“This hotel is one of the most famous and popular in Istanbul, and certainly the best in its price-range. The beautiful building dates back to 1892 and is very tastefully and ornately decorated, with such oddities as parrots, gramophones and other strange items (portable coal burners!). The hotel attracts the artsy-fartsy crowd, including writers (Hemingway himself in 1922), artists and actors. The normal rooms are clean, the suites are quite plush with jacuzzis and nice thick carpets. “
otel Buyuk Londra owes its name to the tourism movement beginning in the 18th century when English people, as the first tourists of the West, began exploring countries like Switzerland and places like Rivieras. As a result of this movement, the first great hotels built in those places were named after cities in England. At the end of the 19th century, as the Orient Express stretched as far as Istanbul, this city became a tourist destination as well and hotels began to appear on the northern part of the city, also called "new city", "Pera" meaning "accross (of Istanbul)" or "Beyoglu" at the same time.
Hotel Buyuk Londra or Grand Hotel De Londres was one of those hotels standing on a hilltop overlooking the Golden Horn (sea) seperating the “old” and the “new” city.
The Orient Express was a long-distance passenger train service created in 1883. Although the original Orient Express was simply a normal international railway service, the name became synonymous with intrigue and luxury travel. The two city names most prominently associated with the Orient Express are Paris and Constantinople (Istanbul).
"The most prestigious establishment of Pera"
Grand Hotel de Londres (Büyük Londra Otel), was the most prestigious establishment of Pera (Beyoglu) for ages. This luxury hotel was built in 1892 by a Levantine family which was called Glavani. The hotel was decorated with the same style as that of "Orient Express" and is the only example which is still alive today. Some of the 54 rooms in the hotel have a splendid view of the Golden Horn and the old Stamboul. The hotel is particularly well situated. it is just a few steps from the Galatasaray Square and it is in the middle of the Main Street (Istiklal Caddesi) between Taksim and Tünel. It is situated in the center of the old district of the Latins Christians. The theatres, the opera, the cinemas, the cafes, the taverns and the restaurants are all around the hotel in this district. Why not try time this unique atmosphere
GRAND HOTEL DE LONDRES
“Just accross the Garden Theatre, this hotel is recommended for its comfort, its completely new furnishings and splendid views over the Golden Horn and Bosphorus.”
“Baths, Hydraulic Elevator, Telephone”
“First Class European Cuisine”
Proprietor: L. Adamopoulos & N. Aperghis
“The hotel offers its clients a complementary guide of Istanbul and its environs.”
Hotel Londra was built in 1892 by two partners named L. Adamopoulos and N. Aperghis in the place of the former residence of Glavany family, whose name was given to the adjacent street. (today “Kallavi street”) The building was multi-storey and masonry which was rather new for Istanbul and had the latest technology of the time, including a hydraulic elevator and bathrooms with tubs (according to rumours, tubs with jacuzzis). The interior also looked good with heavy furniture and ornate curtains. Moreover, the panaromic Golden Horn view was unimpeded and could even be seen from the lobby as the front side of the building was the popular Tepeba şı Park. It was because of this view that for some short period the hotel was called as “Hotel Belle Vue” instead of Hotel Londra.
Architect Semprini followed the popular eclectic architectural movement of the time; with the facade of the building very richly ornamented (thanks to the very soft stone used) which still makes Hotel Londra one of the most beautiful buildings in the city.
Ownership and management of the hotel changed hands several times.
According to an advertisement in the Istanbul City Guide 1926, the owner of the hotel was Moulatich. In 1930’s the land registry records show the D’Andria family as the new owners of the hotel. This Levantine family carried the ownership of the building and its management until the end of the 60’s, when they are supposed to have emigrated to Greece.
In the list of famous residents of the hotel, Ernest Hemingway is noticeable who was here for three weeks in 1922 to cover the story of progressing Turkish nationalistic forces for his newspaper Toronto Daily Star.
There is an interesting story of an American banker escaping from his country, which took place during the D’Andria management of the hotel. The banker escapes first to Greece and then to Istanbul with 198 million dollars that he acquired by illegal means. He chooses to settle in Hotel Buyuk Londra. After bargaining(!) for a price of 2.5 Liras from the rack rent of 5 Liras, he starts living at the hotel for one week before he is caught. Police searches the money everywhere, in every corner of the hotel, but they can never find it.
In this era, Hotel Londra competed with bigger hotels in the area such as Pera Palace and Tokatliyan by its lower prices. In 1930’s the hotel began losing its splendour as the new government of Turkey followed more nationalistic policies in economy. In 40’s, the hotel was almost forgotten because of the WWII and its economic hardships. When modern and new hotels such as Hilton and Divan were built in Istanbul of 1950’s, Hotel Buyuk Londra had lost all its hopes for recovery.
In 1967, the Huzmeli family became the new owners of the hotel, but the glories of the past were only a memory then. The hotel passed through a comprehensive renovation in 1983 which coincided with the tourism revival in Turkey. This increased the Hotel’s popularity and in a slow process reaching our time, Hotel Buyuk Londra became the meeting place of intellectuals, travellers and curious people….