Top Ten Essential Architecture top ten London Hotels  
     
  For a more complete list, see the main list  
1 Claridge's  

architect

C. W. Stephens

location

Mayfair, central London. It is located at the corner of Brook Street and Davies Street.

date

1897

style

Edwardian

construction

brick with limestone trim

type

Hotel

Claridge's is a traditional grand hotel which is said to have an aristocratic ambience and reputation for luxury and expense. Its extensive and old connections with royalty have led to it being referred to as an "extension to Buckingham Palace". It was founded in 1812 as Mivart's Hotel, located in a conventional London terraced house and grew by expanding into neighbouring houses. In 1854, the founder sold the hotel to a Mr and Mrs Claridge who owned a smaller hotel next door. They combined the two operations, and after trading for a time as "Mivart's at Claridge's", they settled on the current name. The reputation of the hotel was confirmed in 1860 when Empress Eugenie made an extended visit and entertained Queen Victoria at the hotel. Richard D'Oyly Carte, the theatrical impressario and founder of the rival Savoy Hotel, purchased Claridge's in 1894 and shortly afterwards demolished the old buildings and replaced them with the present ones. This was prompted by the need to install modern facilities such as lifts and en suite bathrooms. The new Claridge's opened in 1898. The hotel currently has 203 rooms and suites.
 
     
2 The Ritz  

architect

 Charles Mewès & Arthur Davis  Developer César Ritz

location

150 Piccadilly (overlooking Green Park) London W1J 9BR

date

1906

style

Edwardian

construction

brick with limestone trim

type

Hotel

Famed Swiss hotelier César Ritz opened the hotel on May 24, 1906. The building is neoclassical in the Louis XVI manner, built during the Belle Époque to resemble a stylish Parisian block of flats, over arcades that consciously evoked the Rue de Rivoli. Its architects were Charles Mewès, who had previously designed Ritz's Hôtel Ritz Paris, and Arthur Davis, with engineering collaboration by the Swedish engineer Sven Bylander. It was the first substantial steel-frame structure in London.

Ritz personally managed much of the hotel's operation for many years. He hired world-famous chef Auguste Escoffier to provide cuisine to match the opulence of the hotel's decorations; he placed a special bell in the entryway by which the doorman could notify the staff of the impending arrival of royalty. The high standards to which he held his staff and the ultimate luxury which he provided his guests had been entirely foreign to Victorian Londoners, and the sensation he caused in the hotel industry precipitated a dramatic shift in that industry's focus.
 
     
3 The Connaught Hotel  

architect

 

location

Carlos Place, Mayfair, central London,

date

1897

style

Edwardian

construction

brick with limestone trim

type

Hotel

The hotel was an offshoot of a hotel opened by Alexander Grillon in Albemarle Street, Mayfair, and was originally a pair of Georgian houses in Charles Street, near Grosvenor Square. The Duke of Westminster decided to redevelop the area, and the street was changed, becoming Carlos Place. In 1892 Scorrier, the owner, applied to rebuild the hotel although work did not start until two years later, when the original houses were demolished.
 
     
4 The Savoy  

architect

Thomas Edward Collcutt

location

located on the Strand, in the City of Westminster in central London

date

1889

style

Neo-Renaissance with Second Empire style Mansard roof.

construction

limestone facade

type

Hotel

The Savoy Hotel is a five-star hotel located on the Strand, in the City of Westminster in central London that opened on August 6, 1889. The hotel remains one of London's most prestigious and opulent hotels, with 263 rooms and panoramic views of the River Thames.
 
     
Hotels in London

History
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 were very small by modern standards. The accommodation available 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 existed by 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 accommodating 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:

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. The Savoy, perhaps London's most famous hotel, opened in 1889, the first London hotel with en-suite bathrooms to every room. Nine years later Claridge's was rebuilt in its current form. Another famous hotel, the Ritz, based on its even more celebrated namesake in Paris, opened in 1906.

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 their doors in this era include 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 London 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 led 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 reduction in international travel caused by the 1991 Gulf War.

The 1980s saw London (along with New York) start the trend of smaller boutique style hotels. 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 long corridors and numerous separate offices, were incompatible with the preference for open plan working, but their listed status made it hard to get permission 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.

One of the most expensive hotels in London is The Lanesborough, part of an American company, the St Regis Group. The building of the hotel was first a private address in the early 19th century. The building which would become the Lanesborough was then turned into St George's Hospital and remained so until the second half of the 20th Century.

Hotels in modern London

There is no official registry of hotel rooms in London, but the estimated the number of hotel rooms in Greater London in 2000 was put at 101,269.  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. Interestingly the main growth was a huge rise in the number of rooms within the City of London, while Kensington and Chelsea actually had a small fall. This is comparing figures since 1981. 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 fewer. 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 such as 13 Half Moon Street.
Modern purpose-built chain hotels such as the Four Seasons London and the London Hilton on Park Lane.
Modern boutique designer hotels such as the St Martins Lane Hotel.
Currently the most profitable hotels and those with the most consistently high room occupancies are hotels around the 5 major London Airports. Heathrow and Gatwick are performing the best and becoming meeting and conference centers in their own right.

2006 was the year that environmentally friendly hotels started to become a marketing tool. Among the first to achieve certified levels were the Novotel London West and all the Marriott properties in the capital.

By the end of 2006 the boom in branded hotels which started around 2002 was well underway, with branded rooms accounting for around 70% of available accommodation at 71,000 rooms.

2007 will see the start of a building boom for purpose built hotels in the lead-up to the 2012 Olympic games in east London. Hotels are planned throughout London including at the new Wembley Stadium and around Docklands area. Many of these will be in the 4 and 5 star bracket supplementing the 2/3 star boom already ongoing with the likes of Ibis and Premier Travel Inn.

Hotels below the five star category are found throughout the city, but tend to be slightly further 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 largest cluster of hotels in the suburbs is around Heathrow Airport, most of which are modern chain hotels. The largest concentration of new hotel building is in East London around London City Airport in places such as Canning Town.

The developers of Shard London Bridge, which will be the tallest building in London if it is built plan to let part of it to a hotel operator.

Other notable hotels
One of the more unusual hotels is the Sunborn Yacht, a floating hotel by the Excel centre in East London and constructed for that purpose.
The 3 star 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 Guoman Tower Hotel (formerly Thistle) near Tower Bridge is one of the largest hotels in London with over 800 rooms, and is regarded by some as one of the ugliest and most insensitively located brutalist buildings in the city. However others find its location by St Katharine Docks and the Tower of London as quite relaxing and scenic.
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.
The Regent Palace Hotel, which was located on the northern side of Piccadilly Circus, closed in December 2006. Notable as having been Europes largest hotel in terms of rooms numbers (1028) when it opened in May 16, 1915.

Events
After the 2006 transatlantic aircraft plot London hotels showed a drop in average room rate growth and occupancy growth. However this was not as steep as might have been expected since figures were compared to the previous years figures which were themselves affected by the July 7th London bombings of 2005. It is thought without those circumstances the real drop would have been something in the region of 20-30%. Strangely while figures showed a drop in bookings some major chains such as Intercontinetal reported strong demand for hotel rooms in London as passengers became stranded in London unable to get a flight.

In November 2006 several hotels were subject to checks for radiation after former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned with Polonium-210. Most seriously affected was the Millennium Mayfair where 7 members of staff were found to be contaminated with low level radiation.

November 2006 was also the month Dhiren Barot was sentenced by a British court to serve at least 40 years in prison for planning to cause explosions in London Hotels amongst a list of targets which also included the New York Stock Exchange and the World Bank.

January 2007 saw the first use anywhere in the world of Cryonite technology  to kill bed bugs (freezes pests using a patented carbon dioxide snow) at a top London Hotel (un-named).

Facts
In March 2007 some of Londons' best known hotels were considered a “serious danger to health” by environmental inspectors. The hotels were the Savoy, the Halkin, the Langham and the Dorchester.

London named as ninth most expensive city in the world for 2007 in terms of average room rate.