HIDDEN GEMS: THE FLAWLESS DIAMONDS OF THE DORCHESTER




“The Dorchester was, and still is, the elite hotel – the choice of film stars and show business legends.” William Boyd, Author


NICKY SUMMER: THERE’S ONE VERY BRITISH ICON that’s right up there at the top of the ‘must-do’ list of any luxury aficionado, and that’s The Dorchester on Park Lane. The gilt embellished decor is lavish and the statuesque floral arrangements at the entrance are legendary; the restaurants such as ‘China Tang’ and ‘The Grill’ are highly regarded independently and the hotel is the scene of many of London’s top events, such as The Cartier Awards, and VIP weddings. However, The Dorchester’s golden key to long time success is it’s ability to operate in the same vein as a smaller boutique hotel by cultivating service to provide a personalised experience for guests, rather than one fulfilled according to rote. The staff are truly The Dorchester’s ‘Hidden Gems’ – and as we all know, ‘Diamonds Are Forever’…



When staying in the vast Dorchester Suite on the fourth floor of the hotel, high above Park Lane, there was a personal butler on standby and the same individual members of staff provided room service and turndown throughout. This led to interesting and unexpected conversations on vegetarian diets, acting as a career, what it’s like to be a butler in a large hotel, etc – and the housekeeper, Fatima (I still remember her name, even now), was kind enough to volunteer to massage my leg because it was hurting after a fall. In other words, I felt welcomed, cared for, that I had some form of bonding relationship with those looking after me – and I did literally receive the personal touch…



Not every hotel appreciates the importance of extending small, comforting gestures but these are what makes a trip truly memorable and converts the once-in-a-lifetime guest into a regularly returning guest and unofficial roving ambassador. For example, the heartwarming welcome note from the management, the ingredients for my favourite cocktail sitting on the bar in my suite, my preferred pillow choice (noted from a previous occasion I stayed there), my favourite flowers and a huge bowl of fruit in the double reception room. When The Dorchester lays on hospitality, it does it in style, and with careful consideration…


As a luxury hotel ‘insider’ in some ways, I know first-hand the time, thought and creative effort it takes to produce a highly personalised experience (a few hotel groups have a team specially appointed to creating just this for their guests) and when reception staff at The Dorchester say ‘Welcome to your London home’, they say it with justification and genuinely mean it…



Reception and concierge members are another key to success – they are first in line to meet the guest and first impressions count. After a long journey, most guests are tired, sensitive and just want to get to their room, so any distracted or cool energy from reception or concierge is immediately picked up on. Nothing may be said at the time, but they set the tone for the entire visit and in the words of the late Maya Angelou, ‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel…’


At The Dorchester, the doormen are guaranteed to be smiling, cheerful and helpful; inside the front desk staff are polite and efficient. Upstairs, the back of house team keep a tight ship and set the standard for other grand hotels around the world. These ‘hidden (in plain sight) gems’ are the ones that keep the name of The Dorchester polished and sparkling over the decades, through thick and thin, through good times and bad – like flawless diamonds set in solid gold…



NICKY SUMMER VIDEO STORIES & STYLE NOTES: “Hotels in The Dorchester Collection are long time favourites of mine – they truly set the standard in magnificent hospitality fit for royalty or a visiting Hollywood movie star. The Dorchester on Park Lane is classic glamour at it’s best – the type of hotel that featured in old black and white movies – with it’s deep velvet sofas, massive vases filled with roses and lilies and it’s traditional chandeliers. Last December, I was appointed a palatial west-facing corner suite that directly overlooks Hyde Park, with the glittering lights of the annual festive Christmas Wonderland and the sky lit up with the violet/orange sunsets beyond. It was at the same time as the London Film Fair and I was appearing there to sign autographs in my role as a former 007 girl…”



“Unbeknownst to me before I arrived, the suite is accessorised on a James Bond theme – very spacious, four roomed, and dressed with 007 memorabilia. As an added gesture, the room service staff had set up a little ‘shaken not stirred’ scene on the bar which featured an image of Roger Moore, a bottle of vodka, two martini glasses, ice and twists of lemon peel – truly an artwork in itself…”



“The bedroom of the suite is absolutely gorgeous and decorated in cream, ivory, caramel and amber with the centrepiece being an elegant four poster bed upholstered in gold. There’s also a chaise longue, window seat and large flat screen television. The lavish bathroom is lined with white and grey veined marble, the toiletries are from Aromatherapy Associates and there are masses of luxurious white towels…”




“In the living area, there’s sufficient room to entertain around 10 guests with ease… a large mahogany dining table, multiple sofas and chairs, floral decorations, Bond mementos, books by Ian Fleming  – the whole suite oozes international grace and sophistication…”



“During my stay at The Dorchester, I received several special deliveries – including a gift of scented candles from Rob Van Helden, a gown from the Mascara Collection and diamond jewellery from Cartier to be worn at the James Bond event – and found them placed carefully on my bed when I arrived back from a meeting…”



I took breakfast in my suite most mornings – always delivered by the same fun and charming room service waiter – and ate lunch at ‘Scotts’, ‘Sexy Fish’ and ‘Mortons’ which are all close by. One evening I enjoyed a business dinner at ‘The Grill’ restaurant in the hotel with designer Richard Miers, who creates beautiful landscapes for luxury hotels and residences around the world. The room of ‘The Grill’ was refurbished not long ago and is lined with panels of reflective gold highlighted with zinc and copper – it is simply beautiful and the menu is good for both vegetarians, like myself, and meat eaters like Richard…”





“Later in the week I had an early evening meeting at ‘Annabel’s’, which is very close to The Dorchester, and, although it was dark and drizzly, I decided to walk there while using an umbrella kindly loaned to me by the hotel. On my way back from the club, it was now lashing rain, so I took a taxi and the cab driver delivered me to the front of the hotel with the classic words: ‘You’re safely back home, love – best address in the world, The Dorchester! All the top people stay in there when they come to London! James Bond and ANYONE WHO’S ANYONE!!!!’ All I could reply was ‘Believe me – I know…I know!’, before I dashed inside for a chilled Martini at the bar – shaken, not stirred, of course…”


THE DORCHESTER: http://www.thedorchester.com



SHAKEN NOT STIRRED’ AT THE DORCHESTER:



*Martini master classes are provided at The Bar at The Dorchester by expert alchemist Bar Manager Giuliano Morandin, who joined the hotel almost 40 years ago. The very particular recipe for a classic Martini, James Bond style, as described in the 007 book ‘Solo’: “Ice in the shaker, add a slurp of vermouth, pour out the vermouth, add the gin, shake well, strain into a chilled glass, and add a slice of lemon peel, no pith”.  



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