Hotel Review: Dukes St James’s in Mayfair, London

The bar at Duke's which is famous for the "Shaken, not stirred" James Bond catchphrase.

The bar at Duke's which is famous for the "Shaken, not stirred" James Bond catchphrase. - Credit: Archant

The Mayfair hotel dubbed James Bond’s spiritual home has been tagged on a bucket list of “101 things to do and see before you die” by English tourism bosses.

Duke's hotel

Duke's hotel - Credit: Archant

Tucked away around the corner from the hustle and bustle of the Ritz, Dukes Hotel in St James’s Place is perfect base for a family weekend escape - and that’s exactly why my three children and I were headed to the little boutique hotel.

Duke's hotel conservatory

Duke's hotel conservatory - Credit: Archant

The grandeur of its quintessentially British style strikes you the moment you walk through its old wooden doors.

Just a short walk away from the hotel...

Just a short walk away from the hotel... - Credit: Archant

The bar here boasts an extensive Martini list and was a favourite haunt of Bond author Ian Flemming, who honoured it as the inspiration for his “shaken not stirred” catchphrase.

Afternoon tea at Duke's hotel

Afternoon tea at Duke's hotel - Credit: Archant

The regal feel was not lost on any of us, as my five-year old daughter perched on the velvet seat in the old-fashioned wooden lift, a relic from the past, up to our lavish family suite named after The Duke of Portland.

Its soft blue furnishings and grand sweeping curtains contrasted beautifully with the dark wooden furniture embellished with gold handles, and the marble bathroom was luxurious.

The children felt like royalty as they devoured the chilled glass of Belgian chocolate milk and home baked cookies delivered by our concierge to the drawing room.

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Soon after we made our way to the hotel’s tranquil pastel toned lounge, breathing in the wonderful smell of massive lily bouquets adorning the corridors, to enjoy a sumptuous afternoon tea.

The adults were served Coronation chicken, ham and tomato and cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches, strawberry jam scones with clotted cream and a beautiful array of little cakes, while the children enjoyed their own feast of mini cakes, sandwiches, and milkshakes presented on a princess castle tier.

My five-year old daughter remarked she had never seen such pretty cups as the delicate bone china crockery and silver tea pots were laid out in front of us, as we relaxed aside the cosy fireplace.

Following our feast we decided to explore the Royal Parks surrounding the hotel which is just a short walking distance from Clarence House, Spencer House, St James’s Palace Westminster and Buckingham Palace.

It’s just a five minute walk to St James Park which was in full bloom.

It’s funny to think that 470 years ago the St James’s area was known mainly for farms, woods and a hospital for women lepers, as now it’s at the heart of ceremonial London, sitting next to the Mall and Horse Guards Parade.

We made our way through the park - my daughter chasing squirrels along the way and ogling the storks which frequent its lake - and up to one of the Queen’s many homes, Buckingham Palace, pondering her lavish existence.

We tired ourselves out in the chill air and were happy to be greeted by Dukes’ comfy beds on our return.

Breakfast is one of my favourite things about staying in hotels, and Dukes does not disappoint.

In the surrounds of its Thirty Six restaurant we were spoiled with a choice of freshly cooked English breakfast from the a la carte menu and a delicious array of croissants and cereals.

Once our feast ended we were all very excited to find the Changing of the Guard taking place in the park nearby.

Guards in their splendid red tunics and bearskin hats were marching down The Mall accompanied by spirit-soaring music from the guards’ band.

One of the oldest and most famous ceremonies associated with Buckingham Palace, the proper name of the 45-minute ceremony is actually Guard Mounting, and the process sees a New Guard exchanging duty with the Old Guard.

It usually takes place daily during spring and summer starting in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace.

It’s well worth a look-in to marvel at the pomp and circumstance and bizarre old-fashioned ceremonies that having a monarchy entails.

With the Royal Parks on its doorstep and London’s key attractions including the iconic toy shop Hamleys and the West End theatres within easy reach, Dukes offers an unrivalled location for anyone looking to spend a weekend in the capital.