Apex Hotels Blogs

The Phantom Returns

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THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA – EDINBURGH PLAYHOUSE

Apex Hotels Marketing Executive Lisa Masterton heard that The Phantom of The Opera was visiting the Edinburgh Playhouse for a second time and just had to see it.
The story is based in a Parisian opera house where a musical genius (Erik) scares the opera crew to ensure the love of his live, Christine, becomes a star. Christine was a singer in the choir company and only when spooky occurrences happen in the opera house does Christine have to opportunity to show her talent, taught by a voice, whom she initially thinks is the Angel of Music, but is Erik. Erik is  a physically deformed and mentally disturbed operatic genius who has created a home for himself in the cellars of the opera house and wrote the opera the company is performing.

Initially Christine is unaware that Erik has fallen in love with her, but he kidnaps her and takes her to his home.  She also has another admirer, Raoul, her old childhood friend, who promises to take Christine away so Erik can never find her.  Who will Christine choose? Will she become attracted to abductor or choose Raoul?

The set, costumes and special effects were so impressive.
 
The cast provided an exhilarating performance. Christine is played by Katie Hall, no stranger to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s productions.  Her voice was an absolute treat to listen to.  John Owen-Jones was The Phantom. He’s an experienced Phantom and has played him since 2001, more times than any other actor in the West End.  
My Playhouse friends invited us to a VIP preview of the refurbished bar at the Edinburgh Playhouse at the interval. ‘The Boards’ features a beautiful large airy bar with a majestic piano and has a 1930’s feel. It is ideal for pre and interval drinks and can be pre-booked for special occasions so I would strongly recommend checking it out.

Do not miss this show! Buy tickets at ATG tickets.

New London Partnerships

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Apex Hotels announce new partnership with London's exclusive spa retreats

Apex Hotels is delighted to announce new partnership ventures, secured with two of London’s most exclusive spa retreats.

The new partnerships complete Apex’s offering, ensuring guests of Apex Hotels in London experience complete spa relaxation and unwind in style.

Providing the best in luxury treatment rooms, skin maintenance and pampering therapies, Apex’s partnering spas grant the perfect retreat. Complete with innovative fitness options and enticing pools, they also have the everyday must haves covered, including pedicures and manicures.

Apex guests can now enjoy an exclusive guest discount and alleviate stress, experiencing total relaxation in London’s top spa retreats.

The first partner to collaborate with Apex Hotels is the iconic Sanctuary Spa, based in the heart of London’s Covent Garden. The beautiful building is filled with hidden treasures and treats over 60,000 women every year, providing a true sanctuary away from the hustle of the City. The partnership with the Sanctuary Spa enables Apex guests to receive the following discounts;

  • 10% off treatment bookings
  • 15% off spa packages
  • 20% off Sanctuary products and admission only passes

The second partner to join forces with Apex Hotels is The CityPoint Club, a luxurious health fitness and spa facility, situated in the heart of London’s Square Mile. Offering naturally inspired products from the Elemis and Aromatherapy Associates range, the spa combines both holistic treatments with traditional therapies. With the Apex Privilege Card, guests will receive an exclusive 20% discount at the spa.

Apex guests can now relax, rewind and rejuvenate, leaving all strains of day-to-day life behind, with exclusive London spa discounts.


For further press information please contact:
Jo Harbisher, Communications & CSR Director at Apex Hotels.
pr@apexhotels.co.uk

Note to editors:
Apex Hotels is one of the UK's leading operators of contemporary city centre hotels. The company currently operates three hotels in London, four in Edinburgh and one in Dundee.

Reina the Hornbill

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Reina was created for Jungle City, a charitable event of major conservation impact. The event, launched in Edinburgh, celebrated the magnificence of Asia’s endangered wildlife, generating mass awareness of their plight and making everyone smile at the same time. Purchased by Apex Hotels at a charity auction to represent our commitment to building a sustainable future and minimising our impact on the environment, she is now the newest resident at the Apex London Wall Hotel at Moorgate, London.

We met the artist who designed her, Christine Clark, to find out more ...

Reina the Hornbill at Apex London Wall Hotel

How did you get involved in the Jungle City Project?
I contacted Jungle City with some examples of my work and they were delighted to have me on board as one of the artists. As the exhibition was in Edinburgh they were keen to have local artist on board.

What was the inspiration behind Reina?
Hornbills are extremely protective over their family and habitat and the male looks after the egg. Reina is named after my grandmother, the protector in our family and my design is a magical, figurative narrative exploring the idea of love and protection.

How long did the design take to complete?
About 3 weeks, painting most days to get her complete on time!

What are your thoughts on where she ended up?
I did imagine her in a luscious garden somewhere but I am very happy that Reina can be enjoyed by different members of the public in such a central London location.

What are you working on at the moment?
I am exhibiting at Audrey Marty Gallery in St Malo, France and working on several pieces for the exhibition. I also regularly exhibit works with scotlandart.com in Glasgow.

Charity Coffee Morning

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On Friday 28 September, Macmillan Cancer Support will be holding their biggest event of the year, The World's Biggest Coffee Morning, raising funds to help people living with cancer. The charity invites people to hold their own coffee mornings across the UK and beyond and donate the proceeds to Macmillan. Last year, 51,000 people signed up, raising an incredible £10 million - and Macmillan are hoping for another record year in 2012!

Macmillan World's Biggest Coffee Morning

To support this very worthy cause, Apex Hotels will be getting involved by hosting a coffee morning at Apex City Quay Hotel & Spa in Dundee. For just £3 per person for coffee and a cupcake the hotel is hoping to bring in quite a crowd. Coffee and green cupcakes (Macmillan's signature colour) will be served from 10am and throughout the day.

In London, all three Apex Hotels in London will be holding coffee mornings from 10.00 - 11.30am with tea, coffee, cake, pastries, raffle prizes and competitions on offer. With take away options also available, locals are encouraged to come along with friends, family and colleagues to show their support and join in the fun.

Apex Waterloo Place Hotel in Edinburgh will also be contributing by making a donation of 50p to Macmillan for every coffee sold on 28 September.


For further press information please contact:
Jo Harbisher, Communications & CSR Director at Apex Hotels.
pr@apexhotels.co.uk

Note to editors:
Apex Hotels is one of the UK's leading operators of contemporary city centre hotels. The company currently operates three hotels in London, four in Edinburgh and one in Dundee.

RSNO Christmas Concert

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RSNO Christmas Concert (19 - 23 December 2012)

The Royal Scottish National Orchestra's Christmas Concert is one of the highlights of the festive calendar in Scotland.

Enjoy a special screening of The Snowman with live music and narration

Perfect for all the family, the show is presented by renowned Conductor and Chorusmaster Christopher Bell, with enchanting music from the RSNO Orchestra and RSNO Chorus. Packed full of traditional sing-a-long carols and popular festive tunes, it is sure to get you into the Christmas spirit.

Every year, this magical show features a special screening of The Snowman, set to live music and narrated by a star guest. This is your chance to see a timeless childhood favourite like you've never seen it before.

The concert will be visiting Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow and Edinburgh, so there is plenty of opportunity to catch this Christmas spectacular!

19 December - Music Hall, Aberdeen, 7.30pm.
21 December - Caird Hall, Dundee, 7.30pm.
22 December - Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow, 2.00pm and 6.00pm.
23 December - Usher Hall, Edinburgh, 3pm.

For tickets and further information, please visit www.rsno.org.uk/whatson.

Edinburgh's Christmas

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Edinburgh’s Christmas (29 November 2012 – 6 January 2013)

Edinburgh is regarded as one of best UK cities to celebrate Christmas and New Year and attracts thousands of people every year. Sparkling with lights, funfairs and fireworks and bringing six weeks of festive cheer to the capital, there’s something to brighten up everyone’s winter.

In winter Edinburgh sparkles

It all kicks off on 29 November or ‘Light Night’ when crowds will be treated to a dazzling display of fireworks and a ‘surprise’ spectacular set to music which in previous years has included a French aerial trapeze troupe and a fourteen metre high snow queen.

The iconic Edinburgh Wheel will be in full swing and the atmospheric markets will be selling their wares and cooking up a feast. Other highlights include the outdoor ice rink, musical entertainment and appearances from Santa and his reindeer.

All this, against the stunning backdrop of Edinburgh Castle is the perfect setting for a magical Christmas.

For more information please visit edinburghschristmas.com.

London Ice Rinks

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London Ice Rinks (16 November 2012 - 6 January 2013)

This year sees the capital open its doors to a number of ice rinks, with more choice than ever before. Luckily for our Apex guests staying in London there are a number of ice rinks just a stone’s throw away from the hotels. So it's time to get your skates on this winter and enjoy the festive period on the capital’s coolest ice rinks.

With a number of ice rinks dotted all over the city, here is our selection of the top three for this winter ...

As the short days draw and the winter feeling really kicks in, London’s ice rinks come alive.

Somerset House Ice Rink (16 November - 6 January)

Whether you choose to skate to a live soundtrack with one of the latest DJs or you want to find your feet on ice, Somerset House Ice Rink is the perfect location to experience winter skating in the open air. Located less than a five minute walk away from Apex Temple Court Hotel, this ice rink provides a magical setting under the stars.

Tower of London Ice Rink (17 November - 6 January)

Skate in London’s most striking open-air ice rink, located in the moat of Tower of London. Tower of London Ice Rink is set within the glorious fortress battlements, providing a stunning backdrop for winter skating in the City. Less than a two minute walk from Apex City of London Hotel, it is perfect for all those skaters who are looking for an ice rink enriched with history and culture.

Winter Wonderland (23 November - 6 January)

Based in Hyde Park, the spectacular Christmas Ice Rink returns to light up and transform Hyde Park into a shimmering destination full of wintertime festivities. For the first time ever, you can now enjoy the Magical Ice Kingdom full of magnificent ice and snow sculptures.

 

Dundee December 2012

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What's on in Dundee in December 2012?


Event of the month

RSNO Christmas Concert

RSNO Christmas Concert (21 December 2012)

Perfect for all the family, with enchanting music from the RSNO Orchestra and RSNO Chorus. Packed full of traditional sing-a-long carols, popular festive tunes, and a special screening of The Snowman, it is sure to get you into the Christmas spirit. - Find out more in our RSNO Christmas Concert blog post.


Santa Special Train (9, 15, 16, 22 & 23 December 2012) - Enjoy a festive trip on the Caledonian Railway, complete with a visit from Santa himself! Take a 20 minute journey to Bridge of Dun where you can soak up the atmosphere listening to carols, before returing to Brechin. Santa and his helpers will make sure everyone gets a present along the way. - Caledonian Railway, The Station, Park Road, Brechin, DD9 7AF - www.caledonianrailway.com

The Snow Queen (4 December 2012 – 5 January 2013) - Based on the classic Hans Christian Anderson fairy story, and adapted by leading playwright Mike Kenny. This is a magical tale of adventure, friendship and discovery, perfect for the family to enjoy this festive season - Dundee Rep Theatre, Tay Square, Dundee, DD1 1PB - www.tickets.dundeerep.co.uk/public

Meet Santa and the Animals (8, 9 15, 16, 22 & 23 December 2012) - Take the kids to Camperdown Wildlife Centre this December to visit Santa Claus in his colourful grotto and they will receive a special gift. Hot drinks and mince pies will be served in the cafe by Mrs Claus. Plus see the animals and take part in the fun family activities on offer. - Camperdown Wildlife Centre, Coupar Angus Road, Dundee, DD2 4TF - www.camperdownwildlifecentre.com

Slade & Sweet (14 December 2012) - Your chance to hear that iconic Christmas song live, as seventies sensation Slade are back on road to say ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’. Accompanied by fellow rockers Sweet, this is a show for all the glam rock fans out there. - Caird Hall, City Square, Dundee, DD1 3BB - www.cairdhall.co.uk

Daniel Sloss: The Show (8 December 2012) - Fresh from this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival , star of Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow, Mock The Week and 8 out of 10 Cats, Daniel Sloss continues his rise to fame as he tours with his new show. - Dundee Rep Theatre, Tay Square, Dundee, DD1 1PB - www.tickets.dundeerep.co.uk/public

Surplus Cameo Decor, Edgar Schmitz (Until 14 December 2012) - This is the first major Scottish exhibition by Edgar Schmitz, turning the Cooper Gallery into a semi-fictional hub for cinematic plots and invited cameo appearances. - Cooper Gallery, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, Perth Road, Dundee, DD1 4HT - www.dundee.ac.uk/djcad

Edinburgh December 2012

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What's on in Edinburgh in December 2012?


Event of the month

Edinburgh's Christmas

Edinburgh's Christmas (29 November 2012 – 6 January 2013)

Edinburgh is regarded as one of best UK cities to celebrate Christmas and attracts thousands of people every year. Sparkling with lights, funfairs and fireworks and bringing six weeks of festive cheer to the capital, there’s something to brighten up everyone’s winter. - Find out more in our Edinburgh's Christmas blog post.


Foodies Festival – Christmas (1-2 December 2012) - Calling all food lovers – this December the Foodies Festival returns to Edinburgh. Get the chance to meet top celebrity chefs, experience mouth-watering festive dishes and witness top culinary talent from all around the world. Sample dishes and buy treats from over 100 different exhibitors and enjoy a wonderful family, festive day out. - Edinburgh International Conference Centre, 150 Morrison Street, Edinburgh, EH3 8EE - www.foodiesfestival.com/christmas

Flamenco Noche (2 December 212) - Want to be transported to another land, where the sun shines? Then why not experience an evening full of Flamenco spirit. The performance will feature impeccable flamenco musicians and dancers providing the audience with an electric show. Stick around after the show and enjoy some Spanish tapas. - Alba Flemenca, 74 East Crosscauseway, Edinburgh EH8 9HQ - www.albaflamenca.co.uk

Dirty Dancing (4 – 29 December 2012) - The musical remake of Dirty Dancing has become the fastest selling West End show in history. The show provides audience members with an unparalleled live experience, full of heart-pounding music, romantic story and of course sexy dancing! Are you ready to have the time of your life? - The Edinburgh Playhouse, 18-22 Greenside Place, Edinburgh, EH1 3AA - www.edinburghplayhouse.org.uk

Jason Byrne, People’s Puppeteer (8 December 2012) - Thanks to popular demand, Jason Byrne is back to greet Britain with laughs and madness. Jason’s high-energy gigs have made him the biggest star comedian at Edinburgh Comedy Festival. The ‘People’s Puppeteer’ is a brand new show packed with new props, new stories and his trademark level of insanity - Edinburgh International Conference Centre, 150 Morrison Street, Edinburgh, EH3 8EE - www.jasonbyrne.ie

Rufus Wainwright (13 December 2012) - Join Rufus for an emotional journey where fans get to be close and personal with arguably one of the world’s greatest songwriters around. The new album Out of the Games, explores death, engagement and new life with help from the collaborator Mark Ronson. - Usher Hall, Lothian Road Edinburgh, Midlothian EH1 2EA - www.usherhall.co.uk

Torchlight Procession (30 December 2012) - The Torchlight Procession marks the opening of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay. Witness thousands of torch carriers form a river of fire as they move through the city. Ending at Calton Hill, crowds will be treated to a spectacular fireworks display. With proceeds from the sale of torches due to go Radio Forth Cash for Kids and Barnardo’s Scotland, this is one festive event not to be missed. - From Parliament Square to Calton Hill - www.edinburghshogmanay.org

Candlelit Concert in St Giles’ Cathedral (31 December 2012) - Experience a festive celebration like no other and enjoy the candlelit ambiance of St Giles’ Cathedral. The evening concert will be a celebration of music performed by the talented St Giles’ Cathedral Choir, directed by Michael Harris. The cathedral’s orchestra, lead by Angus Ramsay will also feature a spectacular array of young soloist. - St Giles' Cathedral, Royal Mile, Edinburgh, EH1 1RE - www.edinburghshogmanay.org

London December 2012

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What's on in London in December 2012?


Event of the month

Tower of London Ice Rink

London Ice Rinks (16 November 2012 - 6 January 2013)

As the short days draw and the winter feeling really kicks in, London’s ice rinks come alive. This year sees the capital open its doors to a number of ice rinks, with more choice and availability than ever before. - Find out more in our London Ice Rinks blog post.


Walking with Dinosaurs (26 December 2012 – 6 January 2013) - Thanks to popular demand the O2 welcome backs the award winning arena spectacular Walking With Dinosaurs. Based on the BBC television series, the show brings to life 20 to-scale dinosaurs giving the audience the opportunity to experience pre-historic giants. This show is set to astound audience members thanks to its epic proportions. - The O2, Peninsula Square, London, SE10 0DY - www.theo2.co.uk/event/walking-with-dinosaurs

Statoil Masters Tennis (5 – 9 December 2012) - Set in the legendary venue of the Royal Albert Hall the Statoil Master Tennis is the perfect way to kick-start the festive season and provides a unique opportunity to see some of the greatest legends of all time. Show your support as Tim Henman returns to defend his London title alongside an all-star line up. - Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AP - www.statoilmasterstennis.com

The Gadget Show Christmas Live (30 November - 2 December 2012) - Calling all gadget lovers! This December will see in the Gadget Show Christmas, an exhibition packed with the best gadget gifts, games and toys. The Gadget Show is the place to go to spot all the hottest gadgets and get hands on with the new technology. You can even pick up show discounts on the day! - ExCel, London, E16 1XL - www.gadgetshowlive.net

Viva Forever Opening Night (11 December 2012) - Celebrating the most successful girl group of all time - Viva Forever, The Spice Girls musical opens this winter. The band sold over 75million records worldwide and cultivated the charts during the 1990s, spreading girl power across the world. With a script by Jennifer Saunders and the show produced by Judy Craymer (the brains behind Mamma Mia!), this show is set to be big. - Piccadilly Theatre, 16 Denman Street, London, W1D 7DY - www.piccadillytheatre.org/viva-forever

British Military Tournament (8 - 9 December 2012) - Marking the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of 2012, this year’s British Military Tournament will celebrate the life and times of Her Majesty the Queen. This exhibition is an unforgettable opportunity for the whole family to admire the skills and precision of the British Armed Forces and show appreciating for our heroes. - Earls Court, Hammersmith Road London W14 8UX - www.britishmilitarytournament.com

Cinderella (12 December 2012 – 26 January 2013) - Be prepared to be captivated by this original take of one of the oldest and best-loved fairytales of all times. The revival of Cinderella demonstrates the quirky style of the producers and the crystal-clear storytelling of the director. The new production of this classic fairytale dream comes alive and features plenty of new twists. - St. James Theatre, 12 Palace Street, London, SW1E 5JA - www.stjamestheatre.co.uk/events/cinderella

Hanukkah (8 – 16 December 2012) - Enjoy Hanukka this year in Central London and see the lighting of a giant menorah in Trafalgar Square, where an additional light is lit every evening. Watch as the final light is lit to see who joins in on the celebrations – last year Borris Johnson was present with senior Jewish figures. - Trafalgar Square, Westminster, London WC2N 5DN

Nitro Circus Live (3 December 2012) - Witness Nitro Circus perform death-defying stunts on motocross bikes, skis, skateboards, shopping trolleys and anything else these adrenaline-mad performers can get their hands on. The O2 arena will be transformed into a playground for Nitro Circus, where they will entertain the crowds with jaw-dropping stunts – this is one display not to be missed. - The O2, Peninsula Square, London, SE10 0DY - www.theo2.co.uk/event/nitro-circus-live

Great Christmas Pudding Race 2012 (1 December 2012) - The Great Christmas Pudding Race returns to Covent Garden for its 32nd race. Organised by CRAC, this event raises money for Cancer Research UK. The great Christmas Pudding Race is a guaranteed fun day out with entertainment, guest celebrities and some amazing costumes on offer. - Covent Garden Piazza, London, WC2E 8RF - www.xmaspuddingrace.org.uk

London's Hidden Gems

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Today's guest post is from travel blogger Steph Staszko, who loves visiting Britain’s capital whenever she gets the chance. 

Alternative places to visit in London

London is the second most visited city in Europe and is renowned for its history, culture and booming tourist trade. Almost everyone in the world knows London tourist sites like Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London. But there are many attractions in London which are far lesser known yet still really intriguing! If you’ve seen Big Ben so many times that you find yourself chiming on the hour, then here are some alternative attractions to visit in London to help keep your spark with the capital ignited.

Tiled London sign in Smithfield Market

Smithfield Market

This historic and architecturally stunning building dates back to a strip of land which was used as a marketplace for livestock and farming for nearly a thousand years. It became a favourite location for medieval jousting tournaments and public gatherings and it also became the “ideal” place for public executions, a heritage which has sealed Smithfield’s infamy. It was in fact the location of Scottish Nobleman William Wallace’s execution which alone makes it a historic sight worth seeing.

Today Smithfield Market is mostly used for the sale of meat, a purpose not far removed from its original use. With the sheer number of historic moments which took place here, and the grandeur of the modern day market building, Smithfield Market certainly qualifies as a cheap and worthwhile day out.

Warner Brother’s Studios

WB studios now offer an amazing tour of the world of Harry Potter with a full 360 degree view of the 1:24 scale model of Hogwarts Castle which was used in the creation of the films. This is a particularly ideal location for those who are trying to find something for those with children in tow, but is also great for the young at heart or anyone with an interest in Harry Potter!

Visitors are also free to visit many different locations from the books and films on the Harry Potter tour; from the great hall, to Dumbledore’s office and even the streets of Diagon Alley.

The tour even gives you an insight into the making of the Harry Potter world’s magical creatures and props from brooms, to dragons. This tour is an exciting day out for the whole family.

The Icecreamists

This is one for those with a wicked sweet tooth. The Icecreamists' ice cream parlour is one of the trendiest places in London to get an ice cold sweet treat. Described as a mix between boutique and ice cream parlour, Icecreamists offers a range of strange quirky ice cream flavours, and cocktails for those who want something a little naughtier.

So if you think you’ve exhausted London’s attractions think again; these are just three less frequently visited attractions in the vast city of London. From medieval executions, to magical castles and wizards, all the way to “Vice Lollies” there is something for everyone to try!


Steph's travel tip: When finding cheap airport parking for a trip to London Steph recommends using an advanced booking Heathrow airport parking, to save money on your trip to and from the capital.