Dorchester Hotel

The Dorchester is a luxury hotel in London, opened on 18 April 1931. It is situated on Park Lane in Mayfair, overlooking Hyde Park.

The Dorchester was created by the famous builder Sir Robert McAlpine and the managing director of Gordon Hotels Ltd, Sir Frances Towle, who shared a vision of creating the ‘perfect hotel’: ultramodern and ultra-efficient, with all the conveniences modern technology could supply.. So, in 1929 their two companies jointly bought the Dorchester House, a large 19th-century building, and quickly had it demolished. Sir Owen Williams & William Curtis Green were commissioned to design the new hotel, using reinforced concrete to allow the creation of large internal spaces without support pillars (Sir Robert's nickname was "Concrete Bob", due to his love for the new building material). The construction was carried out by Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd, with the upper eight floors erected in just 10 weeks, supported on a massive three feet thick reinforced concrete deck that forms the roof of the first floor.

During the Second World War, the strength of its construction gave the hotel the reputation of being one of London's safest buildings.Cabinet Ministers, such as Lord Halifax and Duff Cooper, stayed there during this time, as did Winston Churchill, who had a wall built to add privacy to his balcony, which still exists. General Dwight D. Eisenhower took a suite on the first floor (now the Eisenhower Suite) in 1942 after previously having stayed at Claridge's. Diners at the Dorchester from cultural circles during this period included Cyril Connolly, T. S. Eliot, Harold Nicolson, and Edith Sitwell.

On 3 June 1982, Shlomo Argov, the Israeli ambassador to the United Kingdom was shot and seriously injured in an assassination attempt as he left The Dorchester. The attack was the immediate cause for the 1982 Lebanon War.

In 1988, the hotel closed for two years for a major refit. The hotel was completely updated and the Promenade, Grill Room, and the Oliver Messel Suite were meticulously restored, to reopen in 1990.

The Dorchester is owned by the Dorchester Collection, which in turned is owned by the Brunei Investment Agency (BIA), an arm of the Ministry of Finance of Brunei. The Dorchester Collection owns luxury hotels in the United Kingdom, the United States, France, and Italy.

High profile celebrities that have stayed at The Dorchester over the years have includedKim Kardashian, Britney Spears, Julie Andrews, Kim Basinger, Warren Beatty, Yul Brynner, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, Mariah Carey, Tom Cruise, Judy Garland, Johnny Depp, Russell Crowe, Jack Black, Charlton Heston, Nicole Kidman, Joan Collins, James Mason, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Peter Sellers, and Kenneth Horne (who died in the hotel). Other famous entertainers who have been guests include Morrissey, Michael Jackson, The Beatles, Cecil Beaton, Noel Coward, Peter Kay, Joan Crawford, Marlene Dietrich, Duke Ellington, Prince (musician), Somerset Maugham, and Lady GaGa.

In popular culture

The Dorchester is mentioned in an episode of hotel comedy series Fawlty Towers when a guest asks about the new chef Terry (played by Brian Hall). Sybil answers: "He used to work at the Dorchester", which leads the guest to expectingly think he worked at The Dorchester. Sybil then gives the precision "No, in Dorchester".

The hotel was also featured in ITV's X Factor, in October 2006, as the location for Sharon Osbourne's bootcamp stages of the competition.

In Mr Jolly Lives Next Door, the unnamed characters played by Rik Mayall and Ade Edmondson spend an evening at the hotel with Nicholas Parsons.

The hotel room featured in the conclusion of 2001: A Space Odyssey was modelled after The Dorchester.

Swedish new wave band The Sounds' fourth track on their 2009 album Crossing the Rubicon is named after the hotel.

Roger Sterling mentions parties at The Dorchester with stewardesses to Don Draper in an episode of Mad Men describing how the latter imagines working for McCann Erickson on the Pan Am account.

In Jeffrey Archer award winning book the hotel is spoken about several times in A Prisoner of Birth

The lobby, bar, and a guest room of The Dorchester are featured in "The Mapping of Love and Death," a novel in the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear