Brown’s was London’s first hotel, opening its doors in 1837. The list of impressive guests is endless: Alexander Graham Bell stayed and made the first ever telephone call in London in 1876; Christopher Robin - son of AA Milne - held his wedding reception there in 1948; and in 1973 JRR Tolkien stopped over with his family. But another literary figure has left an everlasting mark. Nowadays, the hotel is most famous for its beautifully eccentric Kipling Suite, in honour of Rudyard Kipling’s many visits. It is believed that he wrote The Jungle Book during one of his many stays there, and a framed hand-written letter, sent during one of his trips, is framed on the wall of the suite. To honour this fact, Olga Polizzi has decked the place out (pictured) with a lavish jungle theme. You can practically hear the tropical birdsong as you lie in bed. In 1936, Kipling was found slumped over his desk at the hotel, stricken by a perforated ulcer that soon killed him. But don’t let that put you off… We would perform 'Hands across the sea' by Noël Coward: A gorgeously affectionate comedy of manners set as Lady Maureen Gilpin has just returned from a world tour of the British Territories. Polizzi’s decor is practically made for the piece.
What Brown’s did for literary figures, Claridge’s did for musicians: from Daniel Barenboim to André Previn, the Prince Alexander Suite has housed many of the world’s finest composers and instrumentalists. As a result, the hotel have given this suite a musical theme, with images of renowned guests, and a grand piano straight off of Broadway perched in the sitting room, and a selection of sheet music for guests who want to play. But the room has some even greater and somewhat peculiar historical importance. During WW2, Peter II of Yugoslavia and his wife spent a huge amount of time in exile at Claridge’s, and for one single July day in 1945, Suite 212 was ceded by the U.K. to Yugoslavia to allow their heir, Crown Prince Alexander, to be born on Yugoslavia soil. A heap of actual soil was allegedly placed under the bed, and the crown prince has remained a regular visitor. We would perform AMADEUS by Peter Shaffer: a timeless piece that would make full use of that incredible grand piano!
“The film’s great! I was just wondering whether you ever thought of having more horses in it?” One of the all-time great romcoms used the Trafalgar Suite at the Ritz as the location for one of the all-time great romcom moments. A little more com than rom, Hugh Grant gets thrust into a press junket with Julia Roberts and has to take on the role of Horse & Hound journalist. No wonder Richard Curtis thought it was the perfect location to make a bumbling guy-next-door feel a little out of his depth: the magnificent suite oozes historic decadence, elegantly decorated in tones that are meant to reflect the naval victory of The Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Pretty epic eh? We would perform 'Voice of the Turtle' by John Van Druten: an utterly feel-good and totally romantic stage play, oozing with Notting Hill-esque passion and bluster!
If you’re looking for a story, there are myriad reasons to stay at the Savoy. It was the first hotel in London to be lit by electricity and have a lift; the Marlene Dietrich suite always features 12 pink roses because that’s what the actress requested whenever she stayed; it was the site of some of Oscar Wilde’s less proud moments, in which a chamber maid recounted that his sheets “were always in a most disgusting state”; and in World War 2, the Abraham Lincoln banqueting suite acted as an air-raid shelter for guests. Legend has it that one bomb blast, falling on The Strand, knocked the bandleader off the bandstand, leading Noël Coward to step up to the plate and continue entertaining the audience to rapturous applause. But if you’re looking for one room with maximum wow-factor, book a night in the Monet. Or rather, book the room next door… Claude Monet stayed at the Savoy on many separate occasions after American artist James Whistler recommended it to him as an excellent vantage point. But the room currently advertised as Monet’s old quarters is actually slightly off. Scientists have analysed the French Impressionist's paintings of Waterloo Bridge and calculated his position from the scale of monuments such as Cleopatra's Needle and Hungerford Bridge. It reveals that his point of painting was actually rooms 512 and 513 of the hotel. So save a pound or 2 and book them instead! We would perform 'Art' by Yasmina Reza: In honour of great art over the ages and greater conversations dedicated to what the phrase “great art” even means!
If bathing in the same tub as Elizabeth Taylor is your cup of tea, then get to the Harlequin suite right now! It was whilst staying in this very suite that Taylor was told she had been cast as Cleopatra in a record-breaking multi-million dollar deal. Play at being Liz for the night: imagine you’ve just got the greatest news of your life, sink into the pink marble bathtub specially installed for her in 1962, then pop on a bathrobe and crack open the bolli whilst overlooking Hyde Park. Apparently during a stay at the suite, Alfred Hitchcock saw this view and announced that The Dorchester would be a perfect place for a murder because there was plenty of nearby space to bury a body. We would perform 'Anthony and Cleopatra' by William Shakespeare: We love abridging Shakespeare plays and fitting them into unusual settings, and the Harlequin spacious living room is all we need.
On April 6th 1895, Oscar Wilde met the inevitable in room 118 of the Cadogan Hotel. After losing a libel case against the Marquess of Queensberry (father of Wilde’s lover), a warrant for his arrest appeared, on charges of sodomy and gross indecency. As a newspaper on April 8th 1895 reported, “Oscar Wilde was afterwards lost sight of until last evening, when he was arrested at an hotel in Sloane-street. Lord Alfred Douglas, who was with Wilde, accompanied him to the watch house, and was greatly distressed at not being allowed to bail him out.” The famous writer had sped off to France after dropping his libel case, where he could have stayed safely for the rest of his life, but for reasons we may never understand Wilfe decided to return to London to accept what was coming to him. Room 118 is now known as the Royal Suite and has a replica of Wilde’s smoking jacket on display. Poet John Betjeman memorialised the events in a poem where the policeman request: “We must ask yew tew leave with us quietly. For this is the Cadogan Hotel.” We would perform (this one’s easy) 'The Importance of Being Earnest' by Oscar Wilde: My favourite of all of his plays, a timeless classic that - like so much of Wilde’s work - brings a smile to people’s faces time after time.
About Lucy: After graduating from Cambridge University and training as an actress at LAMDA, Lucy now divides her time between acting, producing through her theatre company Go People and running Revels in Hand, a luxury entertainment service that takes plays into people’s homes, hotels, gardens for intimate performances to small audiences.