Dorchester awash in bathing luxury

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LONDON -- Splish, splash, I was taking a bath, long about a Saturday night.

And with apologies to the memory of Bobby Darin, there I was, rub-a-dub just relaxing in the tub, thinking everything was all right -- what with a snifter of cognac in one hand and a Cuban cigar in the other.

Ah, the luxury.

Ah, the indulgence.

Ah, shoot, got to keep those cigar ashes out of the bathwater.

The venue for this exercise in indulgence was a large and luxurious bathroom at London's fabled Dorchester hotel, a space apart that is less an appendage to a typical executive double room than it is a livable, lovable retreat one could call -- praise the Lord and pass the ablutions -- an activity center with hot and cold running water.

Tiled in square yards of Italian marble of the kind and quality you don't find at your neighborhood Home Depot quarry, the Dorchester bathroom features all the usual unmentionables (after all, let's be practical) and then some, such as a bidet; a glass-enclosed stall shower the size of a walk-in closet; an illuminated, highly magnified shaving mirror presumably for men so fastidious they prefer to shave their beard one whisker at a time; a towel rack that actually heats towels; and that aforementioned, awesome, Olympic-size bathtub.

All in all, just the place for a little R&R -- starting with a splash (or it is a splish?) in one's tubwater of honey and almond bath oil from a display of high-style Floris amenities arrayed like religious icons atop the double sink. They are replaced each morning by my housekeeper as quickly as they disappeared into my suitcase as souvenirs the night before.

My regimen for coming clean during a sybaritic soak then proceeded with lockstep predictability once the bathwater was just so and had reached chin-level depth: A bit of face time with my bar of lavender and citrus soap; a lime, lemon and mandarin body wash; a spearmint-and-spice shampoo and separate conditioner; and an almond oil and aloe vera moisturizing treatment.

Talk about the sweet smell of success.

Towel-dried and resplendent in my plush terry robe, I was a walking, talking air freshener.

Now don't get me wrong. There's more to a stay at the Dorchester than resplendently outfitted bathrooms. Each one actually comes with a bedroom or a suite as sort of a throw-in.

And impressive accommodations they are. In addition to closet space that would do a nightclub checkroom proud, my spacious bedroom came equipped with a Web-enabled, 42-inch plasma-screen TV and enough high-tech gizmos to keep Bill Gates globally connected, as well as antique furniture, the finest of furnishings and fabrics, and a balcony view of Hyde Park.

Nevertheless, for the purposes of this report, it is the Dorchester bathroom whose praises I sing. Jonathan Swift, after all, got it right back in 1710 when he described his "Tale of a Tub" as "written for the universal improvement of mankind."

I have lesser ambitions. My tale only has visitors to London in mind.

Packages ease strain on wallet

LONDON -- The quality and class represented by the Dorchester does not come cheap. The rack rate for the executive double deluxe room in which I stayed is $640 per night, exclusive of service charges and VAT, which comes to about 17.5%.

However, the Dorchester offers a number of packages that bring the cost down a bit while including some notable added-value elements. For example, the Weekender/One Night plan, which goes for $490, includes a night in a superior double room for two, full English breakfast and VAT. It is available throughout the year on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. For two nights, including a Saturday-night stay, the rate is about $939.

For more information, visit the Dorchester's Web site at www.dorchesterhotel.com. -- J.R.

To contact Executive Editor Joe Rosen, send e-mail to [email protected].

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