Grand Hotel de Londres HistoryHotel 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.
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.
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 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.
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....