Regent Palace Hotel

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The Regent Palace Hotel was a large hotel in the centre of London that existed between 1912 and 2010.

History

In 1912 Lyons & Co purchased the unused property on the outer edge of the Quadrant in Regent street. There they built a hotel which was called the Regent Palace. It took up the complete triangular block formed by Glasshouse, Brewer and Sherwood Streets. Rising nine floors high there was also a basement and sub-basement. It contained 1028 bedrooms, but even in its later year, only had communal bathrooms and toilets. For many years it was the largest hotel in Europe.. During the second world war's Blitz on London, it was hit by a couple of bombs, although little damage was done. In post-war years it deteriorated in spite of many attempts to refurbish it, and became one of the cheaper hotels of London which catered for tour parties. The building was largely demolished in 2010-2012 and was replaced by part of the Quadrant 3 project and renamed "Air W1".

Public rooms

The public area of the hotel was situated mainly on the ground and first floors. The main entrance was on the apex at the intersection of Brewer and Sherwood Streets. It was visible from Piccadilly Circus and its neon sign was said to be the last neon sign in the Circus. The floor plan altered slightly over the years, but will be described as it was in the 1980s. Immediately after entering there was a news kiosk on the left. On the right was a sandwich and fruit bar. Further on that side was the head-porter's counter and the check-in counter. Opposite these counters were three very small lifts. These lifts were inadequate for even normal use and hopeless at major check-out times. Between the lifts was a marble stairway leading to all other floors. Further in the vestibule was a gift shop and a booking agency (for theatres), followed by a hall with the entry to a Pub on the left and to the coffee shop/breakfast room on the right. Also in this hall were telephones and an entrance to a stairway leading to the residents lounge (on the first floor) and the hairdressing salon in the lower floor. The vestibule ended in swing doors leading to an area under a dome with a classic parquet floor. Beyond this, was the restaurant, decorated in the Art Deco style. The dome was of cut glass, and was situated in an open central court also triangular in shape. This caused the building to have the main passageways on the upper floors also to be triangular in plan-form

Upper floors

The upper floors contained the bedrooms, mainly singles and doubles. The rather cell-like singles were very narrow, just wide enough to contain the bed and room to use the wash sink. Beyond the bed there was a chair and small table, a closet and the window. Even the inner rooms had natural light as they opened onto the central court and its triangular shape prevented direct overlook. The double and Twin rooms were much wider with more furniture. There were bathrooms and toilets in each passageway. A bell in each bedroom summoned a floor maid who would then draw a bath, supply hot towels and escort the resident to the bathroom, and after use, clean it..

Staff

At its peak, the Regent Palace employed over a thousand staff. Many of these were accommodated in a separate staff building on the east side of Sherwood Street. This building also contained the laundry and could be reached by an over-street bridge at the third floor level. This bridge is still in existence. However the old staff building is now used as the Backpacker Hostel.

Features

The hotel was run by the J Lyons & Co, who were an early user of business computing, consequently, the Regent Palace together with its sister hotel the Strand Palace were one of the first hotels to use a computer. This was in the 1970s. The restaurant became one of the largest carveries in London, having hot lamb, pork, chicken and two beefs together with cold ham and chicken. A carving chef was supplied for those less able to carve. The meal started with a waitress served shimp or fruit cocktail and ended with dessert and tea or coffee also from the waitress. Since 1997 there has been a Regent Palace Hotel in Dubai, but it has no connection with the above hotel.

References

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