London's oldest hotels in Nostalgic London
1) Brown's Hotel
Luxurious Brown’s Hotel might just be London’s oldest hotel. It opened in 1837 – the same year that Queen Victoria took to the throne – and has attracted impressive clientele over the years, from royalty and foreign dignitaries to Theodore Roosevelt, Rudyard Kipling, Orson Welles and Alexander Graham Bell. Despite renovations, the ultra-traditional, elegant essence of Brown’s Hotel is intact. Just stepping into the English Tea Room – a wood panelled space where Queen Vic reportedly enjoyed afternoon tea – is proof of that.
2) Great Northern Hotel
One of the first purpose-built railway hotels in the country, the Great Northern Hotel opened in 1854 to serve passengers at the start or end of their journeys. Designed by Lewis Cubitt, the bold building captured the glamour of the age of steam trains. These days, the hotel looks out over King’s Cross station’s modern concourse, which was designed to follow the curved edge of the hotel. It’s surrounded by commuters, suitcase-wielding travellers and the sound of modern train announcements, but inside you’d never know.
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3) The Savoy
The world-famous Savoy hotel first opened its doors in 1889. It’s as luxe and high glamour now as it was then, when it was considered cutting-edge with its electric lights and hydraulic lifts. The hotel has always been popular with the royal family, actors, artists and celebrities – famous faces like Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Dietrich and Bob Dylan (to name a few) have snoozed here. Follow in their footsteps and take in The Savoy’s stunning interiors – each of the bedrooms pay tribute to the hotel’s fashionable past, with dreamy Edwardian and art deco designs.
4) St Pancreas Renaissance Hotel
If you’ve ever wanted to recreate the iconic music video to Spice Girls’ song Wannabe, you’re in luck. The 1990s pop hit was recorded on this hotel’s sweeping grand staircase. It was also used in filming for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, but there’s history here going back much further than that. This turreted, castle-like hotel, which doubles up as the Gothic frontage for St Pancras International Station, first opened as the Midland Grand in 1873. After closing in 1935, the romantic Victorian building fell into ruin but was thankfully revived in the early 2010s as the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, when many of the original details were restored. Stepping inside this extravagant, ornate hotel now feels as impressive as it would have done in the 1870s.
The epitome of art deco glamour, much of Claridge’s, which first opened in 1856, hasn’t been touched since it was decorated in the late 1920s. It’s no time capsule but each modern addition or renovation is inspired by and sensitive to its jazz age past. Once you pass through the 100-year-old retro entrance, flanked by porters in top hats, you’ll be greeted by gleaming interiors, original mirrors and delicate glass panels. The bedrooms are the perfect homage to the 1920s and 1930s, with polished glass, geometric designs and motifs from the hotel’s history.
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