Built at the turn of the 20th century, Grand Royale London Hyde Park is steeped in Edwardian heritage. Society gossip at the time had it that the Prince of Wales (soon to be Edward VII) commissioned the building as a private residence for his former mistress Lillie Langtry. It is rumoured that the house was built not only as a love-nest but also to support Lillie's acting career. This snippet remains undocumented in the chronicles of history. However, sometimes hearsay is enough and, as Max Arthur, author of Lost Voices of the Edwardians (2006, HarperCollins) comments: "There is often no stronger proof than rumour concerning historical anecdotes and speculation - and often no stronger proof is needed".
In the early 1900s, the house was bought by Louis Spitzel, a merchant banker, who engaged fashionable and contemporary architects Mewes and Davis to undertake a unique renovation. These designers were known for many grand architectural achievements, notably the Ritz hotels in London and Paris and The Royal Automobile Club, buildings renowned for their Edwardian grandeur and Parisian elegance. That same elegance is apparent in the intricate Edwardian interiors and fascia of the Grand Royale. What was unusual about the renovation was the addition of a private theatre to the existing premises - adding credance to the Lillie Langtry connection!
The house became a hotel in 1966 and was reopened after refurbishment in 1972. The elaborate Franco-Flemish style of the building's stone frontage must have made it stand out in an area where the older buildings are predominantly stucco Italianate. The interiors on the upper ground and first floor levels are panelled and painted with an opulence equal to the most elaborate contemporary work in Mayfair.
Of course, the most striking feature of the Grand Royale London Hyde Park is the beautifully ornate theatre bar. The jewel in the hotel's crown, this celebrated theatre bar is housed on the upper ground floor. It originally consisted of two rooms, the front circular and domed (the auditorium), the second (the stage) rectangular with a proscenium arch between them. Settle into the Edwardian theatre seats for an aperitif and soak in the regal atmosphere under the Venetian glass chandeliers, surrounded by soft red velvet. Let this enthralling experience raise your spirits as you enjoy a favourite tipple in one of London's most unique and intriguing settings.
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