Rubens comes to London

London has no shortage of fantastic art collections, but every now and then a blockbuster exhibition hits the capital that simply can’t be missed. ‘Rubens and His Legacy’ at the Royal Academy of Arts is one such show.

What to expect
Power, lust, elegance, poetry and violence; these are the five core themes of the eagerly-anticipated exhibition, which opened this Saturday and already has art-lovers drooling. The exhibition offers a chance to see stunning Rubens canvases and engravings juxtaposed with paintings by other artists, including Constable, Delacroix, Renoir, Gainsborough and van Dyck — showing how this famous Flemish painter influenced generations of artists well beyond the Baroque.

Described by the Telegraph as ‘physically gigantic, sensually overloaded’ and ‘operatic’, it promises to be an intense artistic experience.

The Royal Academy
The experience is heightened by its historic setting in 17th-century Burlington House. More than just a gallery, this is the home of the Royal Academy of Arts (RA), which was established in 1768 and is still led by the greatest artists and architects of the day. These Royal Academicians steer the work of the RA, overseeing exhibitions and Britain’s first art school. They also select the paintings exhibited in the annual Summer Exhibition, which has been open to all artists since 1769.

How to visit
The Royal Academy is a pleasant 20-minute walk away from Strand Palace Hotel. It can also be reached by an easy journey on the number 9 bus.

The exhibition runs until 10 April and is open daily from 10am to 6pm, with opening hours extended on Fridays and Saturdays until 10pm. Last admission to the galleries is half an hour before closing time. Tickets come with a specified entry time and as this show is bound to be a popular one, it’s best to book in advance. They are available online and cost £15/£14 (over 60s)/£10 (person with disability; includes entrance for supporter).

While there, you can feast like Rubens’ models did at one of The Royal Academy’s range of eateries – whether the RA Grand Café by Peyton and Byrne, famous for its cakes, or the more formal 19th-century Keeper’s House (open noon to 11.30pm Monday to Saturday), or the Atelier Café (open 8.30am to 6pm daily).

The Royal Academy is accessible to disabled visitors, with wheelchairs available to hire, portable folding stools available for use in the galleries, and a programme of early morning private views for wheelchair users and visitors with mobility impairments. In addition, for blind or partially-sighted visitors, a trained volunteer can offer a one-to-one descriptive tour of the exhibition.

More Rubens in London
If the RA’s exhibition whets your appetite, then explore more of Rubens’ art near Strand Palace Hotel. The National Gallery (entry free, open 10am to 6pm daily, extended to 9pm on Fridays) has over 25 Rubens canvases in its collection, and the Banqueting House (£6 entry, open 10am to 5pm, daily) offers the chance to see Rubens’ painting in situ across its glorious ceiling.

Looking for hotels near the Royal Academy, the National Gallery or the Banqueting House? Strand Palace Hotel is perfectly placed not only for these, but also for many of the capital’s other top art venues, making it the perfect base for art lovers.

Follow in the Footsteps of Churchill

Tomorrow marks 50 years since the death of Winston Churchill. Voted the greatest Briton of all time, Churchill is a particular hero to Londoners for the role he played maintaining morale during the Blitz bombings of World War II. Strand Palace Hotel’s location in central London makes it an ideal base from which to walk in Churchill’s esteemed footsteps.

The Churchill War Rooms
The Churchill War Rooms are just a 15-minute walk from Strand Palace Hotel and they are the best place to learn about Churchill and his greatest triumphs. This bunker, which sheltered Churchill’s government during the war, also holds the Churchill Museum. Here you can learn about Churchill’s early life in Ireland, Sudan, India and South Africa as well as hearing extracts from his speeches. Churchill’s rousing wartime oration was an inspiration for a beleaguered Britain and Churchill famously said, “It was the nation and the race dwelling all round the globe that had the lion’s heart. I had the luck to be called upon to give the roar.”

Whitehall to Parliament Square
Churchill once remarked, “We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.” And walking down Whitehall from the Churchill War Rooms you can pass many of the buildings which shaped him, from Admiralty House (he was First Lord of the Admiralty), to the Old War Office Building (where he was Minister of Defence) to 11 Downing Street, where he lived in the official residence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Next door to this is the house at 10 Downing Street, where he lived and worked during his two terms as Prime Minister.

At the end of Whitehall you’ll come face-to-face with great wartime leader in Parliament Square. Here stands an imposing 3.7-metre (12-foot) bronze of him in a military greatcoat staring doggedly towards the Houses of Parliament. Perhaps the site for the statue was also chosen considering its proximity to St. Margaret’s Church, in the grounds of Westminster Abbey, which is where Churchill was married. The church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was founded in the 12th century and is the Anglican church of the House of Commons. Winston S. Churchill, who was also an author (he won the Nobel prize for literature), war correspondent and historian, no doubt appreciated that the first British printer, William Caxton, is buried here.

Churchill with FDR in Bond Street
A different, more affable view of Churchill can be seen in the double statue of him with Franklin D Roosevelt, of whom Churchill said, “Meeting him was like opening your first bottle of champagne; knowing him was like drinking it.” The two leaders are seated on a bench on Bond Street, just three stops on the Central Line from Holborn station, which is within walking distance of Strand Palace Hotel. The sculpture sums up the “special relationship”, which Churchill was the first to describe between Britain and the United States — a relationship that meant a lot to him personally since he was half American.

Looking for hotels near Parliament Square or the Churchill War Rooms? The centrally-located Strand Palace Hotel is an easy walk away and is well connected by underground and bus routes for exploring the rest of London.

An Insider’s Guide to Westminster: Palaces, Parliament and a Postmaster

Today marks 750 years since the first parliament convened at Westminster. For centuries, the City of Westminster — covering an area of approximately 21 square kilometres (eight square miles), and including Strand Palace Hotel — has been the centre of Britain’s religious, royal and democratic institutions, many of which remain there today.

The palace that’s a parliament
The highest concentration of sights is in the area served by the underground stations of Westminster and St James’s Park. From here, you can take a tour of the so-called Palace of Westminster, which — despite its fairytale neo-Gothic architecture — is not actually a palace, but the correct name for the Houses of Parliament. You can also see the iconic clocktower, which takes its name from the ‘Big Ben’ bell inside.

The palace that burned down
Extending from the British Parliament is Whitehall, a road lined with ministries where much of the government work is done. Whitehall takes its name from another royal palace, which was largely destroyed by fire in the 17th century. The only surviving part of this palace is the Banqueting House. Built by Inigo Jones, this remaining section of the palace is where King Charles I was beheaded in 1649 and it is now open to the visiting public.

The palace where the Queen lives
On Whitehall, you’ll come nose-to-nose with the Household Cavalry at the entrance to Horse Guards and the Household Cavalry’s Museum. The mounted soldiers in their splendid red and gold uniforms with imposing plumed helmets form part of the Queen’s official bodyguard.

Continuing up Whitehall brings you to the junction with The Mall, a ceremonial avenue leading to Buckingham Palace, the London residence of the British monarchy. Look out for the Royal Standard flag flying above the palace; if this is here, you’ll know that the Queen is at home. Tours of the palace are available. If you’re interested in royal residences then you should also take a tour of nearby Clarence House, the residence of Prince Charles.

Where queens are crowned
From Buckingham Palace and Clarence House, it’s a pleasant walk through leafy St James’s Park to Westminster Abbey, one of the oldest buildings in Westminster. The coronations of English and British monarchs have taken place here since 1066 and there have been 16 royal weddings at the Abbey, most recently William and Kate, and before that, Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson. Westminster Abbey should not be confused with the Roman Catholic Westminster Cathedral, a 19th-century building about half a mile away with striking neo-Byzantine mosaics.

London’s most famous postmaster
On your way back to Strand Palace Hotel, take in the Benjamin Franklin House museum, the only surviving residence of this Founding Father of the United States. The museum offers the chance to find out about Franklin’s relationship with England – as British postmaster for the Colonies and spokesman in England for many of its overseas terrioties – as well as his extraordinary range of scientific achievements.

Looking for hotels near Westminster? Strand Palace Hotel is an easy walk to most of the sights in Westminster and is very well served by the underground (Tube) and bus routes.

Ring Ring Click – Photographing London’s Iconic Red Phone Boxes

Tomorrow will be 30 years to the day since British Telecom announced that London’s iconic red phone boxes would be phased out. Fortunately, many of these emblematic phone boxes have managed to survive and we think it’s time we celebrated them.

This blog highlights the best places in London to get the perfect shot of a well-preserved traditional telephone box. Our address in the heart of London means Strand Palace Hotel is one of the best-located hotels for touring around the capital’s telephone boxes and taking photos. Time it right and you might just get a black cab or Routemaster bus in shot too!

The political phone box photo

Around a 15-minute walk from Strand Palace Hotel, you’ll find a classic London phone box in the heart of London’s famous Whitehall. A synonym for government, Whitehall hosts a telephone box that in one easy shot can be captured together with the equally iconic Big Ben clock tower and the Houses of Parliament.

The artistic phone box photo

Even closer to Strand Palace Hotel, little more than a five-minute walk away, is Broad Court in Covent Garden, where you can snap not only one but five red phone boxes lined up together. They’re just across from the pensive ‘Young Dancer’ statue by the Royal Opera House, which offers opportunities for more creative photography when you’ve finished posing on the phone.

The historical phone box photo

There have been at least seven different designs of the British red telephone box since the first one was produced in 1920. The original drawings drew on the classical designs of London architect Sir John Soane, whose house, now a treasure trove museum, can be visited in a walk (less than 15 minutes) from Strand Palace Hotel. You can also see the original wooden prototype telephone box in the entrance arch to the Royal Academy, a 20-minute walk or a short direct bus journey from Strand Palace Hotel.

The multicoloured phone box photo

For a twist on the classic red edition, take a picture of yourself with this version of the phone box, which was introduced in 1929. This design incorporated red only in the bars across the glass, while the rest was painted cream. Take a selfie with this rare and striking model, located at ZSL London Zoo, by the Penguin Beach.

Or perhaps you’d like a really quirky photograph posed with an upcycled phone box, painted green to show how it benefits the environment. Outside the Dominion Theatre by Tottenham Court Road station is the first new Solarbox, created by young British designers. The Solarbox acts as a point for charging up mobile phones and devices for free, using solar energy captured in panels on the roof of the phone box. Get there from Strand Palace Hotel by travelling just two stops on the Northern Line.

If you want to see the capital’s iconic symbols and sights and are looking for hotels near central London, look no further – Strand Palace Hotel is convenient for all of the city’s iconic attractions.

Monday Madness Promo

At the Strand Palace Hotel we have gone crazy and we are selling ALL our rooms for only £99 when staying overnight on the 19/01/15. We want to you to experience our excellent service and rooms at a unique rate,  be quick and book yourself a bargain, stay in the heart of London for an unbeatable price.

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