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!

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 Designs of the Year exhibition 2014 is on its way to London

An external shot of the London Design MuseumThe seventh annual Designs of the Year exhibition comes to London’s prestigious Design Museum on the 26th March. The modern museum is located on the banks of the River Thames and boasts two main galleries containing collections tracing the development of design, from its origins to contemporary works.

This year’s 76 nominees include not only familiar brands and well-known designers such as David Chipperfield and Miuccia Prada, but also smaller names and student projects.

The exhibition offers something to suit a variety of artistic tastes with its seven different categories, which are architecture, digital, fashion, furniture, graphic design, transport and product design. A high-profile judging panel will choose the shortlisted nominations, which will then be exhibited in the museum from the 26th March.  The overall champion of the competition will be announced in May, and the winner will hold the ‘Design of the Year’ title for a full 52 weeks.

The exhibition opens its doors on 28th March, and runs until 7th July.  Tickets cost £12.40 for adults and £9.30 for students or the unemployed, and are available from the Design Museum website.

Why not come over to DUKES London after checking out the finalists at the exhibition for a luxurious meal cooked by our talented chef Nigel Mendham? The restaurant’s menus are all available online, and you can book online easily, too!

Image courtesy of Aurelien Guichard

3 AA rosettes and 5 red stars for DUKES at AA Hospitality Awards

An exquisite piece of food from Nigel MendhamWe are delighted to announce Nigel Mendham’s success at this year’s AA Hospitality Awards. Competing against some of London’s best chefs and restaurants, Nigel was extremely proud to be awarded three AA Rosettes for outstanding service and food. In a second win, we were also named a ‘Five Red Star Hotel’ therefore receiving the highest accolade a hotel can achieve and making us the real stars of the night.

Five AA Red Stars are only ever awarded to the very best hotels where “impeccably dressed staff provide attentive and unobtrusive service. All bedrooms have an en suite bathroom with a bath and thermostatically controlled shower and meals are cooked and presented to an excellent standard using high quality ingredients.”

AA Winners are selected in recognition of excellence and success within their award category, proving their dedication to raising industry standards and enhancing both their guest and diner experiences. It is for this reason that both Nigel and ourselves are extremely proud of winning these prestigious awards.

Nigel Mendham strives to serve dishes that are created using the finest quality seasonal and, where possible, locally sourced produce, pairing this with an extensive wine list and excellent service, to create a fine dining experience for all tastes.

Nigel Mendham’s new dishes for the autumn season include:

Goat Cheese Flan, variations of beetroot, celery sorbet

Line caught Sea Bass, white crab cannelloni, organic carrot, courgettes

Spring Chicken Pie, young leeks, sage & onion

Turbot Salsify, foraged mushrooms, parsley puree, roast chicken jus

Previously employed as head chef at The Samling Hotel in the Lake District, Nigel Mendham’s cuisine has in the past been awarded three AA rosettes, three red stars and a Michelin star in 2010. Considering this, Nigel commented:

“Starting here was an exciting transition for me, having worked for most of my career in the countryside. However, I was determined to win back the recognition and awards base I had built up at The Samling, here in London. Being awarded three AA rosettes at a restaurant that has my name on the door is a real honour and I hope it will provide benefits for everyone involved with the restaurant and DUKES.”

Debrah Dhugga, General Manager of DUKES also mentioned:

“Nigel’s well recognised food is some of the best in Britain and DUKES is delighted to have him on board as executive Head Chef. Nigel’s food is both stunning in presentation and taste and we are thrilled that the AA has acknowledged this.

We are also delighted that the AA has added to Nigel’s success by awarding DUKES with a ‘Five Red Star’ title, which we would not have received without the hard work and dedication of all hotel and restaurant staff.”

To make a reservation at DUKES ST. JAMES LONDON or our restaurant please call 0207 491 4840.