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History of Hotel de Londres in San Sebastián

 

In 1866, when the “Baths promenade” was bordered by a host of villas flanked by small gardens, two businessmen Manuel Balda and Juan José Matheu decided to build an inn, big for the time, made up of a cellar, three floors and an attic.  

Staying in this establishment during her hasty escape to France after the successful coup that was at the origin of the Spanish Revolution of 1868 also known as “the Glorious Revolution”, Queen Isabella II Isabella could hardly have thought that she was going, in a sense, to show Amadeo I the way to follow when, under certainly less difficult circumstances than his predecessor, he would also choose the prestigious inn to spend there the last summer prior to his abdication in 1873. At the dawn of the new century, the important increase of summer tourism persuaded Edouard Dupouy, a famous hotelier, to sell the renowned hotel he was directing since 1879, which was situated nearby, in la Avenida de la Libertad to settle in to its actual location, under the definitive name of “Hotel de Londres y de Inglaterra”. The sophistication and refinement enjoyed by its prestigious clients gained the confidence of the Prince of Wales, of painters such Toulouse-Lautrec and heads of government such Sagasta who used to have a walk at the beach, subsequently making it the real “salon” of the city.

In the course of the year 1916 it was open to the public, since then perfectly in line with the newly created Easo street. That fact that had caused the demolition of a part of the old establishment was behind the stylised building we are nowadays familiar with. On those days, where the First World War was at the gates of the city, a Dutch seducer, staying under the name of Margaretha Geertruida Zelle, was having a untroubled walk among the throng of expatriates, arms dealers and spies who used to frequent the hotel salons, pretending that her name was Mata Hari...

In 1919, Edouard Dupouy’s daughter and heir sold the Hotel to José Urbistondo, a Guipuscoan entrepreneur and businessman that had made a fortune in Cuba. The Hotel is since then in the hands of the Urbistondo family, who has made important extensions and improvements in the establishment in the course of time.   

To the building of a sixth d’un floor in 1922, an important extension is added in 1930, which enables the hotel to double its surface. In 1978, with the advent of democracy, and after more than fifty years of prohibition, it hosted the first casino in Spain. Little by little, the hotel, just like the city, has been recovering its lost glory and has boosted a “renaissance”. The modifications made during the last years are a good example of this revival. As a result of the space freed up by the casino in 1999 has become a series of salons that, once connected, form a large-scale unique salon named Britannia. This first huge transformation has been followed by the opening of a restaurant Marie Galant, the progressive renewal of the bar Swing, the complete restoration of the previously existing 155 rooms and, and finally, the building of a seventh floor, since then known, for an obvious reason, as “The Seventh Heaven”, for its other twelve magnificent rooms, provided with huge private terraces with views of la Concha Bay.

We believe that the fact crowned heads, high birth aristocrats, adulated artists such Orson Welles or anonymous gourmets with equal or superior good taste have been choosing our establishment speaks for itself about the benefits that abound in the hotel, today as in the past. I you too decide to join us, we wish you a pleasant stay!

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