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The Secret History of The Royal Horseguards Hotel

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

From its exterior, The Royal Horseguards Hotel -  a white building based on the design of a French chateau – could easily be mistaken for another 5-star hotel on the banks of the River Thames in London, but it is the secrets inside that count.

Legendary Hotel Guests

Ever seen the mustachioed man on the Britain Needs You posters, calling men and women to the armed services? Lord Kitchener, who was probably one of Britain’s first male models, had a suite here. The hotel started out as high-class apartments that also attracted Russian aristocracy in the form of Grand Duke Michael as well as politician William Gladstone and Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw.

Secret Service

No longer such a secret, is the hotel’s habitation by the Secret Service during World War I. Anyone staying on the eighth floor of the hotel will be treading boards once stepped on by the James Bonds of British society back in the early 1900s, as this was where military intelligence was co-ordinated in what was then known as Block Two.

Passages to Parliament

Tunnels running from The Royal Horseguards to parliament were rumored to have been built, so politicians could escape to the safety of the command center. Indeed the Cabinet War Rooms tourist attraction on King Charles Street is not too far away from the building, which details the hub of military operations during World War II.

Intelligence Center

During the Second World War many government department were housed here as well as foreign embassies, including the Russian, on the fifth floor, the American, on the sixth floor and the Air Training Corps occupied the seventh floor. Wartime prime minister Winston Churchill commanded operations from this intelligence center.

Churchill’s Drinking Hole

As Churchill was partial to a tipple or two throughout his career, it makes sense that this was one of his favorite drinking holes. After all, the Royal Horseguards is merely across the water from parliament. The Churchill Bar inside used to be the National Liberal Club frequented by many British politicians wanting to unwind.

Modern Day Inspiration

Up and coming London fashion designer Aimee McWilliams planned to put her latest collection on display at the Royal Horseguards, which was one of the inspirations for her new line entitled Capsule. The clothes embody the character, history and style of this hotel and were expected to be auctioned off for charity after the exhibition.

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About the author

Venere Travel Blog writer sarah edge

Sarah is a freelance writer who has contributed articles to the Bangkok Post and Untamed Travel. She is now writing for Cosmotourist online.

One response to “The Secret History of The Royal Horseguards Hotel”

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  1. Barbara Allen says:
    November 22nd, 2014 at 07:42

    Traveling to London at least twice a year on business as a ‘national account’ for an insurance broker in the City, my broker always booked us into The Savoy. Although the Savoy was quite nice I was concerned with my departmental expenses and discovered this gem just a few blocks west of The Savoy. We booked in on our next trip and everyone was very pleased with the service, staff snd accommodations. From then on we stayed the Horseguards. During private, non-business trips I continued to book in there and found the same level of service and accommodation. I would recommend this hotel for anyone visiting London either on business or a personal vacation. You wil not be disappointed. It is centrally located giving you the option to walk to various museums and galleries, historic sights and during Christmas is just a few blocks from St. Martins-the-Field and various street markets/vendors in that area. The afternoon tea is delightful and the hotel restaurants are top notch. Even with early check-in after a red-eye flight from the U.S. the staff were always very cordial and accommodating to my/our needs regarding adjusting to the time difference. A great hotel and experience!

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