The Dorchester is a national treasure. Since it first opened its doors to society’s elite in 1931, it has redefined luxury and hospitality.
For over 80 years, it has carved out a stellar reputation as one of the most prestigious hotels in the world. The Dorchester is postcard perfect, an amalgamation of British icons, from it’s legendary Grade II listed facade to its sweeping views over the treetops of Hyde Park to the amalgamation of shiny black taxis and ruby-red double-decker buses that glide along Park Lane.
This art-deco gem has a rich illustrious history running through it’s gilt veins. The iconic gold revolving doors have welcomed some of the world’s most celebrated figures, from past to present; from Michael Jackson, Frank Sinatra and Winston Churchill to more recently, Lady Gaga, Harry Styles and Jennifer Lopez.
The Dorchester is home to more stars than the milky way, among them star-crossed lovers from show businesses greatest, most effervescent romances, from the legendary Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor who lovingly coined The Dorchester their second home to more tragically Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston apparently broke up at the hotel.
History has been made within these ornate walls and if they could talk, oh the secrets they could spill. During the second world war, The Dorchester was used as a base for several people of note, such as America’s General Eisenhower. The hotel’s construction from reinforced concrete lead it to be considered one of the safest buildings in the city. The war didn’t stop the upper echelons of society from sipping champagne and swing dancing until dawn, the restaurants were moved into the ballroom to avoid the possibility of the soup being sprinkled with broken glass, should a bomb hit the hotel.
For many, Prince Philip’s marriage to the Queen in 1947 remains one of the most widely documented and highly anticipated events in history. He chose to celebrate at The Dorchester, where he held his official stag do before his wedding to Queen Elizabeth, who was also spotted dining at the hotel the day their engagement was announced.
Stars are drawn to The Dorchester like moths to a flame because of its discretion and perfect service. It runs as smoothly as the perfectly valet-parked white Rolls-Royce Phantoms and Lamborghini Aventadors that glisten like a row of exquisite pearls outside. From the welcoming doormen in their snow-white gloves, green heavily gold braided jackets and top hats to the team of extraordinarily efficient butler’s, especially Emmanuel Okang that perform miracles with a discreet nod and a smile, it is the dedicated staff at The Dorchester that are the real stars of the show.
The requests from celebrities are the stuff of legend but they are no match for the experienced team at The Dorchester that will work their magic to ensure you have a perfect stay. When Britney Spears wants her suite stocked with 100 Marilyn Monroe DVD’s, she will find them perfectly arranged in her bookcase upon arrival and if Jennifer Lopez turns up with 66 suitcases and a preference for freshly-cut white roses and Jo Malone candles, suitable stowage will be found and her suite will be filled with vases of roses and heady with the scent of Jo Malone’s Grapefruit candles.
The Dorchester is home to over 250 rooms and suites that rise to the ninth floor, 115 boast a view of Hyde Park. When the rooms were built in the 1930s, they were individually soundproofed by lining the floors and ceilings with compressed seaweed and the exterior walls were lined in cork, which are still in place today although double and triple glazing has been added to ensure a soundless slumber.
Many of the suites are named after its most famous guests, from The Eisenhower suite an ode to General Eisenhower to The Harlequin Penthouse which boasts an iconic pink marble bathroom which was installed for none other than Elizabeth Taylor.
A personal favourite is The Belgravia suite, named after one of London’s most exclusive neighbourhoods, it echoes Belgravia’s local reputation as the ‘city of palaces’. It is decorated in opulent traditional English Residential-style interiors, with rich wood panelling, an elegant fireplace and an exquisite Italian marble bathroom, which boasts London’s deepest bathtub that fills in seconds and comes complete with a white rubber ducky ‘hatched’ at The Dorchester.
The suite has a designated Butler, that will cater to your every whim with grace. Upon arrival, he or she will arrive with greet you in your suite with pretty pastries under a glass cloche and a round of The Dorchester’s signature cocktails ‘Her Majesty’s Cup’. It is an homage to Her Majesty on her Diamond Jubilee and features Earl Grey infused berries, rhubarb and Hendrick’s gin, crowned with champagne and served in a delicate floral tea cup on a silver tray, naturally.
Make good use of the pillow menu, which offers more choices than you ever considered, from the Spelt lavender pillow, which offers additional support to the neck and shoulders whilst the aromatic lavender-infusion lulls you to sleep to the Anti-ageing tempur pillow, infused with vitamin E.
In my humble opinion, breakfast must be enjoyed in the sun-soaked suite, wrap yourself in the fluffy signature white robe and slip on the cloud-like slippers and sip The Dorchester’s signature Breakfast Blend tea in a china cup. Marvel at the glorious spread of fresh pastries piled on a silver platter, grilled New York sirloin steak with hash browns and two free-range fried eggs and the exotic fruit plate, a real work of art, studded with star fruit, kumquats and blood oranges.
No matter which room or suite you opt for, with a grand private residence behind every door, you’re home, even if it just for a night.
The Dorchester is also famed for its spectacular eateries, including, The Promenade, The Bar, China Tang and three Michelin star Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester. At the heart of this is The Grill, which has been the home of culinary greats and the meeting place of world business leaders and royalty for over 80 years.
A spectacular chandelier, with arms like molten amber, hangs delicately from the ceiling, casting a golden glow on the mirrored panels with intricate gilt borders that adorn the walls. The low-lit room boasts all the glamour of the roaring twenties. You can almost picture F. Scott Fitzgerald clutching his signature Gin Rickey as a gaggle of beautiful and mischievous flappers, dance around him, leaving nothing but the blur of tassels in their wake.
The Grill’s menu is a celebration of traditional British food, made from the freshest, finest ingredients and served with beauty and precision. The champagne is delightfully chilled, the soup is piping hot and the ice-cream is perfectly cold, not even close to melting.
Start with creamy parsnip soup with shaved black truffle and toasted brioche, followed by roasted breast of corn-fed chicken with potato gratin and seasonal vegetables. The crowning glory is one of The Dorchester’s signature dishes, the world-famous selections of souffle, a personal favourite is the almond and praline souffle with vanilla ice-cream.
It is no surprise that The Dorchester is still going strong after over 80 years of extraordinary service. The staff have turned hospitality into a fine art, the food is glorious and the setting is decadent and bursting with English charm. It has kept the sense of unrivalled elegance and glamour from the past whilst moving forward effortlessly with modern times.
The Dorchester signifies all that once was and is still great about England. She is the Queen of luxury London hotels; long may she reign.
53 Park Lane, Mayfair, London, W1K 1QA