Oh! How we would laugh on The Knowledge, finding two strand hotels situated on Strand (note the absence of the definite article, unlike The Knowledge).
The first hotel, the Strand Palace – 4-star, 785 bedrooms, doorman, concierge service, gym and afternoon tea – with a room rate of £400 a night.
Its namesake, the exotically named Hotel Strand Continental with a tea maker, shared bathroom, twin bed and breakfast thrown in for £37.
Basic, but not bad considering Theatreland is opposite and the Strand Palace at £400 is 150 yards down the road, and curiously the more expensive is currently closed due to coronavirus, while its cheaper brother is still open.
But what we didn’t realise while on The Knowledge was that the Hotel Strand Continental has hidden up a flight of stairs a social and dining club. Founded in 1951 when its founder members included Lady Mountbatten and Jawaharlal Nehru, it still retains its original colonial features with portraits and photographs from India’s independence.
Unlike most London clubs, the India Club is open to all and feels like stepping back 70 years. The very reasonably priced food gets mixed reviews but there are few in such a central location offering this level of service and value.
Now this venerable institution looks to be lost as the building’s owners want to redevelop the hotel.
Marston Properties, the hotel’s owners tried two years ago to revamp the building. Following an outcry, the planning application was refused, due to the “loss of an important cultural and nighttime entertainment use (the India Club restaurant/bar)”. They did then offer to revamp the hotel while retaining “a restaurant” on the second floor but then withdrew that planning application.
Now they are trying to circumvent the planning problem of having an “important cultural venue” as a tenant by evicting that tenant by employing an 80 per cent hike in the rent.
During this pandemic, many landlords are helping to retain their tenants by coming to a compromise over the due fees. Marston Properties, however, are bucking the trend by nearly doubling the rent, if they succeed in evicting the India Club they’ll be able to resubmit their planning application and redevelop the hotel as they wish, and then no doubt increase the room rate.
Images courtesy of the India Club