Why The Dorchester Will Always Remain One Of The Most Timelessly Elegant Hotels In London

Photo Credit: The Dorchester

There are not many hotels that embody “luxury” and “London” more than the storied Dorchester Hotel. This 5-star property is a den of opulence—in a quiet, tasteful way—and it’s location, nestled between Hyde Park and the historic streets of Mayfair, makes it a prime playground for the rich and famous. It’s no wonder than the hotel, which opened its doors nearly 90 years ago, remains to this day one of the busiest, most frequently booked hotels in London for luxury enthusiasts. Should you stay, here is what you might be lucky enough to experience.

Champagne Afternoon Tea on The Promenade

But first, its history. The hotel was originally part of Manor of Hyde, which was given to William the Conqueror by Geoffrey de Mandeville.  It was acquired by Joseph Damer in the 18th century and dubbed “Dorchester House” after Damer became the Earl of Dorchester. In the early 19th century it became the Hertford House after it was purchased by Francis Seymour-Conway, the 3rd Marquess of Hertford, and converted into a mansion by its next owner, Captain Robert Stayner Holford. But it wasn’t until the 1930s, just after The Dorchester opened as a hotel, that it became a true playground for storied authors and artists, including Cecil Day-Lewis, novelist Somerset Maugham, and painter Sir Alfred Munnings. It has held prestigious literary gatherings, such as the “Foyles Literary Luncheons” (which remains an event the hotel hosts to this day) an event the hotel still hosts today. It has hosted some of history’s most celebrated icons and great romances, including that of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, who utilized the hotel’s Harlequin Penthouse as a second home in the 1960s and 1970s. It is now owned by the Sultan of Brunei.

Spatisserie

Now (and always, really) the hotel does everything exceptionally well, from its fabulous restaurants to its afternoon tea to its stellar spa. An afternoon tea in the spa has been said to be akin to “dining on a cloud,” and that’s 100% accurate, though we prefer the grandeur of an elegant afternoon tea in the lobby/Promenade, filled with delectable treats, the scent of lilac, rose and lilies wafting delicately in the air, piano tinkling prettily in the background.

Park Suite sitting room

Photo Credit: The Dorchester

It’s no wonder than Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton used The Dorchester as their home away from home—it’s downright palatial. Taylor, who gravitated towards luxury as a rule, was staying in the Harlequin Penthouse when she learned of her million-dollar contract to play Cleopatra. It is here that the impossible—much like the suite itself for all of its shimmering, glittering riches—seems possible. Live like Liz and step through French doors onto your secluded terrace, with awe-inspiring views of Hyde Park, or entertain at an exquisite mahogany table for eight that’s delicately lit by a crystal chandelier. Even bathe like Taylor, who had a pink marble bathroom installed in the second bedroom. Guests of this suite also receive a few extras in a shoe shine meant for a ‘Royal Household’ standard on request, as well as a welcome bottle of Krug Grande Cuvée NV champagne.

We personally recommend the Park Suite, which we wandered through in wonder, our voice an echo from one to the next. Despite the traffic outside on Park Lane, we heard nothing but the sounds of silence in our lavishly appointed one-bedroom suite, which included Apple TV (upon request); a change of clothes beautifully pressed (on request); fresh flowers; exquisite bed linen; a Nespresso coffee machine; chauffeured return car transfers to local airports and London mainline train stations; discreet unpacking; and the Aromatherapy Associates bathroom range, among other amenities. 

Spa relaxation room

The spa is perfection. From its Spatisserie to its opulent, velvet and blue relaxation room, this is the place to soothe your soul. British aesthetician Carol Joy Hatton’s line rules the facial treatments menu, the highlight of which, for us, was the Pure Collagen and Oxygen with Diamond Touch. This is the ultimate facial for skin displaying signs of photo-aging, environmental damage and stress-related concerns, such as redness, blemishes and dry, uneven patches. Diamond touch microdermabrasion diminishes the pigmentation and refines skin texture. A collagen-boosting cellular vacuum massage plumps and drains toxins, and pure hyperbaric oxygen boosts cell renewal and repairs damage. These amazing results are enhanced with regenerating organic golden millet oil. The myo-col lift technique, combining the pure collagen mask and myofascial lifting massage, sculpts face, neck and shoulder contours, providing an instant lift. Relaxation is further enhanced with the choice of a soothing acupressure scalp massage, leg and foot massage, hand and arm massage or digestion-calming stomach massage. The spa also offers a variety of massages (including sports massage); a nail salon with a manicure that includes champagne; and body treatments involving caviar. That’s what we call luxury.

Dorchester Grill

Photo Credit: The Dorchester

Last, but certainly not least, there are five restaurants on site at the hotel—The Grill, Alain Ducasse, The Spatisserie, The Promenade, and China Tang—as well as three bars. The three Michelin-star Alain Ducasse is the obvious highlight, a symphony of French cuisine courtesy of celebrated and pioneering French chef, Alain Ducasse, who holds a total of 19 Michelin stars. For the most opulent of dining experiences, request the  ‘Table Lumière.’ Cocooned by a luminescent curtain of 4,500 shimmering fibre optics, guests can enjoy the ambience and buzz of the restaurant whilst being screened from view. For an experience that brings you back to the hotel’s original roots, dine at The Grill. Established in 1931, the vibrant and timeless design of the restaurant fuses the hotel’s elegance with a contemporary tone. Creative details, such as pivoting wall panels, create a separate ambience from day to night. And while this restaurant has existed from the beginning, it recently underwent its third reincarnation, as a sparkling jewel of zinc, copper and glass. It’s a place to enjoy a perfectly prepared steak from chef Guillaume Katola and a bottle of your favorite Bordeaux. 

Alain Ducasse

Other luxury touches not found in a room, restaurant or spa are rife here, too. The hotel’s fleet of house cars include some truly amazing vehicles, such as a Rolls Royce Phantom – regular and EWB (extended wheelbase); Bentley Mulsanne; Bentley Flying Spur; Range Rover Vogue – regular and EWB (extended wheelbase); Mercedes-Maybach S 600; Mercedes S-Class; BMW 7 Series executive saloon; and Mercedes Viano.

So make your reservation now, and expect to feel as pampered, as rich and as famous as Liz Taylor ever did.

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