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The Aftermath – Resurgence of London Hotels After World War II

The Second World War can be considered as one of the greatest tragedies of the world. Its effects and damages spread in every corner of the world, extending to different territories, countries and continents. London was not spared from its attacks.

In a time of devastation and death, the hospitality industry in London was able to survive the blows of the war and pick-up the pieces to start anew. The most notable hotel after the war was The London Hilton on Park Lane. It is presently London’s tallest hotel and contains 450 rooms.

There were more than 70,000 three to five star hotels in Central London as of 2003. Luxury Hotels are more commonly found in the West End, particularly in Mayfair. London’s five star hotels are relatively small compared to the other hotels overseas. The largest in London, the Radisson Edwardian Heathrow Hotel, have a total of 459 rooms. These five-star hotels vary in style, design and architecture. But nonetheless, these are sure to give its guests the comfort and relaxation that they need.

Though most hotels in London are traditional grand hotels like the Ritz, the Savoy and the Dorchester, some of them are modern boutique designer hotels like the St. Martins Lane Hotel. Built in a 1960s office block, St. Martins Lane Hotel was designed in a 1990s minimalist design by Philippe Starck. London shifted to building boutique-style hotels in the 1980s, while budget hotel chains such as Travel Inn and Travelodge became the trend in mid-1990s. Chain hotels like the Four Seasons London also boomed after the War.

This boom started in the mid-1990s wherein new hotels started to open in every corner. By this time, London hotels offer more than what they offered before. Hotel designs range from country-house-styles with a Victorian feel to modernized minimalist spaces. It is also at this time wherein London’s grandest 20th century office buildings were converted into hotels making use of their long corridors and separate offices. Some of these are the One Aldwych, designed with an early 21st century interior in an early 20th century neo-baroque office building; and the Renaissance Chancery Court, opened in the 1990s in a grand 1914 office building.

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So how did London actually recover from the damages of World War II? When the war ended, the rate of hotel construction in London became relatively cheap, thus, it opened the opportunity for businessmen to once again revive the hospitality industry. By the 1970s, hotel construction had been more intense because of the uncontrollable inflation of the number of tourists which peaked to 6 million in 1974, from 1.6 in 1963. This boom was due to a more affordable air travel cost that attracted many visitors to London. The government even issued a Hotel Development Incentive Scheme to encourage the building of more hotels to answer great demand for tourism.

At present, the most profitable hotels with high number of guests are those around the 5 major London airports. The Marriott Country Hall Hotel, the Four Seasons Canary Wharf and the Marriott West India were among the first five-star hotels in London that flourished from year 2000 onwards. As the 2012 Olympics nears, which will be hosted in London, budget oriented hotels started to pop out in the city in preparation for millions of tourists and visitors that will be arriving by that time. Inns and lodge type hotels like Premier Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Ibis and Travelodge are all around the streets of London.

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