July 1878: Opening of the Grand Hotel, Charing Cross – An Account of the Building and Its Interior

An article on page four of The Glasgow Herald, on Tuesday the 2nd of July, 1878, reads:





Several months ago we intimated that the Grand Hotel, Charing Cross, had been let on lease to Mr Lewis Jefferis, of the Queen’s

Hotel, Bond Street, London; and the work of preparing the establishment for occupation having now been completed, it was formally

opened last night by a dinner given by Mr John Duncanson, the owner of the property, to which invitations were issued to a large

company, including some of the principal citizens. An important addition has been made to the accommodation for strangers visiting

the city, in the new hotel, containing as it does about 200 public rooms. The building occupies a convenient and commanding site, of

which its architectural features are in every way worthy. It covers fully an acre of ground, and forming a complete square, it has frontages

to Woodside Crescent, Sauchiehall Street, and St George’s Road, which are each effectively treated architecturally, the style adopted

being mixed French and Italian. The principal entrance is from Sauchiehall Street, but there is also an entrance for ladies and families

from Woodside Crescent. From Sauchiehall Street the visitor enters a handsome pillared vestibule, and ascending a broad flight of

marble steps passes into a spacious corridor, which runs from end to end of the building, terminating at the west in the Woodside

Crescent entrance. This corridor is brilliantly lighted from the roof, the windows being filled with stained glass — a method of

ornamentation extensively and judiciously employed throughout the building. On this floor the office of the hotel and the dining-room

are placed. It is a handsome and admirably-proportioned room, measuring 67 by 40 feet by 23 feet in height. On either side are 12

Corinthian pillars, with trussed cornices; the ceiling being carried on massive cross beams, supported by handsome spandrils, semi-

circular lights being inserted in the spaces between the spandrils.  Between the pillars along the sides of the hall windows are placed,

those on the south side admitting light from the corridor. Those opposite are filled with stained glass, and contain medallion portraits

of Shakespeare, Burns, and Moore, with appropriate mottoes from their works, while the nationality of the poets is indicated by

representations in the alternate windows of Warwick Castle, the Auld Brig o’ Doon and Burns’ monument, and the river and harbour

of Cork. From the ground floor visitors may ascend by one or other of three staircases, in the centre and at either end of the corridor, or,

should they so desire, by the hydraulic lift situated near the western entrance, which communicates with each floor of the building.

The principal rooms are placed on the first floor. The coffee-room, which is situated in the south-west corridor, is a fine cheerful

apartment, commanding an excellent view of the leafy avenue lying immediately to the west, while from the ladies’ drawing-room, in

the other angle of the hotel, is visible the ever-changing scene presented by the more crowded section of Sauchiehall Street to the

eastward. In the front of the building are rooms en suite for the accommodation of family parties. On this floor also are the smoking and

billiard rooms, both comfortable, commodious, and well-lighted apartments, the latter furnished with two first-class billiard tables. On

the third floor a corridor runs completely round the house, and entering from it are suites of parlours and bed-rooms, and single bed-

rooms, to the number altogether of about 50 apartments, while on the fourth floor the arrangements are almost exactly similar. Excellent

taste has been shown in the decoration and furnishing of the establishment, which has been carried out under the direction of Mr King,

of Messrs Green and King, London. The prominent feature in the decoration is the adoption of quiet, neutral tints in the painting of the

walls in lieu of the imitation of marble, so generally employed in this description of work, while the wood work is in enamel instead of the

usual imitations of woods. In the dining-hall the ground colour is a pale green relieved with cream colour, light pink, light blue and gold,

and the general effect is very chaste and pleasing. The coffee-room is finished in similar tints in imitation of enamel, the mouldings being

in black and gold. Decidedly the most elegant apartment in the hotel is the ladies drawing-room. The walls are finished with peacock dado

border, richly filled in, with frieze decorations. The room is luxuriously furnished, in keeping with the style of decoration adopted. The

frames of the chairs, sofas, and settees are ebonised, and are covered with stamped Utrecht velvet, while the tables, cabinets, &c., are

made of real oak ebonised, showing the grain of the wood, and imparting to it a peculiarly rich appearance —  a style of finishing, it may

be remarked, very popular with admirers of the mediaeval period. The sitting-rooms are furnished in walnut, the chairs being covered

with crimson Utrecht velvet, and each of the sitting-rooms and bed-rooms on the first floor are provided with cloth curtains with rich silk

borders. All the bed-rooms, it may be said, have the luxury of curtains and mantlepiece mirrors; while in each, following the Continental

practice, an easy chair and writing table will be found. It need only further be mentioned that accommodation has been found for the

kitchen department entirely outwith the building, while the arrangements for conducting the business of the establishment have been

carried out on the most approved principles.”



The article concludes with an an account of the ceremony, dinner, and toasts, along with the names of some of those attending. This is

covered in a separate entry on the website.



George Fairfull-Smith, June 2021.