10 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Claridge's

Laura Reynolds
By Laura Reynolds Last edited 17 months ago
10 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Claridge's

Claridge's on Brook Street is one of London's best known luxury hotels, but how much do you really know about this upmarket establishment?

Photo: jaimelondonboy

It started life as a single house

In 1812, James Mivart opened a hotel in a house at 51 Brook Street. William and Marianne Claridge built the business in 1854 and ambitiously expanded it into the adjoining five buildings. It was officially renamed Claridge's in 1856.

How Harrods and the Savoy helped

In 1893, Claridge's was bought by Richard D'Oyly Carte, the man who also owned the Savoy. He had Claridge's redesigned by CW Stephens, who had been responsible for redesigning Harrods — opulence was his mantra. During this 'refurbishment', the existing building was pretty much knocked down and rebuilt.

Claridge's lobby. Photo: Josh Friedman

Oldest manned lift

Claridge's claims to have the oldest working lift in London — possibly the UK — an OTIS lift installed in the refurb in 1896. To this day it's still operated by an attendant.

It's Grade II listed

The building which was built in the 1890s is Grade II listed and is now home to 203 rooms. Even the railings attached to the building are listed.

A home from home

Several exiled royal families and heads of state spent part or all of the second world war staying at Claridge's, having been exiled from their homelands. Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands and King Haakon of Norway were among those who called Claridge's home — read more here.

A prince's birthplace

On 17 June 1945, Suite 212 at Claridge's was temporarily declared Yugoslavian territory. The King of Yugoslavia was one of those exiled as a result of the war, and he wanted his impending child born on home soil. Rumour has it that soil from his home country was placed under the bed  for the birth of Crown Prince Alexander of Yugoslavia.

Churchill

In 1945, Winston Churchill and his wife Lady Clementine moved into Claridge's temporarily, specifically into the sixth house penthouse suite. While Lady Clementine loved their new home, Churchill himself wasn't pleased about living so high up.

Sunset over London as seen from Claridge's - was this the view that displeased Churchill? Photo: Boss Tweed

Close but no cigar

The hotel has two bars: the main Claridge's Bar and the Fumoir Bar. The Fumoir Bar used to be a cigar bar until the smoking ban in England caused it to stop selling cigars and prevent patrons from smoking there.

Fit for a queen (and duke, prince and princess)

Several royal parties have been held at Claridge's over the years, including the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh's ruby wedding party, and Charles and Diana's wedding reception. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's regular visits were instrumental in giving it the reputation it has with royalty today.

A matching tea set

Dame Barbara Cartland was a regular at Claridge's and rumour has it that when she was on her way for afternoon tea, her secretary would ring the hotel to let them know what colour she was wearing, so her table could be laid in the same colours.

Another celebrity regular was Katharine Hepburn, who had to be reminded that according to the hotel's dress code at the time, ladies were not allowed to wear trousers in the lobby. Hepburn got round the problem and continued to wear trousers by using the staff entrance instead.

Last Updated 29 June 2016