Hotel Café Royal
|Hotel Café Royal|
South side of entrance, 2008
The establishment was originally conceived and set up in 1865 by Daniel Nicholas Thévenon, who was a French wine merchant. He had to flee France due to bankruptcy, arriving in Britain in 1863 with his wife, Célestine, and just five pounds in cash. He changed his name to Daniel Nicols. Under his son, also named Daniel Nicols, the Café Royal flourished and was considered at one point to have the greatest wine cellar in the world. Daniel Nicols then married and had two children, Roy Daniel Nicols and Patricia Nicols.
By the 1890s the Café Royal had become the place to see and be seen at. Its patrons have included Oscar Wilde, Aleister Crowley, Virginia Woolf, D.H. Lawrence, Winston Churchill, Noël Coward, Brigitte Bardot, Max Beerbohm, George Bernard Shaw, Jacob Epstein, Mick Jagger, Elizabeth Taylor, Muhammad Ali and Diana, Princess of Wales.
The café was the scene of a famous meeting on 24 March 1895, when Frank Harris advised Oscar Wilde to drop his charge of criminal libel against the Marquess of Queensberry, father of Alfred Douglas. Queensberry was acquitted, and Wilde was subsequently tried, convicted and imprisoned. 
From 1951, the Café Royal was the home of the National Sporting Club. It was bought by David Locke in 1972.
Restoration and conversion
The Café Royal closed in December 2008. The fittings and furniture were later sold at auction. The building is a grade II listed building, which will protect its architecturally significant features and fixtures.
There is also the "N" symbol, which represents "Nicols" to remind visitors of the foundation and history behind the set-up of this place.
But according to the concierge, the son of Nicols who had the "N" symbol put in place, did it in commemoration of Napoleon. Indeed every amateur of Napoleon will recognize the blason immediately. The father Nicols thought for a while that it was an hommage to him and was not very happy when he understood what the "N" really stood for.
David Chipperfield Architects restored and transformed the building into a hotel with 159 rooms and historic suites, an array of dining rooms, a club, meeting rooms and a wellbeing spa and gym with 18-metre pool. Alrov Properties, a subsidiary of the Israeli Alrov Group, opened the hotel in December 2012.
- Guy Deghy and Keith Waterhouse (1955). "Café Royal - Ninety Years of Bohemia". Hutchinson & Co.
- Howard, Michael (February 2010). "A Seeker's Journey", in The Cauldron #135.
- "Cafe Royal memorabilia goes under hammer". Daily Telegraph. 20 January 2009. Retrieved 4 December 2009.
- Belford, Barbara (2000). Oscar Wilde: A Certain Genius. New York: Random House. p. 251. ISBN 0-679-45734-8.
- Browning, Jonathan (18 December 2008). "London’s Cafe Royal Closes: Farewell to Scandal, Wilde, Murder". Bloomberg. Retrieved 4 December 2009.
- Bates, Stephen (23 December 2008). "Cafe Royal party is over as 143 years of high society goes under the hammer". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 December 2009.
- "Café Royal A Very Fashionable Launch". The Handbook. 11 December 2012. External link in
- Esquinno, Axel (10 December 2012). "Café Royal makes a dramatic comeback". caterer.com.
- "Cafe Royal sale". Daily Telegraph. 14 April 2008. Retrieved 4 December 2009.