< UNITED KINGDOM | LONDON: Le Méridien Piccadilly
Built in 1908 as one of London's most luxurious hotels, Le Méridien Piccadilly was originally known as The Piccadilly Hotel. It was designed by architect Richard Norman Shaw, in a Neo-Baroque style based on 17th-century English Palladian architecture. The hotel helped to draw attention to the redevelopment of Regent Street which was taking place at that time. Regent Street reconstruction was driven by the need to increase the size of shops, to meet the Edwardian aspiration for department stores, but completion of the redevelopment was delayed by the First World War, and was eventually completed in 1927.
In spite of the fact that the whole immense hotel had nearly 300 bedrooms, massive restaurants, three basement floors up to forty feet below ground level, four Masonic
temples, a grill room, and a great deal of storage; modern builders will wince to learn that from start to finish the project took only 18 months to complete.
When it opened, the hotel employed 650 staff and had its own generator, which supplied all the electricity. The water came from an artesian well which had been sunk 400 feet down, to ensure that the guests did not have to drink the city’s supply. Forty years earlier, 50,000 Londoners had succumbed to Cholera.
The hotel was archetypal of the high Edwardian style, becoming immediately famous for its lavish spending and subsequently enjoying the royal patronage of King George V. The hotel’s first new owner since its inception was Harry Deeley, who bought it for a mere £500,000. Then in 1921 it was sold to a Welsh-catering company called RE Jones. The hotel was again sold in the 1950’s to Maxwell Joseph - who owned Grand Metropolitan Hotels – for £1.75 million.
Later, Gleneagles took over the hotel and closed it for 10 months for a massive £16 million refurbishment. The property was then taken over in 1986 by Le Méridien group, then a division of Air France, at a cost of £31 million, when it was modernised whilst retaining its Edwardian splendour. In 1994, it became part of the Forte Group, which was then acquired by Granada in 1996. In 2002 the hotel underwent a £5.5 million refurbishment of the lobby, 100 guest rooms, a self-contained conference floor of eight meeting rooms, and three restaurants.
The hotel has built a substantial reputation as one of the London’s finest, gracing London’s society nearly eighty years, practically unchanged. The influence of its French owners from this period is still found at the hotel today. Subtle Gaelic influences are combined with traditional British values to great effect. Le Méridien Piccadilly truly represents the great tradition of Grand European Hotels.
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