In January I took a long weekend away from work and stayed at DUKES Hotel in London. I don't normally stay in 5-star luxury hotels, but I was in London during the off-season and got such a good deal on the room that I had to take it. When I'm offered a luxury hotel at 2-star hotel prices, I snatch it up quick.
DUKES Hotel is a member of Small Luxury Hotels and sits in a historic building in the heart of St. James's. It's just around the corner from fine dining and famous upscale shops. It's a very posh neighborhood, but I love it. The best part about staying in the St. James's/Mayfair area of London, is that you're in the middle of everything.
It's less than a 5 minute walk to Buckingham Palace and St. James's Park. And a 10 minute walk to Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus. Plus it's close to major tube stops and bus routes that can quickly take you anywhere in the city.
I arrived at Victoria Station from Gatwick and decided to walk the rest of the way to the hotel. It was about a mile walk in the cold rain and my body was exhausted, but I wasn't going to let that stop me. I was done with trains. I needed to feel the buzz of the city again.
My walk took me past Buckingham Palace and through Green Park. I said "what up" to my girl, the Queen, and somehow ended up strolling through the park with one of her guards. He followed alongside me for so long that I was convinced he was showing me to my hotel. We made our way down a secluded path and ended up on Little St. James's Street. The guard disappeared down a private drive and left me to fend for myself. Thanks for nothing.
The entrance to DUKES Hotel was a bit difficult to find, but after a few wrong turns, I spotted it down an alley off of St. James's Place. You can understand my confusion when the directions say to turn left onto St. James's Street from Little St. James's Street and then make a left on St. James's Place and then another left onto St. James's Place... Ummm, what?
After my long stroll in the cold ass rain, I found myself in a beautiful, historic building. I was on hour 28 of no sleep and looked like absolute roadkill. I stood out like a sore thumb in this lobby. I may have got some stares from the rich old white people staying at the hotel, but the guy at the front desk treated me like I was Michelle Obama. I so badly needed that. He let me check in hours early (probably out of pity) and even took me on a tour of the hotel. Thank you adorable Italian man for making me feel loved.
As soon as I was dropped off at my room, another man came around with coffee and stocked my fridge with free water. I wanted to kiss him. I must have looked like I needed it. He wasn't wrong.
I had my own espresso machine in the room, so I popped in a couple pods. I needed caffeine if I was going to make it through this day.
As my coffee was brewing, I stripped out of my soaked clothes and threw on a DUKES robe and some sexy hotel slippers. The room had a couch and a coffee table stacked with newspapers and magazines for lounging, but the bed was calling me name. And what a heavily bed it was.
I remembered then and there why I don't stay at luxury hotels... It's because I never want to leave them.
As I sipped on coffee, I scoped out what else the room had to offer. There was a heated towel rack, great toiletries, an interactive TV, and even an international iPhone! That was free to use! More hotels should do that. Still, I didn't call my mom.
I thought about taking a nap, but I knew if I fell asleep I wouldn't wake up until nightfall, and I'd miss the whole day. So I got into some dry clothes and headed back out into the city.
As I was walking out of the hotel, the guy at the front desk asked where my umbrella was. I told him I was an idiot and forgot it at home. (Who forgets to pack an umbrella for London?!) Luckily the hotel had big, beautiful umbrellas and he handed one over to me. I promised to return it at the end of the day. I felt like we had become best friends.
When I arrived back at the hotel that evening, I found my bed had been turned down, the curtains had been drawn, and there were chocolate treats waiting for me on the desk. They even brought up more water and set out a card with the next day's weather. I loved them. I was never going to leave them.
Let's go back to these pastry cookie things they leave in the room - they're like heavenly chocolate pillows. Little clouds of nutty brownie goodness. I crave them all of the time now. I have no idea what was in them and I still don't care. I looked forward to getting them every night. I was just happy I didn't have to share them with anyone else.
After I dropped my bag off and stuffed my face with delicious treats, I made my way downstairs to the bar for a nightcap.
One of the things that I was most excited about when I booked my room, was the easy access to the legendary bar downstairs. DUKES Bar is renowned for their martinis, especially the Vesper. If you don't know what a Vesper Martini is, then you've clearly never watched James Bond. The famous Vesper Martini was supposedly developed by Ian Fleming as he sat in DUKES Bar and wrote the first few James Bond novels.
Getting a martini in one of the world's best martini bars is definitely expensive, but it's an experience I couldn't pass up. So I ordered a Vesper in the place where it was born and decided to eat my weight in free snacks.
While I was stuffing olives and crackers into my mouth, the server strolled over with a cart topped with bottles of extremely chilled spirits and accompaniments and started making my drink right in front of the table. He was so fast that I couldn't even capture the moment.
It was honestly the best martini I've ever had. It was also the most expensive martini I've ever had. I wanted to chug it and get another because it was so good, but I didn't have another $30 to spare. So I sipped that bad boy for over an 1 hour and made friends with the neighboring table.
Thankfully, since I only had one martini, I didn't wake up with hangover and I managed to make breakfast. Breakfast was included in my stay, but I had no idea what to expect. When I got to GBR (Great British Restaurant) downstairs, I was greeted by several kind servers that spoiled me.
There was a menu to order from for breakfast, but they said I could get as much as I wanted from it. I told my server I just wanted Eggs Royale and a tea, but he decided I needed more. So he brought me a whole pot of tea, fresh squeezed orange juice, a bowl of fruit salad, and a basket of mixed toast for a "starter." Once I was successfully in a food coma after my entree, he brought out a double espresso for a pick me up. He was going to be the death of me on this trip.
The menu had plenty of great healthy and fatty options for vegetarians, pescatarians, and carnivores. I made my way through the vegetarian and pescatarian options during my stay and they were all delicious.
DUKES Hotel also offers a traditional afternoon tea in their Drawing Room and Conservatory, but I didn't get the chance to try it out. Plus I figured I should do some things outside of the hotel while I was halfway across the world.
It was a very quick, but memorable trip. London is one of my favorite cities and DUKES only helped solidify why. The hotel is filled with history, charm, and an amazing staff. It's hidden gems like these that keep me coming back to London for more.
DUKES may be pricey, but if you're looking for a small luxury hotel, or if you're traveling off-season and find a good deal on a room, I highly recommend staying there.
(This post is not sponsored.)