The approach to Dukes is both understated and impressive in the same breath – nestling as it does in a beautiful courtyard not far from the hubbub of St James’s, yet far enough to make it seem secluded. It’s not a shouty entrance (after all, there is very limited passing trade to shout to), but the image of walking round the corner to see the entrance will stay in the memory for quite some time. Definitely a moment to savour.
Our little one, Lucy, however, had other ideas; bolting for the door as she did with a sort of giddy excitement. A stay in a top London hotel for a weekend city break clearly being too much of a release from our rural norm in Cornwall.
The impact of our arrival continued into the reception area – the welcome was warm and genuine, though I was dismayed that our little one received a little more attention than we did, but then Lucy is a sprightly, doey-eyed two-year old. A suitably befloralled lobby proved a typically classy start from one of Mayfair’s finest, as one would expect, though at least one of our group was less interested on the decor, focusing her attention on where the next biscuit might come from.
Curious as to who might discover this St James’s hideaway we set about exploring the hotel and came upon the day room, complete with tented cigar terrace outside, and it revealed disparate and cross-generational groups of ladies both with different takes on the ritual treat of the afternoon tea – one tribe in their finery, the other in yoga pants. Clearly, all are welcome at Dukes.
Our room for the night was immaculately traditional, but of particular note was the bed large enough to span two postcodes. Generously-sized for two grown adults, but proportionally still smaller than the bed provided for Lucy, Dukes clearly know who they’re out to impress. Most notably, the flowers for our arrival were certainly a nice touch, but not a patch on the hamper of goodies left for Lucy topped off with her very own ‘Dukesy’ (a small dachshund toy, named after the hotel’s mascot).
After a gloriously sunny walk through the royal parks to tire the youngster out, we returned to the hotel to prepare for a meal at the hotel’s newly refurbished restaurant – GBR. Previously known as Thirty Six, the decor is totally changed from its former existence though we’re told the menu, wine list and ethos is reassuringly familiar.
The very attentive staff made it their mission for the evening to make sure we were looked after at every turn. While we were locked in indecision over our starters – eventually opting for asparagus and beetroot respectively – Lucy had no such concerns over her choice of supper, one of a selection provided in her goodie bag (and certainly something she wouldn’t have enjoyed at home). With the new season lamb we enjoyed with some delicately smoked aubergine and wild garlic, collectively our meal was a joy, proving that GBR is, indeed, a Great British Restaurant.
Our fellow diners were a cosmopolitan crowd, some quite obviously enjoying date night whilst others using GBR as a starting point for an evening out catching up with friends. This variety of clientele is one of the things that is most evident at Dukes – from the afternoon takers of tea, and the diners surrounding us in the restaurant, right through to those who we found in the cocktail bar after our meal; the spectrum of customers is wide at Dukes.
Guest satisfaction is clearly uppermost in the staff’s mind – any request was dealt with quickly and appropriately – but that satisfaction is not limited to within the beautiful confines of the hotel itself. Every room is kitted out with a data-connected mobile for guests to use whilst out and about around the city. Such a simple innovation, yet such a game-changer when it comes to making the most of a new city during a short break.
Whilst clearly being of its time with such high-tech touches, Dukes also present constant nods to the traditional past of the hotel, with the artworks, uniforms, decor, not to mention the daily weather report printed and left in the room for guests. Who needs an app when you have such attentive hotel husbandry?
And it’s that husbandry that’s quite unique. It’s often difficult to find hotels of a certain quality which can cater for particularly discerning little ones, especially in the capital; so for somewhere of the excellence of Dukes to show such a warm welcome to Lucy was above and beyond any expectations.
Particularly since Lucy is our two-year old Bichon Frise puppy.
Nightly rates at DUKES LONDON in a DUKES room start from £311 inclusive of VAT and breakfast, with complimentary upgrade to next room category. Visit www.dukeshotel.com or call 020 7491 4840.
Dukes’ dog services are available from only £25.00 per night per dog, with additional options available on request.