< UNITED KINGDOM | LONDON: Sheraton Grand London Park Lane
Sheraton Grand London Park Lane, arguably London’s finest Art Deco property, was built between the years of 1924 and 1927 by Sir Bracewell Smith with the backing of a syndicate of Yorkshire businessmen. For some 13 years it was known as ‘The Birdcage’ - so named by Londoners as it was nothing more than a steel frame, started before the First World War but abandoned due to lack of finance.
Sir Bracewell Smith saw its construction completed by 1927 reflecting the 20s Art Deco style in its purest form. It opened to great acclaim, and was named
by taxi drivers of the time as the ‘American Workhouse’, which later became a general name for luxury hotels.
The interior design of the hotel was entirely managed by the then Mrs Bracewell Smith (not yet Lady). There was the Old Breakfast Room, an Art Deco mock-Tudor room decorated by Harrods; the French restaurant furnished by Waring & Gillow; the Grill Room with its wood panelling taken from Pierpont Morgan’s house at Princes Gate; the Smoke Room decorated by Jardine, the ceiling of which is an exact replica of the Reindeer Inn in Banbury. Then there was the Ballroom by Higgs & Hill, with its ‘scientifically designed’ dance floor, pink and mauve hues and exquisite Art Deco styling.
The Ballroom quickly took its place as the greatest ballroom of its time enjoyed by the top socialites and aristocracy. At its height during the 20s, ballroom played the elegant host to high society weddings, parties and business events. So great indeed that at the dawning of the Second World War, Westminster decided it could be the substitute venue for the Commons, should the Palace of Westminster be damaged. Often described as “London’s monument to Art Deco”, ballroom re-opened in January 1997, in celebration of the hotel’s 70th anniversary, following its complete restoration by owners, Starwood Hotels & Resorts.
The Sheraton acquisition in February 1996 brought the financial backing to invest in this key London hotel. Interior designers Hirsch Bedner were brought in and spent several months researching the ill-documented original design of the hotel’s now famous Ballroom, through old newspaper articles, pictures and books, for the Park Lane’s most spectacular transformation back to its original grandeur.
Sheraton commissioned the services of specialist craftsmen from around the world to ensure its faithful restoration to its original design, such as Silver Gilders from Italy for the Silver Gallery Ballroom entrance. They have restored the Ballroom to its original style using colours true to the Art Deco era - hues of mauve, lilac, purple and pink are used in the fabrics and furnishings.
All work was carried out hand-in-hand with English Heritage, to ensure London’s most important Art Deco renovation was faithfully restored.
During time, Sheraton Grand London Park Lane has established itself as one of London’s popular film and photoshoot locations. Throughout its history the hotel has set the scene for many famous films, from Guy Ritchie’s Revolver to Poirot - The Mystery of The Blue Train, as well as Goldeneye, The End of the Affair with Ralph Fiennes, The Poseidon Adventure, Jeeves and Wooster, Brideshead Revisited, the BBC’s House of Elliot to Shanghai Surprise, Mona Lisa, The Danish Girl...
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