It's tough to be too critical of a hotel that actually delivered to our room a cake on the eve of my birthday. But if you think this hotel is worthy of five stars, I would respectfully suggest that you don't get out enough. Dukes has been called by some reviewers the best hotel in London. I don't agree, but it’s not that they don't try. We checked into what we thought was a superior room...it was tiny. Within two minutes, the phone rang and the manager asked if all was well with the room...it's a bit small, we said, do you have anything larger? Let me see, madam, was the reply, but we did already automatically upgrade you on a complimentary basis by one category, (which I had not asked them to do, but I hate to think what the smaller room looked like.) So for an additional 150 pounds a night, bringing our tariff to about 510 pounds per night, we were upgraded to a junior suite, which was STILL small. Worse, it looked into the office block across the way...it was so close, I could almost read what the workers keyed in on their computer screens. I figured if we could see them, they could see us, so we kept our curtains closed most of the time. The twin beds in the room, which had been pushed together to form a king, were reasonably comfortable...except for the ridge down the middle where the two beds were joined. The bathroom had no electric sockets (that I could find) for a hair dryer. The bathroom was fairly tight...you could not sit on the loo with the door open, not that you should anyway, I suppose. The wifi was the most annoying aspect...it took a number of steps to log in every time we used it, which they blamed on UK law, but it was a mystery to us, as we used wifi easily everywhere in London but here.
Now for the property at large. It's fine. It's clean. It's quaint. The public spaces are really not great and the “garden” is silly. All are scaled for very little people. The Friday night we tried to have drinks in the tiny, overly warm bar, it was jammed with locals, and the head waiter directed us to sit in an empty salon elsewhere in the hotel where it took 20 minutes to get drinks. Three of us had sparkling water and one had wine...not very exciting, but the bill presented for my signature was 55 pounds, obviously a mistake that I had to rectify. Mistakes happen, but sloppiness like that was not an exception. An outside caller was told twice that we weren't registered. We were handed the wrong room key, which we discovered only when we got upstairs when we could not use it in the lock in our door. The old-fashioned elevator didn't work very well...if the gate wasn't firmly closed, it didn't move, so to summon it the staff had to run to another floor to firmly close the gate and send it on its way. We were never told at check-in that breakfast was included in our rate, so we ate in twice and then ate out. The local map created and provided by the hotel was actually inaccurate (one of the Japanese restaurants was in the wrong place on the map), resulting in some difficulties in finding our restaurant, which was a terrible choice anyway—it was an expensive version of a Benihana.
All this being said, there were also efforts quite worthy of praise at Dukes. Front desk staff was always polite and greeted us by name. Doormen were always willing to get us a taxi when we needed one. Desk staff knew when we were departing and had a checklist of things to ask us...from wake-up calls to a time for the taxi to the airport. They never missed a wake-up call. Housekeeping was excellent. Staff was always very quick to answer a request for ice. The concierge patiently tried to accommodate our multiple requests for assistance...he was not very successful, but in all fairness, we left our own planning too late. The health club was adequate.
To be honest, I am not fond of these little London hotels (the Egerton is an exception) that are like rabbit warrens...narrow little hallways leading to tiny rooms. Some people like the charm factor. I just find them uncomfortable. I didn’t do my research carefully enough, so I take the blame on that count. Most of my negative comments have to do with the property. The staff members really had their hearts in the right place.
In closing, lest you think that the tariff for such an experience is high at 510 pounds a night...which, with the exchange rate, is pricy...it was, on a comparative basis, a pretty good deal. We checked the rack rates at some other local hotels in St James and Mayfair, and Dukes was the best rate of them all for a room of this size. So if you like the incredibly convenient location, a tiny/small hotel doesn't bother you, you like sometimes flawed personal attention, and you don't want to spend a fortune, Dukes might work well for you. I don’t think we would stay there, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Awarded “Europe’s Leading Boutique Hotel” and the “World’s Leading Classic Boutique Hotel”, DUKES LONDON is a hidden gem in the heart of St. James Mayfair, where quintessential British charm and the finest luxury mix together to create a timeless atmosphere. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Dukes Hotel London