The Butlers at Buckingham Gate
By Chris and Don McBeath

We were a stone’s throw from Buckingham Palace, staying at such a discreet address even the London cabbie was thrown off its scent. He insisted the address was a swank hotel; we dared to suggest that "He with The Knowledge" was wrong. Our cabbie’s cockney accent quickly rose by decibels and just as it became unintelligible his reputation was saved. There, on a red brick wall beside a gated entrance to a hidden courtyard were 16 brass letters: 51 Buckingham Gate.

As one of London’s newest addresses, 51 Buckingham Gate is a jewel to rival the palace itself. The three Victorian High-Empire mansions which make up the complex have distinctive ornamental facades while inside, a multi million dollar facelift has converted them into 82 luxury suites and apartments.

If you’re a member of the heavy wallet brigade, this is the address to choose. And even if you’re not, a stay here will allow you the dream. Furnishings are first class and include pampering touches such as a faux fur bed blanket, a complimentary bar complete with Villeroy & Boch glassware, and designer label amenities: Turnbull & Asser lounging robes, Bulgari bath products, custom-made Irish 300-count linens, and a fully stocked kitchen of Italian cookware and gourmet foods. Buckingham Gate guests can also enjoy a fitness club, business centre and comfortable lounge as well as two fine-dining restaurants, a Shisheido spa and the full services of The Crowne Plaza Hotel next door. The chauffeur driven shuttle to Harrods is a real treat as are the custom-tailored services provided by your very own butler.

Trained by the renowned butler Ivor Spencer, these"Jeeves" professionals have been reinvented for the 21st century. Spencer himself has butlered for royalty at Buckingham Palace as well as for the Duke and Duchess of York, Prince and Princess Michael of Kent and for many heads of state, while his proteges work worldwide for Arab princes, CEOs and celebrities. In California, butlers have now become the ultimate status symbol, easily surpassing vehicles with the prestigious RR insignia.

At 51 Buckingham Gate, butlering is somewhat of an experiment in gracious service and is certainly giving the address a definitive competitive edge. Catering to a guest’s every need, butlers offer personal shopping assistance, can arrange for private dinner parties, function as a private secretary and provide that extra bit of luxury by running the bath, serving cocktails or even breakfast in bed.

Spencer-trained butlers are impeccable. They know about fine wines, dinner service, concierge duties, manners, grace and good grooming. They’re told to brush their teeth no less than six times a day; scrape their tongue at least one a day, ensure nails are always manicured and to go easy on style and jewelry because their primary concern is never to upstage their client in look or personality. This last requirement is apparently why butlering is favoured more by men than by women.

To be butlered by professionals is a remarkable experience in large part because it shares a kind of polite intimacy. Butlers personify the art of discretion and, with their mantras of service:"No problem, Sir" and "Right away, Madam", they provide a constant credo that help make a stay at 51 Buckingham Gate a very charmed one indeed. Besides if truth be known, isn’t there a certain panache to being able to say "the butler did it"?

If You Go:

51 Buckingham Gate Luxury Suites & Apartments
London SW1E 6AF
Tel: +44 (0)20 7769 7766

Web site:

Air Canada, and British Airways are only two examples of airlines offering special return air fares to London, England. We recommend taking the 15-minute Heathrow Express to Paddington Station and then catching a London cab.

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