LONDON'S GRAND HOTELS: EXTRAORDINARY PEOPLE, EXTRAORDINARY SERVICE IN THE WORLD'S CULTURAL CAPITOL (paperback)
Ward Morehouse III's love affair with grand hotels began long before he wrote his first landmark book, THE WALDORF-ASTORIA: America's Gilded Dream, which was followed by INSIDE THE PLAZA: An Intimate Portrait of the Ultimate Hotel.
His father, the late drama critic Ward Morehouse (who requested "Room Service, please!" on his tombstone), lovingly indoctrinated his young son into the glamorous life of luxurious hotels in New York, London and elsewhere, teaching him that a great hotel is made up of more than fine linens and fancy uniforms— that it is the staff, the people, who make any hotel special.
LONDON’S GRAND HOTELS: Extraordinary People, Extraordinary Service in the World's Cultural Capital, to be published by BearManor Media on November 15, 2010, is a captivating look beyond the physical grandeur of London’s top hotels to the grand people working in—and staying at—these real-life palaces.
London boasts the greatest collection of grand hotels of any city, and, says Morehouse, checking into any one of them is like taking part in a grand opera. His book abounds with colorful anecdotes and delightful behind-the-scenes stories of the hotels, their owners, their staff, and their famous guests — which include some of the world’s leading writers, filmmakers, politicians and stars.
In LONDON’S GRAND HOTELS, he presents twenty seven of London’s luxury hotels, beginning with Brown’s, established in 1837, and including Claridge’s; Bailey’s; The Savoy, The Ritz; and The May Fair, to more recently established hotels such as The Halkin; Soho Hotel, The Metropolitan, and Haymarket Hotel. Through their doors and onto the pages walk such illustrious guests as Rudyard Kipling, Theodore Roosevelt, F. Scott Fitzgerald; Winston Churchill; Queen Elizabeth, Laurence Olivier, Charlie Chaplin; Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn; Humphrey Bogart; Lauren Bacall; Woody Allen, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and many, many more. The book also contains exclusive celebrity photographs of current theater, film and business stars who are devotees of hotels discussed—such as Meryl Streep; Hugh Grant; Jude Law, Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Richard Branson.
“England’s legendary empire truly lives on through its greatest inns,” says Morehouse. In LONDON’S GRAND HOTELS he guides us on a mesmerizing, magical “inside tour” to some of its very best. It is a book to be savored by the armchair traveler, those who love behind-the-scenes celebrity stories, and anyone fascinated with the charm and history of the places they have visited—or hope to visit in the future.
About the Author
Ward Morehouse III is the author of three previous books on hotels: THE WALDORF-ASTORIA: America’s Gilded Dream; INSIDE THE PLAZA: An Intimate Portrait of the Ultimate Hotel; and LIFE AT THE TOP: Inside New York's Grand Hotels. He has also written a book about New York’s historic Hudson Theatre (DISCOVERING THE HUDSON: New York’s Landmark Theatre from Broadway’s Beginnings to Live Television, Jack Parr and Elvis) as well as BROADWAY AFTER DARK, which contains columns celebrating Broadway written by him and by his father, the late Ward Morehouse, a well-known drama critic and columnist. It was his father who introduced him to the luxurious hotel life. His books combine that fascination with his passion for the theatre. Ward Morehouse III was chief theatre columnist for the New York Post from 1994 to 1998 and continues to contribute to its news and celebrity pages today. He also has written theatre pieces for the Christian Science Monitor, Reuters News Service, People.com, and Inside.com. He is Editor of the popular Broadwayafterdark.com website and writes the monthly Checking column for Travel Smart Newsletter, which Money Magazine calls the “Best Newsletter for Travelers on a Budget.” In addition, he is the author of the off-Broadway plays "The Actors," "If It Was Easy" (co-written with Stewart F. Lane), “Gangplank,” and “Beloved Broadway” and he wrote the book for the musical, "A Night at the Astor" (music by David Romeo). He resides in New York City.
“In LONDON’S GRAND HOTELS, Ward Morehouse III bangs his fist down imperiously on the bell desk, shouts ‘Front, please!’ and commands to appear, one after another, London’s most celebrated hostelries. Each, as it were, disrobes—revealing for readers the inspired tricks of luxury and hospitality that have kept generations of happy customers coming back. If you cannot stay anytime soon at the Savoy, the May Fair, the Connaught, the Stafford, the Ritz or their like, then do the next best thing and enjoy them vicariously through Mr. Morehouse’s delightful book.”
— Alan Farnham, Contributing Editor, Forbes
"As an actress, I spent a great deal of time in England, especially while raising my children with Roald Dahl. Several of London's grand luxury hotels have been part of my life for decades. Ward Morehouse III's beautifully written book highlights the best of the best, reminding me of the glorious times I have spent in several of these glamorous hotels and piquing my curiosity to visit those I haven't yet had the pleasure to experience."
- Patricia Neal, Academy Award and Tony Award-winning actress
"Ward Morehouse's book reads like a juicy novel, but a totally accurate novel. It's hard to put down - I read it in two sittings!"
- Nancy Dunnan, Publisher, TravelSmartNewsletter.com
Attention Avid Travelers, Active or Armchair!
Londons Grand Hotels Is a Must-Read for You
By Beatrice Williams-Rude
"Londons Grand Hotels," by Ward Morehouse III is more than a description of the glorious hostelries in a fascinating city; it is a cultural and social romp through history. Like the work of the eminent French historiographer Fernand Braudel, it is a compendium of the lives of people who inhabit these commercial palaces. And like Braudels books, anyplace one opens them the material will be riveting and comprehensible, no matter that one hasnt read what came before.
This is a book to read again and again, at leisure. To savor.
The hotels chosen range from traditional English, such as Browns, the most venerable of this selection having opened in 1837 and which Queen Victoria used to frequent for tea, to Millennium Gloucester which has a super-modern world-class convention center with the latest technology on the planet. The Haymarket Hotel is the newest, having opened in 2007
The book is as much about the people who stay in them and staff them as about the hotels themselves. Of course there are meticulous physical descriptions, and attention to the amenities offered; there are even menus from hotel restaurants. But above all, this book delights in people.
It should be noted at the outset that this is a chatty book, a fun one, and throughout the charm, wit and joie de vivre of Ward Morehouse III are in evidence. This tome took tons of research – lovingly pursued by the author. Historic names abound, Winston Churchill and Lady Nancy Astor among them.
A potential purchaser has to but peruse the index to be hooked.
The reader discovers wonderful tales about people of whom much is known – Lindberghs report on the Luftwaffe and its bloody consequences – and about those of whom little is known, such as the goodness of Colonel John Blashford-Snell who managed to get a much-desired grand piano (as well as medical supplies) to the Wai Wai tribe in the jungles of South America.
There are anecdotes about royals, pretenders, the famous and infamous. Stories about writers abound, Somerset Maugham, for example. Theres an astonishing letter that F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote to his daughter about Zelda and their miserable relationship. (Sheila Graham would have been delighted.)
And, of course, theres plenty on performers: Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh, Marilyn Monroe, both Hepburns, Katharine and Audrey. Van Johnson, Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., and so on.
Its hard to imagine austere President Woodrow Wilson reveling in luxury, but he stayed at the Ritz in London. Both Teddy Roosevelt and FDR bedded down at Browns. Oscar Wilde stayed at the Savoy. Walter Cronkite was at the Savoy during WWII and returned to visit 40 years later, pointing to what had been his seat at the American Bar. Charles de Gaulle resided in the "down to earth" Connaught during WWII. .
The hotels in addition to those in this review include the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park; Hilton Waldorf Hotel; Dukes Hotel; One Aldwych; The Stafford Hotel; The Goring Hotel; The May Fair Hotel; Grosvenor House; The Dorchester; Hilton Park Lane; The Berkeley; Four Seasons Canary Wharf; The Milestone; "41"; The Chesterfield; The Metropolitan Hotel; The Halkin; The Lanesborough; The Soho Hotel; The Piccadilly and The Gore.
As Samuel Johnson noted: "When a man is tired of London hes tired of life." Agreed!