London Hilton on Park Lane

London Hilton on Park Lane, 50th Anniversary

London Hilton on Park Lane, celebrating 50 years of welcoming guests in 2013

On the 17th April 2013 London Hilton on Park Lane celebrates its 50th Anniversary. As it was the first and only Hilton in the UK, it was simply called “The Hilton”. London Hilton on Park Lane was the first American hotel chain to open in the UK and revolutionised British hotel keeping, suddenly becoming a symbol of a modern Britain. Mr. Conrad Hilton was present during the opening ceremony on 17th April 1963, where sixteen Grenadier Guardsmen sounded a fanfare of trumpets across Park Lane and the ceremonial hoisting of the Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes took place. For the official opening ceremony on 17th April 1963, Giuseppe Bazzani, the hotel's Executive Chef, was asked to prepare the inaugural lunch for 750, however with dozens of gate crashers the number rose to 900.

Offical Opening 1963 The Hotel's official opening, 17th April 1963 London Hilton on Park Lane has continued to spread the light and warmth of hospitality ever since its opening and has hosted many of the city's landmark events over the years. Everyone from kings to presidents, Hollywood nobility to the International Olympic Committee have passed through our doors. The hotel will be celebrating its 50th anniversary with a series of activities as well as launching a commemorative anniversary book in early 2013 looking back over the hotel's fascinating history.

History

Conrad Hilton reviewing site plans with Charles Clore Conrad Hilton reviewing site plans with Charles Clore, representing the New Citis Properties Ltd.

Looking Back

Plans for the hotel began with rough sketches in 1955 and the agreement was signed on 23rd March 1960, between Conrad Hilton, President of Hilton International and Mr. Charles Clore, representing the New Citis Properties Ltd.

Following the main demolition work, the site was cleared and excavations were completed in 1961. The soil had not been touched for 25,000,000 years, as fossils discovered on the site would reveal.

“In 1960 the construction site in Park Lane was all but cleared, apart from building No 21 which was still occupied by textile magnate and banker Michael Ferszt, who sat in his fourth floor flat, and below him Mr. William Hockman in his third floor flat. They were the only tenants, and they both held a seven year lease. Sitting right on the spot where the new hotel tower was to be built, they had every intention to sit tight until their seven-year leasesexpired in 1961. And so they did.” Excerpt taken from the book, London Hilton on Park Lane, by Andreas Augustin available to purchase in early 2013.

London Hilton on Park Lane took two and a half years to build at a cost of £8 million (equivalent to £35 million in today's money), including the cost of the land and all of the furnishings. The hotel was the largest multi-storey building constructed in London for over 30 years.

Aerial shot of the hotel Aerial shot of the hotel

Ahead of its time

Upon opening on 17th April 1963, the hotel offered 509 guest rooms, (today 453) accommodating 856 guests. Owing to the unique ‘Y’ shaped tower with 4 guest lifts running up the central core, guests only needed to walk a minimal distance to reach their rooms, plus the shape of the building allowed for spectacular views of London from all guest rooms.

Dining experiences at the London Hilton in the 1960s

Trader Vic's

Trader Vic's

“Trader Vic's”, which opened just before the official opening of London Hilton on Park Lane was the first Trader Vic's to open outside the United States and was an instant success, especially with the hotel's predominantly American guests.

roof restaurant

Roof Restaurant

The ‘Roof Restaurant’ where Galvin at Windows now sits was a unique addition to London's restaurants and continues to provide exceptional service with peerless views across London. The Roof Restaurant and Bar was the first of its kind in London providing luncheons, dinner-dancing and cocktails from the sunken bar.

international restaurant

International Restaurant

The “International Restaurant”, on the second floor (now the Wellington Ballroom) offered elegant and spacious surroundings with views across Hyde Park and dinner was accompanied by music from the ‘Gypsy Trio’. “The Patio” and “Tea Lounge” leading to the St George's Bar offered coffee, tea and cocktails.

London Tavern

London tavern

”London Tavern“, which is where Podium restaurant now resides, offered a more modern approach to English cuisine with dedicated ‘grill bar’.

007 bar

007

“007” was the ‘only bar James Bond would have been seen dead in!‘ Open till the small hours, this late night spot was hugely popular with guests and the London glamour scene.

St Georges Bar

St George's Bar

“St Georges Bar” offered the atmosphere of a traditional English pub.

HRH The Queen & HRH Prince Phillip HRH, Her Majesty The Queen accompanied by HRH Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, being welcomed to London Hilton on Park Lane in 2002 famous faces: The Queen & Prince Phillip The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall with General Manager, Michael Shepherd - Asian Women of Achievement Awards 2009 Olympics London 2012 Olympic Games

Decades of Events

Excerpt from the book London Hilton on Park Lane by Andreas Augustin

1960s

The Rolling Stones frequented the hotel, as did the Beatles, who attended a lecture by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi at the hotel.

1970s

The new James Bond Bar, located on the second floor was the place to be in London. Occasionally you even met 007 himself: George Lazenby, the legendary one-time James Bond, as well as Sean Connery. Superstars like Ike and Tina Turner enjoyed the discreet and anonymous atmosphere of the hotel. Charlie Chaplin was a regular at Traders Vic's. Elton John stayed and performed here.

1980s

Marks the largest renovation project in the 20 years history of the hotel. The advertisement THE FIRST NEW HOTEL ON PARK LANE SINCE THE HILTON - THE LONDON HILTON ON PARK LANE OFFICIALLY REOPENED suggest that the hotel had closed and reopened. That was a PR gag. In fact the hotel was never closed.

1990s

The announcement came as a shock to the world: On 3 December 1993, a determined Princess Diana stood before 500 guests in the Grand Ballroom at London Hilton on Park Lane and said that she planned to shelve most of her official duties.

2000s

The Royal visit of the King of Jordan. Her Majesty the Queen visited the hotel for the Royal Warrant Holders' Association Golden Jubilee lunch, 2002 Galvin at Windows added a new level of haute cuisine to the known level of the location.

2010s

For the 2012 Olympic Games there was no better choice than London Hilton on Park Lane to become the headquarter hotel, accommodating all IOC members and a variety of their guests, Heads of State, senior politicians from the 204 countries competing. Lord Coe has been a frequent visitor, Bill Gates joined President of the IOC, Jacques Rogge for lunch at Galvin at Windows.

50th Celebrations

Commemorative Book Michael Shepherd and Andreas Augustin, choosing material from 50 years of history of the hotel

Commemorative Book

London Hilton on Park Lane - Moments Larger Than Life

We are delighted to have partnered with Andreas Augustin, President of Vienna - based organisation, The Most Famous Hotels in the World, to create a book to commemorate the 50th anniversary of London Hilton on Park Lane which will offer readers a deep insight into the development of the hotel, its greatest moments and its most famous guests. “These iconic hotels are often the venues for great moments in history and we record them for future generations” say Andreas Augustin.

The book LONDON HILTON ON PARK LANE - MOMENTS LARGER THAN LIFE appears in early 2013 and will ring in a year of celebration of 50 years at one of London's most iconic hotels.

Afternoon Tea Afternoon Tea

Afternoon Tea

Guests will be able enjoy a 50th Anniversary afternoon tea for two, served at Podium Restaurant. The limited edition, celebratory afternoon tea will be available 2 - 6 pm daily from 17th April 2013 to coincide with the hotel's official anniversary.

More information to come soon.

Mayfair Park and Tower Race in aid of Galvin Chance Mayfair Park and Tower Race in aid of Galvin Chance

50 things we're proud of in 2013

Standing tall but never still, London Hilton on Park Lane endeavors to go above and beyond the commitments we already pledge and ensure we complete at least 50 good deeds for our communities, guests and team members.

We look forward to updating this page with each good deed. Please follow us on Facebook for all news and offers relating to our 50th anniversary.

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