Ready for the London Jazz Festival 2012?

A person playing jazz on a saxophoneNothing says sophistication quite like listening to some smooth jazz over a Martini. November offers the opportunity for you to indulge in both when the London Jazz Festival begins on Friday 9th November. At venues all across London, some of the biggest names in jazz will be strutting their stuff for nine days, giving you the perfect chance to take in some of the richest culture in London.

Whether it’s at the Koko Club, Hackney Empire, BBC Maida Vale studios or the 606 Club, there’s no excuse not to head out in to London and take in some quality music. The venues are sometimes as iconic as the music itself. For example, Maida Vale studios have seen many of the biggest artists in music record and perform there, including The Beatles, The Clash and The White Stripes.

If you’ve never heard of any of the jazz performers, don’t worry. Each one brings their own unique style to their performance. Whether they’re covering some classic hits or writing their own, each performance is different and provides a much more intimate feel than the average gig.

And at least one name that you will probably recognise will be performing, as Macy Gray will be here alongside the David Murray Big Band at the Barbican on the final day of the festival. As well as some of Macy’s hits they will also be performing a number of covers which you can listen to here: Macy Gray – Love Lockdown/Buck

With the Royal Academy of Arts and St. James Piccadilly just a short distance from DUKES London, you have no excuse not to go out and take in some of the finest jazz on offer anywhere in the world this November – all before heading back to DUKES Bar to sample one of our classic martinis.

Celebrate Bonfire Night with a bang at Battersea

Various fireworks in the night skyNovember 5th is drawing closer, and if you’re wondering where the best firework displays are this year, look no further. Once again, London takes centre stage if you really want to celebrate Bonfire Night with a bang!

There’s a huge variety of firework displays for you to see in London this year, but our recommendation lies with the display at Battersea Park, which is only a 15 minute journey from DUKES London.

The display at Battersea Park is taking place on Saturday 3rd November and is said to be one of the most popular annual events in London. This year, the fireworks have been designed by Pains Fireworks, who have in the past created displays for some of the best known events and institutions, such as the Disney Concert Orchestra in Dubai and, just as impressively, the recent Olympic Torch Relay.

This is guaranteed to be a night to remember for visitors of all ages! Watch the sky light up in a dazzling show featuring some of the most impressive fireworks, starting at 8pm. Make sure you stay warm throughout the night with the likes of hot roasted chestnuts and warm mulled wine, which will all be on sale at the event.

The ritual of celebrating Bonfire Night dates back 407 years. Back in 1605, Guido ‘Guy’ Fawkes failed in his plot to destroy parliament and all within it by gunpowder. Now a British tradition, every 5th November (or a date close by), the skies of the UK come to life with flashes of lights and loud crackles and bangs.

Entry is through advanced tickets only, which are currently £8.00 up until the day of the event, from when they will be priced at £10.00. Tickets are available online or alternatively you can buy them at a number of different local venues.

After what will be a memorable night, head back to DUKES and top off the night with one of our famous martinis at the DUKES bar before resting your head in one of the popular DUKES suites.

Find your festive cheer early at the Spirit of Christmas Fair

Coventry Street in London full of Christmas decorationsSome complain that Christmas is starting earlier and earlier every year. Others love it. Whether you love it or not we’d always recommend a visit to the Spirit of Christmas Fair at the Olympia Exhibition Centre.

There is no longer an excuse not to visit London or to leave your Christmas shopping until the last minute. The Spirit of Christmas Fair hosts a range of exhibitors meaning you should be able to find the perfect gift for anyone. Whether it’s a special bottle of fine whiskey for your dad or a toy that your little sister will treasure forever, you should be able to find it here.

Just a District Line tube ride away from DUKES Hotel, the Olympia is a grand exhibition hall and will be packed with stunning, independent retailers, as well as a number of fantastic food and drinks stalls, meaning you can wine and dine in luxury until your heart’s content.

What’s more, not only will the fair provide you with some brilliant ideas for your Christmas presents, but it will also feature the team from House and Garden magazine, who will be offering some of their best tips on how to make the most of your home.

Even if you’ve been a good shopper and bought all your presents early, there is still plenty for you to see. Fashion, art, health & beauty and furniture are just some of the offerings that will be on show.

Running from 30th October until 4th November, there really is no excuse for not taking in the Fair and rediscovering your Christmas spirit early.

Entry for one day is £17.50 if you book in advance, but if that’s not enough you can always buy an unlimited entry ticket for just £27, giving you up to six days of shopping heaven.

Whilst you’re in London, why not take in a show, or even one of our famous martinis? You could make it an extra special weekend by staying in one of our Deluxe Suites. Whatever you do, please do try and make sure you enjoy the festive spirit, which is slowly building in the capital at the moment.

Image courtesy of Elliott Brown

How to make the most of your James Bond experience

Daniel Craig as James BondOver the past five decades, James Bond has become the ultimate legend. Whether it’s through the books, the games or the films, one cannot ignore – nor frankly be anything other than envious of – the wealth, power and charisma that Bond has at his disposal.

With the upcoming, highly anticipated release of Skyfall, there isn’t a better time to visit DUKES London, where you can take full advantage of a luxury service fit for Bond himself.

Here are a couple of tips for things you can do during your stay at DUKES to make the most of your experience:

Drink Martinis in DUKES Bar

Drinking martinis in DUKES Bar is so significant to Bond culture as this is the exact bar which used to accommodate the late James Bond author Ian Fleming. In fact, the bar is said to have inspired the classic line “shaken, not stirred”.

Find yourself the perfect Bond suit

The interior is not the only thing that makes DUKES Hotel so great – the exterior is great, too! The hotel is located right by Jermyn Street and Bond Street – the perfect place to pick up a suit to make sure you really look the part for your Bond experience.

Track Bond’s latest location

DUKES Hotel isn’t far from Buckingham Palace, where Daniel Craig was most recently seen as 007, surrounded by corgis, as he walked in to pick up the Queen who greeted him with the words “Good evening, Mr Bond”. The pair then boarded a helicopter as Bond escorted Her Majesty to the London Olympic Stadium, just in time to make a dramatic entrance by parachute to the Olympics Opening Ceremony.

Soar the Thames on a License to Thrill!

The License to Thrill boat ride is a high speed boat ride which has been voted as a ‘must do’ experience for all Bond fans! Experience the adrenaline Bond does during his moments of victory as you speed through London, under the capital’s famous bridges, and see London from some very exclusive vantage points. You’ll need to hold on tight during this exhilarating trip to Canary Wharf and back.

Celebrate Bond’s 50th Anniversary in London

There are a number of productions being shown in London to celebrate Bond’s 50th Anniversary. If you’re into music, the production at the Royal Festival Hall is just for you!

The event, which has been timed to correspond with the new Bond film, stars Strictly Come Dancing vocalist Lance Ellington and Mary Carewe, as they come together to bring you 22 of Bond’s most iconic musical numbers, including Goldfinger and Diamonds are Forever

Visit the Bond Exhibition – Designing 007

The London-based multi-arts and conference venue Barbican has recently launched a ‘Designing 007′ exhibition to showcase the creating and development of Bond. It explores a number of features including the craft behind the screen icons, the villains, costumes, gadgets and special effects – just to name a few! This is one attraction you do not want to miss – click here for details.

Branding James Bond

Over the years, James Bond has become so much more than a character – he’s become an institution. If the branding of James Bond is something that takes your interest, head down to Notting Hill, London on 24th October where a lecture named ‘Branding James Bond’ will take you through the branding structure of Bond. You will also get a glass of wine or a soft drink and entry to the museum’s collection of 12,000 branded products.

Then… breathe!

After a hard day of saving the world, head back to DUKES Hotel, where you will be treated to a menu of irresistible food which Bond himself couldn’t resist. Then wash it down with a martini in DUKES Bar, before getting some well-deserved rest in the beautiful Junior Suite.

Image courtesy of Alan Wu

Get ready to Bond with DUKES!

Daniel Craig as James Bond, pointing a gun

Now is the perfect time to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Britain’s finest secret agent. With the release of the new Skyfall film fast approaching, we think that now is the time to Bond with Dukes.

Once often frequented by Bond author Ian Fleming, DUKES Bar is said to be the inspiration behind one of Bond’s most famous lines, “shaken, not stirred”. Therefore, it would only be appropriate to herald the drink that this phrase was created for, the Classic DUKES cocktail.

We feature a number of Bond themed drinks on our extensive menu, including the Golden Eye and the Fleming ’89, created by our Head Barman Alessandro Palazzi. Made in partnership with Floris, whose “89” cologne was worn by Bond, the martini is the perfect blend of suave and stylish that Bond himself lived up to.

So says Kings Road Rocks writer Chelsea Girl, “Both (the Tiger Tanaka and Ian Fleming’s Classic Vesper) tasted heavenly and were presented so elegantly – exactly what a martini should be about. Each sip was an occasion as each drink oozed style and the integrity of a very good cocktail.” All this can also be enjoyed from our cigar garden, to which Bond was not averse to.

If that’s not enough, why not come to one of our Martini Masterclasses? You will be regaled with tale after tale behind each of the cocktails and learning a few secrets of the trade. You will also be taught to craft your own cocktail and then sample it, all under the supervision of one of our expert barmen. You will then retire to our bar while enjoying canapés and sipping on your cocktails.

DUKES Bar is like no other. Steeped in history and oozing sophistication, it is a must visit for all cocktail lovers and James Bond fans!

Image courtesy of brava_67

DUKES Wins European Boutique Hotel Award at World Travel Awards

DUKES ST. JAMES LONDON is delighted to announce its success at the World Travel Awards on Saturday 6th October, with the hotel being awarded the respected title of ‘European Boutique Hotel Of The Year’.

Debrah Dhugga with the coveted "Europe's Leading Boutique Hotel" Award
Debrah Dhugga with the coveted ‘Europe’s Leading Boutique Hotel’ Award.

General Manager Debrah Dhugga attended the awards, which were held in Portugal, on behalf of DUKES ST. JAMES LONDON and commented “Myself and the DUKES ST. JAMES LONDON team are absolutely thrilled to be awarded such a fantastic and prestigious title. After DUKES’ success at the World Travel Awards last year, where we received two awards, including ‘England’s Leading Boutique Hotel’, we are delighted that DUKES has been recognized yet again, this time, as ‘European Boutique Hotel Of The Year’”.

DUKES ST. JAMES LONDON is tucked away in a cobbled court yard off St James’ and is a member of the prestigious, Small Luxury Hotels of The World. To book please visit or contact the DUKES reservation team on 020 7491 4840.

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.