Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Hotels in London
Before the 19th century there were few if any large hotels in London. British country landowners often lived in London for part of the year, but they usually rented a house if they did not own one, rather than staying in a hotel. The numbers of business visitors and foreign visitors was very small by modern standards. The accomodation avaialable to them included lodging houses and coaching inns. Lodging houses were more like private homes with rooms to let than commercial hotels, and were often run by widows. Coaching inns served passengers from the stage coaches which were the main means of long distance passenger transport before the railway network began to develop in the 1830s. The last surviving galleried coaching inn in London is the George Inn which now belongs to the National Trust.
A few hotels on a more modern model also existed in the early 19th century. For example Mivart's, the precursor of Claridge's, opened its doors in 1812, but up to the mid 19th century London hotels were generally small. In his travel book North America (1862) the novelist Anthony Trollope remarked on how much larger American hotels were than British ones. But by this time the railways had already begun to bring far more short term visitors to London, and the railway companies themselves took the lead in accomodating them by building a series of "railway hotels" near to their London termini. These buildings were seen as status symbols by the railway companies, which were the largest businesses in the country at the time, and some of them were very grand. They included:
- The Midland Grand Hotel at St. Pancras (closed 1935; due to reopen in modified form in 2007)
- The Great Western Hotel at Paddington (now the Hilton London Paddington)
- The Great Northern Hotel at Kings Cross (currently closed for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link works)
- The Great Eastern Hotel at Liverpool Street (still open under its original name)
- The Charing Cross Hotel at Charing Cross station (now the Thistle Charing Cross)
- The Great Central Hotel at Marylebone (now The Landmark Hotel)
Many other large hotels were built in London in the Victorian period. The Langham Hotel was the largest in the city when it opened in 1865, and was also the first building in England with hydraulic lifts. The Savoy, which opened in 1889, was the first London hotel with ensuite bathrooms to every room. Nine years later Claridge's was rebuilt in its current form. The most famous London hotel of all, the Ritz opened in 1908.
The upper end of the London hotel business continued to flourish between the two World Wars, boosted by the fact that many landowning families could no longer afford to maintain a London house and therefore began to stay at hotels instead, and by an increasing number of foreign visitors, especially Americans. Famous hotels which opened in this era included the Grosvenor House Hotel and the Dorchester.
The rate of hotel construction in London was fairly low in the quarter century after World War II and the famous old names retained their dominance of the top end of the market. The most notable hotel of this era was probably The London Hilton on Park Lane, a controversial concrete tower overlooking Hyde Park. Advances in air travel increased the number of overseas visitors to Lonodn from 1.6 million in 1963 to 6 million in 1974. In order to provide hotels to meet the extra demand a Hotel Development Incentive Scheme was introduced and a building boom ensued. This lead to overcapacity in the London hotel market from the late 1970s to the mid 1980s. Construction then picked up again, but it was soon curtailed by the recession of the early 1990s and the 1991 Gulf War.
In the mid 1990s there was a major acceleration in the number of new hotels being opened, including hotels of many different types from country house style hotels in Victorian houses to ultra trendy minimalist hang outs. At this time some of London's grandest early 20th century office buildings were converted into hotels because their layouts, with numerous separate offices were incompatible with the preference for open plan working, but their listed status made it hard to get permsission to demolish them. This period also saw the opening of the first five star hotel in London south of the River Thames, the Marriott County Hall Hotel, and the first two in East London, the Four Seasons Canary Wharf and the Marriott West India Quay, which is also close to the Canary Wharf development. Surprisingly for many years there were no hotels at all in the City of London even though the financial firms of the City were one of the London hotel sector's most lucrative sources of custom, but in recent years over a thousand hotel rooms have opened in the City, and many more are planned. Budget hotel chains such as Travel Inn and Travelodge have also been expanding rapidly in London since the mid 1990s.
Hotels in modern London
According to figures produced in support of London's 2012 Olympic bid, there were more than 70,000 three to five star hotel rooms within 10 kilometres of Central London in 2003. The main concentration of luxury hotels is in the West End, especially in Mayfair. London's five star hotels are quite small on average by international standards. The largest has only 459 rooms and nine of them have fifty or less. The range is very wide, including:
- Traditional purpose built grand hotels such as the Ritz, the Savoy and the Dorchester.
- Recent conversions of grand late 19th and early 20th century office buildings into hotels such as One Aldwych and the Renaissance Chancery Court.
- Townhouse hotels like 13 Half Moon Street.
- Modern chain hotels like the Four Seasons London and the London Hilton on Park Lane.
- Modern boutique designer hotels like the St Martins Lane Hotel.
Hotels below the five star category are found throughout the city, but tend to be slightly futher away from the key centres of activity. The largest concentration of mid priced hotels is probably in Bloomsbury on the northern side of the city centre. The biggest cluster of hotels in the suburbs is around Heathrow Airport, most of which are modern chain hotels.
The developers of both London Bridge Tower and the Columbus Tower plan to let part of their buildings to hotel operators. Whichever of these buildings is completed first will become the tallest building in London. London Bridge Tower is the taller of the two.
List of five star hotels
|13 Half Moon Street Apartments and Hotel||Mayfair||10||In a 1730 house; an adjunct to the 4 star Flemings Hotel.|
|22 Jermyn Street||St James's||22||townhouse hotel; owned by Togna family since 1915|
|41 Hotel||Westminster||20||boutique hotel|
|Athenauem Hotel and Apartments||Mayfair||157||modern|
|Baglioni Hotel||South Kensington||66||occupies a group of Victorian houses|
|The Bentley Kempinski||South Kensington||64||occupies Victorian buildings|
|The Berkeley||Belgravia||160||modern building; opened 1972|
|Blakes Hotel||South Kensington||51||occupies a group of Victorian houses|
|Brown's Hotel||Mayfair||118||occupies eleven townhouses|
|Carlton Tower Hotel||Knightsbridge||220||modern|
|Claridge's||Mayfair||197||London's most aristocratic hotel; founded 1812 and rebuilt 1898|
|Connaught Hotel||Mayfair||90||traditional grand hotel|
|Conrad London Hotel||Chelsea||160||overlooks the marina at Chelsea Harbour|
|Courthouse Hotel Kempinski||Bloomsbury||116||occupies a classical former magistrates court;modern rooms|
|Covent Garden Hotel||Covent Garden||58||English country house style|
|Dorchester Hotel||Mayfair||238||opened 1931; art deco exterior and "Georgian country house" rooms|
|Draycott Hotel||Chelsea||35||occupies three 1890s houses|
|Four Seasons Canary Wharf||Canary Wharf||142||modern chain hotel; opened c. 2001|
|Four Seasons London||Mayfair||220||modern chain hotel|
|Franklin Hotel||Knightsbridge||50||opened 1992 in four Victorian houses; English country house style|
|Goring Hotel||Victoria||74||built 1910; traditional English style|
|Grange City Hotel||City of London||240||opened this century|
|Grange Holborn Hotel||Holborn||200||opened in a new building in the late 1990s|
|Great Eastern Hotel||City of London||267||Victorian railway hotel; reopened 2000|
|Grosvenor House Hotel||Mayfair||446||built 1928|
|Intercontinental||Mayfair||458||modern; most rooms of any central London 5 star hotel|
|Landmark Hotel||Marylebone Road||299||Victorian grand hotel; opened in 1899 as a railway hotel|
|Lanesborough Hotel||Knightsbridge||95||traditional grand hotel|
|Langham Hotel||Marylebone||429||London's largest hotel when it opened in 1865|
|Le Meridien Hotel Piccadilly||Mayfair||266||traditional grand hotel|
|The London Hilton on Park Lane||Mayfair||450||modern; London's tallest hotel|
|Marriott County Hall Hotel||South Bank||200||occupies part of the neo-baroque London County Hall.|
|Marriott Grand Residence||Mayfair||49||built 1926|
|Marriott London Grosvenor Square||Mayfair||221||early 20th century neo-Georgian|
|Marriott London Park Lane||Mayfair||157||built 1919|
|Marriott West India Quay||Canary Wharf||348||built 2004; 301 rooms and 47 apartments|
|Millenium Hotel Mayfair||Mayfair||348||early 20th century neo-Georgian|
|One Aldwych||The Strand||105||early 21st century interiors in an early 20th century neo-baroque office building|
|Park Lane Hotel||Mayfair||307||traditional grand hotel|
|Radisson Edwardian Hampshire Hotel||Leicester Square||124||English country house style|
|Radisson Edwardian Heathrow Hotel||Heathrow||459||modern|
|Radisson Edwardian Mayfair Hotel||Mayfair||289||modern|
|Renaissance Chancery Court Hotel||Holborn||356||opened in the 1990s in a grand 1914 office building|
|Ritz Hotel||St James's||133||opened 1906; French chateau style building; possibly the most famous hotel in the world|
|Royal Garden Hotel||Kensington||398||modern|
|Sanderson Hotel||Fitzrovia||150||Ian Schrager minimalist hotel|
|Savoy Hotel||The Strand||207||traditional grand hotel; opened 1889 - first in London with ensuites to all rooms|
|Sloane Hotel||Chelsea||22||occupies some Victorian houses|
|Sheraton Park Tower Hotel||Knightsbridge||181||modern|
|Sofitel St James||St James's||186||opened c.2000 in a grand classical former bank headquarters|
|Stafford Hotel||St James's||80||English country house style|
|St Martins Lane Hotel||Covent Garden||204||1990s Philippe Starck minimalism in a 1960s office block|
|Swissotel London, The Howard||near The Strand||189||modern|
|Thistle Hyde Park Hotel||Bayswater||54||occupies some Italianate Victorian houses|
|Threadneedles City Boutique Hotel||City of London||69||occupies a banking hall built in 1865|
|Trafalgar Hilton||Trafalgar Square||129||opened 2001; contemporary building behind a retained facade|
|Waldorf Hilton||near The Strand||303||grand hotel built in 1908; contemporary interiors from c.2003 refit|
|Westbury Hotel Mayfair||Mayfair||247||mid 20th century|
Other notable hotels
- The 1,630 bedroom Royal National Hotel in Bloomsbury is the largest hotel in the United Kingdom by number of rooms.
- The Hilton London Metropole in Paddington is the largest 4-star hotel in London and the United Kingdom. It has 1,058 bedrooms and extensive conference facilities.
- The Russell Hotel in Russell Square, Bloomsbury, which dates from 1898, has one of the grandest exteriors of any London hotel, but it is rated 4-star.
- The Thistle Tower Hotel near Tower Bridge is one of the largest hotels in London with over 800 rooms, and is widely regarded as one of the ugliest and most insensitively located brutalist buildings in the city.
- In 2005 planning permission was granted for the creation of a new hotel at St Pancras railway station. This will incorporate parts of the former Midland Grand Hotel, probably the most spectacular hotel building ever constructed in London, which operated from 1873 to 1935.
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