In the 19th century, when the Ottoman Empire was heavily influenced by innovation and westernization, Beyoğlu formed a Western class called the Levantines.
Previously, Beyoglu had been a region in which art circles, especially people who were close to Western thinking, had resided or carried on commercial activities. Beyoğlu, known as Pera in that period, found itself in the midst of touristic activities that will change the face of the city in 1891. In 1883, the Orient Express had been set out in order to get to know the West better and to know about the authentic lands by the Europeans, especially the British. The last stop of Orient Express was Bulgaria, so the westerners who wanted to see Istanbul could only come to the city via ferry services from Bulgaria. That changed in 1888. From then on, the Orient Express continued its journey until Istanbul. In order to accommodate the tourists coming to Istanbul, the Grand Hotel de Londres, which had initially been built as a residence in 1891, was established.
The First Period of the London Hotel
Two partners named L. Adamopoulos and N. Aperghis had built the simple stone building on the corner of the Kallavi Street. It was transformed into a hotel just one year later in order to gain more profit economically. In those years, it was a tradition for the rich British to stay in hotels with names that were reminiscent of England. So, the name of the hotel was changed to Grand Hotel de Londres, otherwise known as the Grand London Hotel.
Especially in its first years, the Grand Hotel de Londres was very popular and became the preferred place for Europeans traveling to Istanbul to stay. It was quite comfortable and was decorated with large curtains and expensive furniture. In addition, the luxuriously upholstered bathrooms and hydraulic elevator used to provide access to the upper floors within the hotel were a blessing for the guests. The hotel was indispensable for providing modern services, appealing to English tourists with its ornaments on the front and side facades, and its panoramic view of the Golden Horn.
Grand Hotel de Londres Falls from Grace
From 1890 until the 1930s, Grand Hotel de Londres served as the primary hotel for the glamorous European community in Istanbul’s Beyoğlu district. However, with the declaration of the republic, rival hotels like Pera Palas and Tokatlıyan emerged as serious competition. The popularity of the Grand Hotel de Londres continued for a while. But in the 1930s, with the nationalization movement, which was one of the principles of the new republic, the western flow in Beyoğlu and surrounding areas lost significance. As a result, the demand for hotels gradually decreased. In particularly, the economic crisis during World War II in the 1940s damaged the popularity of the hotel. However, its biggest economic devastation occurred in the 1950s, when chain hotels like Hilton and Divan opened in Beyoğlu.
1990s and the Re-popularization of the Hotel
The decline that began in the 1930s lasted for 60 years up until the 1990s. In fact, the hotel was once seen as an old building, totally out of sight. But in the 1990s, Beyoğlu suddenly became popular in art communities, and Grand Hotel de Londres was remembered again with the appearance of many important authors, poets, and musicians in Beyoğlu. As the most important hotel to host the artists, actors, screenwriters, and directors, especially from abroad, the Grand Hotel de Londres became the hotel of choice in the 1990s. This status returned the hotel to its old days, when it hosted some of the most important writers in the world, such as Ernest Hemingway. It continues to serve as a favorite accommodation of Beyoğlu with its architectural features, lively bar, and elite services.