Lord & Lady Dukes Hotel London Review
Dukes is a very short cab ride from Victoria station up to the heart of St James.
It is beautifully located between the Ritz on Piccadilly and Buckingham Palace, down a lovely little old Victorian London Mews.
The doorman greeted us with exquisite manners and gently took all our bags, and us, off to the reception desk.
There really is a magical feel as you turn off from the hustle and bustle of St James’s to find Dukes tucked away in this dinky little courtyard. Stepping into the entrance hall to find the reception you get a feeling of being in a gentlemans club; dark green walls, very nice floor tiles, lots of dark wood, though this is lifted with a lovely floral display of orchids which sweetened the air and several large lit candles, a very nice touch.
Check in was swift and courteous, we verified our dinner reservation and check out and were then shown to our room. The staff are excellent, very warm and friendly and we felt immediately welcome and at home. I was feeling pretty shocking as I had worked all day with no time for lunch except beers with the film crew.
We were then taken up to our room, a junior suite, very pleasant and comfortable, though no wow factor, with a sitting area with armchairs and dark wooden furniture and then archway through to the bed, nice bathroom, well lit , fluffy towels, nice REN goodies, and usual helpful touches (sewing kit, cotton wool pads etc). We then put our ‘tech’ heads on as we had the air conditioning/heating explained (very useful for American guests I should think). The other modern touches in the room we worked out for ourselves, flat screen tv with movies on demand, and little fibre optic reading lights on the bed. An umbrella in the wardrobe was pointed out for our use, very thoughtful. Yummy hand-made complimentary chocolates waiting for us which his Lordship devoured as he’d missed lunch, and an extensive mini bar (I love mini bars, aren’t they brilliant! and this really was a good one); however no complimentary bottled water by the bed which I really think should be a must in all hotels.
Her ladyship felt the room was more guest bedroom at her parents country manor rather than the boutique luxury chic she was hoping for. I pointed out that Dukes is catering for an audience that expect a more traditional English elegance and luxury.
Dukes is a bastion of time honoured British sophistication, aimed at maintaining the standards of a bygone era. The decor is perhaps nostalgic of a time when horse drawn carriages plied the Mall, but the service is modern and thoughtful.
Ok, so I take the bottled water bit back. His Lordship and I returned from our wander and few drinks at some nearby bars, ready to change for dinner, to find our room had been turned down. One of the helpful touches included a bottle of water and glass on each side of the bed (had they seen my notes I wonder?!). There was also a pair of slippers placed either side of the bed (which I was very grateful for the next morning) and a little card next to the bed entitled “Wondering how to dress? Here is tomorrow’s weather…”, very helpful!
Once suited and booted we ambled down to the bar to a reserved table, which we were glad of as it was packed with rather attractive business and media types of all ages. There was even a Jeff Bridges look alike who had a lot of the girls casting a few glances over just in case.
A brief eye to the barman secured a menu and nibbles. The olives were without doubt the best I have ever had in the UK. A luminous green, the size of limes and tasted like olive avocados with a creamy texture. Especially good as I was starving and needed something to line the stomach before the aperitif.
The Dukes is known for it’s Martinis, now Martinis are a bit like sex and driving, everyone thinks they do it best. It stands to reason that some people have to do it better than others. Dukes do the perfect Martini, theirs is no idle boast.
I requested a vodka Martini and the barmen brought all the paraphenalia over and prepared his special before our very eyes, the Dukes Vodka Martini.
The legend with the perfect Martini is that the correct mix results in an alchemical reaction that creates a sense of heightened wellbeing without any of the drowsy effects normally associated with the imbibing of alcohol. I can assert that this Martini did exactly that.
The Glass was iced to perfection, two drops of extra dry vermouth, followed by Potocki Polish Vodka and a little lemon oil. The lemon peel is added with a flourish at the end and is sourced, organic and wax free, from Sorrento, Italy. Potocki Vodka is slightly creamy very like Stolichnaya, the epitome.
If you are looking for the ulimate Martini to start the evening then Dukes bar is the place. I will be going back to try the Ian Fleming’s Classic Vesper Martini.
I loved the bar, it was very traditional again, with dark wood, oil paintings and lamps but it was buzzy and fun, nice mix of people, good atmosphere. Though tempted by the Martinis (there is even a Moneypenny one) I satisfied myself with a sip of his Lordships, and stuck with champagne. Again the staff were fantastic and we had a great time, before we knew it an hour had passed, and several drinks, and so we descended the stairs to the dining room. The dining room was quieter than the bar and again I noticed the decor, which while immaculate, gave an old fashioned feel. However, as usual the staff were fantastic, and I’m sure this would have been the case even if the place had been packed. Dinner was lovely, the menu offered a wide range of classic British dishes, for me nothing earth shatteringly exciting, but it was cooked well and I enjoyed my lamb which arrived perfectly pink.
Floated down to dinner, feeling a lot better after a very long day and we ordered a bottle of Lallier Grand Cru Champagne. Wonderful. My wife and I enjoyed the feel of tradition and luxury, I particularly enjoyed my cod and we shared a divine passion fruit and mango desert.
We did venture out after dinner for a nightcap at the Ritz, it seemed silly not to as it really is so close. Having checked the dress code (no denim, trainers and for gentlemen a tie is a must) Dukes proved that nothing is too much trouble for them and a tie was produced for his Lordship to enable him to go to the ball! We had a wonderful time there, but that really is another review!
Great night’s sleep in very comfy bed, followed by decadent smoked salmon and scrambled eggs in bed, with seriously refreshing orange juice, and lovely long soak in spacious bath. Mental note, must remember to put do not disturb sign up though as twice there were knocks on the door, one to see if the room was ready for servicing and the second to collect the breakfast tray.
Nothing like starting the morning with smoked salmon, scrambled eggs and carrot juice in bed, puts everything in order. Once breakfasted we had a little wander around the Health club and the meeting and private dining rooms which were well equipped, presented and would be ideal for special events or a St James meeting.
We checked out and were asked if we needed a taxi, which appeared instantaneously and we were ushered serenely to the open carriage door where our bags awaited and given special attention by the driver for the entire journey. Dukes guests obviously get well treated by London cabbies.
Dukes is the epitome of old style luxury, a London hotel with an ideal location, the staff are excellent, everyone we met during our stay was not only unfailingly polite and helpful, but also willing to go that extra mile to make our time with them more enjoyable. For me the highlight was the bar, I could have spent all night there working our way through the martini carte and polishing off those divine nibbles, and I look forward to doing so in the not too distant future……please dear?
Of course, Dukes is situated in the very best location in all of London, right at the heart of St James . The staff and hospitality are absolutely top notch and the atmosphere of true British gentility pervades the place.
It is the ideal Pied a Terre to sample the very best London has to offer.
Meet you in the bar, mine’s a Martini.