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The Dorchester –
It’s one of London’s most iconic hotels. Ask any local or
tourist to name a couple of the most famous hotels in London and the
Dorchester is liable to be one of those mentioned. It’s been around for
a while, since 1931, so it deserves the accolade of Classic with all
the positive connotations that word affords.
During the Second World War, the strength of the Dorchester’s concrete
construction gave the hotel the reputation of being one the safest
buildings in town. Winston Churchill stayed in the hotel, and General
Dwight D. Eisenhower took a suite on the first floor, now the
The hotel closed for a couple of years in the 1980s. Some areas were
showing their age and it needed an injection of technology and amenity.
The Dorchester has, however, maintained some public areas that offer
that opulence of another age, sporting characteristics that we all
crave but which are so often lost with unsympathetic refits.
Its location has, no doubt, helped with its prestigious reputation.
It’s found on Park Lane in Mayfair, overlooking Hyde Park. Not a bad
address, but every hotelier knows that guests will not return if the
interior doesn’t match the location, and if service and customer care
fall short. There is plenty of competition out there but The Dorchester
has maintained its creditable position.
The imposing facade is softened by thoughtful planting, presenting the
guest with a veritable cascade of flower and foliage, but the real
Dorchester treasures are found the other side of the revolving doors
with polished brass trim. It’s the striking Promenade which, for me at
least, is the epitome of timeless charm.
The Promenade is a comfy space, a vision of old gold and architectural
features that transport one back to a genteel era when potted palms
were the norm and one had plenty of staff to polish the silver, and the
butler wore a morning suit.
OK, so not many of us have maids and footmen but we can borrow a little
of the Dorchester’s luxury every time we visit. It’s a big and
sumptuous hotel but it’s not intimidating. Every guest is made to feel
at home – like they belong and most importantly, like they are
It was an early morning treat for us – breakfast at a cosy side table
in the Promenade. Crisp linen, gleaming cutlery as one would expect,
and a stand that would soon be garnished with a plate of croissants,
pains au chocolat, Danish pastries and muffins. All of these are made
at the Dorchester so you’ll know they are fresh. Small dainties with
amber shine. Almost too good to eat... almost.
The Dorchester Bacon Buttie was reassuring and intriguing. It would
seem an oxymoron: one of the smartest hotels in London offering
butties. Well, yes indeed and it was, just as one would hope, a
memorable creation with sweet cured bacon, belly pork and a fried egg
served on focaccia. In truth this was such a tower of food that the top
segment of bread was presented leaning on the side of the sandwich.
This wasn’t a light breakfast option but it was somewhat more
interesting than the traditional British breakfast which, although a
favourite, can be had almost everywhere.
The belly pork was a delicious departure from a regular breakfast
sandwich. It was sweet, flavourful and with the correct and
comforting ratio of meat to creamy fat. That fat is key to the success
of the dish. The condiments were, however, traditional: tomato ketchup
and brown sauce. Diners will have a strongly-held preference for one or
the other and that’s as it should be, but anyway I think there is a law
against smearing both; if there isn’t there should be.
The Dorchester does have a breakfast menu of healthy Bircher muesli,
cereals or fruit salad for those who treat their bodies like temples –
although I did notice a miniature jar of very adult chocolate spread to
help down the healthy five-seeded wholemeal bread. Wholemeal toast and
carrot and courgette muffins might well be my choice on a
Tea is an essential part of any English breakfast and we enjoyed a pot
or two of the speciality teas from Harney and Sons, including The
Dorchester Blend, a light and refreshing brew that was a delicate foil
for the richness of both bacon and pork, and the sticky moreishness of
those little pastries.
The Dorchester will not disappoint. It’s been the regular
home-from-home for many a celebrity and fatigued businessman, and
increasingly for those of us who just periodically like to indulge in
the finer things in life. It’s not the cheapest of hotels but it
remains the spot that offers predictable quality and a particular
ambiance that is hard to replicate – the place for an accessible and
memorable treat at any time of the day.
Park Lane, London W1K 1QA
Phone: 020 7629 8888
Reservations: 020 7317 6500
Fax: 020 7629 8080
Visit the Dorchester here