Apex Hotels Blogs

London March 2012

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What's on in London in March 2012?

Disney on Ice: Princesses & Heroes (7 – 11 March 2012) - Disney on Ice's 'Princesses and Heroes' is a spectacular show with scenes from the stories of eight Disney Princesses including Ariel, Belle, Cinderella and Jasmine. - Wembley Arena, HA9 0PA - www.wembley.co.uk

St Patrick’s Day Parade (17 - 18 March 2012) - Celebrate St Patrick's Day in London, and be sure to check out the parade taking place on March 18. Enjoy Irish bands, food, drink and celebration of all things from the Emerald Isle - Trafalgar Square, WC3N 5DN - www.timeout.com

Ballerboyz: The Talent (3 - 4 March 2012) - Eight talented dancers; Adam, Anthony, Ed, Leon, Luke, Matt, Miguel and Taylor, perform a mixed programme of dance. - Sadler’s Wells, EC1R 4TN - www.sadlerswells.com

Serious About Street Dance 2012 (16 March 2012) - Hosted by Kymberlee Jay, this street dance event showcases over 200 dancers from some of the UK's best dance crews perform. Acts include Boy Blue Entertainment, Shockerellas and Beat Riderz. - Indigo2, SE10 0DX - www.theo2.co.uk

Wildlife Photographer of the Year (until 11 March 2012) - This annual photography competition celebrates the talents of today's wildlife and nature photographers - Natural History Museum, SW7 5BD - www.nhm.ac.uk

Lang Lang: Beethoven Piano Concerto Cycle (20 March 2012) - Lang Lang returns to the Royal Albert Hall after a sell-out show in 2010 to perform his complete Beethoven Piano Concerto cycle, joined by acclaimed conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonia Orchestra. - Royal Albert Hall, SW7 2A - www.royalalberthall.com

Ideal Home Show (16 - 31 March 2012) - With over 600 exhibitors, the Ideal Home Show represents interiors, home improvements, gardening, gadgets, food and homewares - Earls Court, SW5 9TA- www.eco.co.uk

Picasso Exhibition (until 15 July 2012) - This exhibition examines Picasso's influence on twentieth century British modernism, displaying over 150 of Picasso's works from around the world. - Tate Britain - www.tate.org.uk/britain

Silent Films at Princes Charles Cinema (until 29 March 2012) - Silent films accompanied by live music from talented pianists to heighten the drama and action on screen. - Prince Charles Cinema, WC2H 7BY - www.princecharlescinema.com

Grep Proops (20 March 2012) - Greg Proops, star of 'Whose Line Is It Anyway?' takes to the stage with his stand-up show. - Soho Theatre, W1D 3NE - www.princecharlescinema.com

WorldPride 2012 London

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Gay Pride London 2012

Pride London celebrates what it is to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. The festival aims to promote equality and understanding, educating people in order to eliminate discrimination.

Visit Pride London Website

Pride London Festival 2012

This two week arts festival (18 Jun - 03 Jul 11) is packed with a line-up of artists, performers and public figures, culminating in a parade on Saturday 2nd July. Hear music and poetry, watch theatre, take part in sports events and discuss issues with the speakers, politicians and public figures.

Pride London Parade 2012

Almost a million people watch the colourful Pride London parade every year. The parade makes its way down Oxford Street and Regent Street and right through London’s West End. Following the parade, an afternoon of entertainment, speakers, community and music commences on the stages in Trafalgar Square and Leicester Square.

World Pride 2012

London will be hosting World Pride in 2012, along with the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Organised by InterPride, World Pride promotes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues internationally through a range of events and activities.

Apex Hotels on TripAdvisor

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At Apex Hotels we value all feedback and TripAdvisor reviews are just one of the important measures we use to monitor how well we’re meeting our guests expectations. We encourage all guests to post reviews on TripAdvisor to help us with our drive for continuous improvement.

Check out the reviews

We’re delighted with the consistently high scores we receive from our guests, although there are a few occasions where we may fall short but our proactive approach to dealing with customer reviews demonstrates our desire to achieve customer service excellence.




The Rainforest Cow

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The CowParade is a large public art event, which has taken place in over 50 cities worldwide since it began in 1999. Artists are invited to paint large cow sculptures, which are displayed across the city and then auctioned off for charity at the end. In 2006, the CowParade came to Edinburgh and Apex Hotels purchased this fine specimen, the Rainforest Cow. She is now proudly displayed at the Apex City of London Hotel.

We chatted to the artist Ruth Green to find out more ...

The Rainforest Cow at Apex City of London Hotel

How did you get involved in the CowParade Project?
I was at the time selling my landscape paintings through The Art for Offices gallery in Dock Street in London who were approached by CowParade for any suitable artists willing to take on the commission. I then did four cows for them; one in London, two in Manchester and one for Edinburgh.

What was the inspiration behind the Rainforest Cow?
The inspiration for the Rainforest cow came from the wish for everyone to be aware of the need to preserve the Rainforest and its inhabitants for the future generations as many of its inhabitants and their environment are in danger of extinction.

How long did it take to complete?
The design took approximately 6 weeks to paint.

What are your thoughts on where it ended up?
I am very pleased that it ended up with your organisation which gives it a wider audience.

What are you working on at the moment?
I am at the moment working on a very large Easter Egg for the Elephant Family to be seen at the Big Egg Hunt to be staged in London this Easter in aid of a children's charity and I continue my work for painted pigs. They have asked me to paint it on the theme of Rainforest, having recently completed an elephant for the London Elephant Parade and a tiger for Edinburgh.

Edinburgh March 2012

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What's on in Edinburgh in March 2012?

Of Mice and Men (17 February - 17 March 2012) – John Steinbeck's masterpiece deftly references Robert Burns' poetry in its title, so a run that includes Burns Night seems appropriate. Once banned in much of the US, this is a powerful story of friendship and fragility during the economic depression of the 1920s – Lyceum Theatre, Grindlay Street, Edinburgh, EH3 9AX - www.lyceum.org.uk

Sarah Millican - Thoroughly Modern Millican (2 - 3 March 2012) - Millican effortlessly balances two sides of her comedy: the soft, fluffy and sweet side is deftly interwoven with some of the sharpest gags on the comedy circuit. It's all carried along by an affable personality and an accent that audiences warm to immediately. A must see! - Edinburgh Playhouse, 18 – 22 Greenside Place, Edinburgh, EH1 3AA - http://www.atgtickets.com/venue/Edinburgh-Playhouse/243/  

Carnival Du Vampires Rock (12 March 2012) - This is not a typical musical. It's the year 2030, a singer is auditioning for lead vocalist at a New York rock club but the club owner really wants someone to fill the role of his Vampire Queen. If the plot sounds crazy, don't worry: this show is all about classic rock songs with the attitude, pyrotechnics and sense of fun dialled up to 11 - Edinburgh Playhouse, 18 – 22 Greenside Place, Edinburgh, EH1 3AA - http://www.atgtickets.com/venue/Edinburgh-Playhouse/243/  

Ceilidh Culture (16 March - 15 April 2012) - Traditional arts are thriving in Scotland, from folk music to storytelling, and a new generation are taking them to a wider audience. Ceilidh Culture is a wildly popular month long festival of events across the city, including the Edinburgh International Harp Festival. A great taste of grassroots Scottish culture - Various venues around Edinburgh - www.ceilidhculture.co.uk  

Spamalot (19 - 24 March 2012) – Spamalot arguably has wider appeal than most musicals: Monty Python fans who would shun most West End musicals have gone to see the award winning Spamalot in huge numbers. With sharp witted comedian Marcus Brigstocke in the lead role, this is the ideal time to see it – Various venues around Edinburgh - Edinburgh Playhouse, 18 – 22 Greenside Place, Edinburgh, EH1 3AA - http://www.atgtickets.com/venue/Edinburgh-Playhouse/243/  

Edinburgh International Science Festival (30 March - 15 April 2012) – A two week festival bringing a wide range of science events to the city. Spectacular demonstrations for all ages appear on the same programme as lectures by famous scientists and appearances by stars of popular science on TV – Various venues around Edinburgh - www.sciencefestival.co.uk

Dundee March 2012

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What's on in Dundee in March 2012

Steel Magnolias (22 February - 10 March 2012) - The gossip and goings-on in Truvy's beauty shop made the 1989 movie adaptation a bit hit, but it was original made for the stage. Dundee Rep will make this a more immersive experience by offering beauty treatments in the foyer 45 minutes before the curtain rises - www.dundeereptheatre.co.uk  

Bang On! (11 March 2012) - Owen Gunnell and Olly Cox (stage name: O Duo) are unusual among percussionists. In a world with many famous solo percussionists, they work as a duo. Often sharing the same set of instruments on stage, they contort and stretch around each other, resulting in a highly theatrical and humerous performance. For three years running they won the best music act at the Edinburgh Fringe and they've played the last night of the Proms. It's a style that lends itself shows like Bang On, aimed at mixed audiences of adults and children - Marryat Hall, City Square, Dundee, DD1 3BB - www.cairdhall.co.uk

RSNO: Beethoven Eight (29 March 2012) - This is quite a concert programme; Beethoven's Symphony No. 8, Fauré's Pavane, Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 2 are all popular and well loved pieces. The evening opens with something more unusual: a suite from Bizet's The Fair Maid of Perth, his fairytale portrayal of Scotland. A great night out and it's worth noting that all RSNO concerts are free to under 16s - Caird Hall, City Square, Dundee, DD1 3BB - www.cairdhall.co.uk

The Ig Nobel Awards Show (17 March 2012) - The flippant alternative to the real Nobel prizes, the Ig Nobel prizes celebrate the more quirky, imaginative and funny sides of each of the Nobel Prize subjects. Take the 2010 Ig Nobel Physics prize awarded to researchers who proved that you'd slip and fall less often on icy footpaths if you wore your socks on the outside of your shoes, or the 2009 Chemistry Ig Nobel winners who created diamonds from tequila. The award ceremony in Harvard is famously eccentric, but host and organizer (and Guardian journalist) Marc Abrahams will be just as happy bringing this select group of 2011's winners to Dundee - http://www.dundee.ac.uk/revealingresearch/ignobel/  

New Hotel opening

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Opening in March 2012, Apex Temple Court Hotel is an exciting new luxury four-star hotel located just off Fleet Street within the Inner Temple conservation area. Apex Temple Court is the first hotel to be built in one of London’s historic Inns of Court, the Inner Temple. This new hotel is a fusion of contemporary design, innovative technology with luxurious guest rooms and public areas created with Apex’s unique style.

Artists impression

For business or pleasure, it's an unbeatable location. A short walk east is St Paul’s Cathedral and westwards takes you to Covent Garden, famous for its shops, street performers, bars, restaurants and the Royal Opera House. Just 10 minutes walk away is The Strand and Theatre land, in London’s West End, recognised as the capital’s premier entertainment and leisure destination.

  • 184 stylish bedrooms and suites, some with private balcony views across the London skyline
  • Free Wi-Fi and local calls
  • All rooms have widescreen LED TVs with Sky Sports, Bose SoundDocks for MP3 players and a Teleadapt Active media hub for personal electronic devices
  • Chambers Bar and Restaurant / Exclusive Club Lounge / Fully equipped gym
  • 24 hour room service
  • Situated near popular attractions like St Paul’s Cathedral, Covent Garden and the West End theatre district.

For more information please visit www.apexhotels.co.uk/hotels/london.

Apex Waterloo: a history

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Edinburgh’s first purpose built hotel

Edinburgh's Waterloo Hotel is looking its very best again. Not since its opening, as the first large scale hotel in Edinburgh in 1819, has the building appeared so elegant. A complete redevelopment in 2009 removed the wear and tear of the last two centuries - but none of its charm and history.

"an establishment where strangers can see the manners of the people and mix with the society of the place"

This advertising slogan is still as relevant today as it was back in 1819 when it was used in the brief by the original architect Archibald Elliot for the Waterloo Hotel, Tavern and Coffee House. In Edinburgh, at this time, hotels of modest size were normally adapted from existing houses but the Waterloo Hotel was the exception as the very first large scale purpose built hotel in Edinburgh with large public rooms and bedrooms that could accommodate up to 50 guests. Through its doors came Princes, Earls, writers, actors, artists, entertainers, singers, dancers and many other travellers and tourists from far and wide.

Image from Waterloo Hotel menu February 1895

The original Grand Design - 1815

James Gillespie, Richard Crichton and Archibald Elliot had all submitted designs for the bridge and buildings for Waterloo Place in November 1815 and Elliot was then chosen to be architect for the scheme.

Elliot wanted the bedrooms to "speak for themselves, as affording the most complete bedroom accommodation that the country can present".

A great dining room with a balcony for music parties, three dining rooms, with sliding doors that could be thrown into one to accommodate supper parties, balls or private dancing parties "it will be seen that this house also affords ample opportunity for entertaining companies of any number in the most elegant manner" "This splendid room will have a Cupola in order to appropriate it to such exhibitions as require a management, or particular distribution of light and shade". Sadly this great room no longer exists. Part of the building was demolished in the 1970's to accommodate an extension. However, the spectacular Cupola, that would have originally flooded the great room with natural light has been saved and can be seen on the 8th floor of the hotel.

A Royal Opening

The Waterloo Hotel opened on Saturday 21st August 1819 to commemorate the visit of Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg. He was in the first carriage to travel down Waterloo Place.

Great Expectations!

Charles Dickens was another famous Waterloo Hotel guest who stayed several times during 1861 at the time he was writing Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities.

Freedom of the City

Charles Grey 2nd Earl, (1764-1845) was given the Freedom of the City of Edinburgh on 26th August 1834 at a ceremony that took place at the Waterloo Hotel. An interesting character, with a long political career, Charles Grey succeeded the Duke of Wellington to take up the position of British Prime Minister (1830-1834). Earl Grey’s most remarkable achievements were the Reform Act of 1832, which resulted in a gradual process of electoral change and sowed the seeds of the system we recognise today and in 1933 the Act that abolished slavery throughout the British Empire. One of Grey’s other legacies is the blend of tea known as Earl Grey. He reputedly received a gift of tea that was flavoured with bergamot oil. It became so popular that Grey asked British tea merchants to recreate it.

The Society of the Place

During the 19th century Edinburgh became a favourite destination for both education and for residence, known as the second city in the empire for learning and science. The social life of Edinburgh flourished in theatre, concert, supper party, ball and club. Formal dinners with interminable rounds of formal toasts were long and fashionable. It is clear to see, through the research we have conducted, that the Waterloo Hotel was a most popular venue for all manner of entertainment. The commodious coffee room, the splendid ball room 80ft by 40ft lighted by crystal chandeliers and dining rooms of all sizes, the hotel was to be the centre of entertainment in Edinburgh throughout its life as a hotel establishment. In the latter part of the 19th century the Great Room was to become the Prince of Wales Operetta House, attracting many actors, performers and singers from across the country to entertain the gentry of the time.

Tough Justice in the 19th Century

In the early 19th century, the justice system was very different from today. Trials in court were often very quick and prosecutors, judges and jurors had more power and choice. The prosecutor was normally the victim of the crime, and he or she would accuse the defendant. The defendant was expected to explain away the evidence against them and, thus, prove their innocence. During our research, we uncovered several cases of theft that took place at the Waterloo Hotel:

In 1824 Thomas Litster a waiter at the hotel, was caught stealing silver spoons. In 1831 Alexander Smith, a 13 year brass founder stole a silk handkerchief in the lobby of Waterloo Hotel and a John Smith, who worked as a Boots at the hotel was caught breaking into lockfast places and stealing money. All were found guilty and transported to the colonies for 7 years. It is unknown if they ever returned.

Changing Times

In 1898 the Waterloo Hotel ceased trading and was sold to the North British Railway company for their new offices. In 1912 it was remodelled when sold to the Edinburgh and Leith Corporation Gas Commissioners. The 1912 alterations included the extension on the east elevation, a link to new offices on Calton Hill and the installation of a lift in the main stairwell. The present door piece was also added at this time. This Grade A listed building was purchased by Apex Hotels in December 2006. Apex appointed Ian Springford Architects to redesign and refurbish the building. With an investment of over £30 million this magnificent historic building has now been returned to hotel trading after 120 years.

We would like to think that the original architect, Archibald Elliot would be pleased with the redesign and that his original vision for "a suitable house, affording every accommodation that can be desired" is as true today as it was when the Waterloo Hotel first opened in 1819.

Lisa's visit to Yu Spa

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In November 2011 Apex Waterloo Place Hotel in Edinburgh opened up brand new Yu Spa treatment rooms, and we sent our Marketing Executive Lisa along to test them out. Here's how she got on ..

I arrived at Yu Spa at Apex Waterloo Place Hotel and was welcomed by a lovely therapist called Claire. I liked her right away - she was really natural, not caked in make up or fake bake. Claire took me though to a double treatment room (ideal if you enjoy treatments with your mum/daughter, a friend or even a partner - note to self... Mum would love this for birthday or Christmas). The treatment room was tastefully decorated and very calming.

I decided on the Deep Tissue Back Massage as my job was desk based so have the usual aches and pains in all the expected places. Claire took this on board and then gave me choice of two oils - one to completely relax me or a more lively one. I decided on the livelier oil as I had things to do after the massage and didn't want to be too relaxed.

Claire quickly detected I was talker (unfortunately my way of relaxing).  She was very chatty back and had great conversation skills as the back massage started. I knew I was going to enjoy this. She got into all the nooks in my back and shoulders and manipulated it until the aches slowly unknotted themselves. It was AMAZING (way too fast in my opinion - why does time go so quickly when doing things you enjoy?).

All too soon my time was up.  I could have stayed for at least another 60 minutes.

Claire was really knowledgeable and pro Elemis products and treatments, (always a good sign that the therapist uses them, not because she has to, but because she wants to) but didn't push them onto me (my pet hate after a treatment is feeling you have to buy every available product - and you're too chilled to say no!)

I (begrudgingly) left the treatment room and made myself slowly back into the outside world, all relaxed and I made a promise to myself - I HAVE to do this more often.