LONDON, U.K., October 16, 2014 – The Dorchester stands at the very pinnacle of luxury hotels in London, and for good reason. Combining impeccable service, extraordinary beauty, and sumptuous surroundings, as well as a stunning Hyde Park location in the heart of Mayfair, it overwhelms the senses with a glorious air of sheer luxurious indulgence.
It is fair to say that The Dorchester is truly in a class by itself, effortlessly sweeping away the stresses of travel and modern life with the soothing calm of absolute perfection. Treasure each shining moment there like a fine wine, whose every drop is savored, or a glittering jewel that mesmerizes in its afterglow.
The province of kings and movie stars, world leaders and high society, The Dorchester was famously the location of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor’s love affair during the filming of Cleopatra in the early 1960’s. It remains a bastion of unequalled quality and sophistication today, and sets the measure by which all other hotels are judged.
Synonymous with impeccable standards, from the first step inside the lobby to the last goodbye, there is never a cause for concern that matters are not well in hand. The staff is nothing short of amazing, their personalized knowledge gracious and constantly extended. The attentiveness to detail is simply extraordinary.
The lobby of The Dorchester extends into The Promenade, a grand foyer of flowers and brilliant colors where breakfast is served in the morning and their acclaimed High Tea is presented in the afternoon. A pianist plays away in the back bar area while guests are content to spend hours in gentile enjoyment of the serenity of the atmosphere.
Rooms and suites are sumptuously phenomenal. The 7th floor Dorchester Suite, with parquet wood flooring, gas fireplace, dining table, writing desks and elegant furnishings, is completely awe inspiring. A separate bedroom with a cream curtained 4 poster bed is fit for a king, and has probably hosted a few in its time.
Silver patterned wallpaper adorns the bedroom walls. Furniture is elegant and of exceptional design. A deep cushioned couch and loveseat surrounds a lacquered glass covered coffee table in the living room. Marble topped end tables at either end hold beautiful lamps of stunning design.
The sitting area has a full cherry wood dining table surrounded by six leather banquets. The windows are dressed with thick silk curtains with long stylish tassels on the ends. A beautiful rug adorns the center of the living room under the coffee table.
There is nothing left to chance. The bathroom is lined with pristine marble and the bathtub is big and deep enough for two. The entrance hall has wallpaper that is more like plastering. The effect is luminary, and two days in the suite are like a lifetime of indulgence.
Views from all corners of the suite are staggering, stretching from the heart of Mayfair to the south and Hyde Park to the west and north. It is a breathtakingly crisp early autumn day and the sky is filled with powder blue and billowy clouds.
Just off the middle of The Promenade, The Dorchester is privileged to host Alain Ducasse, a rarified three Michelin starred restaurant, one of only four in the UK, and consistently setting new standards for brilliant cuisine, stunning atmosphere, and service.
It is not for the faint of heart, and is a difficult reservation, yet the rewards of lunch or dinner at this acclaimed outpost of culinary fame is inestimable. Like the hotel itself, Alain Ducasse is at the very pinnacle of its class.
The principle cocktail lounge, The Bar at the Dorchester, has a storied past as famous as the hotel itself, and is a legendary watering hole for the glitterati and business classes of London across the decades. All dark woods and polished surfaces, it boasts an atmosphere of not just refined elegance, but an encompassing sense of rich history and casual discretion.
China Tang is Sir David Tang’s exceptional Cantonese restaurant, with a lovely art deco bar area just off The Promenade. Fabulous meals reflect a range of Chinese influences in a beautifully decorated space with antiques and objects d’art.
With live Jazz on Tuesdays, China Tang serves as both a wonderful dining spot and a distinctive retreat in the midst of a hotel brimming with opulence.
The celebrity quotient at The Dorchester cannot be overstated. It is the first choice for A-listers from around the globe, as well as for the uber-rich, the upper crust of the business class, and international statesman from many countries.
The discretion and careful handling of privacy and personal needs is a hallmark of both The Dorchester and all Dorchester Collection hotels. It is this very sense of discreet service and confidential pampering for rarified clientele that makes The Dorchester their repeated preferential choice for a London hotel.
However, that same class of service extends to each and every guest. Put simply, every guest at The Dorchester is made to feel like a celebrity, and it shows.
The location in the heart of Mayfair makes The Dorchester extremely close to both high end shopping and the trendiest restaurants in the area. It is a short ride to the glories of New Bond Street and Saville Row, and the shopping mecca of Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Knightsbridge.
With 250 rooms and 49 suites, the hotel offers many different levels of accommodation, including rooftop penthouses with their own terraces. Prices start at $700 a night for a Superior King room to $2000 and up for a range of suites, $6000 a night for a Dorchester Suite, while rooftop penthouses with terraces can start at $12,000 per night.
On the last morning, having a decadent English breakfast in The Promenade, served by a liveried waiter with a butler’s precision, it is hard not to be melancholy about leaving. Few hotels create this beloved environment, very few indulge the senses with such overwhelming precision, but then, to be sure, there are precious few places like The Dorchester.
Joel Berliner is a travel writer based in Los Angeles. @JoelBerliner
All photos by Alison Reynolds @BigAlPeoplesPal