Throughout our hidden gems of the world series we take a look at some of the lesser talked about or possibly overshadowed places across the globe that may get overlooked for larger or more famous neighbours.
Here, we take a look at Dukes London, the five-star hotel in Mayfair famed for its bar and, more specifically, its martini. Though not overlooked in terms of its distinguished reputation, this hotel makes it onto our hidden gems list because of its rather hidden location. Not glaringly obvious with a spectacular frontage on a main street, this gem is tucked away on the streets of St James’s – you wouldn’t find it unless you knew where to look, and that, most certainly, adds to its appeal.
Seemingly in its own little world down a side street, the hotel occupies its own space making you feel ensconced the moment you appear outside the front door. The historic building in which Dukes resides boasts a red brick exterior with topiary behind wrought iron railings creating a rather pretty welcome. Once inside you see that tradition carries through in the décor with soft blue interiors complemented with dark wood and a wood panelled reception desk. There are no high-tech key cards to wave at your door, you are handed just a door key and branded keyring from the elegant wood cabinet behind reception. The original lift with wood panelled walls, a little bench and scissor gate door takes you to your suite and along the way you will spot artworks on the walls alongside pretty floral displays.
This is certainly a place where tradition meets sophistication, which is evident in the decor, public spaces, services and the various rooms and suites. Enjoy a quintessential afternoon tea in the light, airy and ever-so elegant drawing room with traditional, Champagne, marTEAni, vegan and children’s options or head out to the secluded cognac and cigar garden. Perhaps you’d like a picnic in the park to be arranged (the hotel is nestled quite neatly between Green Park and St James’s Park) or you’re simply dying to sip one of the famous martinis in the notorious Dukes Bar.
Your pooch needn’t feel left out either with special services such as dog-walking and sitting, gourmet meals, grooming services and a turndown treat available to ensure your four-legged friend enjoys the five-star treatment too.
Expect a classically decorated living space in a suite such as the Duke of Albany’s, which boasts a spacious bedroom and separate living area decorated simply with pale walls, dark wood furniture and red or beige fabrics. The layout of the suite is favourable with a corridor leading to the lounge, with an ever-coveted Central London balcony, dining table, red sofas, desk and mini bar, to one side and the bedroom through another door. The bedroom holds a large comfy bed with a dressing table in a window alcove and a chest of drawers and wardrobe in its own space which leads you through to the marble bathroom. Expect extra comforts such as a bath pillow, a turndown service and eco-friendly toiletries.
Head to GBR for all-day dining in the modern basement restaurant where chef Nigel Mendham has created a selection of delectable dishes with a focus on bringing the best out of seasonal ingredients. Expect to find typical British classics on the menu such as beer battered haddock, chips and minted peas alongside a tasty haggis scotch egg, which is served with Bramley apple and whiskey sauce or Cumbrian lamb cutlets with a slow cooked shoulder shepherd’s pie and Hispi cabbage. Two-course Sunday brunches can be turned into a bottomless bubbly brunch and there’s an all-day market menu with treats including English burrata with roasted onion squash, sage and toasted pumpkin seeds or lemon meringue pie. Yum.
Breakfast consists of a gorgeous selection of baked goods, fruit pots, cooked delights, cured meats and cheese. Items from the kitchen include smashed avocado with poached egg and slow roasted tomato on toasted rye sourdough, corned beef with poached duck egg and sautéed potatoes, and omelette Arnold Bennett.
The restaurant décor reflects an opulent brasserie feel with rich blues and beige fabric chairs and banquette seating atop a wood floor with elegant black marble topped tables with gold accents and a striking aged mirror ceiling and wall, which effectively enlarges the classy surroundings. There’s also a bar to seat seven in the space and a private dining room for 12.
In a nutshell
It’s the thoughtful touches and the wonderful hospitality that makes a stay at Dukes so memorable. Pair this with an expedient location, comfortable rooms and a sophisticated style and there’s no doubt you’ll want to return again and again.
Address: 35 St. James’s Place London SW1A 1NY
Phone: +44 (0)207 491 4840