Hotels in London
Learn more about 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 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:
- 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 and the first of Britains railway hotels)
- The Great Northern Hotel at King's Cross (closed for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link works and scheduled for demolition and renovation. Will then be used for offices.)
- 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 London)
- The Grosvenor Hotel at Victoria (now the Thistle Victoria)
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, which opened in 1889, was the first London hotel with en-suite 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 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.
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.
The most expensive hotel in London is the Lanesborough, part of the American company the St.Reigs Group. The building of the hotel was first a private address in the early 19th Century. Opposite the building is its rival in style but yet more famously known, Apsley House or better known as No.1 London. The building which would become the Lanesborough was then turned into St Georges Hospital and remained so until the second half of the 20th Century. The St Regis Group took over the building introducing their first hotel in London and still today, their only one in England. The Lanesborough is known for hosting some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry and in the world of politics and royalty. The staff of the hotel had to deal with large groups of fans surrounding the outside of the building when Michael Jackson once stayed. The room with the highest rate is the "Royal Suite" which fetches up to £6,000 per night. The hotel can also boast one of its most unique services that of a private Butler for each and every guest staying in a room.
 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. <ref>A report on London's hotel industry prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers for the Mayor of London in 2001</ref> 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 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 such as 13 Half Moon Street.
- Modern 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 peforming 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.
 List of five star hotels
<ref>5 star list</ref>
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