The Dorchester…..

Built in 1931, perhaps one the most famous hotels in London- certainly one of the most expensive. In its early days it hosted Foyles literary luncheons attended by the likes of DH Lawrence, Charlie Chaplin and Haile Selassie. Sir John Gilbey of the gin distillers once spoke for one and a half hours causing a guest to fall asleep, whereupon William Foyle, the bookshop owner hit him on the head with a gavel, only to be begged by his guest “Hit me harder, I can still hear him”.

During the Second World war the hotel was considered to be one of safest buildings in the capital and became a refuge for aristocrats. Wartime clientele included such political and military luminaries as Lord Halifax (Foreign Minister), Air Chief Marshal Sir Charles Portal (Chief of the Air Staff), Duff Cooper(with his wife Lady Diane Cooper). Halifax and his wife took eight rooms as well as a chapel in the hotel, and when possible he enjoyed trysts with his mistress, the energetic Alexandra Metcalfe, who was also staying in the hotel and concurrently having an affair with Dino Grandi, Mussolini’s representative in London. General Dwight Eisenhower took a suite on the first floor (now the Eisenhower Suite) in 1942 after having previously stayed at Claridges and in 1944 made it his headquarters; and Roosevelt’s representative Averell Harriman also stayed there thanks to its reputation as a safe haven. During a dinner party which Harriman attended in the Dorchester, the bombing was so intense that guests came down to join him there as it was safer than in the upper-floor rooms. Sherry Mangan of Time magazine was one of several American correspondents who stayed at the hotel during the war, meeting the Trotskyist Sam Gordon in 1944 who asked if the Dorchester was safe from air raids, to which Mangan assured him that “every fifth columnist in London is staying here”

It was also here in 2003 Ken Bates sold Chelsea football club to Roman Abramovitch for £17million – £16,999,999 more than he paid for the club in the early 1980`s. In 1977 the Dorchester was sold to an Arab consortium and in recent years the hotel has become a favourite with visiting celebrities and Hollywood stars.Which is hardly surprising considering that they are the only people who could easily afford the eye watering charge of £60 for tea and cakes.

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