Dukes Hotel is found unobtrusively tucked away in one of London’s most prestigious neighbourhoods. The stunning building graces a quiet corner of St. James’s and is a stone’s throw away from Clarence House. In fact the site can trace its history back to 1532, and around the 1660s the courtyard in front of today’s Dukes Hotel was occupied by Barbara Villiers, the Duchess of Cleveland, one of the mistresses of King Charles II. She bore the King three sons, who were all dukes. I don’t know if that’s where the hotel got its name from, but it’s a nice notion.
The courtyard was known as Cleveland Court and the two buildings within formed a small hostelry. These were demolished in 1885 and replaced with the present building, which originally housed London lodgings for the sons of Britain’s nobility, until it became Dukes Hotel in 1908.
The hotel is thriving today and can boast an illustrious past, with such worthies as Sir Edward Elgar (composer of Pomp and Circumstance Marches) who always stayed at Dukes when in London. Also Ian Fleming was a frequent visitor to the celebrated Dukes Bar. It’s rumoured that it’s that very bar which gave him the inspiration for the famous James Bond Martini: “shaken, not stirred.” There will be more about that iconic bar in a future article here.
2011 marks the 200th anniversary of the House of Champagne Perrier-Jouët. Dukes Hotel has marked this occasion by opening its own Perrier-Jouët Lounge. This intimate yet striking space is located next to the dining room and is the perfect venue for a pre-dinner glass of champagne, or just for a very smart but accessible glass of fizz at any time.
Perrier-Jouët is a respected Champagne producer based in the Épernay region of France. The company was founded in 1811 by Pierre-Nicolas-Marie Perrier-Jouët. They produce approximately 3,000,000 bottles of vintage and non-vintage cuvée annually and their prestige label is called Belle Époque.The style of that era was christened Art Nouveau with its floral and organic motifs.
The Perrier-Jouët Lounge serves a full range of Champagnes including the classic Belle Époque, Belle Époque Rosé and the rare Belle Époque Blanc de Blanc. The house champagne is Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut NV which is available by the glass. There is a selection of five Champagne cocktails including ‘The Dukes Classic’; and ‘The Flower of Champagne’ with rose vodka and Lillet, garnished with a rose petal. I can highly recommend this delicate cocktail. Perhaps it’s one for the ladies as it has a distinct flowery note, reminiscent of Turkish Delight.
The lounge has been designed by Shaun Clarkson and boasts a stunning hand-stitched carpet featuring the Perrier-Jouët emblem of anemone; a symbol which also embellishes the bottle of its prestige Belle Époque Champagne.
The walls are contemporary in tones of gold, champagne and muted green. There is a metallic sheen which reflects light from the1940’s glass chandelier. A wall of gilt-framed, bevelled-glass mirrors adds to the drama. Modern, vintage and antique elements are married perfectly in this space.
The furniture is bold. The sofas are a modern take on a Chesterfield …but the longest Chesterfield you have ever seen. The upholstery is a vibrant green with surprising fuchsia accents from a scattering of cushions. The daring colour combination continues even to the glassware: a swag of green foliage and pink blossom decorates each champagne flute. A few other comfy and classic chairs provide cosy seating for couples.
Dukes Hotel truly is a hidden treasure. It’s so high-end that it has Caviar House as its corner shop, yet it contrives to be a warm, friendly and discreet venue for stays in London, as well as providing delicious food for visitors (more on the restaurant in future articles). The Perrier-Jouët Lounge is an excellent addition to Dukes’ battery of facilities.
St. James’s Place, London SW1A 1NY
Phone: +44 (0)20 7491 4840
Fax: +44 (0)20 7493 1264
Visit Dukes Hotel here
Hotel and Bar review by Chrissie Walker © 2018