Everything you need to know for visiting and staying in London for the Royal Wedding

Afternoon tea at DUKES Hotel, LondonExpected to be one of the most momentous occasions of the year, Prince Harry is set to marry Meghan Markle this summer. Having been in a relationship since 2016, the wedding marks a particularly interesting point in British Royal Family history, as back in 1936, Prince Harry’s great-great uncle, King Edward VIII, also married a divorced American – but for the pleasure of doing so, he had to abdicate the throne.

Whilst Prince Harry is not yet king, the wedding shows the change in views the Family has, taking a more modern approach that some may not have expected but which is undoubtedly seen as a positive across the board.

And with people from all around the world wanting to share in Prince Harry’s and Meghan’s big day, if you’re joining us in London for the day of the wedding, a little planning can go a long way to making sure you have a truly fantastic time.

When is the wedding?

The official date of the wedding is Saturday 19th May 2018, having been announced via Twitter on Friday 15th December 2017.

Interestingly, this breaks from tradition once again, as whilst there have been some notable exceptions, most Royal weddings are usually held on a weekday.

Whilst this does mean there won’t be an official Bank Holiday, a weekend is great for many people wishing to visit London for the wedding. However, that weekend is going to be a popular one regardless – the FA Cup Final is scheduled for the same day!

With that said, it is important to keep in mind that London really is likely to be a lot busier than normal, so do give yourself enough time in all respects.

From booking your hotel before you even get here through to setting off earlier than you thought you might need (particularly if you’re taking the Tube – you may not get the first one that arrives at the station), the day of the Royal Wedding and FA Cup Final is going to be a busy one, so be sure to plan your journeys in particular (whether that’s on foot, by car or public transport) beforehand.

Where is it taking place?

The wedding ceremony itself is taking place in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle at 2pm, about 25 miles outside of London’s city centre. Expecting in the region of 600 guests (according to Kensington Palace), it’s relatively small in comparison to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding, who wed in front of nearly 2,000 people in 2011.

After the ceremony, the couple will journey through Windsor before returning along the Long Walk to Windsor Castle. With the reception taking place in St George’s Hall, Prince Charles will later host a private evening reception for the couple’s close friends and family.

Whilst the wedding is taking place in Windsor, given it’s only a relatively small town, so many are staying in London itself. Accommodation is much more readily available in general in London, but we’d definitely recommend you heed our advice above regarding giving yourself enough time here – although you may be able to book a hotel hours before you stay normally, over the weekend of the Royal Wedding, it’s anticipated most hotels in and around London will have limited availability. Book quickly!

What celebrations are taking place?

The primary celebrations for the wedding are without doubt going to be in Windsor itself. Big screens are planned to be erected on the Long Walk and in Alexandra Gardens, allowing for the anticipated tens of thousands of people to watch the wedding live. Food and drink will be available right throughout the outdoors of Windsor, and it’s undoubtedly going to be a brilliant atmosphere for the entire day.

However, Windsor itself isn’t a huge location. 6,000 car parking spaces are able to be pre-booked (but are quickly filling up) and extra trains are being made available to transfer people to and from the wedding location from all across the south.

But one of the great things about Royal events in the UK is wherever you are, we’re almost certain you’ll be able to find a celebration to join in with. Venues will be showing the wedding live. Outdoor parties will be in full swing. There’s talk of opening times for bars and restaurants to be extended, too.

Simply put, whether you’re in Windsor or not you’ll be able to join in with the wedding festivities and thoroughly enjoy the day.

Staying in London for the Royal wedding

Our location in London is one of our favourite aspects of DUKES (and as Travelmag pointed out, we’ve been here since 1908!). Within walking distance to so many fantastic attractions, it’s particularly beneficial if you’re planning on heading into Windsor on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s big day – we’re a short walk to Green Park tube station, from which you can travel directly to Victoria and jump on trains right throughout the day to Windsor & Eton station (itself just a short walk from Windsor Castle).

What’s more, for use over the coming weeks we’ve put together an exclusive ‘Royal Escape’ package, which includes a three hour guided walking tour of Westminster for two, complimentary afternoon tea for two in our Drawing Rooms, a complimentary four hour Windsor excursion for two, including a picnic breakfast in the car, and much more.

With there little doubt that the atmosphere in Windsor, London and right throughout the country is set to be electric on 19th May, we really do hope you’re looking forward to celebrating the Royal wedding as much as we are.

5 reasons you need to bring your dog to London

A dog appearing to smile with its tongue sticking outOn Wednesday 11th April, it’s National Pet Day, and with just under half of the UK owning a pet, it’s no real surprise that so many are marking the occasion. We love our pets and a day devoted to celebrating how fantastic they are will never go unwanted!

Whilst London is a bustling city, this in no way makes it a place that isn’t pet-friendly. In fact, speak to anyone who has a pet in London and you might just find them saying it’s actually one of the best places in the world to have a pet.

As we’ve said before, there’s something in London for everyone – and that undoubtedly extends to pets, too.

So, with National Pet Day almost upon us, we wanted to look at the UK’s most popular pet – the loyal and lovable dog – and ask exactly why should you consider bringing your dog to London?

  1. We absolutely love dogs at DUKES

A quick look online and you can soon realise just how much we adore dogs here at DUKES – we have a whole page dedicated to our dog-friendly rooms!

Wanting dogs to experience the same high quality service as our human guests, we have on offer everything from dog grooming services and dog sitting options, through to two daily gourmet meals, mineral water and a delightful turndown treat, too.

We go into detail about our dog-friendly rooms here, but think of it like this – if we can make your stay with your dog relaxing and enjoyable for everyone involved, we’ll be sure to go that extra mile to do it.

  1. There are parks galore

If you do decide to stay with us at DUKES, and bring your canine companion with you, you’ve got easy access to some of the country’s most beautiful parks to let you both take in the fresh air.

For instance, Green’s Park is a stone’s throw from DUKES, whilst St James’s Park is only a short distance further. Add Hyde Park into the equation at just a little walk further along from Green’s Park and you can begin to see how a four-legged friend may find London as fascinating as we do.

  1. Doga is flourishing in the capital

The health benefits of yoga have long been discussed – but what about the benefits of doing yoga with your dog?

Doga as it’s officially known is exactly as stated: practicing yoga with your dog in tow. Yes, it may not be conventional, but it’s without doubt proving popular.

Helping to ease stress and make both you and pup more relaxed, you can take part in a doga session right here in London, and by all accounts it’s something you won’t just be experiencing once after you’ve tried it.

  1. Everyone can eat well

Shake Shack is hugely popular in the US, and having opened their flagship UK store in Covent Garden, it’s fantastic to get a taste of what our American friends have had for so long.

But it’s not only humans who can enjoy Shake Shack, as they have a specific menu for dogs.

Consisting of two choices, the first is is the Pooch-ini, which is made up of “ShackBurger® dog biscuits, peanut butter sauce and vanilla custard”, whilst the second is the Bag o’ Bones – “5 ShackBurger® dog biscuits made…by NYC’s Bocce’s Bakery”.

With an enviable menu for us, too, Shake Shake can be a brilliant place to stop on your travels around London.

  1. Enjoy a Sunday brunch

Gaucho is known for its brilliantly authentic Argentine food, but did you know they also have a Sunday Brunch event that’s specifically catered for dogs?

Taking place on the first Sunday of every month at the Hampstead restaurant, for £35 per person you can enjoy a three course set menu, whilst all accompanying dogs get beef and chicken empanadas, a water bowl and a goodie bag.

There are definitely worse ways for you and your dog to spend a Sunday morning in London!

London is a vibrant, diverse and electric city. It’s one that has something for everyone, regardless of your interests, needs or expectations – and that doesn’t change simply because you’re a dog owner (or a dog!).

We love to invite dogs and their owners into DUKES. Wonderfully located to provide access to London in its entirety – if not more so for dog-themed activities – we fully appreciate the needs of dog owners and really do believe London as a whole can be a brilliant place for dog and owner alike.

Image courtesy of Rob Witcher

An inside look at DUKES: our food and drink

Afternoon tea at DUKES Hotel, LondonAs we mentioned in a previous post, one of the pieces of criteria behind DUKES being a five star hotel is the ability to provide our guests with dining options whatever day you stay with us and whatever time it may be.

London is a city that never sleeps, and so if you’re checking out early and need something savoury and substantial to set you up for the day, or have spent all evening at the theatre and need a little something to satisfy your sweet tooth before you get into bed, you can rest assured we can provide it all at DUKES.

For this reason, it’s no real surprise that food and drink is really important to us. We want everyone who spends time with us to feel as though there’s something to eat and drink that’s perfectly suited to their individual needs.

And it’s because of this why we have so many different options available.

DUKES Bar

Our bar is a favourite with our guests and locals actually some guests come to DUKES just to experience our martinis. In the words of others it’s legendary, enviable and as the New York Times once said it’s the bar “which some say concocts one of the world’s best Martinis”.

Open from 2pm to 11pm Monday to Saturday (4pm to 10.30pm on Sundays), spending time in DUKES Bar is somewhat of an event. You aren’t simply dropping by for a quick beer or glass of wine – we want you to savour the whole experience; to enjoy time testing our bartenders’ knowledge to create a drink that’s perfectly suited to you.

Having a drink in DUKES Bar is in many ways about harking back to a time before mobile phones, the internet or television. It’s about choosing a seat, having a drink made for you, and wiling away the time with your loved one, a group of friends or simply by yourself.

GBR

Headed up by renowned chef Nigel Mendham, GBR is a truly ‘Great British Restaurant’. It’s all about providing a dining experience built around homegrown produce from here on our wonderful British Isles, or menus that follow – or are inspired by – some of the country’s most traditional dishes.

An all-day dining experience (you can grab breakfast, brunch, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner here), the team at GBR don’t try to overcomplicate the dishes on offer. They know what works, what our guests want and bring the two together perfectly.

And with the bar overlooking the restaurant, if you’d prefer a few light snacks with a drink here instead of a meal, we’d be only too happy to oblige.

Afternoon tea

A truly British occasion, afternoon tea is something we can all enjoy. After all, who doesn’t enjoy taking some time out of their day to eat sandwiches, cakes and pastries and drink tea?

However, knowing that everyone has different tastes, we’ve produced a variety of options when it comes to afternoon tea.

For instance, we have our DUKES afternoon tea, which includes an array of sandwiches, warm scones and a variety of pastries served with a choice of tea. However, for something a little more ‘relaxing’ you can enjoy our ‘gin and tonic afternoon tea’ or our ‘champagne afternoon tea’ – all the same delights to eat, but with an alcoholic alternative to tea!

Served in our elegant drawing room and conservatory, there aren’t many better ways to spend an afternoon in London.

Picnic in the park

We really do love it when our guests stay with us for a meal or a drink, but we also know London has a whole host of sights and attractions to take in, including a vast array of beautiful parks.

Not wishing for you to miss out on the culinary delights our chefs create, we provide a particularly popular option for our guests to take a picnic to one of the nearby Royal Parks.

A real decadent treat, your personal butler will meet you at the park, lay out your rug and picnic basket and then serve your drinks before leaving you to enjoy the great outdoors of our city with a selection of tempting treats.

Cognac and cigar garden

Open throughout the week from 6pm to 11pm, our outdoor cognac and cigar area is particularly popular for those looking for a break away from the hustle and bustle of London life.

Providing our guests with the ability to sample some of the world’s finest cigars alongside some truly favourable cognac, if you’re a fan of a cigar, we’re confident saying you’ll be hard-pressed to find somewhere better to enjoy one in London.

Being real foodies at DUKES – and with a particular passion for high quality drinks, too – we aim to show this to each and every one of our guests. Only wanting you to have the best dining experiences possible, we do our utmost to cater for every need, no matter how diverse it may be. Just ask!

How can you treat your mum this Mother’s Day? Let us help!

A mother and daughter enjoying afternoon tea at DUKES LondonOur mums have spent years upon years caring for us. From the very first moment they hold us in their arms, there’s a love that is so strong it’s impenetrable. A mother’s love for her children is unconditional.

As we grow older, we try to show our mums how much they mean to us. We draw them pictures as children, start buying them gifts when we’re teenagers, and it gets to the point where we realise the best thing we can do to show our mum we appreciate her is to spend time together.

It’s for this exact reason why we’ve pulled together a package to help you treat your mum to a wonderful night or two in London as a gift this Mother’s Day.

So what should your mum expect as her treat when staying with us this Mother’s Day?

A West End Show

What better way to spend a night in London than by having tickets to the theatre? It’s the traditionally perfect way to enjoy your evening, and one that is so perfectly representative of a trip to London.

In our package, you have two tickets for one of the three shows: Mamma Mia, Kinky Boots, or 42nd Street. With both evening and matinee shows available, the choice of which to see and when to do so completely up to you (and it’s a hard one – all three of them are widely regarded as some of the best shows in London, and we’ve all got our preferences between afternoon or evening performances!).

Champagne afternoon tea

One of the most quintessentially British things you can do, afternoon tea is such a brilliant way to while away your afternoon – and it’s made only more appealing with a glass of champagne!

Available to enjoy in either our GBR restaurant or our Drawing Rooms, you’ll be tasting everything from quaint finger sandwiches filled with the highest quality ingredients through to warm scones with delicious accompaniments. The afternoon tea is an iconic tradition and so we don’t try to revolutionise it at DUKES London – we simply make sure you leave feeling you’ve had the best afternoon tea experience you could possibly have.

Floris Hyacinth & Bluebell candle

If you feel afternoon tea followed by a West End show just needs a little something to finish the present off, a Floris Hyacinth & Bluebell candle should do just that perfectly.

One of the world’s most respected fragrance brands, Floris was founded in 1730 and the company is still owned and run by the same family today, nine generations on. A truly remarkable story, and one that shows the love and attention for the brand the family has, this is something that is clear in every candle produced.

Discounted rooms

We know everyone has different needs when staying in a hotel, so rather than stipulating you have to stay in a certain room with our Mother’s Day package, we’re instead letting you choose – and providing a 10% discount on whichever room you decide on.

What’s more, we appreciate not everyone can make it to London on Mother’s Day itself, so this is all available between 9th and 25th March 2018.

Mother’s Day is a wonderful time to visit London as there’s so much to see and do that every mum should find something perfect for them. But with afternoon tea, a West End show, a fantastic room and a beautiful candle, we think most mums would be over the moon at spending time with their beloved children in such fantastic settings.

We’re always proud that our Mother’s Day packages are extremely popular. See the offer for 2018 in full and book now.

What makes DUKES London a five star hotel?

A superior room in DUKES, LondonBeing a five star hotel is something we’re extremely proud of. It’s not something we take lightly or something we make assumptions about. Each and every day we strive towards ensuring we maintain the extremely high standards set out when we were first awarded five stars.

But what are the standards that are expected of a five star hotel?

Interestingly, they tend to vary all around the world; there’s no universal grading system. Here in the UK the rating is determined and provided by The AA, and the criteria to receiving five stars is particularly in-depth.

Looking at our five stars at DUKES London, here we explore some of the notable reasons we’ve been awarded the highest rating for any hotel in the country.

First-class customer service

This isn’t about ‘the customer is always right’. Anyone can do that. First-class customer service is about truly going above and beyond what’s expected of us.

Nothing is too much of an issue. Whether it’s asking for certain pillows from our housekeeping staff through to talking with our concierge to arrange a full evening of entertainment, no question is too troublesome.

And it’s so important that every single guest fully understands this. This point is actually arguably the most important – being able to deliver a first-class level of customer service is one thing, but ensuring our guests understand this is what we do is key.

We invest so, so heavily in our staff. We want people who want to go that extra mile; those people who fully understand that a guest’s experience with us can be spoilt – or made – by the service they receive.

That’s why every single member of staff is dedicated to ensuring DUKES London offers one of the highest – if not the highest – level of customer service found in any hotel.

Unrivalled amenities

Fitness and spa facilities. Butler services. 24 hour reception, concierge and room service. And something that’s particularly British – a full afternoon tea offering!

It’s not uncommon to find these amenities in other hotels that have three or four stars. So many of them offer them brilliantly.

But what makes a five star hotel just that is all of these amenities are offered under one roof. That’s so important. When you’re looking for a luxurious break to London, whilst there is so much to see and do in our wonderful city, sometimes all you want is 48 hours of being pampered, without ever needing to step out through the same doors you came in until it’s time to leave.

Suites, suites, suites

We’re particularly proud of our suites at DUKES London, largely because they attract so much praise – and from a hotel rating point of view, they play a critical role in ensuring we maintain our five stars.

With hotels in this rating needing to have a minimum of one suite, it must consist of at least one bedroom, one lounge and one bathroom, and has to be able to be booked by guests at all times (this is an interesting one – whilst four star hotels may have suites, they’re not always considered permanent or continually accessible, something that can often prevent them from receiving a higher rating).

A full service restaurant

Our hotel restaurant is open seven days a week, 365 days a year (as our hotel is – itself a requirement for five star ratings). Breakfast, lunch and dinner is available, and you can book a table as a resident or non-resident.

Without this, we wouldn’t have the rating we have today.

Our guests want unrivalled levels of cuisine. They want a breakfast perfectly suited to their needs for the day, lunch options to see them through the afternoon, and a dinner menu that has something for every taste.

Nigel Mendham does a wonderful job here at DUKES. The reviews, praise and critiques he receives are exceptional and provide a brilliant insight into the fantastic work he and his team of talented culinary masters deliver right throughout the day, week and year.

Being a five star hotel

The AA’s quality standards are in-depth (you can download the full document here if you’re interested!) at currently 43 pages long, and cover nine separate sections of which some have over two dozen subsections.

Being a five star hotel isn’t an easy feat. We completely and utterly understand, appreciate and respect that. Once it’s received, it’s not something you can rest at ease with either. You need to fully embrace it and work towards ensuring your standards never slip, as like we’re sure every five star hotel will say – once you have the rating, your dedication to ensuring every single point you’re judged on never waivers only increases.

The secret sights of London

The London Skyline - with the London Eye - as the sun is risingWhilst many visitors to London can appreciate the more notable attractions, here we want to highlight some of the lesser known sights that can be found in our wonderful city.

A lot of people, especially Londoners themselves, appreciate these because they don’t always want to be a part of the hustle and bustle – sometimes it’s great to have a bit of peace and quiet whilst visiting sights people don’t generally know about. Continue reading “The secret sights of London”

A Whistler exhibition is coming to the Dulwich Picture Gallery

An external shot of Dulwich Picture Gallery, LondonThis winter, the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London will be exhibiting a variety of paintings by American-born, British-based artist James Abbott McNeill Whistler, in a special exhibition entitled ‘An American in London’.

Born in America and raised in Russia, Whistler came to London in 1859, and his early paintings of this period marked one of his most successful and profound impacts on the art scene.

Whistler is best-known for his attitude of adversity towards morals and sentimentality in art, and was in favour of the principle ‘art for art’s sake.’  The artist is best-known for the portrait of his mother named ‘Whistler’s Mother’ and his signature, which is signed in the shape of a butterfly – a reflection of his love of Asian art.

Deemed “captivating, erudite and unexpected” by the Financial Times, the ‘An American in London’ exhibition includes a variety of paintings of Chelsea and the Thames as well as prints, drawings, watercolours and pastels.  The exhibition provides a detailed examination of Whistler’s composition, subject and technique and how it developed over the years.

The highlight of the exhibition is a number of Whistler’s iconic Nocturnes, including Blue and Gold – Battersea Bridge (1872-1877.)  Although the selection is small, with a widely varied selection of his works, the ‘American in London’ exhibition contains something for all types of art-lover.

After soaking in the cultural offerings of the Whistler exhibition, why not come over to DUKES London and spoil yourself with our plentiful array of offers!

Image courtesy of tpholland

An interview with Debrah Dhugga, General Manager

EDITORS’ NOTE 

executive_team_debrah_dhugga_col_3

Prior to joining DUKES LONDON, Debrah Dhugga was Director of Retail and Spa at hair and beauty brand, ghd. Previously, she spent four-and-a-half years as CEO of Tom’s Companies, a Durham, UK-based hotel, and restaurant and spa group with holdings including The Samling and Seaham Hall hotels. Much of Dhugga’s experience on the way up was in sales and marketing, getting her start in 1981 with Swallow Hotels and subsequently becoming Director of Sales of Malmaison Hotels from 1996 to 2005. Dhugga, who holds a fellowship with the Institute of Hospitality, was recognized as one of the top 100 U.K. females in hospitality and transport in 2012 and is a member of the Institute of Directors, the SPA Advisory Board, and Business Women Leaders. She is also a trustee for the hospitality charity “One and All” where she was tapped as a keynote speaker at the House of Lords. In 2011, Dhugga became a founding member of the Leading Ladies of London, an organization comprised of female general managers of five-star hotels whose mission is to bring more women leaders into the hotel industry. Dhugga earned a Marketing Degree from Newcastle University and is often out supporting the industry as a speaker at hotel schools and conferences. She is a mentor to many young people in the industry and personally challenges herself to raise funds for an industry charity each year.

PROPERTY BRIEF

Recognized as “Europe’s Leading Boutique Hotel” and the “World’s Leading Classic Boutique Hotel,” DUKES LONDON (www.dukeshotel.com) is a hidden gem in the heart of St. James Mayfair, where quintessential British charm and fine luxury merge to create a timeless atmosphere for all guests. The property features stunning bedrooms that offer outstanding comfort, the legendary DUKES Bar, and THIRTY SIX restaurant featuring Michelin-star chef Nigel Mendham so guests may experience the culinary excellence that has been awarded three AA Rosettes.There is also the option of true English style with champagne afternoon tea in the Drawing Room or PJ Lounge, as well as The Health Club featuring an Italian marble steam room, a modern gym with the latest Technogym equipment, and a beauty treatment room.

What is the secret to the consistent success of the DUKES LONDON property?

It’s “a hidden gem,” tucked away among the most beautiful little courtyards where it has been trading as a hotel for more than 100 years. DUKES has continued to raise its standards and we have developed the property as the years go by. But we have kept a lot of the culture and service levels, and everything about what makes DUKES truly special. DUKES Bar is one of the oldest bars in London and we get many people coming into the bar because of its historic nature. Many hotels lose the old-school attention to detail. My management style is to focus on luxury service standards. I like good old innkeeping quality standards.

Is it more challenging today to show what makes a property unique?

It depends. A hotel that is prestigious like DUKES and has a historical aspect is different from the traditional, contemporary hotels that have come onboard. The hotels that have been around for a long time also already have an audience, but it’s important that you maintain consistency in standard, allowing the tradition to continue throughout the hotel’s history but moving forward on service levels and products.The hotel also has a very majestic feel to it – it’s indulgent. We offer a variety of fabulous complimentary amenities including 24-hour butler service; room service three times daily; a brand new in-room media system; Wi-Fi; an iPod system; espresso machine; and much more. But the greatest service we offer is an important luxury in the hospitality field: we work to provide that home-away-from-home feeling so when guests stay in the hotel, they are as comfortable as they are when they’re in their own homes.

The word “luxury” can sometimes be overused. What is luxury?

An important element of it is service levels and what you do for your guests. Luxury has different meanings for different people.

How has THIRTY SIX worked so well? Is it challenging to compete with so many great stand-alone restaurants?

Our food and beverage component is interesting. We have our fabulous DUKES Bar, which is renowned and has an audience that goes back for years. We have a fabulous reputation for serving one of the best martinis in the world – we serve a minimum of 400 a night there. We didn’t have a destination restaurant in the hotel until two years ago when Nigel Mendham joined us; Nigel’s food is quintessentially English with a twist. There is something new opening up in town almost every night, but as long as we can consistently offer award-winning fare, from first-class room service to unmatched dining at THIRTY SIX, we will have continued success. In addition, Nigel is on staff – he is not just a name on the door – so that makes for an outstanding dining experience for our guests.

Are women still entering into this industry?

It’s still a male-dominated industry, but I and other females are trying to encourage more women to come into the industry. Unfortunately, when it comes to middle management, it might require deciding to have a family and coming back to work afterwards. It’s a challenge but I encourage companies to look at ways of helping more women enter and remain in the industry.

How critical is it to have an owner that engages you in all aspects of the hotel?

It’s absolutely critical that you have a relationship and trust in each other. It’s about running your business like it’s your own. You should customize the business as if you’re a self-owner, especially if you’re a manager as well as an operator, which I am. You need to have leadership skills and provide for and develop your team. This will help expand the business and customer service. You have to engage yourself in the business, more than you do if you were a GM reporting to an operator of a bigger brand, as the majority of the decisions come from you.

Would you also enjoy running a larger hotel?

I have managed larger properties and my engagement with the hotel always depends on what it is. Certain markets can be challenging. In key cities where you have larger hotels and brands to compete with and you have to adapt. People sometimes think DUKES is smaller than it is – it has 90 bedrooms and is one of the largest independent hotels in London. However, when you walk in, it feels smaller because of the way the hotel has been created and with the old buildings joined together, it’s very quaint. We don’t have large public spaces, but we do have a lot of small cozy areas around the hotel. DUKES is rather special. It is a large hotel with a boutique feel. I would not say I don’t enjoy running larger hotels; it just depends on the property and not on the size.

What advice would you give young people entering this industry?

Live your dream and experience as many departments as possible. I worked at all different levels. Once you find your niche, concentrate on its development. Go in with your eyes open and be enthusiastic. You have to have it in your heart.

Reproduced from Leaders Magazine, July 2013.

We’ve had a makeover for 2013!

Major refurbishment of both bedrooms and walkways has helped to give our hotel a subtle new design for 2013.

Refurbished bedrooms designed by Sandy Deane Interiors, and walkway interiors specially created by Shaun Clarkson, have given DUKES a luxurious makeover whilst keeping the hotel’s well-loved five star charm and elegance intact.

A snapshot of our refurbished suitesFollowing a four-month refurbishment programme by our longstanding design team, Sandy Deane Interiors, 50 of the hotel bedrooms now contain the latest range of FR-One designs; The Prism Collection.

Each of our newly refurbished bedrooms have been designed using a different colour scheme, featuring rich textures. The new bedrooms all feature matt satin with vintage décor, and help to make the bedrooms more elegant than ever before.

Other sophisticated colour schemes in the new bedrooms cater for all tastes. The colour schemes include zinc and grape, quail and plum, and for a more masculine tone, marine and port.

Shaun Clarkson, a world renowned designer who has previously worked in some of the best hotels in the world, also refurbished the Perrier-Jouët Lounge at DUKES in 2011. You can see some of his other projects here.

The finishing touches will soon be added to the hotel’s walkways and lift interiors, completing the renovations.

The features help to convey the highest luxury at affordable prices and a relaxing place to spend the night after taking in the sights of London.

With rooms and suites available for a variety of budgets, why not come and experience them for yourself?

Legendary Les Misérables is still lighting up our stages

A shot of part of the cast of Les MisérablesCameron Mackintosh’s legendary production of Boubil and Schönberg’s Les Miserables is now a world-wide phenomenon. Les Misérables has been seen by more than 60 million people in 42 countries and in 21 languages around the world. In recent news it is still breaking box office records.

Set against the backdrop of 19th century France, Les Misérables tells a captivating story about broken dreams and unrequited love, passion, sacrifice and redemption. The essence of the story is of a timeless testament to the survival of the human spirit. The story focusses on an ex-convict called Jean Valjean, who has been hunted for decades by the ruthless policeman Javert after he breaks parole. When Valjean agrees to care for factory worker Fantine’s young daughter Cosette, their lives change forever.

When Les Misérables transferred to The Palace Theatre, where it ran for 18 years and then continued its triumphant run at The Queen’s Theatre, the production gained intimacy, power and still receives standing ovations after every performance. In nearly 10 years, more than 145,000 students in over 2,900 productions worldwide have interpreted Les Misérables in their own style.

When Susan Boyle sang the song ‘ I Dreamed a Dream’ on the popular television show Britain’s Got Talent, almost overnight it became the world’s most popular song with over 200 million YouTube hits. The connection with this song, as well as worldwide exposure meant that Les Misérables is a hit all over again.

Les Misérables is a sung-through musical play based on the novel Les Misérables by the French Poet and playwright Victor Hugo. The musical is proving more successful than ever – it has already opened in USA and Spain and is planning to open in South Africa, Japan, and Australia.

The running time of Les Misérables is approximately 2 hours and 50 minutes with ticket prices ranging from £20 to £67.50. This enthralling musical will be running until 26th October at The Queens Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue.

After taking in this charismatic performance, why not head over to DUKES Bar to complete the night with one of our world famous martinis created by the legendary Alessandro Palazzi?

Image courtesy of VillageTheatre