Rooms with a View: The Secret Life of Great Hotels by Adrian Mourby
|Rooms with a View: The Secret Life of Great Hotels by Adrian Mourby|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: A flying visit to fifty grand hotels tells us enough about their history to make us realise that Ernest Hemingway propped up a lot of hotel bars.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 304||Date: November 2017|
|Publisher: Icon Books Ltd|
|External links: Author's website|
Adrian Mourby has given us a flying visit to each of fifty grand hotels, from fourteen regions of the world, with the hotels in each section being arranged chronologically rather than by region, which helps to give something of an overall picture. So what makes a hotel 'grand'? The first hotel to call itself 'grand' was in covent Garden in 1774 and it ushered in the beginning of a period when a hotel would be a lifestyle choice rather than a refuge for those without friends and family conveniently nearby. The hotels we visit all began life in different circumstances and each faced a different set of challenges. We begin in the Americas, move to the United Kingdom, circumnavigate Europe, briefly visit Russia and Turkey then northern Africa, India and Asia. Australia, it seems, does not go for the grand.
Each hotel gets about five pages, so it would be unreasonable to expect any great depth in the telling, but Mourby has a talent for picking out the salient points and bringing the hotel to life, largely through the history of the property, the staff, and the people who stayed there. All this is framed by the great events which shape the hotel industry, be it war, natural or financial disasters. The pieces are concise - and none the worse for that.
There's a good selection of the great and the good: it's easier to pick out the ones you expected to see which weren't there, such as Claridge's in London and George V in Paris, but for the most part the hotels which you think of as being 'superior' are all there. Ernest Hemingway seems to have supported the bar in about 20% of them and Churchill had vast experience of good hotels. Edward as Prince of Wales (with or without Mrs Simpson) also shows up.
Rooms With a View reads well if you're going to sit down and read through from beginning to end, but it would be equally good if you wanted to dip into it at random or use it as research for a visit. I particularly appreciated the black and white photographs of the hotels - usually of the frontages - as they brought back some very pleasant memories, particularly of Reid's Hotel in Madeira, although why it's in the section headed Africa I've no idea given that it's actually in Portugal, but that's me being picky.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy of the book to the Bookbag.
We've also enjoyed Mourby's Rooms of One's Own: 50 Places That Made Literary History: these two books would sit nicely on a shelf together.
You can read more book reviews or buy Rooms with a View: The Secret Life of Great Hotels by Adrian Mourby at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Rooms with a View: The Secret Life of Great Hotels by Adrian Mourby at Amazon.com.
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