J. Lyons & Co.
Not content with just catering (exhibitions and restaurants), the Lyons management turned their attention to hotels. In 1909 they opened the Strand Palace Hotel in London's Strand thoroughfare. In those days it was an important road which connected the West End of fashionable London to the City, the financial centre of Britain's Empire. The road ran down Fleet Street, past St Paul's Cathedral to the Bank of England and the Mansion House, home to the Lord Mayor.
When the hotel opened it was an immediate success. With a tariff fixed at an affordable level, the hotel occupancy was very high. The hotel was managed by Julius Salmon, the youngest son of Barnett Salmon. It did not, however, have en suite bathrooms; they were first provided by the Mount Vernon Hotel, Cape May, New Jersey, in 1853. The hotel did, however, have hot and cold water in every room and that was a luxury in hotels at this time.
Flushed with success, the Regent Palace Hotel opened in 1915 and with 1,280 rooms it was the largest in Europe. The war years intervened before Lyons obtained a controlling interest, and then ownership of the Royal Palace Hotel in Kensington High Street in 1919.
The opening of the Cumberland Hotel at Marble Arch in 1933, represented the peak of their hotel programme to date. Built by Lyons' own Works Department it represented the latest in luxury and was opened by the Duke and Duchess of York (he became King and Queen Elizabeth the Queen mother would live until 2002) on 12 December 1933. It attracted so many reservations that many potential guests had to be transferred to the other hotels.
After the Second World War much city reconstruction was undertaken by town planners and Lyons were sought out to put bids in for hotel building. This was the first time they had strayed from their beloved London but soon hotels were built at London Airport (Heathrow), Nottingham, Birmingham and Glasgow. Small country hotels were built and acquired with the developing road systems. A large hotel was built at Amsterdam Airport to capitalise on the growing jumbo jet travel. The company were eager to build a new hotel in Paris but lost out to Sheraton and so they acquired an established hotel.
Their finest hotel project must be the acclaimed Tower Hotel at St Katherine's Dock, London, right next door to the Tower of London. This was the first hotel to be built in the City of London for 100 years and there could have been no better place to build.
The Tower Hotel
Atholl Palace, Pitlochry, Perthshire, Scotland
Hotel Luggage labels