|Location||Central London, United Kingdom|
|Opening date||18 April 1931|
|Developer||Sir Robert McAlpine & Sir Frances Towle|
|Architect||Owen Williams & William Curtis Green|
The Dorchester Hotel was created by Malcolm McAlpine, a partner in the building company Sir Robert McAlpine & Sons and the managing director of Gordon Hotels Ltd, Sir Frances Towle, who shared a vision of creating the ‘perfect hotel’: ultramodern and ultra-efficient, with all the conveniences modern technology could supply. So, in 1929 their two companies jointly bought the Dorchester House, a large 19th-century building, and quickly had it demolished. Sir Owen Williams & William Curtis Green were commissioned to design the new hotel, using reinforced concrete to allow the creation of large internal spaces without support pillars.. The construction was carried out by Sir Robert McAlpine, with the upper eight floors erected in just 10 weeks, supported on a massive three feet thick reinforced concrete deck that forms the roof of the first floor.
During the Second World War, the strength of its construction gave the hotel the reputation of being one of London's safest buildings.Cabinet Ministers, such as Lord Halifax and Duff Cooper, stayed there during this time, as did Winston Churchill, who had a wall built to add privacy to his balcony, which still exists. General Dwight D. Eisenhower took a suite on the first floor (now the Eisenhower Suite) in 1942 after previously having stayed at Claridge's. Diners at the Dorchester from cultural circles during this period included Cyril Connolly, T. S. Eliot, Harold Nicolson, and Edith Sitwell.
On 3 June 1982, Shlomo Argov, the Israeli ambassador to the United Kingdom was shot and seriously injured in an assassination attempt as he left The Dorchester. The attack was the immediate cause for the 1982 Lebanon War.
In 1988, the hotel closed for two years for a major refit. The hotel was completely updated and the Promenade, Grill Room, and the Oliver Messel Suite were meticulously restored, to reopen in 1990.
The hotel is owned by the Dorchester Collection, which in turned is owned by the Brunei Investment Agency (BIA), an arm of the Ministry of Finance of Brunei. The Dorchester Collection owns luxury hotels in the United Kingdom, the United States, France, Switzerland and Italy.
In popular culture
The Dorchester is mentioned in an episode of hotel comedy series Fawlty Towers when a guest asks about the new chef Terry (played by Brian Hall). Sybil answers: "He used to work at Dorchester", which leads the guest to expectingly think he worked at The Dorchester. Sybil then gives the precision "No, in Dorchester".
In December 2007, Jake Shears of the Scissor Sisters filmed a documentary where he met his idol Dolly Parton, entitled 'Jake's Adventures in Dollywood' in one of the suites of the Dorchester. This was filmed in Dolly's hotel suite, as she regularly stays at the hotel when visiting the UK, usually booking entire suites for her and her entourage.
The lobby, bar, and a guest room of The Dorchester are featured in "The Mapping of Love and Death", a novel in the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear
- The Dorchester history Retrieved 2011-02-19
- Records of Dorchester Hotel Ltd, hotel managers, London, England Retrieved 2012-07-13
- Sir Frances Towle Retrieved 2011-02-19
- The Times, 16 July 1929 p. 16: "Lord Morley has sold Dorchester House, Park Lane. A contract was signed yesterday afternoon for the purchase of the property by Gordon Hotels, Limited. Associated in the transaction of purchase being Sir Robert McAlpine and Sons, Limited. The famous mansion will be demolished and the Gordon Hotels Limited intend to proceed at once with the erection of an hotel."
- The Dorchester in the Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd project archive Retrieved 2011-02-19
- "Dorchester Turns 80". The Handbook. July 19, 2011.
- "Douglas Trumbull in the HD-DVD release of 2001: A Space Odyssey". Homevideo.about.com. 2012-04-09. Retrieved 2012-08-21.