If The Dorchester was a drink it would definitely be champagne – it’s effervescent, exclusive and ever so much fun! Since its opening in 1931, The Dorchester has been one of the most desirable places in the world to stay achieving legendary status for its exemplary facilities, immaculate service and outstanding dining. During its eighty-year history, royalty, world leaders, celebrities, musicians and cultural luminaries have graced The Dorchester with their presence so imagine my delight when a few weeks ago I was lucky enough to take a peek behind its renowned revolving door.
The Dorchester has been an essential stop for the high-profiled and well-heeled for nearly a century. From its opening in the 1930s which attracted eminent artists like Cecil Beaton, Somerset Maugham and Noel Coward, to the war years when General Eisenhower set up headquarters alongside Winston Churchill, to sensational 1960s Jet Set that included Frank Sinatra and Elizabeth Taylor, to the superstars of the Eighties, Nineties and Noughties, every celebrity worth their salt has been spotted at The Dorchester. Recent Dorchester darlings include Ben Stiller, Al Pacino, Oprah Winfrey, Sir Elton John, and Lady Gaga to name just a few.
As the doorman, in his heavy gold-braided green coat, escorted me into the lavish lobby of The Dorchester I felt like I had made it! The entrance is suitably dramatic for the establishment’s celebrated patrons; reminiscent of a spectacular stage set, the marble-clad lobby resembles a proscenium arch with two splendid reception desks at its wings. Its players are provided in the form of an unending stream of models and yummy Mayfair mummies, international industrialist and suited-and-booted businessmen. The Dorchester runs as smoothly as the well-oiled Bentleys that sit outside: this is the kind of place where if Britney wants a hundred Marilyn Monroe DVDs and a selection of “chick lit”, they will be carefully arranged in her bookcase, or if J-Lo turns up with sixty-six suitcases and insists on Jo Malone candles, suitable stowage will be found and the room will undoubtedly reek of Lime Basil & Mandarin. The Dorchester is, of course, much too discreet to divulge these star secrets but a quick search on the internet provides ample confidential celebrity demands that have been met with ease by the world’s most agreeable hotel.
Celebrity, and non-celebrity, guests residing at The Dorchester can expect round-the-clock pleasure and delight. I was treated to some Star Treatment in the hotel’s beautiful Belgravia Suite. Favoured by many celebrated guests, these suites overlook Park Lane and Hyde Park and are opulently decorated in traditional yet timeless English fashion. Rich wood panelling complements the plush furnishings, elegant fireplace and oriental rugs in the sitting room, and a four-poster bed and Italian marble bathroom, boasting London’s deepest tub and a range of bespoke Floris amenities, combine to provide a truly A-list experience. Cosseted amidst such luxury it was difficult to leave my sumptuous surroundings and obvious why Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor fell madly in love in the hotel’s Harlequin Suite. But duty called, so after a quick plunge in the bathtub it was time for tea.
The restaurants and bars are in a class of their own, and dining at The Dorchester is on every icons itinerary. Whether it be taking afternoon tea in The Promenade, hanging with the celebs at Tang, or enjoying some fancy French cuisine at the booked-months-in-advance Alain Ducasse, there’s an abundance of taste bud titillation on offer. We opted for a champagne-fuelled feast at The Grill and, even though my Seventies-inspired jumpsuit clashed badly with the tartan-filled interiors, being a Glasgow girl originally I loved the quirky design, which looked like it had been realised by the love child of Vivienne Westwood and Braveheart! Service was, as expected, impeccable and refreshingly fun, and the adventurous menu proved to be an absolute joy.
The Spa at The Dorchester is definitely one of the most glamorous on the planet and has devotees that include Sophie Dahl, Elle Macpherson and Vanessa Hudgens. I was utterly seduced by The Spa’s unashamedly opulent, navy and ivory, Art Deco inspired decor and loved the gorgeous Spatisserie where it is the custom for guests to enjoy champagne, cakes and cocktails pre and post-treatment. The sublime spa space features a show-stopping chandelier of 72,000 South Pacific white pearls, decadent blue velvet day beds and lashings of lilies – I wouldn’t have been surprised if Greta Garbo had swanned out of one of the nine treatment rooms. The Spa has teamed up with some of the world’s leading beauty practitioners, from the supreme facialist Vaishaly to celeb-favourite and anti-aging specialist Carol Joy London, to Aromatherapy Associates and Kerstin Florian, to offer the ultimate beauty experience. A suite for manicures and pedicures is also available, as is hairdresser to the stars, Royston Blythe.
I had some serious handbag envy going on during my visit! A glambag is de rigueur at The Dorchester so grab a Great British design like this cute clutch from Nadia Minkoff to garner some green-eyed glances.
The Dorchester: Park Lane, London W1 (020 7629 8888; www.thedorchester.com). Doubles from £265