I had a wonderful history teacher at school called Ms. Forrester, a quick look at the current school staff list shows me that she is now the Head of History – this pleases me.
I loved my history classes because it felt like story time, yes I had to learn lots of dates (unsuccessfully) and learn how to evaluate sources (again, pretty poorly) but mainly I loved it because history is the best kind of story – a true one.
I always get excited when I visit a venue or hotel and they have a story to tell, although, sometimes the history is the only thing I can remember and I couldn’t tell you how many delegates the main meeting room holds in a theatre style or how many F&B outlets they have.
Here are a few of my favourite stories;
When the Andaz, Liverpool Street was being refurbished builders noticed something out of sorts on the blueprints, a fake wall. They tore this wall down to reveal a forgotten Greek Masonic Temple in pristine condition. It was boarded up when previous owners feared a German invasion, fine marble and intricate decoration meant that stripping this room would line anyone’s coffers for generations to come. To be on the safe side they hid room and then seemed to completely forget about it. This stunning room is now available to hire for meetings, events and opulent private dining experiences.
Down to Rome and I came across the story of the Gran Melia Rome Villa Agrippina and why it took a little longer than expected to build as they discovered the valuable archaeological remains of Nero’s Mum, Agrippina’s pad. The hotel stands on the site of Agrippina’s Villa, although, to be fair you turn any corner in Rome and it’s dripping in history and wonders from the ancient world. The hotel proudly displays these treasures, dating back to the 1st & 2nd centuries AD, in the public areas of the hotel for guests to enjoy.
Across to the Emerald Isle and 30 minutes outside of Dublin is Cliff at Lyons. Long before The Cliff Collection acquired the site and opened it up as a hotel and event’s venue in 2016, it was a 16 acre village complete with historic cottages, a barracks, a mill and a forge. The estate was bought by University College Dublin in 1962 who used the land for agricultural studies whilst the beautiful buildings were left to ruin. Along came Tony Ryan in 1996, co-founder of Ryan Air, who bought the estate and began work to renovate and restore ‘The Village’. It’s the only historic ‘events village’ I’ve ever come across – perfect for a very private exclusive use event.
I’m always keen to hear the history of a hotel/venue – get in touch if you have one to share.