Europe

The Dorchester, London’s Finest

written by | Posted on February 1st, 2010

On the British version of the popular board game, “Monopoly,” Park Lane is one of the most prestigious squares you can buy and if you can put a hotel on it you are pretty much set to win the game. So it’s no wonder, then, that in the real world, the venerable Dorchester hotel—positioned strategically on Park Lane, one of Central London’s noblest thoroughfares linking the landmarks of Marble Arch to the north and Hyde Park Corner to the south, and flanking the vast expanse of Hyde Park to the west and the swanky Mayfair district to the east—has remained a revered icon of British luxury hospitality for decades.

Since its opening in 1931, the Dorchester has been firmly committed to maintaining its place as one of the world’s truly great hotels. Opulent in decor and uncompromising in its level of guest service, over the decades it has been the London hotel of choice for a steady stream of celebrities, the jet set, world leaders, the Hollywood set and aristocrats. Fortunately, you don’t have to be any of the above to partake in this privileged vacation experience. Staff greet guests by name and are quick to assist with one’s every need in a professional, unhurried manner, in traditional British style.

Upon entering the hotel, guests are immediately greeted by the stunning Promenade, the heart of the hotel with its marbled columns, rich coral-colored silk draperies and gold framed mirrors. This sumptuous decor serves as a dramatic backdrop to spacious, high-backed gold brocatelle-upholstered, tufted divans; lush, olive green sofas; and intimate table seating, where the English institution of high tea is served daily.

to “dine” for Dining choices range from the traditional to the contemporary. Located just off The Promenade, The Grill has been a London favorite for many years, serving fine British cuisine (yes, British food can be excellent) amidst a Scottish-themed decor with deep-red plaid furnishings and highland murals reminiscent of a country estate. Whether guests are here for a full English breakfast, a multi-course lunch, or a lingering dinner, fine bone china is whisked about effortlessly by the discreet and attentive serving staff. For a more cutting-edge dining experience, guests can choose from the Michelin-starred Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester—featuring the celebrity chef’s tantalizing creations—or China Tang, the London outpost of David Tang’s Cantonese haute-cuisine empire (the duck is not to be missed).

Typical of the hotel’s success in balancing tradition with modern style is The Bar, a sleekly elegant and slightly retro oasis that evokes the glamour of the classic cocktail hour with a decadent cocktail and food menu offered under the watchful eye of long-time, award-winning bar manager Giuliano Morandin. Access is either from The Promenade or directly from Park Lane and the muted decor in blacks, browns and aubergine accentuate the sexy long, curved bar with textures in polished mahogany and glass.

beauty sleep Guestrooms, which are decorated in English country house style, number 196 with an additional 50 suites and four lavish rooftop suites. Here, no two rooms are alike. Rich textured wall coverings, heavy drapes and plush flower bed coverings create a warm comfortable ambiance. All rooms and suites have a custom-built entertainment, business and Internet system, as well as a waiter, maid and valet call system on hand. The rooms are very spacious and include expansive walk in closets that are somewhat of a rarity in older London hotels.

The oversized bathrooms feature Italian marble, etched glass and stylish lighting and decor that reflect the hotel’s original art deco style and also boast some of the deepest bathtubs we’ve ever seen, making a long, relaxing bath the perfect antidote to London’s unpredictable weather.

off to the spa If guests are looking for a more prolonged relaxation experience, they should head down to The Dorchester Spa, which reopened in May of last year after a major multimillion dollar redesign and refurbishment. The spa features nine treatment rooms including two double suites, a mani-pedi suite and a sumptuous and serene art deco relaxation room offering daybeds or winged armchairs in deep-blue. The style throughout is contemporary and bright, yet amazingly soothing.

Upon arrival, guests are ushered into a different world via a deep-blue passageway. There is no traditional reception desk but instead, a light and comfortable seating area with a backdrop of white-gold mirrored screens containing a design of reeds. The focal points are a beautiful chandelier made with 72,000 South Pacific white pearls and long, sweeping ivory drapes with general decor enhanced by rich textures and lustrous materials.