Thursday, 18 May 2017
Hotels in Austen's Time
The idea of a hotel was rather a new concept in Georgian England. The coaching inn was the normal means of accommodation overnight when travelling, with the attendant discomforts of the sounds of carriages arriving and leaving at all hours [especially if it was an inn where the Mail Coach stopped or a stage coach which travelled through the night] and the fact that it was, essentially, an inn. This meant beer, and drunken patrons. Add to this that staying for an extended period in an establishment which made its money in rapid turnover of patrons was discouraged, and a clientele which might be expected to cover the whole social gamut, and it was not necessarily a comfortable sort of place to stay, especially for ladies.
Hotels tended to be higher priced, quieter, and had a dining room devoted to dining, not drinking. Wine was, of course, served with meals, and wine or spirits served to a patron's room, but the tap-room was left out of its makeup. It was a quieter sort of place. Indeed, many people lived in hotels and never bothered to find rooms or rent or buy houses. The convenience of having the hotel servants to clean and provide meals outweighed being trammelled to some extent by being in a place frequented by other people, and probably there was less inconvenience than in many modern apartment blocks. In fact it was much like the service apartment so beloved of the clients of Hercule Poirot more than a century later.
The oldest hotel in England was the Royal Clarence, which opened in 1769 in Exeter, opposite the Cathedral. It was unfortunately gutted by fire in 2016. Exeter also boasted the New London Inn, built in 1794, and mentioned in Austen's Sense and Sensibility, which was very expensive and could handle 300 horses a day. Strictly speaking however, this was still an inn, however expensive it may have been.
Many hotels grew out of inns and taverns or coffee houses and some retained some or all of the functions of their original use as well as having more rooms for longer occupancy than one might expect of an inn. Of course no lady would go into any part of the hotel which remained a coffee house; only certain kinds of women went into such places. Taverns were eating houses more than drinking establishments, the new name for the ‘Ordinary’. Ladies did not eat in public eating places. Plenty of scope for the writer to place an innocent heroine in a sticky situation in wandering from the hotel in which she is staying in good faith into a part of it where she might be subject to insult …
I have listed the hotels in order of the date in which I know they appeared. Some may be older than I have attestation for, especially those I have logged just as ‘attested by the Epicure’s Almanack 1815.’
Hotels in London by date
Grand Hotel, Covent Garden, January 1774, was opened by David Low, for rich clientele at 15/- a night top price. No. 43 King St was the first house to be built on site in 1690's belonging to Lord Orford. In 1773 a 55 year lease was taken by Mr. Low, described as a perruke maker of Covent Garden. Rent was 200 pounds p.a. Respectability of the hotel was demonstrated by Low's efforts to procure continued use of the most prestigious pew in the local church for his clientele. There was a coffee room in the basement. Low went bankrupt in 1776, and the hotel was bought by Isaac Froome. Froome fitted it up as 'the only hotel for families’ since it was ‘fitted up in a style of elegance for the reception of the nobility and gentry, requiring temporary residence in town.' From 1785 - 1830s the coffee room and hotel were in separate ownership. In 1804 the coffee rooms were in the possession of Charles Richardson, who moved in the carven lion's head which had been part of Button's coffee house. It was very convenient to Almack's, also in King St. Christie's auctioneers moved from Pall Mall to King St in 1823.
The hotel still exists but has been extensively remodelled.
Nerot's Hotel, 23-24 King St. [south side], site now occupied by St James' Theatre. It was the former townhouse of the Earl of Ranelegh, the building dated to 1660s. 1776-1811 at this site, then it removed to Clifford St.
Prior to 1811 it was, of course, very convenient to Almack's, also in King St. Christie's auctioneers moved from Pall Mall to King St in 1823. William Pitt the elder often stayed there, so one might assume a Whig clientele. Horatio Nelson also stayed there. It was a very respectable house.
The Royal Hotel, 95 Pall Mall,[south side], attested in 1815 in Epicure’s Almanack. This was the only hotel left in Pall Mall in 1815. It was originally at nos. 92-93 Pall Mall, and was established between 1777-1778 by James Weston, who went bankrupt in 1809. Originally nos. 94-95 were the Star and Garter Tavern, which closed around 1800, so it is reasonable to speculate the move of the hotel was at about this time.
Miller's Hotel, 87 Jermyn St,[later renumbered to be 81] became a hotel some time in the late 1700's. The lease was reapplied for in 1811 by Robert Miller, who was also a wine merchant, at which point it was noted as being 'for many years known as Miller's Hotel'. The building was built in 1674. Also attested in 1815 in Epicure’s Almanack where it was described as ‘roomy, extending into Duke St.” It was mentioned as being of excellent quality in all things. It had a name change in the 1830s to 'The Orleans Hotel' but became 'The Cavendish' in 1836 and has remained under this name thereafter.
The Stratford Hotel, 160 Oxford St [north side]. From the 1780s it was used for Masonic meetings. It was on the corner of Stratford Place. It was also a tavern which served food all day. Attested in 1815 in Epicure’s Almanack. It disappeared from the records in 1835.
Holyland Coffee House and Hotel, 150 The Strand, late 1780s. Described in 1793 as ‘elegant if expensive’ [Roach’s London Pocket Pilot]. It closed in 1826 but may have been succeeded by Holyland’s Family Hotel, at 10 Norfolk St.
Blenheim Hotel and Coffee House, 87 New Bond St., renumbered to 94 in mid 1820s. Hotel from 1788 and previously the Blenheim Tavern. Continued as a hotel through much of 19th century, then became a restaurant in 1870s and eventually a café in the Lyons chain and closed in 1921.
Bath Hotel, aka Hatchett’s Hotel, 155 Piccadilly, site now occupied by the Ritz. On the corner of Arlington St. and Piccadilly. Established by 1789 as Hatchett's Hotel and White Horse Cellar. It was built on the site of the old 'White Horse Cellar', a coaching inn. The 'White Horse' was moved across the road to the corner of Albermarle St. In 1808 Jane Austen stayed there by which time it was known as the 'Bath Hotel'. She found it dirty and noisy.
Hatchett’s Hotel, with address given as 1-3 Dover St, east side, is attested in 1815 in Epicure’s Almanack. Presumably it was still known as Hatchett’s.
Durrant's Hotel, George St. A conversion of four adjoining Georgian townhouses in 1789, opening as an inn/hotel in 1790. Possibly somewhere between an inn and a hotel. Extant to this day.
Adelphi, aka Osborn’s Adelphi Hotel. 1-2 John St, south side, corner of Adam St. [John St now John Adam St], 1790. Was the Adelphi New Tavern and Coffee Shop, but was acquired by Osborn family some time before 1780. It was enlarged in 1906 and demolished 1936.
Bristol Hotel, 17 Cork St. Jane Austen stayed there 1796. Mentioned in a letter in 1793 from Gibbon to Lord Sheffield as being 'clean, convenient and quiet.' Schweeitzer and Davidson [tailors patronised by Beau Brummel] were also located in Cork St, a street known for its tailors.
Brunet’s Hotel, 24-26 Leicester Square, founded in 1800 by Louis Brunet. It quickly became a centre for French exiles. The original house was number 25 but Brunet quickly expanded to the north and south. From 1815-1838 it was run by Brunet’s half-brother, Francis Jaunay, and in 1839 was empty. The Epicure’s Almanack describes it in 1815 as the largest house in the square, ‘fitted up in the most elegant and appropriate manner’, and serving excellent wine. It catered to ‘Many foreigners of high distinction in the military or diplomatic like.’
British Imperial Hotel, 1 Tavistock Row, 1800, was converted to a hotel by John Stacie. Formerly the Bedford Arms Tavern.
The Gloucester Coffee House, Tavern and Hotel, 77 Piccadilly, north side, east corner of Berkey St, also known as the Pulsfort Hotel after the owner. The mails to Bath, Bristol and other points west terminated here. Mentioned in 1765 by the Post office but the hotel aspect was more recent. Attested in 1815 in Epicure’s Almanack. It was succeeded by a series of hotels including the St James, later called the Berkley. Later, in 1971, it was the Bristol and is now the Holiday Inn, Mayfair
Eastey's Family Hotel, Southampton St, by 1801. David Garrick lived here.
Warne's, 19-20 [northern side] Conduit St, half way between George St and Mill St. Burned down when fire broke out at 4-30pm 29th Jan 1809. Date of establishment: unknown. Utterly destroyed by the fire. Matthew Warne was in partnership with a Mr. Thomas Weigall and they issued an advertisement thanking their neighbours for help during the fire. They started up again in no. 22 Conduit St, and 42 Conduit St, opposite each other, but in 1818 the partnership was dissolved leaving 2 hotels, Warne’s at 22 Conduit St., and Weigall’s at 42. Both hotels were noted as being very respectable and well-attended during the Season.
43, Brook St, owned by Pellot Kirkham in 1802 and used as a private hotel until it was bought out by the Claridges, see also below with Mivart’s.
Kirkhams Hotel, 1802
Wake’s Hotel, 1805 but see below because of neighbourly complications.
Commercial Hotel, Skinner St, 1803
Grillon's Hotel, 7 Albermarle St, was founded by Alexandre Grillion, in 1803 but universally mispronounced. The building was built in 1721. Hosted a private club in 1813 for politicians looking for neutral ground. Was a long stay hotel in 1814, including Louis XVIII as one of its inmates. Attested in 1815 in Epicure’s Almanack. Moved 1860 to nos. 19-20.
Limmer's, also known as The Prince of Wales Hotel, Conduit St., on the corner of George St [now St George St]. Date of establishment: as a tavern 1773 or earlier. It was under management as a hotel by Limmer from 1805. Mentioned by Capt. Gronow in his memoirs as 'the dirtiest hotel in London'. Haunt of the rich squirearchy; much language of the turf, and the adjacent inn, 'The Coach and Horses' served effectively as a tap room for the gentlemen. It was often too crowded to get a bed, but one could always have a good plain English dinner, a bottle of good port and famous gin punch. Robert Gregson, John Gully, and Jack Broughton foregathered at Limmer's Hotel to meet patrons and pupils but possibly not after it became a hotel. The Epicure’s Almanack describes it as ‘truly elegant and very extensive,’ and ‘very respectable and well attended during the Season’ which does not agree with Gronow. Gronow however was writing in retrospect, and is known to tag on a purple patch or two. It ceased to be a hotel in 1902.
Not for your schoolgirl daughters staying the night on the way home.
Collins’ Hotel 19 Conduit St, attested in 1815 in Epicure’s Almanack. John Collins was the ex head waiter at Limmer’s/The Prince of Wales Hotel. It had disappeared in the 1820s. Collins is credited with inventing the Collins cocktail and transforming it into the Tom Collins by substituting sweetened Old Tom gin for the original genever. [March 20th, 1798, Morning Post first mentions a ‘cock-tail also vulgarly known as a ginger’ which was drunk by Mr. Wm. Pitt. At the time this usually meant a horse with its tail cut short to indicate it was of mixed breed. The leap to a mixed breed drink amongst the sporting is not a huge one. When you note that cock-tail horses were ‘gingered up’ to give them a better chance of selling….] Mr. Collins referred to it as gin punch, however.
Another hotel dubbed ‘respectable’ by the Epicure’s Almanack.
Pulteney Hotel, 105 Piccadilly, 1810. On the western corner of Bolton St facing Piccadilly and Green Park. Built originally by architect Michael Novosielski [1747-1795] for Lord Barrymore. When it was converted to a hotel it had 10 suites of rooms, and was one of the most fashionable hotels of its time. In 1814 the Czar stayed there and it was attested in 1815 in Epicure’s Almanack. Although the owner, John Escudier, advertised in May 1822 that it had been refurbished, the following year the Pulteney Hotel moved to 13 Albemarle St during April 1823.
Wake's Hotel, 45 Brook St,[later renumbered to 49 in 1867] founded 1805 or 6, proprietor Wm. Wake. Named Coulson's Hotel 1812-1851 and in 1853 became part of Claridges when bought out by Wm. and Marianne Claridge.
Mivart's, 44 Brook Street, south side. Later renumbered  to 51. In1812. James Mivart purchased his first building. By 1827 he owned 5 houses. No. 49 [later 57] Brook St bought in 1817. In 1828 he had completed purchases of adjacent properties to be one hotel called Mivart's. It was bought by the Claridges in 1854, It expanded in 1855 and became part of Claridges.
Kirkham’s Hotel 48 Brook Street, renumbered in 1867 to 43. At this address from 1802-1832. It changed hands several times after this. After WW1 it became the Guards Club and then the Bath Club.
Ibbotson’s Hotel, 3 Vere St. was mentioned by Cpt. Gronow in his memoirs of 1814 as ‘chiefly patronised by the clergy and young men from universities. Attested in 1815 in Epicure’s Almanack which says it was frequented by military men of rank, English and foreign. Also a tavern. By 1849 it had become the Oriental Hotel, but this too was gone by 1860.
The Worcester Tavern, Coffee House and Hotel, Oxford St, south side, on corner of Swallow St. Attested in 1815 in Epicure’s Almanack. It was also a place to which the western and midland mails called. Venison was served in season at 3/6d per person. In 1815, Swallow St was the principle road between Oxford St and Picadilly. Most of it is now under Regent St.
Cooper’s Hotel 15 Bouverie St [east side] attested in 1815 in the ‘Epicure’s Almanack’ as ‘excellent accommodation as well as for single persons’. The hotel continued in business at least through 1838.
Holmes’ Hotel also known as Harris’ Hotel, and Parliament St Coffee House, sited at 16 Parliament St. The building was a coffee house in 1768; no data yet found on when the names changed and it became a hotel. Still housed a coffee house in 1815.
Sheffield’s Hotel 6-7 John St [John St later known as John Adam St], attested 1815 in Epicure’s Almanack. By early 1820s it was known as Tetsall’s Hotel. Boarding houses and rooms for single gentlemen were to be found in the vicinity as well.
Manchester Arms Hotel and Coffee House, 14 Manchester Street, attested in 1815 in Epicure’s Almanack. By 1840s this became Ford’s hotel and expanded into nos. 13, 15 and 16 and then survived another century.
Hudson’s Hotel, Adam St, Adelphi, attested in 1815 in Epicure’s Almanack. Hudson had worked at The Grand Hotel, Covent Garden.
The Tower Hotel also known as Molloy’s Hotel, Tavern and Coffee House, 129 New Bond St [west side]. It became the Grosvenor Hotel in 1818 and after 1835 it vanishes. Molloy was an Irishman who was a popular landlord and something of a comic. Attested in 1815 in Epicure’s Almanack.
Le Fevre’s Hotel, Manchester St, attested in 1815 in Epicure’s Almanack. A small establishment combining functions of tavern, coffee house and hotel. ‘…Fitted up in a very genteel style and is attended by a very respectable class of customers.’ [one infers middle class from this description.]
Steven’s Hotel, 17 or 18 New Bond St. Also an entrance into Clifford St. Attested in 1815 in Epicure’s Almanack, as having a tavern with fine cuisine. Capt. Gronow said it was supported by officers of the army and men about town. Apparently it was not uncommon to see 30 or 40 saddle-horses or light carriages waiting outside. In later years, it became no more than an annexe to Long’s Hotel [qv below]
Long’s Hotel, at corner of Clifford St and New Bond St, listed later as no. 16. Excellent food. Later absorbed Steven’s Hotel.
Albion Hotel, in Jermyn St before 1815, attested in 1815 in Epicure’s Almanack as being in process of moving to no. 5 Cleveland Row, St James’.
Clarendon Hotel [and Jacquier’s Coffee House and tavern.] 169 Bond St. Attested in 1815 in Epicure’s Almanack. Occupied a mansion house built on part of the grounds of Clarendon House which was demolished in 1683.
Gordon’s Hotel, 1 Albermarle St. [east side], attested in 1815 in Epicure’s Almanack.
London Hotel, 44 Albermarle St [west side], attested in 1815 in Epicure’s Almanack. Superintended by a Mr. Hitchcock in 1815. Continues in directories in 1864.
York Hotel, 10 Albermarle St,[east side] corner of Stafford St., attested in 1815 in Epicure’s Almanack. Kept by a Mr. Cook. Later expanded into nos. 9 and 11. Disappeared after 1925.
Batt’s Hotel, 43 Dover St. [west side]. Respectable. Attested in 1815 in Epicure’s Almanack.
Cook’s Hotel, 45 Dover St. [west side]. Respectable. Attested in 1815 in Epicure’s Almanack. By 1827 had become the Lisbon Hotel, and by 1835 was Raggett’s Hotel. It was almost completely destroyed by fire in May 1845.
Reddish’s Hotel, 61 Jermyn St.[north side], attested in 1815 in Epicure’s Almanack. It was generally accounted as genteel, and the Almanack said that all the comforts of home and excellent viands.
Blakes’ Hotel, 56 Jermyn St [north side], attested in 1815 in Epicure’s Almanack which accounted it to have excellent home-from-home, good quality.
St James’ Hotel, 83 Jermyn St [south side], attested in 1815 in Epicure’s Almanack. Excellent quality all round.
The British Hotel, 89-90 Jermyn St [?south side], attested in 1815 in Epicure’s Almanack.
Kept by Mr. Hickinbottom, a very considerable wine merchant. Excellent quality hotel.
Topham’s, previously Beale’s Hotel, 42-43 Jermyn St [north side], attested in 1815 in Epicure’s Almanack.
Jordan’s Hotel, 57-58 St James’ St, attested in 1815 in Epicure’s Almanack. Described as having ‘superb and complete accommodations.’ In 1838 it is listed as Symon’s Hotel. Demolished before 1865.
Anderton's, 162-164 Fleet St, also a wine merchant. 1820
Old Hummums Hotel, Covent Garden, 1830: previously was broken into apartments occupied by gentlemen who chose to sleep there occasionally and avail themselves of a warm bath. New Hummums Hotel and Coffee House 11 Russell St, south side, adjacent to Old Hummums. Hummum is a corruption of the Arabic for a Turkish Bath but unlike bagnios, no scandal appears to have attached. Bagnios were often associated with prostitution.
Brown's Hotel, 1837, founded by James and Sarah Brown, valet and mai to Lord and Lady Byron.
Georgian London, Street and business index
Jane Austen's London
A history of Claridges
King Street, St James
The Epicure’s Almanack of 1815 edited and annotated by Janet Ing Freeman