When you stay at the Westbury Mayfair hotel, situated at 37 Conduit Street in London’s West End, you will be stepping into the shoes of one of England’s past kings. The hotel is celebrating its 65th anniversary, following its opening on 1st March 1955, but it’s the history of the site itself that seemingly holds the most intrigue.
As it transpires, 37 Conduit Street was once the site of a mobile wooden “travelling tabernacle” on wheels, used by King James II in the late 17th century. In time, following the King’s exile and subsequent abdication in 1688, the chapel was kept on Hounslow Heath as a “memorial” to the monarch before being later moved to Conduit Street to serve as a Chapel of Ease for the parishioners of St. Martin’s in the Fields. By 1764 (if indeed not earlier), the wheels had become bricks and mortar, and the officially named Trinity Chapel had been erected near to the site of what is now The Westbury Mayfair. The Royal treatment continues to be offered to every guest who steps inside this 5-star sanctuary.
More recently, prior to the hotel’s 1955 opening, 37 Conduit Street had gone from tabernacle to tailors, being as it was the premises of Kenneth Durward, an outfitters specialising in military, motoring and travelling coats and garments. Along with Burberry and Aquascutum, Kenneth Durward was one of the first to develop a variation of the classic trench coat.
The year 1955 marked the first time that a hotel had occupied 37 Conduit Street, but the construction of The Westbury Mayfair marked another first – it was the first hotel to be built in the capital for 20 years. The building work commenced the day after the Queen’s Coronation in June 1953, taking 21 months to complete. When the hotel opened, guests arriving into the grandly-named “Entrance Hall” would have had access to a florist’s counter, a ticket office and even a number of telephone boxes – being as it was almost twenty years before the first call was made by mobile phone – and a night’s stay for a single room cost all of just $10.
Its layout has naturally expanded over the years, but the award-winning POLO Bar has always been a mainstay of the hotel’s overall offering for drinks and all-day dining. In addition to its central London location, the Bar first became famous for having the coldest iced water on tap in the capital, as well as having the largest Martinis. Today, the POLO Bar might not be known for making such bold claims, but a proud tradition of drinks innovation married to a heritage of American originality means that escaping to its cosy confines is always a winning idea – particularly when it involves the menu of dangerously delectable cocktails. Bag yourself a prime spot and settle in for the night, as the bartending team mix their magic behind the bar, pouring some of the slickest serves the city has to offer.
Since the day it opened, The Westbury Mayfair instantly became a hub of interest, and a go-to for its international clientele, who have been coming back to the hotel for two or three family generations. Its prime location in the heart of fashion, finance and foreign relations attracts numerous celebrities and heads of state, all of whom form part of the rich heritage – and indeed, ongoing history – of the hotel. If the walls of 37 Conduit Street could talk, they’d have some great stories to tell.
Be part of the history – for more information and to make a reservation, go to www.westburymayfair.com.