With the advent of the railways in England there came a growing need for hotels as people travelled more and further and visits to London, the great capital city, grew with people coming
from the suburbs and further afield to take in the majesty of this great city. Social mobility was on the go and as such a number of hotels started to spring up, initially mainly close to the railway stations.
One of the first, if not the first, hotels to operate in London is one that is still going strong today almost 200 years on! Brown's Hotel in Mayfair is made up of several large Georgian townhouses which have been transformed into a 117 luxury central London hotel. The history and heritage of this hotel means it has played host to some very distinguished guests over the years including Oscar Wilde, Robert Louis Stevenson and Bram Stoker to name but a few. Today it is also a firm favourite with celebrities and affluent foreign visitors who appreciate the prominence, history and heritage as well as the luxurious rooms and it's ideal location in London's most exclusive of postcodes.
Unbelievably, today there are over 45,000 hotels in London alone, with over 700,000 rooms to cater for the hundreds of thousands of monthly visitors, tourists and locals. Of course not all these hotels are the luxurious 5 star hotels we all aspire to stay in, in fact, London has a surprisingly limited number of genuine 5 star hotels and internationally there are only around 210 hotels rated as 5 stars. The most famous five star hotels are invariably ones that have been around for quite some time and have built up a solid reputation and following. Places like The Savoy, situated on The Strand and opened back in August 1889. It positioned itself as the first real luxury hotel in London equipped with all the mod cons like hot running water, electric lights throughout the building and electric lifts. Things we may very well take for granted these days and certainly expect even in a 2 star establishment, but in 1889 these were ground breaking facilities for a hotel and at the height of luxury and industrial advancement. Soon other now iconic hotels followed, names that have become synonymous with the height of luxury, The Ritz, The Dorchester and The Langham Hotel which more recently was a personal favourite of Princess Diana and other members of the Royal household as well as celebrities and the multi-millionaires of this world. With high society clientele staying at the hotel you also get very high class companions plying their trade in the plush bars and lobbies. Many a late night deal is struck between escorts and clients in the ambient piano lounges and extravagant cocktail bars as the night wears on.
Up until the 1980's most luxurious high end hotels were large, imposing buildings in central London locations. But then in the early 80's a new type of hotel started to spring up in cities such as London, New York and San Francisco. The advent of the Boutique hotel was very much welcomed by those who wanted to spend their time in a cosier more intimate setting whilst still expecting the height of luxury. In addition, boutique hotels offered high end design, often each room is designed to a different theme and planned out by some of the most prominent interior designers in the industry. Chic, style, frivolity with design and of course luxury are some of the ingredients that went up to make the boutique hotel phenomenon. A-list celebrities preferred the low key, more discreet atmosphere that these smaller hotels provided and art lovers reveled in the art, forms and designs these hotels took. Boutique hotels are now a mainstay in most major cities around the world and offer the luxury and service of the grander, larger hotels but in more intimate, imaginatively designed surroundings.