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Hotel burns as a celebrity (and everyone else) escapes

June 8, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

As fires go, yesterday’s blaze at the luxurious and historic Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park Hotel in London was a media dream – there was a celebrity involved and plenty of drama but nobody was hurt.

Singer Robbie Williams was among 36 guests and 250 staff filmed escaping from the massive blaze in London that saw 20 fire engines and 120 crew scrambled to Knightsbridge.

“Around 120 firefighters battled the huge blaze at the five-star hotel loved by A-list stars, including Liam Neezon, Morgan Freeman and Helen Mirren,” London’s Sun newspaper reported breathlessly.

Williams is believed to have been staying at the hotel ahead of Soccer Aid, a charity football match taking place at Manchester’s Old Trafford this weekend. He was pictured giving the thumbs up after emerging from the hotel’s outdoor stairwell.

“Witnesses described hearing screams as terrified guests sprinted to safety,” the Sun reported.

The fire was quickly extinguished. Unfortunately for the hotel, the fire happened just a week after the most extensive restoration in its history.

The Mandarin Oriental has 173 rooms and 25 suites – with over half overlooking Hyde Park.

A major fire has struck the historic property before (just 119 years ago, in 1899). That blaze damaged the top three floors and destroyed part of the roof, with all guests escaping, even though the fire brigade’s ladders reached only halfway up the building.

The property re-opened again in 1902 as the Hyde Park Hotel, changing the name when it joined the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group in 1996.

Household Cavalry trots past the hotel

The hotel issued a statement yesterday:

“Today’s unfortunate fire at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London has been extinguished. The fire did not extend to the Residences at One Hyde Park. 

“To the best of our knowledge, all Mandarin Oriental guests have been accounted for and we are contacting guests who were not in the hotel at the time. All colleagues are safe and accounted for.  Hotel guests are being accommodated at other hotels in the vicinity. We would like to express our appreciation to everyone who has conveyed their concern about this sad incident. 

“It is too early at the present stage to assess the full extent of the damage. A full investigation is underway and will take time to complete. Further updates will be issued as appropriate.”

The hotel is immensely historic. Originally built in 1889 as an exclusive ‘Gentleman’s Club’, it became a hotel 13 years later. Queen Victoria commanded that the original entrance be preserved for Royal use, unless permission was otherwise granted by the Royal Household. The doors were opened during the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1937 when the Crown gave special permission for the guests to use the park entrance.

The hotel is built of red brick and Portland stone in an eclectic Franco-Flemish style. The palatial interior decoration and the use of marbles and gilding were years ahead of the best London hotels of the time.

It was originally one of the tallest buildings in London, at about 30 metres, despite initial public outrage that it might cast a shadow over the Serpentine lake in Hyde Park.

Written by Peter Needham

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