St James's

By Robyn Rosen, October 26, 2010
A guest room at Dukes Hotel

A guest room at Dukes Hotel

This bijoux hotel, located in a quiet courtyard, has been given a lobby-to-loft boutique makeover by new owners, Campbell Grey. Close to St James's Palace and Piccadilly, and many of the capital's other attractions, the hotel was built in 1908.

Following refurbish-ment and renovation, and hidden behind a facade festooned with floral hanging baskets, it fields 90 rooms and suites, 24-hour gym, treatment and steam rooms and restaurant.

It is also home to a cigar garden and to Dukes Bar. The latter not only offers cocktails, vintage cognac, rare malts and martinis (mixed at your table and served in tall, properly chilled glasses with shiny olives), but is where Ian Fleming was inspired to coin James Bond's immortal line: a request for his martini to be "shaken not stirred".

The bedrooms are immaculately clean and decorated in low-key traditional style, with big comfy bed, pastel sofa, rosewood desk and traditional prints. A large, black-tiled bathroom held smart, Ren products.

The restaurant, which serves modern British food, is like many hotel restaurants: pricey and lacking atmosphere, but the menu offered a good choice of fish and vegetarian options, including pan-fried sea bream, poached smoked haddock and a leek risotto.

Breakfast is a la carte, with juices, fruit, breads, pastries, eggs and porridge, served by what appeared to be a fleet of butlers.

Where it beats many London hotels is in offering Dukes Juniors, a family package with children's concierge service, kids' menu and Playstations.

RATES: from £189
TEL: 020 7318 6585

Last updated: 1:06pm, October 26 2010