Dukes Hotel in London has always been one of those well-kept secrets that the super-posh never like to spill. Sequestered in a private enclave behind some tony old buildings in Mayfair, it feels very much like one of those old gentleman’s clubs where the landed gentry would go to drink expensive whiskeys and read the London Times. The staff were amazing and the bartender always knew your name and what type of martini you preferred.
As managed under Gordon Campbell Gray, the uber-aesthete who created the spectacular boutique icon hotel, One Aldwych, Dukes finally got some of the accolades it deserved for amazing bespoke service and original vodka tonics in a bar that inspired James Bond author Ian Fleming (also a fan).
Currently under new management, the hotel’s suites have been undergoing a design upgrade via London-based interior designer Shaun Clarkson (Atlantic Bar & Grill, Jerusalem, Denim, Pop, Bartok). Clarkson’s palate is soft, muted and beige-friendly with an emphasis on clean lines and functionality. Fans of the old Dukes might miss some of the Miss Marple-like chintz but we think the understated reno keeps to the spirit of a great small hotel that is legendary in its hushed circles.
Also on the boards is a new restaurant, Thirty-Six, opening in September and helmed by Michelin-starred chef, Nigel Mendham (The Samling and Lygon Arms Hotels). The fare will be “modern British” and much like the recent royal wedding, it will be positioned to appeal to lovers of tradition as well as trendsters. Anglophiles, pack your “fascinators” and check out the summer suite sales.