Description of Grand Royale
The Grand Royale London Hyde Park was built at the turn of the century. Commissioned reputedly by Edward VII as a private residence for his mistress Lilly Langtry, to the French Architect Charles Mews who had just completed the Construction of the London Ritz. Originally built in the 1850s, the private house at numbers 1-9 was renovated in the early 1900s for owner Louis Spitzel by celebrated contemporary architects Mewès and Davis. The designers were responsible for a number of note-worthy London buildings including The London Ritz, The Royal Automobile Club and 1 Aldwych, as well as private country seats including Luton Hoo, Polesden Lacey and Coombe Court. For private owner Mr Spitzel, Mewès and Davis created the lavish and intricate Edwardian interiors and fascia still present today. What was unusual about the renovation was the addition of a private theatre to the existing premises - and this is where the dwelling’s history becomes intriguing.
Supposedly created as both love-nest and career bolster for Lillie, no conclusive evidence of this rumour can be traced in official documents. But as Max Arthur, author of Lost Voices of the Edwardians: 1901-1910 in their own words (2006, HarperCollins) comments: “There is often no stronger proof than rumour concerning historical anecdotes and speculation - and often no stronger proof is needed. Gossip and rumour function as strong social tools in most Western cultures; any lack of reliable source material must not be taken as conclusive evidence against any story. Rather, an unexplained gap in knowledge frequently suggests that there is something to hide - and rather than outright denial or contrived cover-up, the official line is to ignore it. It’s well known that 1-9 Inverness Terrace was Lillie Langtry’s residence; sometimes hearsay is enough.”
Previously the Grand Royale London Hyde Park continue to be the focus of unofficial speculation: far from being a private house for an unremarkable client, it is rumoured to have been converted into a theatre by Edward VII for his mistress, the celebrated actress Lillie Langtry. The Jersey-born beauty’s affair with the future monarch reputedly began in 1877; the conversion of this residence in a discreet but convenient quarter of Westminster was apparently commissioned by the Prince in the late nineteenth-century.
The house became a hotel in 1966 and was reopened after refurbishment in 1972. The house front is of stone in an elaborate Franco-Flemish style which must have made it stand out in an area whose older buildings are predominantly stucco Italianate. The interiors at upper ground and first floor levels are panelled and painted in opulent taste, equal to the most elaborate contemporary work in Mayfair.
The jewel in the hotel’s crown is the celebrated theatre bar in the upper ground floor rear room. It originally consisted of two rooms, the front circular and domed (the auditorium), the second (the stage) rectangular with a proscenium arch between them. Charmingly intimate, mirrored walls and Venetian glass chandeliers blend with soft plush velvets to create what is surely the sexiest hotel bar in south London. With the original Edwardian theatre seats retained, the bar is worth checking out in its own right.
The Grand Royale London Hyde Park is an exquisite hotel, charming in its size and character, grand in its service. Historian and architect alike still frequent the building to sample the splendour of London’s most private Theatre Bar, its panelled drawing rooms and craftsmanship.