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Celebrities are dropping their reservations about The Dorchester ahead of new bar grand opening


When the Sultan of Brunei announced he was planning to incorporate sharia law into his country's penal code, meaning gay people faced being stoned to death, famous names including George Clooney and U.S. chat show host Ellen DeGeneres called for a boycott of the nine hotels he owns around the world.


Sir Elton John and Stephen Fry were among those who declared in 2014 that they would refuse to stay at the sultan's Mayfair outpost, The Dorchester.


So I'm surprised to learn that a host of other prominent figures plan to descend on the hotel tomorrow for a party to celebrate the opening of The Vesper Bar there. It's designed by Martin Brudnizki, who lives in West London with his partner, Jonathan Brook.


'Clearly, celebrity boycotts don't last long,' remarks a society figure. 'As soon as social media moves on to the next fashionable bandwagon, they all quietly forget about it.' Another person involved in tomorrow's launch is party planner and self-styled 'Queen Sloane' Henry Conway, who held his 40th birthday at The Dorchester earlier this year.


'The Dorchester as a group operate a very clear and positive LGBTQ policy,' he tells me.


The Dorchester Hotel is ready for the Coronation of King Charles


The Sultan of Brunei Darussalam Haji Hassanal Bolkiah poses as he arrives at the EU-ASEAN summit at the European Council headquarters in Brussels


'Morally, of course, I don't agree with sharia law.


'My view is that you can change it from the inside. The party that I threw was very gay.


'You've got to bring the gay community to the table — that's how to change this.'


He adds: 'As a gay man, I'm very passionate about gay rights around the world. Bit by bit, they're slowly changing.


'I'm a big believer that the youth will change it, too. The Sultan is an old man, very religious, very conservative, but the younger generation aren't of that persuasion.


'I mean, the hotel's got Liberace's piano in the middle of it. That's not an unsubtle message, is it?'


Brudnizki declines to comment, while a hotel spokesman tells me: 'The Dorchester has a long-standing reputation for diversity and inclusion.'

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