London Hotels History

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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 following information:

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:
Cavendish Hotel
Durrants Hotel
Browns Hotel
Mivarts (later to become Claridge's)
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 and 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 Premier Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Ibis and Travelodge.

Modern History:
2017: Investment London hotels hits £1.1 billion pounds which was over half the amount for the UK as a whole. Of this London investment 68% was money from overseas.
2016: 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.
2015: 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 private rooms.
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 The Claridge's, The Berkeley and The Connaught.
2014: 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 The Shard. Montcalm Marble Arch 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.
2013: The Kensington Hotel opens the largest suite ever available within a London hotel.
 2013: The year continued the large increase in budget hotels with the main battleground being fought between Premier Inn and Travelodge. Premier Inn remains by far the more popular of the two brands.
2012: 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. Travelodge becomes London's 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 Hilton.
2010: With its 1021 bedrooms the Park 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.  REVPAR for the year for London Hotels increases by 11.9% to £112. Mint Hotel Tower of London becomes the largest hotel ever built in the City of London (financial area) with 583 rooms.
2009: 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 London. Premier Inn 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%
2007: 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 and Hilton Tower Bridge 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 ban.
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. Marriott 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 water.
Travelodge 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.

Historic Hotels:
Station Hotels:
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: This 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 Station improvements began. This hotel was then restored during 2007/2010 and is now the Renaissance St Pancras.
Paddington Station: 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.
Victoria Station: Grosvenor Hotel: 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: The 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 1865.
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.
Marylebone Station: 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 ExCel and another in Blackfriars. Park Plaza has two different hotels, The Riverbank and the Park Plaza sharing a building on the Albert Embankment. Rafayel Hotel shares a building with Falcon Wharf Apartments.
The Langham Hotel is said to be the most haunted hotel in London with several reported sightings and strange events.

Blakes Hotel: 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 1914.
Cecil Hotel: 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 House.
Doubletree by Hilton Docklands: Only London hotel with its own Thameside Pier.
Goring Hotel: First 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 airport hotel 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.
The Ritz: First London hotel to have all guest rooms with a bathroom each.

Samarkand Hotel: 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 girlfriend.
Cart and Horses: Iron Maidens first ever gig

London Oldest Hotels: Existing Hotels Dating Back to the 17th and 18th centuries.
>>>Cavendish Hotel late 1700's
>>>Durrants Hotel 1790
>>>Browns Hotel 1837 (first hotel to have its own restaurant in London)
>>>Flemings Mayfair 1851
>>>Claridges 1853
>>>The Great Northern Hotel 1854 (oldest purpose built hotel in London)
>>>Grosvenor Hotel 1861
>>>Andaz Liverpool Street 1864
>>>Langham 1865 (first London hotel to have air-conditioning, afternoon tea and first to install electricity )
>>>Charing Cross Hotel 1865
>>>Millennium Bailey's 1876
>>>Royal Horseguards Hotel 1884 (originally serviced apartments)
>>>Savoy 1889
>>>The Gore 1892
>>>Cadogan 1895
>>>Connaught Hotel 1897
>>>Hotel Russell 1898
>>>Landmark Hotel 1899

Ratings: 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 classifications, hotels 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.

£1,000,000 Bill
1993: The Qatrai Royal family were presented with a one million bill for their stay at the Grosvenor House Hotel. The first £1,000,000 bill in London.

Afternoon Tea
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 Ritz 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 Staybridge Suites Vauxhall 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.

Virtual Reality
Marriott Park Lane becomes first London hotel to use virtual reality headsets for rooms service in September 2015.

The Royal Garden Hotel was the first hotel to have broadband internet access available in all bedrooms.

Soap recycling
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
The Marriott County Hall became the first hotel in the UK to boast a digital iPad based wine list in October 2013.

Largest Swimming Pool
The Marriott County Hall has the largest hotel swimming pool in London as 25 metres or 82 feet.

First Meteorologist
In June 2017 The Marriott County Hall became the first hotel in the world to have its own meteorologist in residence.

Largest Rooftop Bar
Opened in 2010 the Rooftop at the Trafalgar St James is the largest in London.

Worlds First Vegan Room Service
In 2018 the St Giles Hotel claimed to have begun offering the worlds first fully vegan room service.
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