The Strand Place Hotel has a fascinating history
that dates back to 1907 when permission was given to build a 'grand'
hotel in the prominent Westminster thoroughfare of the Strand. Two
years later the Strand Palace Hotel opened for business. When the
Hotel first opened in 1909 a single room with breakfast would have
set you back five shillings and six pence (31p in today's money).
During the roaring Twenties the adjoining
Haxell's Hotel was acquired in order to expand and improve the Strand
Place. The Hotel underwent a major refurbishment to make it a thoroughly
modern Hotel. Art Deco features were incorporated into many of the
public areas, and the Hotel became a popular venue for social gatherings
where London's bright young things could show off their dancing
skills with displays of the Charleston and Tango. Some of the original
art deco and architecture can still be seen today and has featured
in several movies and television period dramas.
At the same time, some not so prominent changes
were being made behind the scenes. Two second hand coal fired steam
boilers, salvaged from World War 1 battleships, were installed in
the boiler house. They proved to be highly labour intensive and
required 24-hour monitoring. The story goes that over a thirty six
year period, a father and son team looked after these boilers and
it is said that the only time they ever saw each other was when
they changed over at the beginning and end of their 12 hour shifts.
During the Second World War, food ration vouchers
could be exchanged for meals in the restaurant and air raid shelters
were provided for all guests in the basement vaults. Due to its
large number of bedrooms, the Hotel became popular with the American
armed forces that needed accommodation for their personnel before
they were sent into action. The Hotel was in fact commissioned as
an official U.S rest and recuperation residence. Once again the
Hotel became an important social venue as Londoners and war weary
soldiers jived and jitterbugged long into the night. Over the years
many of those service personnel have returned to relive memories,
and today their families and relatives still visit the Hotel.
Some years ago during the excavation work
in the fields of Normandy, France, a Strand Palace Hotel room key
was discovered in one of the trenches of the First World War. That
key and other art deco features are now held in the archives of
the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.
The post war era saw the Strand Palace Hotel
develop further with a number of improvements. With the introduction
of private bathrooms in all guestrooms in 1958, new oil fired boilers
were installed to cope with the increased demand for hot water.
It was at this time the son of the original boiler house team finally
hung up his coal scuttle and joined his father in happy retirement.
Also at this time electronic cash registers were installed.
Today the Hotel is fully computerised. It
offers comfortable accommodation with extensive catering facilities
and excellent conference suites.