Fancy turning back time and spending a weekend at The Halcyon, ABC’s plush hotel? You’re not alone. The actors were bowled over by the scale and intricacy of the set.
“If you woke up on this set you’d think you were in a real hotel,” said Jamie Blackley, who plays Freddie Hamilton, the proprietor’s sulky son. “It’s incredible. It’s so beautiful with lots of little details. You can go upstairs and you have the corridors and rooms. The royal suite is really beautiful. It’s like a different world. I’ve nearly fallen asleep on one of the beds. I also love the kitchen. It’s so intricate with all of the equipment.”
Olivia Williams – aka the proprietor’s snobby wife and Freddie’s mother, Lady Hamilton – was equally entranced by the fake hotel, which was built at West London Film Studios: “It’s pretty extraordinary and the detail is so beautiful; all the statues and every light fitting; the art work is wonderful.
“What The Halcyon has to be is a place that is a little bit magical and a little bit heightened. The outside was grey and dreary in the Blitz. And you came into the hotel and there was light, music, dancing and champagne. So we really want those scenes to sparkle. And they do.”
Of course, there are plenty of grand old hotels that are every bit as luxurious in London. Here are three that inspired The Halcyon and weren’t blown up by ITV…
Where? The Strand, with views of the River Thames
When was it built? The Savoy opened on 6 August 1889. Inspired by America’s opulent hotels, it was Britain’s first luxury hotel and boasted electric lights, electric lifts and hot and cold water on tap.
How many rooms? 268
Famous guests? Edward VII, Oscar Wilde, Charlie Chaplin, Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Humphrey Bogart, The Beatles, Barbara Streisand, Bob Dylan and Frank Sinatra (who also performed here).
What happened during WWII? The Savoy boasted the smartest air raid shelters in London, but business suffered because of a manpower shortage, food rationing and bomb damage. Winston Churchill often took his cabinet to lunch here, and Charles de Gaulle was fond of the Grill Room. Business picked up when the US entered the war.
How much is the cheapest room tonight? £426 for a superior queen room
For more information: fairmont.com/savoy-london
Where? Piccadilly, with views of Green Park
When was it built? The Ritz opened on 24th May 1906, with en suites for every bedroom (which was unheard of at the time), double glazing and brass (rather than wooden) beds.
How many rooms? 136
Famous guests? Margaret Thatcher was convalescing at the Ritz when she died in 2013. Mick Jagger was turned away for not wearing a tie.
What happened during WWII? Lots of homeless royals moved in, including the Queen of the Netherlands and the Kings of Norway and Denmark. The Albanian royal family took over a whole floor. Churchill and de Gaulle also held meetings here in the Marie Antoinette Suite. The hotel was damaged nine times during bombing raids but the restaurant only closed twice.
How much is the cheapest room tonight? £305 for a superior queen room (but that’s a promotional offer)
For more information: theritzlondon.com
Where? Belgravia, near Victoria station
When was it built? It opened in 2nd March 1910 and also claimed to be the first hotel in the world to have en suites and central heating for every bedroom
How many rooms? 69, which is why it’s known as the “Baby Grand”
Famous guests? Winston Churchill’s mother Lady Randolph Churchill, the Queen Mother, and Kate Middleton and her family stayed here when she married Prince William.
What happened during WWII? The hotel lodged 150 Polish officers and soldiers. In 1944, the Fox film crew stayed at the Goring on their way to record the D-Day invasion.
How much is the cheapest room tonight? £525 for a deluxe king or twin bedded room
For more information: thegoring.com