History of Venues: Tea time with Oscar Wilde

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Today (14 September), Hotel Café Royal unveiled The London Royal Tea, to be hosted daily at the iconic Oscar Wilde Bar. This news could not have brightened today’s rainy Monday any more!

By pure coincidence, Hotel Café Royal has always featured in my top favourite venues ever since it re-launched. So I have taken the above as a sign of fate and decided to delve into the past of this majestic place as part of the History of Venues blog series.

Hotel Cafe Royal

Hotel Cafe Royal

It all began when Daniel Nicholas Thevenon – later to be known as Daniel Nicols – and his wife left France and moved to London, in the hopes of bettering their lives. As part of their quest, they opened Hotel Café Royal which offered French gourmet food and held the world’s greatest wine cellar. It was revolutionary and the city went crazy.

The hotel became the most fashionable venue in London, attracting royalty and celebrities from all over the world. Often seen there were Oscar Wilde, Princess Diana, Brigitte Bardot, Elizabeth Taylor, and Louis Armstrong.

Oscar Wilde Bar, Hotel Cafe Royal

Back in 1951, the hotel became home to the National Sporting Club, holding black tie dinners before bouts often frequented by Muhammad Ali. This was the perfect home for the club, as it is also where ‘The Queensberry Rules for Boxing’ were first laid down by the Earl of Lonsdale and the fifth Marquis of Queensberry.

After years of radical restoration overseen by David Chipperfield, Hotel Café Royal reopened with beautiful guest rooms, including suites, restaurants and bars, and a private members club.

And yes, some people argue that the place has lost some of its charm due to some of its modern décor, but I believe that the hotel still throws hints of its past everywhere you go. Proof of this is the lavish Oscar Wilde Bar, where the grandeur and history of Hotel Café Royal is literally reflected in its mirrors of opulence.

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