< UNITED KINGDOM | LONDON: The Dorchester
Built on the site of the former Dorchester House, a palatial 19th century building, The Dorchester was envisoned by Sir Malcolm McAlpine and Sir Francis
Towle as the 'perfect' hotel, that would rank as the finest in Europe. The Dorchester first opened its doors on the April 18th, 1931 for a private luncheon attended by the
cream of society including the Foreign Secretary Sir John Simon, Lord Halifax, the BBC’s Lord Reith, Marchioness Curzon of Kedleston, the Earl of Rosebery and
Margot, Countess of Oxford. Two days later, it was open to the public. The reputation of The Dorchester, among the great hotels of the world, is unique in having established
itself within a few months upon its opening.
Royalty and political leaders, both British and foreign, have been frequent visitors. Princess Elizabeth, the present Queen, attended a dinner party at The Dorchester the day before her engagement was announced on 10th July 1947, and Prince Philip has been a regular guest of honour and renowned after-dinner speaker at events and charity functions held in the hotel.
From its earliest days, The Dorchester became a haven for figures from literary and artistic circles. In addition to the famous Foyles Literary Luncheons, beginning in the
1930s, the hotel has also welcomed writers and artists such as novelist Somerset Maugham, the poet Cecil Day Lewis and the painter Sir Alfred Munnings.
Reinforced concrete which was used in the structure of the building allowed creation of open, uninterrupted by the pillars public spaces and also influenced in reputation as being one of the safest hotels in London. Following this, during the Second World War, several members of the government as well as service chiefs moved into The Dorchester on a semi-permanent basis. General Eisenhower, then occupied with the planning of the Normandy invasion, set up his headquarters in the hotel in 1944.
In the fifties, The Dorchester was extended towards Deanery Street. 30 new bedrooms, as well as, the first purpose built luxury hotel suite in London were created and decorated by Oliver Messel, celebrated theatre designer of the day.
In 1988 The Dorchester closed for two years refurbishment and it re-opened again in november 1990, sparkling and refreshed with new facilities including the Oriental Restaurant and the luxurious new Dorchester Spa. Within a week, loyal guests had reclaimed their favourite tables in the Grill Room.
The list of visitors to The Dorchester from the entertainment world is of prodigious length. To name but a few: Danny Kaye, Elizabeth Taylor, Sir Ralph Richardson, Alfred Hitchcock, who viewed The Dorchester as ideal for a murder given the scope for burying bodies in Hyde Park across Park Lane. In the last decade, prominent guests have included Dr Mandela, Woody Allen, Barbra Streisand, Diana Ross, Glenn Close, Karl Lagerfeld, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone and many, many more. Glamorous patronage of The Dorchester is only part of the legend...
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