It wasn't until the 19th century that London began to see a rise in the
traditional type of hotels we know of these days. Even then they tended to be
much smaller in size than their counter parts across the Atlantic in America.
Historically lodging in London was the preserve of guests houses (or lodging
houses as they were known) and coaching inns. There wasn't a tourist industry as
we see today and the rich would tend to rent accommodation rather than stay in a
hotel. Coaching Inns provided two facilities for mail and stage coaches. Firstly
they allowed teams of horses to be changed for fresh ones and they also served
the stage coach passengers with a place to sleep and eat. Until the railway
network became widespread after the 1830's stage coaches were the main form of
mass transportation for the public. Today just a single example of the old
coaching inns remains, the George Inn on Borough High Street in Southwark.
Some statistical background came be drawn from an issue of the Penny Magazine, a
weekly London newspaper of its day. The April 8th edition of 1837 gives the
In 1837 there was 396 inns, hotels and taverns in total (but not including pubs
that allowed overnight accommodation for their customers).
Private guest houses numbered 34.
Hotels that were deemed to be of a high standard were called 'Palace Inns'
numbered around 30. They were all located around the area we know of today as
the West End. (bear in mind that at this time London was very much smaller than
the area we know of today which covers the inner areas of the M25 motorway).
Examples that existed at that time were:
Mivarts (later to become
Mivarts at 48 Davies Street (to become part of Claridge's in 1894)
Warrens Hotel on Waterloo Place (Lower Regent Street)
Fenton's in St James's Street
Limmer's on the corner of George Street W1 and Conduit Street
Clarendon Hotel on New Bond Street
Clarendon Hotel on Albemarle Street
The Burlington on Old Burlington Street
Wrights Hotel on Dover Street
It was the Commercial Inns that could be found scattered across London.
In 2000 it was reported that London had some 1170 hotels and bed and breakfast
accommodations known to the English Tourism Council / London Tourist Board. The
modern rise in hotel numbers began between the two world wars.
The accommodation sector started to grow in the mid eighteenth century as the
railways grew and passenger numbers soared bringing more and more visitors to
London. Around the same time London became
more and more expensive to live in and it became the norm to stay in hotels rather
than second homes. In modern times between 1970 and 1985 the
number of visitors to London increased by 50% leading to a new boost in hotel
numbers. During the late 80's and through the 90's redundant office blocks were
becoming common in London and led to hotel chains transforming them into Hotels.
Examples include One Aldwych
St Martins Lane Hotel
By the turn of 20th century to the Millennium hotel numbers were also being
driven by a surge in the conference market of which London is now a major world
player. During 1980 and 2000 by far the biggest increase in Bedroom Numbers has
been in the City of London
with a staggering rise of 1700%.
Although the first budget targeted hotels appeared in the mid 1980's it wasn't
until around 2000 that this type of accommodation really started to grow
substantially. Then with the announcement that London as to host the 2012
Olympics came an explosion in the number of budget oriented hotels and dedicated
budget chains. These are the
Inn or Lodge type hotels and the market is dominated by
Holiday Inn Express
Huge increase in hotel openings with 7000 rooms added compared to 3,500 for 2015.
Luxury hotel market takes a big hit with lowest occupancy levels since 2009.
Biggest growth is budget hotels in outer London areas as opposed to the more
traditional central areas. October saw the biggest drop in
the average daily rate since 2001 falling by 7.7% year on year to £149.92.
February 2015, London is the most expensive city in Europe for room rates according to hotel provider HRS.
Despite this because of ever rising rental costs in London its become cheaper to
stay in a top hotel than to rent a studio flat. 2015 saw the first real rise asa
significant player in the accommodation sector of airbnb, the online website for
Transaction volumes for hotel sales in the London hotel market was £3.6 billion pounds.
This figure includes the £1.37 billion sale of a share in the Maybourne portfolio of
This was the year that saw the rise in hotel aps. The ability to check in and out, order services or even
adjust bedroom lighting all from your iphone or android phone
is a rising trend throughout London hotels. Londons highest hotel, hotel
restaurant and hotel bar open at
. Montcalm Marble
becomes the first hotel to use Google Glass as part of its customer
service. In October The Amba Charing Cross installed Europes fastest WiFi at
7800 mps download.
Transaction volumes for hotel sales in the London hotel market was £1.8 billion pounds.
The Kensington Hotel
opens the largest suite ever available within a London hotel.
The year continued the large increase in budget hotels with the main battleground being fought between Premier Inn and
remains by far the more popular of the two brands.
This was a massive year for London hotels with the London Olympics having been staged in London. This was motivation for a huge spike in new hotel builds. A one bedroom hotel opened on the top of the Queen Elizabeth Hall at Southbank Centre. Called "A Room For London" it was open for just one year.
The year also sees the increasing rise in Cigar rooms or 'Coasas'. To work
around the UK ban on smoking in public and enclosed areas hotels have been
designing luxury outdoor areas for smokers. To stay within the law these areas
must be at least 50% open. IHG
is the first UK hotel group to adopt the independently set London Living Minimum
Hourly wage in May 2012.
Read About More Years
2011: The Four Seasons Hotel at Heron Plaza
becomes the first purpose built 5 star hotel in central London for 30 years.
largest hotel chain in terms of rooms numbers with the opening of the Travelodge
Ealing in April. This gave them 5714 bedrooms overtaking the 5690 rooms of
: With its 1021 bedrooms the
Plaza Westminster Bridge
becomes the largest hotel ever built in London when
launched on 4th February 2010. London became home to the smallest pop-up hotel in the world on March 16 2010 when a converted Airstream caravan was located at Alexandra Palace as part of a promotional campaign for London. The hotel measured 29 feet by 7 feet and was complete with dedicated concierge, check in desk, room service, a flat screen TV, dining room area, double bed and en-suite facilities. The mobile hotel is to be used at various London locations.
for the year for London Hotels increases by 11.9% to £112.
Mint Hotel Tower
becomes the largest hotel ever built in the City of London
(financial area) with 583 rooms.
: The global credit crunch finally takes its toll on London hotels
with big drops in occupancy, profitability and revenue per room.
However London actually withstood the recession far better than the rest of the
UK and the second half of the year was quite strong for room occupancy in
became the first UK
chain to total over 40,000 rooms. London hotels were the specific target of
campaign group 'London Citizens' to pay workers a 'living wage'. They said there
was a culture of low pay within the industry. Luxury hotels in particularly
dropped their rates substantially to retain guests though ongoing revpar
continued to fall. The year also saw some hefty price battles and reductions in
the budget sector most notably between Premier Inn and Travelodge.
: The Travelodge chain brought a new method of hotel construction to
the market. By importing pre-constructed rooms from China, each one within what looks like
a shipping container, and then slotting and stacking them together, they
are able to save around 20% in construction costs. Even better is that they can
be taken down as easily as they are put together and reused elsewhere.
This method was first used for the
Travelodge Uxbridge Central
; which opened in
August 2008. More widespread was the
the first use of pods, either rooms and/or bathrooms which can be either slotted
into a new build hotel or taken apart and reconstructed inside a renovation
project. The year also saw the continuation in the boom for budget chain hotels
in the run-up to the 2012 Olympics
Research found occupancy drooped by 2.5% for the year to 73.9%
: Yotel pod/capsule hotel opens at Gatwick airport
in July 2007. On July 1st a smoking ban
came into force throughout the UK. The ban was pre-empted by many new built
hotels such as the
Hilton Canary Wharf
who were no-smoking from their opening in the preceding months. Many
other hotels and chains went on to introduce total no-smoking policies after the
A much discussed subject was the cost of internet access in hotels. Widely
considered to be excessive many hotels actually started providing this facility
for free. Chains such as the Radisson
led the way with this policy in all their hotels.
The rise and expansion of branded hotels (chains
has grown to such an extent (70% of rooms in London) that a survey showed 50% of canvassed independent
hotel owners said they were now in direct competition with a branded hotel and
overall 25% said they were losing bookings to the large chains.
There was a large number of hotel name changes as the St Pancras International
Eurostar opened and hotels that had Kings Cross or Euston in their name added St
Pancras to the full name.
: A good year for hotels in London with growth in the revenue per room and
good occupancy levels. Changes in marketing also environmentally policies
becoming an important part of selling a hotel.
became the first chain to
have all their hotels given the Green Globe certification for sustainable travel
and tourism. Hilton
also make play of reducing wastage with polices such as
giving the guest the choice of having towels washed every other day to save
shook up the Christmas season by cutting rates across its hotels.
This bucks the years old trend to increase rates as demand goes up.
Japanese capsule style accommodation hits London from the likes of
: First buy-to-let hotel rooms. Popular in the USA but coming toi the UK and
London for the first time. Client buys a lease in a hotel room and receives
normally 50% of take on that room and leaseholder gets free nights staying in
the room for themselves.
As the railways grew in the mid eighteenth century so entrepreneurs realised
building hotels near stations could be very profitable. It was also a prestige
symbol for some railway companies to have plush modern large hotels at their
stations. Examples of hotels ate the main London stations are:
Kings Cross Station:
The Great Northern Hotel:
is the oldest
purpose hotel in London, built solely for that use and opened on 17th May 1854 and
was designed by Lewis Cubitt.
Also notable as housing the first room in Europe that allowed women to smoke in,
the Ladies Smoking Room. The hotel was demolished to make way for the channel tunnel link
improvements but the facade was restored. The hotel closed its door for
the last time in February 2001 before the major
Kings Cross/St Pancras
improvements began. This hotel was then restored during 2007/2010
and is now the
Renaissance St Pancras
The Great Western Hotel:
The hotel opened on the 8th June 1854, the
same year that Paddington Station, to which the hotel adjoins, was opened. It
was opened by Albert the Price Consort and was most notable as being the UK's
first Railway hotel. Construction on the hotel began in 1851 and was the project of its architect Philip Charles Hardwick. It
underwent major remodelling in 1936 and 1938 as well as during its re-branding
into the Hilton Paddington in 2002.
The hotel first opened in 1861, designed by J. T. Knowles in an Italianate style with a French Renaissance roof. In 1899 it was purchased by LBSCR
(London, Brighton and South Coast Railway). They in turn leased the hotel to Gordon Hotels
and opened again on 10th December 1900. In 1907 an extension was built which provided a new facade
for Victoria station which was below the hotel. In 1977 British Transport Hotels took
control of the hotel before selling it Thistle Hotels in 1983. Eventually the
name 'Grosvenor' was removed totally from the branding. The hotel will
always have a place in the history of London hotels as the first hotel to
feature lifts, or 'ascending rooms' as they were called at the time. They were
powered by using the City's water pressure.
Charing Cross Station:
Charing Cross Hotel:
opened on the
15th May 1865, a year after the station itself opened. The
hotel was designed by Edward Middleton Barry. Most notable was the magnificent
facade in a French Renaissance style. The hotel and
station are built on the site of the Victorian Hungerford Market. In 1878 the
hotel was further extended and then again in 1952 two more top floors were
added. In front of the hotel is a 70 foot replica of the original Eleanor Cross
which stood here in 1291. The cross was commissioned by the hotel and erected in
St Pancras Station: The Midland Grand Hotel.
Built in 1868 and designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, the
hotel was a striking red gothic structure at the entrance to St Pancras Station.
The hotel closed many years ago in 1935 after being unable to make a profit and
became used as railway offices. The hotel has not been used at all since early
1980's. Planned to be demolished in the 60's but strong support for the
building led to it being classed as a grade 1 listed building. It became known as the St
Pancras Chambers during its time in obsolescence. Re-opening in 2009/10 as the
Renaissance St Pancras Hotel London
Liverpool Street Station:
Andaz Liverpool Street
(originally the Great Eastern Hotel till November 2007):
The hotel opened in 1884 and was later extended in 1901.
Originally designed by Charles Barry and his son, Charles Edward Barry while the
1901 extension was the work of Colonel Robert Edis. During its earlier years the
hotel had its own dedicated railway tracks and sidings connecting to the
adjacent Liverpool Street Station which it used for supplied to the hotel. In
1997 it was closed for 3 years while undergoing a seventy million pound
renovation and opened once again on 28th February 2000.
Great Central Hotel:
First opened in 1899 and was designed by Robert William Edis. The hotel was constructed in its location opposite
Marylebone Station to service this mainline railway station which at that time was hoped
to be part of a channel tunnel link, however that proved to be wishful thinking. During the mid 19th century the building ceased to be a
hotel. During the second world war it was used as a convalescent home and later
on as the headquarters of the British Railways Board. Finally in 1993 after
being bought by a Japanese corporation it reopened as a luxury hotel and was
called 'The Regent Hotel. Two years later it was again purchased by a new
company called the Landmark Hotel Company Limited, and the name changed
once again to reflect its new ownership, now being the Landmark Hotel.
London has the peculiar position of having major hotels share the same building.
The Ibis and Novotel both share a building in
and another in
Plaza has two different hotels, The Riverbank and the Park Plaza sharing a
building on the Albert
. Rafayel Hotel
shares a building with
The Langham Hotel
said to be the most haunted hotel in London with several reported sightings and
: Said to
have been the first accepted official boutique hotel in the world (1978)
The Capital Hotel
: Claims to being the first
boutique style hotel in London (1971). Note this clashes with the claim of the Blakes Hotel which is said to be the first
OFFICIAL boutique hotel.
The Carlton Hotel:
Use to stand where New Zealand House is now located
(80 Haymarket SW1). Opened in 1899 it was destroyed by a German bomb during the
London blitz of 1940 and finally demolished during 1957-58 and rebuilt in 1959. It was a favourite
place to dine for Winston Churchill who was eating here when war was declared in
: Used to stand where Shell Mex House is now located (80
Strand WC2), actually between the Strand and the Embankment. When this hotel 5
star Grand hotel opened in 1896 after 6 years construction it was the largest
hotel in Europe with 600 bedrooms (some sources claim 800) over 9 floors.
Designed by architects Perry & Reed and said to have a "Wrenaissance" style,
after Sir Christopher Wren and decorated by Maples, Waring (later to become
Waring and Gillow). A section of the hotel was used as the original RAF
headquarters in 1918. Demolished in 1930. The Strand facing facade of the hotel
still exists and an archway was created in its centre to lead to Shell Mex
Doubletree by Hilton
: Only London hotel with its own Thameside Pier.
hotel in the world to have every bedroom en-suite
The Halcyon Hotel
: (81 Holland Park, W11 3RZ) First built in 1850 it began life as a hotel during
the 20th century. Became known as the original Brit Boutique Hotel during the
90's when it was a favoured hotel among celebrities. Closed in May 2004 and
converted into luxury residential apartments in 2007.
Hallmark Hotel Croydon
First purpose built UK
opened in 1928 and serving
Croydon Airport (now shut).
Jumeirah Carlton Tower Hotel
Said to be the first of London's modern hotels.
Royal National Hotel
London's largest hotel in terns of bedrooms with 1630 rooms.
Victory Services Club
: (63-79 Seymour Street) First opened in 1907 this
is a 'services and all ranks' club hotel for military personnel (serving and
retired). 220 rooms.
: First London hotel to
have all guest rooms with a bathroom each.
22 Lansdowne Crescent. Music legend Jimi Hendrix died
from a drugs overdose taken in room 507 on September 18th 1970. It is a matter
of dispute as to whether he died in the hotel or on route to hospital in the
ambulance. He was staying in a 5th floor £17 pound a night suite with his German
Cart and Horses
Maidens first ever gig
London Oldest Hotels: Existing Hotels Dating Back to the 17th
and 18th centuries.
(first hotel to have its own restaurant in London)
>>>The Great Northern Hotel
1854 (oldest purpose built hotel in London)
>>>Andaz Liverpool Street
(first London hotel to have air-conditioning, afternoon tea and first to install electricity )
>>>Charing Cross Hotel
>>>Royal Horseguards Hotel
1884 (originally serviced apartments)
There is no statutory scheme of rating hotels. In recent years the
majority of hotels with an independent star rating have been rated by either the AA, RAC or the English Tourist
Board. The RAC stopped ratings in 2005. Only in 1998 did the English Tourist
Board (Visit Britain) change their criteria to match that of the AA and provide a consistent
basis for ratings. However that was only for English Hotels, Wales and Scotland
brought their criteria into line in 2000. The AA is taken as being the most authoritative body but it
must be remembered that this is by general consensus and not by any official
power or scheme bestowed upon them. The AA was the first body to give hotel
ratings having started in 1912. These bodies rate only premises that have joined
their scheme (and paid for the privilege of doing so) and many properties choose
to be self rated. There are also two different types of accommodation given
and guests houses. Before 2007 guest houses were given diamond ratings, diamond
ratings having a lower requirement in terms of facilities but a higher
emphasis on service. However since 2007 all types of accommodation are given a
star rating but based on the type of establishment the property is.
In 2007 34% of London Hotels were signed up to an independent rating scheme. The
average for the UK was 53%. The difference may be explained by the larger number
of major chain hotels within London that use in-house ratings.
1993: The Qatrai Royal family were presented with a one million bill for their
stay at the Grosvenor House
. The first £1,000,000 bill in London.
Many London Hotels continue the long tradition of Afternoon tea which dates back
to the early 1800's and was believed to have been brought about by Anna, 7th
Duchess of Bedford (1783-1857). At that point in time it was the normal to
have just two meals a day, breakfast and then a larger evening dinner. Afternoon
tea with cakes and sandwiches filled the gap and was taken around 4 or 5
o'clock. It is indeed strange to think nobody else had, up to that point, the
idea of a light afternoon meal. Today Afternoon tea is associated with the
traditional style 4 and 5 star hotels such as the
where its a ritual visitors
to the capital book weeks ahead to enjoy.
It is the Langham Hotel
that is said to have been the first hotel to bring in the ritual of Afternoon
Tea around the late 1860's.
First Hotel Dog
In March 2015 London got its first official hotel dog. The
became the home for a three month old Labradoodle (cross between a
Labrador and a Poodle). Named Waggers the god has the job of welcoming guests.
becomes first London hotel to use virtual reality headsets for rooms
service in September 2015.
The Royal Garden Hotel
the first hotel to have broadband internet access available in all bedrooms.
The Marriott Heathrow
was the first hotel in Europe to recycle its soap in November 2015.
Largest hotel in London in terms of room numbers is The
Royal National Hotel
with 1630 bedrooms.
First dessert Restaurant
The Hotel Café Royal
opens Londons first ever dessert restaurant in March 2016.
First Free Smarthphone
In March 2016 the Montcalm
London Marble Arch
became the UK's first hotel to provide guests with a free
smartphone for the duration of their stay.
First Digital Wine List
became the first hotel in the UK to boast a digital iPad based wine list in October 2013.
Largest Swimming Pool
has the largest hotel swimming pool in London as 25 metres or 82