Wilde At Heart
Hotel Café Royal holds such a storied place in London’s cultural history it's impossible not to revel in its origins as a grass-roots gathering place started by Irish poet and author, Oscar Wilde. Guests of Hotel Café Royal are only steps away from reliving the enclave's colorful history. Becoming the center of London's social scene started with Café Royal's original owners, French wine merchant Daniel Nicholas Thévenon and his wife, Celestine, who were credited with introducing French gourmet cuisine to Londoners. People flocked there for the food and its abundant wine cellar, which became the toast of the town.
Then the literati discovered the place, along with its wine, and its opulence. Wilde, a staple in the neighborhood, made it his hangout and set the pace for artistic types–from bohemians to the well-heeled–to frequent. Known then as the Grill Room, it was referred to casually as the Oscar Wilde Bar. Now, the name is official.
Hotel Café Royal was once a gathering place for writers, artists, politicians, and rock stars.
A Walk Down Memory Lane
At one time or another, the powerful gathered inside the café, too. Winston Churchill and Edward VIII were frequent guests, and the Duchess of Manchester invited her friend Mark Twain to London to see the famous venue place where writers gathered.
Movie and rock stars were drawn to the unconventional vibe put in motion by Wilde as well. Elizabeth Taylor, bejeweled from head to toe, nuzzled Richard Burton at the Café Royal. David Bowie, dressed as Ziggy Stardust, killed off his alter ego in 1973 at a party inside the café, where he invited musical heavyweights including Barbra Streisand, Mick and Bianca Jagger, Paul and Linda McCartney, and Lou Reed.
For those who want to channel Wilde's writerly inclinations, an enlightening walking tour takes to the streets of the dandy's favorite neighborhoods nearby.
Recreate his steps through Soho, where the author would buy his signature green carnation boutonnieres from the corner flower shop, and Mayfair, where 14 Moon Street became inspiration for Algernon Moncrieff's bachelor pad in The Importance of Being Earnest.
Then return to the Oscar Wilde Bar for a playful twist on afternoon tea, the way Wilde would have enjoyed it, feasting on English cucumber and cheese sandwiches and Battenberg cake, and washing it all down with a spot of Champagne amid the opulence of his favorite Regent Street café.
To learn more about Hotel Café Royal, or to inquire about the Oscar Wilde walking tour or London, please contact the concierge upon making a reservation.