Sip a martini at the Dukes London hotel, and you might just craft a character that inspires a series of spy novels. This was the case for Ian Fleming, the World War II naval intelligence officer responsible for creating James Bond. The author gallivanted the streets of London and rendezvoused with friends often near St. James’s, a royal area by Buckingham Palace.
Celebrating its 110th anniversary, the elegant Dukes London first opened its doors in 1908 as a hotel for dukes and aristocracy. Quintessentially British, this luxurious boutique hotel, with plush sofas and stately furnishings, surprisingly suggests a feel-at-home atmosphere. Known as an exclusive retreat for writers, musicians, politicians and royalty, nestled in the heart of historic St. James Mayfair, it’s surrounded by royal appointments: Royal Hatter, Royal Perfumer and Clarence House, the official residence of Prince Charles. A favorite of both the late Queen Mother and Diana, Princess of Wales, the hotel’s emphasis on tradition and royal connection is extremely popular.
Guests revel in the Dukes’ five-star personalized service. There is a variety of rooms to choose from, including suites, junior suites and a penthouse. A favorite is The Duchess, designed to appeal to women, with makeup mirrors, fabulous Floris London products and a fresh flower bouquet. All rooms are provided with a Handy smartphone, which acts as a city guide and allows international calls—a nice touch.
The Dukes restaurant, GBR (Great British Restaurant), is an all-day dining experience. Norfolk-born Executive Head Chef Nigel Mendham oversees menus that feature traditional British dishes with contemporary twists such as Yorkshire venison with bubble and squeak, or Isle of Gigha halibut. Weekend brunches are a must with free-flowing bubbles every Saturday and Sunday.
The hotel is enveloped with a sense of English sophistication and discreet elegance, which carries into the famous Dukes Bar. An autographed image of 007—the Sean Connery Bond—greets entrants. Master Bartender Alessandro Palazzi concocts spy-themed cocktails, like the Miss Moneypenny, to classics, like a Sazerac. Or, for an enhanced British teatime tradition, he pours the Dukes MarTEAni Afternoon Tea, comprised of three meticulously crafted mini martinis.
Sips bring on thoughts of heroes, villains and glamorous girls, danger hidden around every corner and adrenaline rushes at the ready. Cheers to Fleming’s vivacity—and James, of course.
– Fly on Norwegian Air with non-stop service from Fort Lauderdale to London and other European cities. The airline’s premium cabins and service are impeccable—better than business; norwegian.com.
– Visit Floris, the perfumer instituted in 1730 and given royal appointment by King George IV. This fragrance maker has been a famous favorite for celebs throughout the centuries—think Florence Nightingale, Winston Churchill, Marilyn Monroe and Princess Diana; florislondon.com.
– Royally appointed by her majesty, the royal hatter, Lock & Co., has been supplying all manner of headgear to the great and the good since 1676. Oscar Wilde, Charlie Chaplin and, of course, all the royals shop in this classic 17th-century townhouse; lockhatters.co.uk.
– Check out Dukes London’s holiday specials, from tantalizing cuisine to “festive themed tipples;” dukeshotel.com.