1920 – 1930
In 1920, The Duke of Westminster decided to sell the property on the land to commercial speculator Mr. Arthur Octavius Edwards. In 1927, designed by Wimperis, Simpson and Guthrie, building work began on what was to become a 472 room hotel.
On the 14th May, 1929 the hotel opened its doors to the public. A press release announced: ‘The new hotel standard set by Grosvenor House begins with better food, wines, services and private accommodation than has so far been achieved, and it ends with a diversity of social and recreational amenities’. In addition to this, the hotel was the first in London to have a bathroom in every bedroom and the first in Europe to have running iced water in every bathroom.
Originally built as an ice rink, the Great Room hosted The Hallowe’en Ice Festival and Dance, held in October 1929. The festival included exhibition dancing and skating on the ice and was visited by the Prince of Wales. As well as hosting various sporting clubs and events, Queen Elizabeth II took ice skating lessons in the Great Room.
With the popularity of ice galas and balls, Edwards had the idea to convert the Great Room into a banqueting space. ‘It will be,’ Edwards proudly announced, ‘the only first-class ballroom in London which can accommodate from 1,000 to 2,000 guests’. The work was completed in 1934, in time for the first Antiques Dealers’ Fair, which opened in September.