Dukes London - History and Facts | History Hit

Dukes London

Mayfair, London, United Kingdom

Tristan Parker

20 Sep 2021
Image Credit: Alla Tsyganova / Shutterstock

About Dukes London

Dukes is a luxury hotel and bar in Mayfair, an affluent area of London, England. Its famed visitors include author Ian Fleming, composer Edward Elgar and perhaps even Princess Diana.

History of Dukes London

The site that Dukes London now occupies – on St James’s Place – has held a wide variety of venues over the centuries. In 1532 Henry VIII built St James’s Palace on the site, which was formerly occupied by a hospital for treating leprosy. The palace was part-hunting lodge, part-escape from court life for Henry, while apparently also acting as a secret meeting place for the king and Anne Boleyn before she became his second wife.

Before Dukes London opened in 1908, nearby townhouses in St James’s Place hosted the likes of Oscar Wilde, Lord Byron, composer Frédéric Chopin (who lived in one of the houses shortly before his final London performance) and composer Edward Elgar, who was also a regular guest at Dukes in its early years.

Famous faces have been a regular occurrence at Dukes ever since, whether in the hotel, restaurant, bar or all three. Princess Diana and the Queen Mother are both rumoured to have visited Dukes London, for example. Outside of royal figures, one of the most well-known visitors was British author Ian Fleming, creator of the world’s most famous fictional spy, James Bond. Fleming was a regular at Dukes Bar, and after seeing its elegant, lavish interior, it seems like the ideal place for 007 (and his similarly stylish creator) to enjoy a drink.

There are various tales attached to Fleming’s time at Dukes Bar, some stating that it was the venue in which he created the iconic Vesper Martini (composed of several measures of gin, one of vodka and half a measure of French liqueur Lillet) that Bond orders in both the novel and film version of Casino Royale. Other stories claim the bar inspired him to coin Bond’s ‘shaken, not stirred’ catchphrase, in reference to how he prefers his martinis.

Dukes London today

Dukes Bar is still known for its martinis, and the bar, hotel and restaurant are still a favourite haunt of those wanting a truly luxurious break. And if martinis aren’t your thing, there’s always the champagne afternoon tea for those after a different take on quintessentially British indulgence.

Getting to Dukes London

Dukes London is a five-minute walk from Buckingham Palace, the Queen of England’s London residence. Many more of London’s most famous sights and attractions are also within easy reach of Dukes, including Westminster Abbey and the National Gallery.

Green Park Tube station is a short walk from Dukes, and other tube stations (and numerous bus stops) are also nearby.

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