The heritage of Dorchester Collection’s nine iconic hotels is deeply rooted in the historic fabric of some of the most remarkable cities in the world. Renowned for their first class service, the hotels have also produced a series of firsts – from Hotel Eden becoming the first hotel in Rome to offer new innovations such as lifts and electricity in 1889, to Le Meurice cementing its status in the same year as the first Parisian hotel to have a telephone.
Each of the hotels have helped to shape the history of their respective locations. With a unique story to tell, they represent their cities’ past and present, substance and style, and most importantly – their people.
While Dorchester Collection’s hotels eagerly await your visit once we can travel again, we invite you to discover more about the fascinating history behind the hotels and the legendary guests that have inhabited them.
From the moment the famous doors of The Dorchester first opened back in 1931, it has attracted high-profile guests and those with a taste for the finer things in life.
The Dorchester was the vision of Sir Robert McAlpine, who created a blueprint for what he considered to be the perfect hotel. His vision came to life when the hotel opened its doors on April 18, 1931. The state-of-the-art design was built in record time over 18 months, at the speed of a floor a week, to become the world’s first hotel to be constructed from reinforced concrete.
Throughout its history, the hotel has been a favourite of royalty and celebrities, hosting countless state banquets and legendary parties – between 1946 and 1948, The Dorchester hosted an average of one charity ball a week, with most of these attended by a member of the British royal family. During WWII, The Dorchester was considered the safest hotel in London thanks to its modern construction. Cabinet Ministers Lord Halifax and Duff Cooper moved in on a semi-permanent basis, and General Dwight D. Eisenhower set up headquarters on the first floor in what is now known as The Eisenhower Suite.
45 Park Lane’s building dates back to the early 1960s and was designed by Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus school and a pioneer of modernist architecture who also designed the iconic MetLife Building in New York.
The hotel opened as part of Dorchester Collection in September 2011 and has firmly established itself as a leader on London’s contemporary hotel scene. Renowned for its art, and as the home of the Negroni in London, it became home to Wolfgang Puck’s first European venture – CUT at 45 Park Lane.
Art features strongly throughout: 16 of Damien Hirst’s limited edition ‘Psalms’ series are displayed together for the first time in the restaurant, and original art by ten leading, living British artists is displayed – one artist on each floor – in every guest room and suite. It is therefore no surprise that the hotel has already attracted a plethora of established names from the worlds of fashion, film, art and design, with CUT at 45 Park Lane and BAR 45 having played host to many a star-studded London Fashion Week party.
Coworth Park has a rich history, and the property consists of several buildings, including the original Coworth House built in 1776. Interestingly, the hotel also looks out onto Tittenhurst, the former home of John Lennon, and the place where he wrote Imagine.
The countryside hotel is a favourite among modern royals – but its regal connections go way back. In 1066, Edward the Confessor, the last Anglo-Saxon king of England, gave the land on which the hotel now stands to Westminster Abbey. The land was later repossessed by William the Conqueror for the crown.
Throughout the generations, the estate has passed through the hands of a long list of Lords and Ladies including the Earl of Derby who owned the estate for the early half of the 19th century. Coworth Park first became associated with polo in the mid-1980s when the owner of Selfridges and Fortnum & Mason, Galen Weston, purchased the estate and built its first polo ground and stables. In March 2001, a further polo ground and practice field was added, and in 2008, Dorchester Collection started work to renovate the main Georgian manor house and create a luxury country house hotel estate and spa, before its opening in 2010.
Le Meurice, the oldest Parisian Palace, established in 1835, has been dazzling guests for centuries, so much so that countless public figures have made it their Parisian ‘home away from home.’ Only steps away from the Louvre and Place Vendôme, Le Meurice has always been one of the most important hotels in Paris throughout its history. The hotel is sited on one of the most historic spots in Europe: many of the principal events of the Napoleonic Period and the Restoration of the Bourbon Kings took place at the Tuileries Gardens, which Le Meurice overlooks. Completed under the reign of King Louis Philippe, this seven-storey hotel houses a rare ensemble of salons decorated in 18th-century style.
Over the years, Le Meurice has developed a reputation for lavish entertainment and was renowned as the patron of the arts. The hotel has played proud host to an array of world-famous artists: Pablo Picasso and his wife Olga Khokhlova hosted their wedding lunch at Le Meurice in 1918, legendary French fashion designer Coco Chanel hosted glittering receptions and organised fashion shows in the Salon Pompadour, and surrealist painter Salvador Dali checked-in for extended stays throughout the ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s, inspiring the hotel’s Le Dali restaurant.
The hotel was a great literary haunt in the 1970s, and today still retains its position at the centre of Parisian artistic and cultural life; it remains a favourite destination for dozens of prominent artists and intellectuals. Le Meurice continues to support artists, after 11 years of The Meurice Prize for contemporary art, this year the hotel launched a Literature Prize to celebrate writers.
Since Hôtel Plaza Athénée Paris first opened its doors in 1913, it has seduced both the elegant Parisian and a discerning international clientele, firmly establishing its haute couture status. Located in Paris’s most prestigious avenue Montaigne, Hôtel Plaza Athénée is situated where fashion, entertainment, and business cross paths.
In 1913, Hôtel Plaza Athénée was opened, just a short way away from the Champs Élysées Theatre, at N° 25, avenue Montaigne. It quite naturally became the favourite meeting place for the grand masters of music, composers and performers alike. Gobelins Manufactory, the “Relais” restaurant, and the lounges and suites housed the most popular stars of the time including Josephine Baker, Rudolph Valentino, Marlene Dietrich, and Humphrey Bogart, amongst others.
When Christian Dior launched his couture salon on avenue Montaigne in 1947 it is reputed that he chose the location due to its close proximity to Hôtel Plaza Athénée. Soon afterwards Chanel, Prada and Louis Vuitton followed suit and today avenue Montaigne is a byword for luxury and haute couture.
In 2000, Hôtel Plaza Athénée was fully renovated. Alain Ducasse, world renowned Chef, set up his restaurant and made it one of the major centres of Parisian cuisine. Patrick Jouin, a disciple of Philippe Starck, created the most daringly designed bar in the French capital. In 1936, the hotel was the first to open a restaurant in art deco style, equally, Le Relais was the first restaurant to serve people by plate due to its proximity to the theatre. In 2009, Hôtel Plaza Athénée became the first hotel to open a Dior Institut in a hotel in Europe, and in May 2011 the property was one of the first four Parisian hotels to be awarded the official “Palace” distinction.
In 1927, the year the hotel opened its doors as the Principe e Savoia, Milan had already begun building its reputation as Italy’s business centre – it was the first hotel in Italy to install telephones and the first built next to Milan’s central train station, Milano Centrale. The first guests were international business people and power brokers. But soon, attracted by the novelty of the hotel, by the lure of a quiet stay in the midst of gardens surrounding the building, other guests arrived: international royalty, world-renowned artists, and intellectuals.
Both before and after WWII, registered guests, more associated with the world of society and letters than with business, included the Duke of Windsor and Erich Maria Remarque, Charlie Chaplin and Josephine Baker, Evita Peron, and Maria Callas. The Aga Khan and Aristotle Onassis were also regulars.
Andy Warhol too was a fan; Ernest Hemingway holidayed there with Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini, and Frank Sinatra expressed his appreciation to the hotel for “making me feel at home.” Equally, Sofia Coppola filmed Somewhere, featuring Hotel Principe di Savoia in many of its scenes, including the Presidential Suite with its impressive private swimming pool – the only suite in Milan with its own pool.
Hotel Eden celebrated its 130th birthday in 2019. The building was constructed around 1887, as a series of elegant residential apartments, and was designed by the prominent Italian architect Francesco Settimi, who was involved in much of the influential building in Rome around this time.
When hotelier Francesco Nistelweck set eyes on the apartment building, he was immediately inspired to transform it into a luxury hotel, convinced that the popularity of the new railway would guarantee him plenty of guests. Generations of Nistelweck’s family owned and ran the hotel for almost a century.
When Hotel Eden opened on October 10, 1889, it was the first hotel in Rome to feature a lift, electricity, heating and running water. It became an instant success and a firm favourite with guests touring Europe.
The hotel was a favourite of prolific director Federico Fellini, who directed La Dolce Vita. Fellini, a Roman by adoption, always chose the hotel’s legendary rooftop for his interviews.
The Beverly Hills Hotel was built in 1912, before there was even a city called Beverly Hills. By 1920, the area became one of the world’s smartest addresses, with stars like Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin, Gloria Swanson, Buster Keaton, and Rudolph Valentino transforming the bean fields surrounding The Beverly Hills Hotel into prime real estate.
In the early 1950s, the hotel’s popularity with royalty and celebrities continued to escalate. Guests included the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Princess Margaret, and Lord Snowdon, King Albert of Belgium, the Crown Prince of Monaco, John Wayne, and Henry Fonda. Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and the rest of the Rat Pack engaged in prodigious drinking bouts in the Polo Lounge. Towards the end of the decade, Marilyn Monroe and Yves Montand checked into bungalows 20 and 21 while filming Let’s Make Love.
To celebrate 100 years of history and heritage, a thoughtful restoration programme of its 21 signature bungalows began in 2012. The works completed this year with the reveal of the last in its series of legendary bungalows inspired by former iconic guests such as Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, and Charlie Chaplin.
A hidden sanctuary amongst the wooded hills, untouched by the clamour of life beyond its gates,
Hotel Bel-Air’s story begins in the 1920’s with the very creation of Bel-Air itself, LA’s ultimate community of exclusivity. The hotel grew from Alphonzo Bell’s original vision to turn the best-situated land in Los Angeles into estates for ‘the kind of people you would like to know and have as your neighbours’, and the vision lives on today.
In 1946, a Texan hotel entrepreneur named Joseph Drown bought 18 acres from Alphonzo Bell, including the estate’s mission-style buildings, and immediately began transforming the site into the elegant and secluded hotel we now enjoy. He restored the property and added a series of new guest rooms before the hotel officially opened on August 24, 1946.
A quintessentially private and exclusive hotel, delivering low-key elegance since 1946, Hotel Bel-Air is still very much reminiscent of the Golden Age of Hollywood – in the 1950s, the hotel attracted privacy-seeking Hollywood A-listers, including Grace Kelly, Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Gleason and Cary Grant.
A rare piece of living history, the hotel has often played home to many of Hollywood’s finest.
Marilyn Monroe posed for photographer Bert Stern at Hotel Bel-Air just six weeks prior to her tragic death. The 1962 shoot commissioned by Vogue resulted in thousands of images and a published book, The Last Sitting.
Hotel Bel-Air’s Grace Kelly Suite is named in honour of the actress, who chose the bungalow for her post-Oscar photo shoot and lived at the hotel prior to her marriage to Prince Rainier Grimaldi III. The epitome of gracious elegance and feminine charm, the suite embodies her beauty and iconic style.
Dorchester Collection is a portfolio of the world’s foremost luxury hotels in Europe and the US, each of which reflects the distinctive culture of its destination. By applying its unrivalled experience and capability in owning and operating some of the greatest individual hotels, the company’s mission is to develop an impeccable group of the finest landmark hotels through acquisition as well as management of wholly-owned and part-owned hotels, and to enter into management agreements.
The current portfolio includes the following hotels: The Dorchester, London; 45 Park Lane, London; Coworth Park, Ascot, UK; Le Meurice, Paris; Hôtel Plaza Athénée, Paris; Hotel Principe di Savoia, Milan; Hotel Eden, Rome; The Beverly Hills Hotel, Beverly Hills; and Hotel Bel-Air, Los Angeles.
More from CONCIERGE
Rosewood Hotels and Resorts, in partnership with renowned real estate developer Qatari Diar, is pleased to announce the latest plans …