London’s Weekend of Colour

Each year, the August Bank Holiday weekend brings an explosion of colour, sound and delicious aromas to the streets of London. The Notting Hill Carnival is one of the biggest in the world, bringing people from all around the world to both perform in the parade and to watch it.

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The Carnival has been going since 1964, beginning as an offshoot of the Trinidad Carnival, and still stays true to its Caribbean roots with a diverse range of performers. Every year, you’ll see stunning floats, astonishingly detailed costumes, and great music from parading Samba drummers and other musicians.

Whilst the parade takes place in West London, visitors often stay in different areas of the city. A million visitors are expected, so naturally there’s considerable overspill into the rest of London! Media reports also often tend to focus on the unfortunate disturbances caused by a small number of attendees when the night draws in, so carnival attendees can feel a lot safer if they have a hotel to return to out of the area. It is actually quite easy to catch a bus from the Kings Cross Area to the carnival area – and in fact, quite large numbers of performers can themselves be seen each year on the bus with their drums! However, you do need to check road closures before you go, as the stops can change on the day.

The main Carnival itself is on the Bank Holiday Monday, starting on the Great Western Road before moving along Chepstow Road and turning onto Westbourne Grove. It will then move onto Ladbroke Grove, and if you can get a view from the top of the hill here it is quite a sight to see, with literally thousands of performers filling the road and vibrant crowds surrounding them.

It’s not just colourful costumes and music of course – you’ll also find plenty of food stalls selling traditional jerk chicken and other Caribbean delights.

However, it’s not the only event. The Carnival weekend also includes Family Day on the Sunday, which is a great, friendly day with a children’s parade and costume prizes.

If you’re thinking of attending the Notting Hill Carnival, we recommend the Time Out guide to help you make the most of it, and if you’re looking for cheap hotels in Kings Cross for your stay, we’d be happy to hear from you!

For more information, to check availability or to make a booking, call us on +44 20 7837 1451 today!

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Keep the Kids Happy This Summer Holiday

The school summer holidays are nearly upon us, and scarily, six weeks sounds like a pretty long time to keep your little darlings busy!

Kids of school age (and maybe even university level) require attention and solid holiday plans to fill their days with adventure, excitement and engaging activity that they can tell their friends about on their long-awaited return to school.

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No matter where you are or what you have planned, try to schedule a visit to the wonderful capital in your calendar! London offers plenty to see, do and enjoy and is the perfect pit-stop for family day trips, offering great and good-value-for-money options for all ages and all personalities.

Go on, give your children (and you!) something to be excited for this summer and fill your holidays with these fun and fantastic day out options!

The Making of Harry Potter, Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, WD25 – OPEN DAILY

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 Warner Bros. Studios is the home to the fabulous Harry Potter tour that everybody has been talking about since it opened. Whether you are lucky enough to have already been or have planned to go since it first began, the summer holidays are definitely the time to fill your little pumpkin’s day with magic and Hogwarts-fun (even if they haven’t yet read the books!)

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The tour offers an enchanting look into the wonderful wizarding world, sharing production secrets and allowing all visitors to walk the eerie streets of Diagon Alley, enjoy the wonders of the Great Hall and even have a cheeky Butterbeer or two! To book your family ticket or for more information please visit the Warner Bros. Studio Tour website.

Thorpe Park, Surrey – OPEN DAILY

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The UK’s most respected and enjoyable theme park offers a fantastic range of rides and attractions for all ages and personalities! Whether you love rollercoaster speed, or enjoy a casual mooch around the fairground games – Thorpe Park has something to suit you and your family!

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Thorpe Park offers a fantastic day out for the whole family, with affordable prices and saver deals on family tickets! Thorpe Park is also home to the newly-opened Angry Birds Land! For further information please visit the Thorpe Park website.

The London Dungeons, Next to the London Eye, SE1 – OPEN DAILY

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Visit one of London’s most popular attractions, offering history, fear and culture under one roof. The amazing and fascinating London Dungeon explores historic events and discovers the secrets behind some of Britain’s most notorious crooks, including Guy Fawkes, Sweeney Todd and Jack the Ripper.

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Discover the gruesome tales of London’s streets whilst sitting in a pub and hearing the landlord relay the terrors, or wander the streets and visit the locations of crimes and famous rebellion with re-enactments and an eerie atmosphere in the air. The London Dungeons are a must for anyone interested in the history of some of London’s most infamous events – for further information please visit The London Dungeon website.

Coram’s Fields, Guildford Sreet, WC1 – OPEN DAILY

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Coram’s Field is a free park, open all year round from 9am until dusk to children and young people under 16. No adult can enter Coram’s Fields without a child, and the friendly on-site staff ensure that everyone enjoys their visit. Coram’s Fields is quite like no other, and provides activities, sports and daily games completely free of charge to all.

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Set in the heart of London, between King’s Cross and Holburn it also offers toilets and nappy changing facilities, as well as a small farm with plenty of furry friends including goats, chickens and rabbits! Coram’s Fields provides a fun day out for all the family, and is the ideal option if on a budget! For further information please visit the Coram’s Fields website.

Here at the Swinton Hotel, we are dedicated to providing the perfect hotel accommodation for any London adventure. Whether you are visiting for just a night or have a jam-packed summer holiday planned and are looking for cheap kings cross hotels – we are perfectly situated in the heart of the capital, situated in close distance to all transport links and attractions. For further information, to make a booking or to check availability, please give our friendly team a call on 020 7837 1451 or email us at swintonhotel@hotmail.com!

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What’s On in London This Week…

Extend your cultural horizons this week in London! Celebrate homegrown talent, or rejoice for the land of the free…

Skylight at Wyndham’s Theatre, Charing Cross Road, WC2H 0DA (until Saturday the 23rd of August)

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Bafta award-winning actress Carey Mulligan and Golden Globe winner Bill Nighy grace the stage of Wyndham’s Theatre in the West End to star in David Hare’s 1995 psychodrama Skylight, about a schoolteacher who receives unexpected visits from her former lover and his son.

The play won the 1996 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play & the 1997 Theatre World Special Award for Ensemble Performance, and was nominated for four Tony awards in 1997. This performance is not to be missed!

 

4th of July, Independence Day U.S.A

If you’re celebrating Independence Day in the capital this year, you may wish to check out where and when the best celebrations are taking place!

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Benjamin Franklin is known as being one of the Founding Fathers of the USA, as well as a scientist, diplomat, philosopher and inventor. Franklin lived at a Charing Cross address for 16 years between 1757 and 1775, and today the house is a dynamic museum and educational facility.

If you visit the Benjamin Franklin House on the 4th of July, you can expect cake and champagne in honour of both Franklin and the USA’s Independence Day.

Alternatively, at Portman Square Garden you can join in with the Democrats Abroad UK American Independence Day Picnic! There will be plenty of American-style burgers, hotdogs and barbeque food at this annual Independence Day picnic. There will be a tug-of-war, face painting, crafts for kids and live music. Everyone is welcome at the celebration but only US citizens can buy tickets.

 

If you are looking for Kings Cross hotels this July, please do not hesitate to contact us here at Swinton Hotel by emailing swintonhotel@hotmail.com or by telephone at +44 20 7837 1451. Swinton Hotel is a friendly and relaxed hotel located in the very heart of London, with a reputation as one of the top London hotels, and is perfect for all those who are wanting to have access to tourist attractions, shopping areas and transport connections.

 

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As Seen on TV

London is a fascinating city, and as such it has been featured in film and television more times than you can count. If you’d like to follow in the footsteps of such famous actors as Benedict Cumberbatch, Daniel Radcliffe, and Hugh Grant, here are just a few of the capital’s most recognisable locations.

Speedy’s Cafe – Sherlock

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When the BBC brought Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective into the 21st century, they couldn’t actually film his famous 221b Baker Street address for exterior filming – there’s far too much Sherlock Holmes memorabilia on the street.

Instead, they took their cameras to the other side of Regent’s Park and filmed on North Gower Street, where you can visit Speedy’s sandwich bar and cafe – yes, it’s real – and enjoy some good fresh food. And yes, that includes specials named the Sherlock and the Watson!

Platform 9 ¾ – Harry Potter

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For Harry Potter fans, this is a big draw, and one of the first sights they’ll see in the capital. At London’s Kings Cross station, you can find a railway luggage trolley embedded in the wall beneath a sign for Platform 9 ¾ – and often, a queue of Harry Potter fans waiting to take their picture with it!

Other Harry Potter sights can be seen in London, too – exterior shots of the Ministry of Magic were filmed at Scotland Yard, and both Borough Market and Leadenhall Market offered filming locations for Diagon Alley.

Black Books – Black Books

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In Channel 4’s cult favourite sitcom Black Books, the bookshop above was run by Bernard Black (played by Dylan Moran) and his assistant Manny (played by Bill Bailey). In real life, it’s called Collinge & Clark, and it offers an impressive array of rare and secondhand books.

You can’t get a wine ice lolly here, but you can get some really interesting and beautiful books that’ll look great on your coffee table back home.

St Mary’s Garden, Regent’s Park – About a Boy

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The lake in St Mary’s Garden is a lovely place for a picnic, where you can enjoy the sunshine and feed the ducks. Just don’t throw an entire loaf of dense bread at them, as the titular boy does, as we can’t guarantee that Hugh Grant will step in to save you from the law.

Whether you plan to tour film and television locations, go shopping or take in a show, if you’re looking for Kings Cross hotels we at the Swinton Hotel would be more than happy to welcome you. For more information, to check availability or to make a booking, call us on 020 7837 1451.

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Wimbledon: Two Weeks of Strawberries, Pimm’s & Tennis

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Ladies and gentlemen, it is that time of year again! Dig deep in your wardrobes for an all-white ensemble, put ‘strawberries and cream’ on the shopping list, and get a pitcher of Pimm’s No. 1 and lemonade at the ready, because Wimbledon is just around the corner…

Getting a Ticket
The ticket queue for this year’s Wimbledon officially opens at 8am on Sunday June 22. Around 500 tickets every day are available at the Gate 3 turnstile for Centre Court (except for the last four days; tickets for those days are like gold dust) and court numbers 1 and 2, plus several thousand grounds tickets. If you are wanting to turn up to The Championships after work, the late entry queue opens at 5pm daily. You can often pay a reasonable rate for the seats of spectators who have left the venue earlier. Please note that tickets can only be purchased by cash.

It is worth noting that the queue does not commence in Wimbledon Park before 8am on Sunday 22nd June 2014.

History of Wimbledon

The Wimbledon Championship, commonly referred to as simply Wimbledon, is the oldest tennis tournament in the world, and is widely considered the most prestigious. Wimbledon is one of the four worldwide ‘Grand Slam’ tennis tournaments and has been held at the All England Club in London since 1877.

Traditions

The Championships are famously free from advertisement and sponsors, and they instil a strict dress code for all participants. Rest assured this dress code does not extend to the audience (so feel free to wear that terribly subtle I heart Andy Murray t-shirt from last summer). The players are instructed to wear all white (or as much white as is humanly possible).

Each year, approximately 250 ball boys and girls are employed at Wimbledon. Potential ball boys and ball girls must pass a series of fitness, mobility and tennis rules tests.

Each year, tennis fans at Wimbledon consume more than 28,000kg of strawberries and 7,000 litres of cream.

The English Royal family has supported and attended Wimbledon since 1907 and the players are supposed to bow down when either Her Majesty the Queen or His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales are present at the court.

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The best way to get to Wimbledon is by shuttle bus from Southfields tube station, which is on the District Line. If you are looking for Kings Cross hotels please do not hesitate to contact us here at Swinton Hotel, by telephone at +44 20 7837 1451.

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