Over A Century Of History At This Legendary London Waterloo Hotel
The Strand Palace Hotel has a fascinating history dating back to 1907, when permission was given granted to build a ‘grand’ hotel in the prominent Westminster thoroughfare of the Strand. Two years later, the hotel opened for business. At that time, a single room with breakfast would have set you back five shillings and six pence – 27p in today’s money.
As London roared into the Twenties, the adjoining Haxell’s Hotel was acquired in order to expand and modernise the Strand Place. Art Deco features were incorporated into many of the public areas, and the Hotel became a popular venue for social gatherings, where London’s best and brightest could show off their dancing skills with displays of the Charleston and Tango. Some of the original Art Deco architecture can still be seen today in the historic facade, and the property has been featured in several movies and television period dramas.
At the same time, certain functional changes were quietly made. Two second-hand coal-fired steam boilers, salvaged from World War I battleships, were installed in the boiler house. They proved to be highly labour intensive, and required 24-hour monitoring. Legend holds that one father and son team looked after the boilers for thirty-six years, seeing each other only 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 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 Strand.
Some years ago during excavation work in the fields of Normandy, France, a Strand Palace Hotel room key was discovered in a First World War trenches from 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 implement 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 that 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. As the premier address among London hotels, the Strand Palace Hotel offers comfortable accommodation and impeccable service, with extensive catering facilities and excellent conference suites.
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