I’m excited to welcome the lovely Katy Birchall, author of Secrets of a Teenage Heiress, to Pretty Books. I read her hilarious novel recently – the first in the Hotel Royale series, perfect for fans of The Princess Diaries and Geek Girl – and Katy’s here to share awesome facts about three London hotels (she says: YES, AWESOME. NOT BORING. THESE FACTS ARE COOL. TRUST ME.). I’m also giving away 2 copies of the book on Twitter, so head over to be in with a chance of discovering more about Flick, Fritz (the sausage dog, obvs) and the wonderful Hotel Royale.
The Hotel Royale series was inspired by the beautiful grand dame hotels in London (a.k.a. hotels so famous and old, they’ve become important institutions!). I am completely fascinated by these beautiful, elegant, perfectly-run hotels, all of which have some pretty cool history (and secrets) behind them, just like Hotel Royale does in my books (there’s a ghost and everything). There is just something MAGICAL about these hotels.
Maybe it’s all the chandeliers and gold leafing… hmmmmm…
Anyhoo, there are lots of amazing hotels in London that I love which I could bore you about (The Dorchester, Claridge’s, Brown’s, The Savoy, The Connaught to name a few) BUT… I won’t. Instead, I’ll bore you about my top 3. (It was HARD to narrow it down to just 3 but I did it just for you. You’re welcome.)
So, here are some COOL facts that you might not know about three of London’s most famous hotels…
Staying a night at The Ritz was what sparked the idea for my new series, so it’s only fitting that we start with it first, and the history at this beautiful hotel is unbelievable… talk about celebrity fans…
Famous guests include Charlie Chaplin, Noel Coward, Sir Roger Moore, a few Prime Ministers, throw in a couple of world leaders, not to mention several members of the royal family—Prince Charles and Camilla made their first ever public appearance there as a couple.
In 1951, famous actress Tallulah Bankhead came to The Ritz for a press conference and drank Champagne FROM HER SHOE. Seriously, she just took it off, poured the drink in and had a good glug. In front of all the journalists, no word of a lie. It was such a famous incident that The Ritz named a cocktail after her, The Tallulah.
So, that was weird. But also…kind of cool, right?
If the shoe thing is not enough to impress you, scenes from Downton Abbey have been filmed there. But really, if we’re going to talk about screen time, who can forget the hotel’s most famous starring role in Notting Hill? Julia Roberts’ character Anna Scott holds a press conference there and we have Hugh Grant’s hilarious Horse & Hound moment. A piece of iconic film history right there.
A hotel fit for a king (okay, fine, emperor if you’re being technical), Louis Napoleon III spent his exile from France at The Langham. Nice. Diana, Princess of Wales, was also a big fan and stayed there a lot.
The Langham survived being hit by a bomb in 1940 during the Second World War and this amazing hotel has quite the literary history too, so book nerds listen up: Oscar Wilde and Mark Twain loved it there; Charles Dickens talked a lot about The Langham; and author of the Sherlock Holmes stories Arthur Conan Doyle was a frequent guest, often mentioning it in his novels.
It has also had a couple of big screen cameos, for example Bond film GoldenEye, but more importantly, it totally starred in Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s classic movie, Winning London. #proud
Something really lovely about this one—more than a century after it was built, this beauty of a luxury hotel is still family-run. Just like Hotel Royale is still managed and owned by the Royale family in my books, the Goring family is, four generations later, STILL at the helm of their hotel. Cool heritage, or what?
The most interesting thing about The Goring is the part it played in the First and Second World Wars—it was turned into a command centre for WWI and the allied forces would always contact American President Woodrow Wilson from one of the rooms there. In the Second World War, the mother of Winston Churchill, Lady Randolph Churchill genuinely moved in to the hotel. Casual.
It also has strong connections with the royal family: it was The Queen Mother’s favourite—she had her last public appearance there—and Kate Middleton and her family were based at the hotel in the days leading up to her wedding to Prince William. The Royal Suite is AWESOME. Google it.
This is actually the smallest of the grand dame hotels and so in the hotel world, it has the rather cute nickname “Baby Grand”.
Secrets of a Teenage Heiress is out now – stay tuned for my review!