January doesn't sound like the best time of year to play tennis in Europe, but between 1920 and 1932, the most prestigious tennis tournament was the Bristol Cup, held in the New Year at the Hotel Bristol in Beaulieu-sur-Mer on the French Riviera. The hotel was built built by Blundel Maple, of the Maples furniture store in Tottenham Court Road, and it included tennis courts, now the town's tennis club. In 1921 Clementine Churchill was delighted to win four games in a single-set doubles match against Wimbledon champion Dorothea Douglass Lambert Chambers. She was staying at the Bristol while waiting to join Winston on an official trip to Egypt. But writing to him on February 21, she complained, “I am very solitary in this big rather dreary hotel.”
Thursday, 17 November 2016
The Yassar Arafat Museum has just opened in Ramallah near the mausoleum where his body was brought after his death in a Paris hospital. Arafat’s wife, Suha, took a suite in Le Bristol Hotel in Paris during his illness and after his death. The story of her stay at the hotel is imagined in ‘Suha Arafat and the Hope Diamond’ a chapter in High Times at the Hotel Bristol.
Tuesday, 1 November 2016
The Bristol Star's report of the fire at the Royal Clarence in Exeter, includes claims that this was the first inn in Britain to be called a 'hotel' in the French manner when it opened as the Abode Exeter in 1769. The fire started on Friday, October 28, in a nearby art gallery, and after burning for 48-hours left nothing but a few walls that need to be demolished. Owners DL say they will rebuild it. It wasn't until 1874 that the first Bristol Hotel was built in London, though there was a Bath and Bristol Hotel in 1792.
Tuesday, 4 October 2016
Here’s an ad for the Bristol Hotel in London, just popped into my mail box. It was a match for its opposite number in Paris. It occupied two adjacent buildings, at 33 and 34 Burlington Gardens, and according to The Gourmet’s Guide To Europe by Liet-Col Newnham Davies and Algernon Bastard (crazy names, crazy guys), the Bristol’s Spanish manager, Ignacio Lersundi, gave “one of the best, if not the best, table-d’hôte dinners obtainable in the English capital". But by the time the Guide was published, in 1903, Lersundi was dead and a fifty-three year lease had just been taken on the Bristol Hotel building by the Ladies Army and Navy Club, for near relations of men who held, or had held commissions in the services. With more than 3,500 members, it was the biggest women’s club in the world, offering cards, billiards and ‘many feminine attractions’.
Monday, 26 September 2016
When the grand Hotel Bristol was built in Odessa in 1899 more than a third of the city's population was Jewish. Today Israeli President Reuven Rivlin arrives at the hotel for the 75th anniversary of the massacre at Babi Yar when more than 33,000 Jews and nearly 70,000 Roma and political prisoners were killed in Ukraine by the Nazis. (There were further mass killings in Odessa in 1941 and 1942). Rivlin will address parliament and participate in a conference at the Bristol Hotel about his ‘ideological mentor’, the Odessa-born Zionist Ze’ev Jabotinsky (1880-1940), the subject of an exhibition in the city’s Literary Museum.
Wednesday, 31 August 2016
In its 1930s heyday, the Hotel Bristol in Zakopane, Poland, was a lively place. At one time it was run by Adam Chrzanowski, and his wife, the writer Stefania Laudyn, who together had founded the New York’s Kuryer Naodowy, and their guests included Joseph Conrad and Artur Rubenstein. This picture is taken from a series of photographs from the time, published online by Interia Nowa Historia that shows the town of handsome wooden buildings and cheerful holidaymakers. Situated in the south of the country by the border with Slovakia in one of the most beautiful parts of the Tara Mountains, it is still a popular summer hiking and winter skiing resort. After the war the building was nationalised and became a holiday home. In 2013, after it had been lying derelict, the local council decided to sell it. The buyer, just announced, is Sheraton Starwood, and they plan to turn it into a 97-bed hotel, opening in 2020. It will drop its historic Bristol name, and be branded The Four Points by Sheraton Zakopane, a companion to the the Four Points by Sheraton Warsaw Mokotów, planned for the Polish capital in 2019.
Saturday, 20 August 2016
This has just popped up on eBay. The 145-room New York Bristol, on Manhattan's West 49th Street near Radio City, was a landmark hotel in the city, and its Pink Elephant Bar a popular hang-out. There's lots of stuff that come ups on eBay from the hotel -- matchbooks, ashtrays, beer mats, keys, brochures, postcards. This is the first time I have seen a cigar box. The hotel features in 'The Lonely Doll and the Castor Oil King', a story in High Times at the Hotel Bristol.