- The Berkeley Hotel London
- An Oasis in PiccadillyBy C. F. D.
"There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn." Thus the great Johnson, and he may be taken as an authority on the tavern of the period. But times -- and taverns -- have changed since the sage walked abroad with his faithful Boswell at heel. The old inn has vanished: even its name has become hopelessly plebeian. We have nothing less than "Hotel" now, whether the term be applied to the modest hostelry (which at the close of the 17th century was called "mug house," not so much on account of the faces of the frequenters as from the fact that drink was only supplied there in earthern vessels), or to the gigantic caravanserai of London, New York, Paris or Berlin, the halting place of the globe-trotter; where, in the language of the guide-book, the traveller with means may command the height of luxurious living with the comforts of a home. London is, year by year, becoming more and more a leading centre for the international tourist - the temporary halting place from which he starts on his survey of Europe. The great Steamship Companies treat him generously during his sea voyage, and it has finally dawned upon certain enterprising people in England that the same luxury and ease ought to be provided for him when he lands in England's Capital, whether to rest and recuperate awhile before winging his flight to the interior, or to make a prolonged stay in the metropolis.
The requirements of our modern civilization demand a very difterent state of things in a Hotel to what obtained in the days of even Dr. Johnson. The old order has changed and given place to the new; the inventions of science and the newest applications of human ingenuity have transformed the old "Hostel" into the magnificence of the modern Hotel. There are, however, two very important factors which to-day, in the glamour of marble and gilt, are often overlooked, and without which a Hotel becomes a howling wilderness.
Quiet and Comfort are, after all, the true requirements of a temporary "home from home." Although within a stone's throw of the busiest centre in all London, although Piccadilly hums with the ceaseless motion of an incomparable kaleidoscope of life and activity, yet it is the proud boast of the Berkeley Hotel that it is one of the quietest in London. Quaint as it may appear to its aristocratic clientele from two hemispheres, the present Berkeley Hotel was in 1736 a Coffee Tavern under the management of Francis Sheldon, whose biography would afford a vivid insight into London life of the eighteenth century. Next to the tavern and on ground now occupied by the Hotel, stood the Three Kings' Inn, noted at the time for its extensive stabling and as a starting point for the west country mail. Busy scenes, not devoid of picturesqueness, yet natural withal, enlivened the otherwise monotonous court, previous to a departure of the mail coach. A large colored plate of that period still in the Hotel, and of which the accompanying illustration is a fair copy, preserves the scene that now seems antique, yet not out of character with the house. Hotels for the most part are no longer familiar and kindly resorts, guests have become "numbers," and personal predilections and individualities are unrecognised. The Management of the Berkeley has entirely resisted this tendency. Its system and arrangements are so well defined that the visitor has still the sense that he is in his own home, and the tread of family life seems to go on undisturbed. Although we still remember, and with some reverence look back to the mellow days of the eighteenth century when "the ladies of St. James's" came "running to the play," there has grown a deeper feeling for art, a keener sense of the æsthetic side of life; and conveniences and appliances undreamed of by older generations have become indispensable in our day. These in their utmost point of development are represented in this Hotel; so not only does its rare and quiet charm contrast piquantly with the stress and momentum of Piccadilly, but within itself modern art and elaborate convenience throw into vivid relief the serene and poetic air which it has preserved since the days of Sheldon.
As we enter the picturesque foyer, we feel at once an absence of rush and bustle, and that quiet and comfort are the main characteristics of the place. The old English restfulness which invites us in halls and parlors, corridors and living rooms, gives additional point to the presence of the leading; continental Maitre d'hotel, who maintains the Restaurant unrivalled in London. His epicurean combinations have made the Berkeley Restaurant a familiar rendezvous of the haiute volée from the west-end, together with many leaders of fashion familiar on both continents. Why should we not praise his knowledge in cookery? It is the soul of festivity at all times and to all ages. How many marriages have been the consequence of meeting at these dinners? How much good fortune has been the result of a good supper? At what moment of our existence are we happier than at table? Here our wants are satisfied, our minds and bodies invigorated, and ourselves qualified for the high delights of music, poetry, dancing and other pleasures.
The uninterrupted success of the House is largely due to the high class discipline which characterises its Management, whose circumspection in the Restaurant is indicative of the wise motto, that:
"At meals, no access to the indiscreet,
All are intruders on the wise who eat.
In that blest hour your bore's the weariest sinner;
Nought must disturb a man of worth - at dinner."
The visitor to the Berkeley is at once attracted by the repose and comfort of its approaches, which are a fair indication of the interior. The arrangement of its parlors, reception and writing rooms, coffee room and smoking room on the ground floor, and its delightful bedrooms and sitting-rooms on the upper floors - all cheerful, bright and airy - is a study in decoration; for decorative beauty is a feature of this hostel. Aladdin rubbed a ring on a lamp, and left the rest to the powers of magic, but the artist who furnished the Berkeley had a much more laborious time. He must have pondered over models of furniture in museums. Careless sightseers at the Musée Cluny would never suspect the toil of the student of decorative periods. He pursues his fancy from collection to collection, from the Empire style to the Venetian, and the most dexterous furniture makers in England and France wait upon his behests. It is an æsthetic pilgrimage, and the furnishing of the Berkeley Hotel is one of its results. The sanitary arrangements are equally good: the drains and pipes are carried clear of the walls to a main sewer, which has a steep fall along the north-western boundary of the house. Upstairs, provision to insure immunity from fire is simply perfect, and, in the very improbable event of an outbreak, ample provision is made to check it promptly and eflectually.
The situation of the Berkeley has few equals, and no superior, and is, possibly, its chief attraction. The outlook from its upper windows - mainly facing Piccadilly - is ever by stately scenes and historical associations; our view passes easily to Devonshire House, vis-à-vis, and the stately buildings which line Piccadilly down to Hyde Park Corner and Buckingham Palace, past the Barracks, and on to St. James's. On the other hand, an equally interesting series of historical buildings line this chief artery of England's capital to kaleidescopic Piccadilly Circus, and up and down Regent Street to its termini. From the Hotel, with its repose and æsthetic appeal, Piccadilly may well seem a seething gulf stream of movement. The contrast gives almost a solemnity to the quiet within. It is, indeed, an oasis in the modern Babylon, full of modern improvements and with every provision necessary to our physical and mental contentment, yet self-contained and conservative enough to suit the most punctilious clièntele.
There are those who maintain that a nation's hotels are in one sense more important than its Parliament. In the capitals of the twentieth century they are likely to be even greater determining forces than hitherto towards the amenities, comforts, and beauties of life. The most favoured will necessarily be those that develop a distinctive, intimate, delectable life all their own. The Berkeley Hotel is essentially of that order. It is like a private historical mansion, where everyone feels it incumbent to live up to a punctilious and even reverential tradition. Equality of attention and honourable treatment have ever characterised the management. The guests might be masters whose ways and idiosyncracies are intimately understood, whose personalities have become impressed, as it were, on suite and environment.
Thus the happy order is preserved, and the pleasant continuity of tradition remains uninterrupted in the Berkeley.
The Berkeley Hotel and Restaurant
Telegraphic Address - "SYBARITE," LONDON. Postal Address - "PICCADILLY," LONDON.
73, 74, and 77 Piccadilly, and 1 Berkeley Street, London W.
Restaurant Entrance ...... 77, Piccadilly. Hotel Entrance ...... 1, Berkeley Street
"THE BERKELEY" has long been recognised as a synonymous term with all that is desirable as an Hotel and a Restaurant de luxe and is largely patronised by the wealthy families of Great Britain and America.
The Berkeley possesses a combination of advantages which, perhaps, renders it unique amongst London Hotels.
Its position is admittedly unrivalled, and it is the only Hotel of a moderate size able to maintain a kitchen of the French School on really classic lines; it is the only Hotel, too, of a moderate size in which a service de luxe obtains as at Claridge's and the Savoy Hotels.
THE BERKELEY is situate in the centre of the most fashionable quarter of the West End - in point of elevation it occupies the highest point of Piccadilly - its frontage in Piccadilly and Berkeley Street looks south and south-west over the Green Park and the Devonshire House quadrangle and gardens - it is within a hundred yards of Bond Street, close to all the fashionable West-End Theatres, and five minutes from Hyde Park Corner.
The HOTEL contains about 90 rooms - with a large proportion of sitting rooms - the arrangements of the rooms being, for the most part, on the en suite plan, and suites consisting of from 2 to 9 or more rooms are available.
The Hotel is QUIET, COMFORTABLE, UNPRETENTIOUS.
The principal rooms have a south or south-west aspect, and many of them have an uninterrupted view over the Green Park as far as Buckingham Palace.
The RESTAURANT, which may be entered from the Hotel by residents, or from Piccadilly by non-residents, is provided with a spacious Entrance Hall - looking on to Piccadilly - and a handsome Reception Room, decorated in the Louis XV. style, both of which are quite distinct from the Hotel.
The decoration of the Restaurant belongs to the early Dutch or Jacobean period, and in its severe simplicity is the antithesis of the white and gold and other obtrusive and gorgeous schemes of decoration which have ot late been so much in vogue, and it is possibly, partly for this reason, that it has been so much admired; but principally, no doubt, for its air of simplicity, restfulness, and refinement,
The Restaurant has for many years enjoyed the patronage of the rank and fashion of London Society.
The BERKELEY is famous for its Diner du jour "à prix fixe," the price being 10S. 6d.
It is claimed by the Berkeley management that by this system the diner gets a more varied menu, a better selection of dishes, and better value generally than if he orders à la carte; and further that he is relieved of the responsibility - which to all except the gourmet is both weighty and irksome - of ordering his own dinner.
A carte du four is, however, prepared daily, and visitors who prefer to order à la carte can select from a great variety of dishes.
The Berkeley Luncheon à prix fixe is 4s.
Suppers are not served in the Restaurant at the Berkeley, as it is thought that a supper business might detract from the quiet family tone of the Hotel.
Mr. Frederick Casano's Orchestra, which has had the honour of playing on many occasions before H.M. King Edward VII., plays during Dinner 7 to 9.30 p.m., and on Sundays during Luncheon also, 1 to 3 p.m.
A charge of 1/6 per day is made to each Visitor occupying a Bedroom only, or 2/- per day if occupying a Sitting Room.
Hot or Cold Bath in Bath Room, 2/-. Hip or Sponge Bath, 6d. Note. - The Hotel is excellently provided with Bath Rooms.
Fires and Lights.
Fire in Sitting Room, 2/6 per day. Fire in Bedroom, 1/6 per day. F'ire in evening only, 1s.
Servant's Board 5/6 per day.
"Homes of the Passing Show", by James McNeill Whistler, Joseph Pennell, W. Beatty; Kingston, Dudley, Hardy, Published 1900
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