The Montcalm Blog

Thought-provoking drama comes to the Theatre Royal Haymarket

If you are looking for some intense and thought-provoking drama in London, then a new show at the Theatre Royal Haymarket may be right up your street.

Taken at Midnight tells the tale of renowned lawyer Hans Litten who, in 1931 Berlin, has to represent people who are in opposition of the expanding Nazi party. He takes on a case in which a thuggish group are charged with murder, but he has to call no other than Herr Hitler as a lead witness. Coming face to face with the future dictator, the lawyer has to use his wit and intellect to keep the pressure on, something that may come back to haunt him when Hitler eventually rises to power.

It is then left to Litten's brave mother who has to save her son against one of the most horrific and powerful regimes in history. Litten's mother is played by Penelope Wilton, famed for her roles in Downton Abbey and recently in The Exotic Marigold Hotel. And with the production directed by critically-acclaimed director Jonathan Church, you would be mad to miss this.

Taken at Midnight will be playing until March 14th and tickets start from £15. If this doesn't really sound like your cup of tea, there are much 'lighter' shows playing in London, including hit-musical Billy Elliot, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown featuring Tamsin Greig, and feel-good show Wicked. Either way, you will want to book yourself into a London hotel so that you don't need to worry about getting back home after a show's late finish. Or you may really want to let your hair down and party until the wee hours of the morning in one of the West End's many fantastic bars and restaurants.

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Remember lives in Afghanistan at the Imperial War Museum

The Imperial War Museum has a fantastic exhibition on that takes a close look at the day-to-day lives of soldiers who are still fighting in the overseas conflict in Afghanistan.

War Story: Afghanistan 2014 has been commissioned to mark the end of 13 long years that have seen British troops fighting for peace in the region. The display looks at how British combat soldiers have been working with the Afghan National Security Forces to bring stability to the country, but it is the intimate and personal details of their stories that is most touching.

Visitors will gain access to photographs, recordings and films that have never been seen by the public before, while actual museum staff members have been given access to the soldiers when the conflict was still going on so that a really close examination could be carried out – very unusual for a museum display. Highlights to look out for include a Taliban motorbike, a Harrier GR9, Desert Hawk drones and even a suicide bomber's vest.

No one truly knows how the conflict really will wrap up but what is certain is the impact it has left on those who chose to serve their country. War Story is an emotional journey that not only will resonate with all ages but enable us to have a deeper understanding of one of the major things our generation will be most remembered by in history.

The exhibition, which is completely free, will be running until September 6th, so you have plenty of time to catch it. If you need a place to stay, consider the spacious and affordable Montcalm hotels that are accessible to the Imperial War Museum via London's extensive Underground network.

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Take a tour of the iconic Wembley Stadium

Wembley Stadium is undoubtedly one of the most famous stadiums in the world, and you have the chance to explore all the hidden rooms and tunnels for yourself!

Take a tour around the stadium, which will see you enter England's changing rooms, walk in the steps of giants through the players' tunnel, stand in front of the Royal Box with The FA Cup, and be able to walk the hallowed turf itself. There is also a special FA150 Exhibition, which celebrates the long history of The FA – highlights to look out for here include the 1966 Jules Rimet Trophy – aka the winning World Cup – and the Original Rules of Association Football dating back to 1863.

We've all dreamed of walking on the pitch of Wembley Stadium, and now you can by booking onto a tour. Tickets cost from £16 for adults, and £9 for children and concessions. Groups of over 30 individuals are eligible for a 15 per cent discount. Tours depart hourly from 10am to 4pm, and is open every day except December 25th and 26th, January 1st and major event days. For more information on rates, discounts and opening times, check out the official website.

If football is not really your thing, the stadium also hosts regular large-scale concerts – and with the likes of Coldplay, Take That and the Rolling Stones all having played here; who knows who you will light up the stage next? Some world-class acts have played at this historic venue so check the website for full listings.  Whatever you decide to do at the stadium, be sure to consider your accommodation options in London early to avoid any disappointment.

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Take a trip to Treasure Island this winter

As the winter blues continue to dominate us all, it's often best to get out of the wind, rain and snow, and one of the best activities to keep the kids amused and entertained is taking them to the theatre – and one show currently on that is sure to captivate them is Treasure Island.

Running at the National Theatre until April 8th, the production is based on Robert Louis Stevenson's famous epic tale of mutiny, murder and money. Taking place on the world-famous Olivier stage, this new show has been written by Bryony Lavery and directed by Polly Findlay making this a must-see.

So what's the story? On a dark and stormy out, the innkeeper's granddaughter Jim opens the door to a frightening old sailor who has brought with him a sea chest of treasures. It is only when Jim chooses to invite him in that her crazy and dangerous adventure begins. What comes after are pirates, parrots, secrets and death – but fear not, the show is suitable for all kids aged over ten. Prices range between £15 and £50 depending on where you choose to sit.

If you are holidaying with the kids, you may want to make a proper trip of it and incorporate some other indoor attractions that London is so famous for. These include the British Museum, Natural History Museum and the National Portrait Gallery, all of which are completely free and keep the little ones amused and educated. There is also the scary London Dungeon if you dare or the iconic St Paul's Cathedral or Westminster Abbey. Whatever you choose to do, be sure to stay in the Montcalm hotels – they are spacious, comfortable and, most importantly, affordable.

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London’s architectural gems

If there is one thing that London does exceptionally well, it is to offer some of the most wonderful pieces of architecture you will ever see. Here, we have highlighted some of the best for you to visit during your stay in the capital.

Banqueting House

The Banqueting House in Whitehall is famous not only for being the place in which Charles I was executed, but also for The Rubens’ Ceiling, which is nothing short of an artistic masterpiece. It was painted by Sir Peter Paul Rubens and is made up of four canvasses depicting The Union of Crowns, The Apotheosis of James I and The Peaceful Reign of James I. Having been installed in 1636, it is actually the only surviving ceiling painting by Sir Rubens which still stands in its rightful place today.

Ceiling of the Foreign Office

Located on King Charles Street, the main Foreign Office building was built by George Gilbert Scott in partnership with Matthew Digby Wyatt and one of the most impressive features of it is the ornate ceiling above the Foreign Office’s State Stair.

The gold and green colours are reminiscent of the Renaissance artwork and it is an extremely impressive sight to behold.

St Paul’s Cathedral

St Paul’s Cathedral is undeniably impressive from the outside, with its unmissable white dome, which is reminiscent of that of St Peter’s Basilica, and the column and towers that feature on its west side.

The interior of St Paul’s Cathedral is even more impressive, however, and should you have the chance to do so, it is highly recommended that you go and have a look for yourself. Similar to its exterior, the dome is the most impressive part inside too and stands at 214 feet tall. It was painted by Sir James Thornhill in the 18th century after he won a competition to paint it. The decor depicts eight stories from the life of St Paul and what is so amazing about this piece of art is the fact that Sir Thornhill completed it within two years and actually painted it while stood 50 metres above the ground!

30 St Mary Axe

Best known as the Gherkin, 30 St Mary Axe is a wonderful and modern piece of architecture which really symbolises London’s financial district. At 180 metres tall it is in fact the second tallest building in the City of London and the sixth tallest building in London. Opened in 2004, its glass exterior which is, well, gherkin shaped, is unmissable and certainly unique.

During your trip to London, why not consider staying at the Montcalm London Marble Arch?

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London’s most iconic bar

Following a long day of scouring the shops on Bond Street and taking in the wonderful sights of London, there is nothing better than sitting back and relaxing with a refreshing cocktail, and if there is anything that London does well, it is a cocktail bar.

Here are some of the greatest bars to visit while in London.

The Champagne Bar at the Montcalm

At the top of Park Lane lies The Montcalm London Marble Arch, a wonderful hotel whose contemporary design and decor is second to none. Aside from being one of the most exclusive hotels in the capital, The Montcalm is also home to the fabulous Champagne Bar.

The Champagne Bar can be found next to the hotel’s stunning main reception. Classy, sophisticated, elegant and seductive, a visit with a partner or friends is an absolute must.

Whatever your choice of tipple is, you will find it here as The Champagne Bar offers a delicious selection of Champagnes, wines and spirits. For anyone who loves a great whisky, sampling the large selection on offer will undoubtedly be an experience not to forget.

If it is a tasty cocktail that you are looking for, then you have come to the right place as the cocktail list is well known throughout the capital for its fantastic offerings, mixing a number of old favourites with some contemporary creations. What’s more, if you can’t find the cocktail of your choice, Adrian, The Champagne Bar’s resident mixologist, is more than happy to make whatever it is that your heart desires – a truly unique experience!

There is also a small range of scrumptious bar food and snacks available to accompany your chosen beverage.

Claridge’s Bar

For a bar with an Art Deco feel, head over to the Claridge’s bar. Situated in the upmarket Mayfair area, the 1920s-esque bar was designed by David Collins and is the place to be if you fancy sampling some vintage Champagne.

Claridge’s Bar offers a wonderful selection of liquors and wines too, as well as some expertly created cocktails. Sit back, relax and enjoy the evening.

69 Colebridge Row

If you happen to be in Islington, make sure to pop by 63 Colebridge Row for a drink. While it may look a bit dark from the outside, this only adds to the ambiance of the establishment, which is very cosy and offers a 1950s feel.

The bartenders wear white lab coats while creating their cocktails and the menu truly reflects the talent of the mixologists who use molecular equipment to master their craft.

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All that Glitters – tips and tricks for applying make up during party season

Christmas is the one time when a little, or even a lot, of sparkle and glitter is perfectly acceptable, in fact, it’s practically expected! The Christmas season sees make up trends showcase neutrals, metallic’s and rich deep hues of berry … Continue reading

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Top tips for saving money when staying in Lndon Hotels

There’s a certain air of luxury surrounding staying at one of Montcalm’s London city hotels, and with this comes the myth that to stay in such extravagance would be extremely costly. However, there are a couple of effective ways to … Continue reading

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Packing lightly for a winter trip

With Christmas fast approaching, many people are headed to London Heathrow to board a plane that will carry them across seas and into the arms of families and loved ones. However, after a soothing night’s sleep at one of Montcalm … Continue reading

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Must see attractions in London at Christmas time

It goes without saying that Christmas is ‘the most wonderful time of the year’ for many reasons, but not least for the exciting and magical events that coincide with this whimsical time of year. With everywhere donned out in twinkling … Continue reading

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How Oxford Street would look if motorists were banned

This time of year is exceptionally busy for nearly every retail outlet, as shoppers pore in to search for the perfect gift to give to their nearest and dearest. It’s at times such as these that retail stores take the … Continue reading

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Must see places near the Lake District

If you’re making a trip to the Lake District, you’re in for a real treat. Stunning scenery, tranquil lakes and plenty of beautiful mountains make for an amazing time appreciating nature and all of its hidden treasures. If you are … Continue reading

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