Stay Here: Dukes Hotel, MayfairBy Angelica Malin
I feel like James Bond.
In truth, I feel like Vesper. But the feminist in me doesn’t want to admit that I’ve cast myself as a support role in the film – why can’t I be the gun-waving, bullet dodging, super slick spy? Why do I have to be the sexualised lady with the dark red lipstick and the look that could kill?
But I digress.
I feel like James Bond.
Dukes London will do that to you. The boutique Mayfair hotel has the quiet confidence and effortless cool of somewhere a spy would hang out. In fact, Ian Fleming frequented Dukes Bar and is said to have gained inspiration for the line ‘shaken, not stirred’ here. Their martini bar, with James Bond posters on the walls and the most fantastical, lethal cocktail menu you’ll find in London, pays homage to the nation’s favourite spy story. And, for one night only, it can be yours too. I say: sip a dirty martini at the bar and start your own fiction.
While many people know the hotel for its bar, there’s more to the hotel that just a mean Vesper Martini. The boutique hotel has a lot to offer the overnight bed hopper and we say it’s about time to look beyond the shiny rim of that martini glass, because it’s well worth an overnight stay at the hotel if you’re looking for a special treat.
The hotel only has a small number of rooms, which guarantees an excellent service and experience, and is unlike any other hotel in London I’ve stayed in. Here’s what you need to know:
Dukes Hotel: The Lowdown
The hotel was recently refurbished and opened its new rooms to the public in 2014. The world ‘hidden gem’ is banded around all too lightly; but with Dukes, I really mean that. Partly because you’d never spot the hotel – its tucked away in its own little square near Green Park, amongst the stunning residential property of the area – truly a home away from home.
There’s a sense of timeless about the place – you forget what day, month, even year, you’re in when staying there. Perhaps it’s the slick service and old fashioned glamour, but it’s clearly working – the hotel was voted England’s Leading Hotel 2014 in the European Travel Awards this year. They’re working to bring the hotel to a younger, foodie audience with Sunday brunch and afternoon tea – but truthfully, we like the traditional, time wharf feel of the classic hotel. In the words of Mark Darcy: just as you are.
Dukes Hotel: The Rooms
Each room has a homey, personal feel. The rooms range from the Dukes Room, which is the most basic room and comfortably fits 2 with a Queen Size bed, to the beautiful Luxury Room, which overlooks the courtyard and has a large double wardrobe, writing desk, flat screen TV, marble en-suite bathroom and its own sitting area. The bedrooms all have soft, inviting colour schemes, which makes the hotel a lovely Christmas destination.
The rooms are cosy, and yet proud, in their own way. If you’re looking for something truly special, the Duke of Clarence Penthouse is simply out of this world. The penthouse features an emperor bed (because king wasn’t enough) and has a dining table for four, a private balcony with views over Green Park, a large double bedroom and cloakroom. The suite is designed by Thomas Goode of Mayfair – and features an ever-changing collection of fine porcelain and china from their prestigious store. The suite has a private outdoor terrace which looks over Clarence House and Green Park, and features large screen TVs, handmade chocolates, airport transfers and a 24-butler service if you so desire. Ultimate luxury.
Dukes Hotel: The Food
Oh, the food.
The hotel has a great restaurant to enjoy during your stay. Thirty-Six by Nigel Mendham is, in fact, a culinary highlight of Mayfair and a destination itself; the restaurant’s been awarded three rosettes for culinary excellence. But that’s not really what you need to know. What you need to know is that the food is to die for.
You can read more about the menu here. There’s a two course lunch offer with coffee and treats for £25 per person or a three-course dinner with a glass of bubbly for £48 – read more here. The hotel is also offering Sunday brunch, which is a feast we must say – the brunch is £35 (expensive, but to be expected for the area) and includes selection of charcuterie, bread, viennoiseries, waffles baked at your table with a choice of garnish, “Make Your Own” Granola, smoked fish from H Forman as well as a main courses with salads and cheese. Plus champagne. Obviously.
Dukes Hotel: The Drinks
It would be a crime to not pay attention to their famous martini bar. The New York Times wrote that Dukes creates one of the best martinis in the world – and we tend to agree. The Vesper Martini is lethal, in all the right ways.
The bar’s head bartender Alessandro Palazzi is quite the showman – and has recently created Fleming 89, a martini which celebrates the link between Dukes Bar and James Bond. Created in partnership with London-based perfumery Floris, whose “89” Eau de Cologne was famously worn by James Bond, the flavour and smoothness of the martini are a sophisticated complement to the aroma of this quintessentially English gentleman’s fragrance. Amazing.
They also do a special cocktail of the month; this month it’s a White Truffle Martini, with white truffle from Alba in Italy, and takes 3 weeks to infuse. The recipe using Dry Vermouth, Chase English Potato Vodka and an cheese-stuffed olive, marinated in homemade truffle vodka. The kind of thing you, almost certainly, wouldn’t be able to make at home.
Dukes Hotel: The Verdict
Both contemporary and classic, this incredible hotel makes for a very special break. The hotel’s setting is truly magical – and somewhere you’re unlikely to stay at any other time – and the discreetness of the property makes you feel special to stay there. What the hotel lacks in facilities it makes up in charm, and we guarantee any weekend stay here will leave you refreshed, revived and ready to face your next mission.