lively central London districts – perfect for post-fair entertainment.

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