Hotels in London are a relatively new phenomenon. The first examples of London hotels appeared in the 19th century. Before that time, hotels were a rarity, as the moneyed elite preferred to rent accommodations in the city (and then stay in their own rented homes or flats while visiting this world capital).
In the old days, visitors to the city, such as merchants from foreign lands, were also in short supply. Therefore, there was really no financial incentive for businesspeople to offer hotel accommodations to others.
At this point, there were other types of boarding available, which were typically cruder and less expensive than hotels. Examples included lodging houses and coaching inns. Men were also welcome to stay in private clubs as needed, as long as they were bona fide members of these male-oriented associations.
Coaching Inns Once Functioned as Ersatz Hotels
Coaching inns were designed to provide lodging for passengers who travelled via stage coach. These types of accommodations were popular, as the railway was not yet in operation. Rail transport became a way of life during the 1830s. At this time, coaching inns began to fade away. Such relics of the pre-rail age are still preserved in London. For example, London’s George Inn is currently preserved by the National Trust.
19th Century London Hotels
Hotels which more closely fit the modern definition began to appear during the early days of the 19th century. Mivart’s opened for business in 1812, and it was similar in style to Claridge’s (which came later). Typically, London hotels of the 19th century were more compact than their American versions. In fact, the famous author, Anthony Trollope, wrote about the differences between the two nation’s hotels in his travelogue, North America, which was published in 1862.
As hotels became more popular in the London area, they also grew larger, in order to reflect the need for grander, more luxurious accommodations. During the Victorian age, one shining example was the Langham Hotel, which began to serve its clientele in 1865. In addition, London’s lauded Savoy Hotel became a fixture in 1889, and it was renowned for featuring private, ensuite washrooms in each room.
After the Savoy raised the bar, other deluxe hotels, such as Claridge’s and the Ritz, followed suit, by offering visitors access to truly sumptuous surroundings and amenities.
Modern London Hotels
In the 1980s, trends changed, and the inception of smaller hotels (which were built on the boutique hotel model) began to gain in popularity. The economic boom in the 80s created plenty of capital for new hotel construction. Certain old office buildings, which were built during the early 20th century, became prime real estate for conversions, and they were turned into boutique-style hotels that catered to increasingly-discerning clientele. For example, the highly-ranked Marriott County Hall Hotel and the Four Seasons Canary Wharf became popular choices with tourists.
Important Luxury Hotels in London
Today, refined hotel mainstays, such as the elegant Claridge’s Hotel (and the Savoy and the Ritz), are still an integral part of the London scene. Other important luxury hotels in London include The Milestone Hotel, 41 Hotel, the Connaught, Dorchester Hotel and Brown’s Hotel. All of these hotels feature beautiful décor that captures the essence of quiet British elegance.
Amenities in Finer London Hotels
The best London hotels will often feature concierge service. This amenity allows hotel guests to gain access to anything that they want, via a concierge who will go out of his or her way to accommodate requests. In addition, the best London hotels will offer fine dining, room service, fitness centers, dry cleaning (or laundry service), swimming pools and gift shops. While amenities will vary, visitors to the priciest, most exclusive London hotels may expect to enjoy luxurious, gourmet high teas in the best English tradition, as well as high-end bath products and bathrobes. All in all, these hotels offer a “rich” experience, and they often very costly choices.
Lower-end London Hotels
Many tourists who visit London for business or pleasure cannot afford to stay at the Savoy or other elegant hotels. Therefore, many lower-end accommodations now exist. Typically, these hotels offer a lower standard, in terms of décor, spaciousness of rooms and offered amenities. Lower-end hotel rooms in London may be accessed for one hundred dollars a night and up. Many visitors to London find these hotels online, via travel websites or official hotel websites.