First class facilities of the RMS Titanic
The RMS Titanic had extensive facilities for first-class passengers
- 1 Location
- 2 Sporting and relaxation facilities
- 3 Cafés and restaurants
- 4 Gathering places
- 5 References
- 6 Bibliography
The first-class passengers of the Titanic were placed in the central part of the ship where the vibrations and roll of the ship are at their lowest. Many of the first class facilities were located on A Deck. But the first class rooms were located from E Deck up.
Sporting and relaxation facilities
The Titanic featured numerous sporting and relaxation facilities including:
- A gymnasium including a punch bag, a rowing machine, and exercise bikes
- Turkish baths, electric baths, and steam room
- Private massage room
- 10 m by 4.30 m swimming pool with diving board, the largest pool on any ship at that time
- Squash court
Cafés and restaurants
À la Carte Restaurant
The À la Carte Restaurant was a luxurious restaurant open exclusively to first-class passengers. The restaurant, which was the preferred alternative to the main dining saloon, gave passengers the option of enjoying lavish meals at an additional cost. Unlike the main dining saloon, the restaurant gave passengers the freedom to eat whenever they liked (between 8 am and 11 pm). The restaurant was not managed by the White Star Line; Luigi Gatti ran it as a concession and his staff were not part of the regular crew.
The restaurant was decorated in the Louis XVI style and lit by picture windows. Axminster carpets covered the floors and small tables, which accommodated two to eight people, were set with porcelain plates and lit by crystal lamps. The À la Carte Restaurant provided the most intimate atmosphere on board. In fact, half of the tables in the restaurant catered for two people, whereas very few of such tables were offered in the main dining saloon.
"It was the last word in luxury. The tables were gay with pink roses and white daisies […] the stringed orchestra playing music from Puccini and Tchaikovsky. The food was superb: caviar, lobster, quail from Egypt, plovers' eggs, and hothouse grapes and fresh peaches".
The restaurant had its own reception room located next to the aft grand staircase on B Deck. The first-class reception room was decorated in the Georgian style: armchairs and settees were draped in carmine-coloured silk; and a space was reserved for the orchestra. This room allowed passengers to gather together before and after their meals.
On D Deck, there was an enormous first-class dining saloon, measuring 1,000 m2, which accommodated up to 554 passengers. In total, there were 115 tables, set for 2 to 12 people. Children were allowed to eat here with their parents, as long as the dining saloon was not fully booked.
The dining saloon was decorated in wooden panelling, painted white, and the floors were covered in blue linoleum tiles, featuring an elaborate red and yellow pattern. The room’s portholes were elegantly concealed by inner leaded-glass windows, giving passengers the impression that they were eating onshore instead of at sea. For even more atmosphere, the windows were lit from behind during the evening meals. The dining saloon’s meals were prepared in the kitchen next door, which also serviced the second-class dining saloon, similarly located on D Deck.
The dining saloon was open between 1 to 2:30 pm for lunch, and between 6 to 7:30 pm for dinner. Passengers were alerted to when meals were being served by the ship’s bugler, Peter W. Fletcher, playing The Roast Beef of Old England. On Sundays, the dining saloon was also used for the Anglican Church service, which was conducted by the captain or, in his absence, by a minister traveling in first class. The service was accompanied by a quintet, which included a piano. Contrary to what has often been portrayed in films, the orchestra did not play during meals.
The Verandah Café (also known as Palm Court) was divided into two rooms, located on both sides of the second-class staircase, on A Deck. Reminiscent of an outdoor sidewalk café, its rooms were brightly lit by large windows and double sliding doors that opened onto the first-class Promenade Deck. The café was elegantly furnished with wicker tables and chairs, spread out across a checkerboard tiled floor. Various outdoor plants filled the rooms, including potted palm trees and ivy-covered trellises. First-class passengers could enjoy a selection of refreshments in the café.
The Verandah Café had both smoking and non-smoking sections. The smoking section, located on the port side, was accessible from the first-class smoking room. The non-smoking section, located on the starboard side, was used as a play area by mothers and children. To note, no such official area existed on board. Contrary to the Titanic's, the Olympic’s non-smoking section was frequently deserted.
The Verandah Café was similar in style on both the Olympic and the Titanic. While there are many photos of the Olympic’s café, only one photo of the Titanic’s remains today.
The Café Parisien was a new feature on the Titanic, designed to replace part of the Olympic’s Promenade Deck that was rarely used. Located on the starboard side on B Deck, the café was connected to the À la Carte Restaurant.
Like the restaurant, the Café Parisien was open from 8:00 am to 11:00 pm and shared the same menu and servers. The café was furnished with wicker tables and chairs, accommodating up to 68 passengers, and was decorated in ivy-covered trellises and other climbing plants. The Café Parisien was most popular among young adults.
In 1912, the British magazine The Shipbuilder gave the following description of the café:
"...a Café Parisien, which is an entirely new feature on board ship, has been arranged in connection with the restaurant, and here lunches and dinners can be served under the same excellent conditions and with all the advantages of the restaurant itself...it will be seen that this café has the appearance of a charming sun-lit verandah, tastefully decorated in French trellis-work with ivy and other creeping plants, and is provided with small groups of chairs surrounding convenient tables."
There were many other venues that could be visited by first-class passengers, including:
- Reception Room
- Smoking room (men only)
- Reading & Writing Room
- Promenade Deck
- Grand Staircase
The first-class passengers could enjoy a Georgian style smoking room, found in the back of A Deck. In keeping with social conventions of the time, the room was exclusive to men. In order to recreate the same atmosphere of a gentlemen’s club, the room was decorated with dark mahogany panelling inlaid with mother-of-pearl, numerous stained-glass windows, and alcoves.
The floor was laid with blue and red linoleum tiles. In the center of the far-back wall was a Norman Wilkinson painting, Plymouth Harbour, which hung over the fireplace. This was the only real fireplace on board: the others used electricity. The furniture was upholstered in leather, of an unknown colour (probably green or burgundy).
The room was accessible from the aft grand staircase, and to the right of the fireplace was a revolving door which lead to the Verandah Café. The room was U-shaped in order to permit the smoke from the fireplace to be vented out. This area also included bathrooms.
The Smoking Room was the preferred spot of gamblers who crossed the Atlantic. Professional card sharps also travelled on board under aliases, and the purser could do nothing but warn passengers about these swindlers, since passengers played at their own risk. At least four professional players travelled on board the Titanic. Cigars and drinks could be made available upon request of the passengers, and were provided by the stewards of the adjacent bar.
The First Class Lounge was one of the most ornate public rooms on board the Titanic, modeled in the Louis XV style after the Palace of Versailles. It occupied a large space mid-ship on A-Deck, offering views onto the Promenade Deck and the ocean beyond. Intricately carved English oak paneling with intermittent motifs of musical instruments were the dominant feature of the room. Bronze sconces and large rounded mirrors were installed throughout. A 49-light opaque glass and ormolu Electrolier with crystal embellishment occupied the central recess of the ceiling, which was itself elaborately molded with instrumental motifs. Adjoining the open seating area were cozy alcoves with tall bay windows of leaded-glass, with the top panes in stained-glass.
The Lounge had an impressive height of 12 ft. 3 in., enabled by raising the ceiling above the level of the Boat-Deck. Groups of tables and chairs, sofas, and armchairs upholstered in plush velvet with green and gold floral patterns were scattered throughout. At the center of the forward wall was a gracefully carved grey marble decorative fireplace (it contained only an electric heater) with a tall rounded mirror above the mantlepiece. At the opposite end the wall curved and contained a wide mahogany bookcase which functioned as a lending library for First-Class passengers. They could choose from a permanent collection of classics and the latest releases, which were freshly stocked on every voyage.
Open daily between 8am and 11pm, the room was used primarily for socializing and the taking of tea, coffee and light refreshment before and after dinner, serviced by a small connecting bar. It was a largely female domain but available to both sexes; because of its size it was also convenient for holding concerts and other First-Class events, as is attested on the Olympic.
The Titanic's Lounge was largely obliterated when the ship broke apart and was located in an area where the mid-section decks collapsed upon impact with the ocean floor. However the paneling and fittings of the Lounge on the Olympic, which was identical to that of the Titanic, have been largely preserved in the dining room of the White Swan Hotel in Alnwick, England. They were installed after being purchased at auction when the Olympic was scrapped in 1935. The impressive Electrolier on the Olympic is also preserved at Cutler's Hall in Sheffield, England.
Reading & Writing Room
As the title indicates, the Reading & Writing Room was a leisurely space on A-Deck for relaxation, reading, and writing home to family and friends. The room was on the Port side of the long corridor which connected the Grand Staircase to the Lounge and was reserved solely for female use. It was divided into two zones with a spacious main area and a smaller seating alcove off to the right with a large window looking out onto the Promenade Deck. Decorated in a refined Georgian decorative order and painted white, the room had elaborate plaster work combined with with sleek paneling, fluted columns, and a white marble fireplace. A ceiling-length bow window with pink drapery allowed ample sunlight to flood the main room. Comfortable silk-upholstered settees and chairs in shades of yellow and blue were grouped around tables and writing desks for convenience. The popularity of the room had proved disappointing aboard the Olympic, and Thomas Andrews had plans to convert part of the space on the Titanic into further passenger quarters.
The First-Class Dining Saloon on D-Deck was preceded by a large Reception Room, measuring 460 m2 (4,951 sq ft), located at the foot of the forward Grand Staircase and encompassing the entire width of the ship. An ornate candelabra rested on the middle railing at the base of the staircase, the light oak color of which contrasted warmly with the Reception Room. The Reception area would have been the first impression of the Titanic for many First-Class passengers entering through the two entry vestibules on either side of the staircase. Around the corner from the Reception Room were the set of three First-Class elevators, with two parallel corridors branching off from this area which accessed the staterooms in the forward area of the ship.
The Reception Room was similar in style to that of the neighboring Dining Saloon, decorated in richly ornamented Jacobean paneling painted a glossy white. Furnished with comfortable wicker chairs and green-cushioned Chesterfields, the room would have been conspicuously light and airy because of the beautifully illuminated leaded-glass windows which ran along either side of the room. These were lit naturally during the day through portholes concealed behind the windows and electrically in the evening. In contrast to the linoleum floors on the Olympic, the Titanic's Reception Room was covered with plush Axminster carpeting and there were potted palms in built-in holders in the corners of the alcoves. An imposing Aubusson tapestry, La Chasse du duc de Guise, hung in front of the staircase. On the wall close to the tapestry were letters indicating the name of the deck.
It was recorded on the inaugural voyage of the Olympic, whose reception hall was slightly smaller, that the room quickly filled up after dinner. On the starboard side, there was an area reserved for a quintet and it held a Steinway grand piano.
The Reception Room was open to passengers before and after meals. Here, the orchestra played from 4 to 5 pm while tea was served, then after dinner, from 8 to 9:15 pm. Stewards served liquor and cigars until 11 pm, at which time the hall closed. Generally, there were many spectators in the Room while the orchestra played.
The Grand Staircase was one of the most impressive features on board the Titanic and the center of First-Class activity. The main stairwell was located in the forward part of the ship and began on the boat deck, extending six flights down to E-Deck. B and D Decks contained entry foyers on either side where First-Class passengers would embark, the D-Deck entryway leading directly into the Reception Room. Each level was constructed in solid oak, with the surrounding spaces paneled in the elaborately carved neoclassical William and Mary style. The balustrades displayed distinctive wrought iron grilles with ormolu swags in the style of Louis XIV. The A-Deck level was undoubtedly the most spectacular and is the most recognizable due to its frequent depiction in film. The staircase was crowned by an extravagant wrought iron and glass dome with a large chandelier at the center. This dome was installed on the roof of the boat deck and provided natural light to the stairwell before being artificially lit at night from behind. On the middle landing of the A-Deck staircase was an exquisitely carved clock with allegorical figures on either side, known as 'Honour and Glory crowning Time.' At the foot of the staircase, on the newel post of the middle balustrade, was a bronze cherub holding an electric torch. B and C Decks probably had smaller replicas of these cherubs at either corner of the staircases, and contained landscape oil paintings as the focal points of their landings instead of the unique clock on A-Deck.
From the Grand Staircase a passenger could access almost all of the facilities available in First Class, level by level. The top deck gave access to the outside promenade space, the lifeboats, and the adjoining Gymnasium. The A-Deck level accessed First Class accommodation at the forward part of the ship and the grand public rooms located further aft via a long corridor. Entryways opened onto the encircling Promenade Deck, while B and C Decks connected to the main corridors containing the bulk of the first class accommodation, including the extravagant 'Millionaire's Suites' located immediately off the B-Deck level staircase. On the Starboard side of the C-Deck staircase was the Purser's Office, where passengers stored their jewelry and other valuable belongings during the voyage. On D-Deck the staircase opened directly onto the Reception Room and adjoining Dining Saloon. Instead of a cherub, the central post of the staircase contained an impressive gilt candelabra with electric lights. Behind the staircases were installed the three First-Class elevators which ran between E and A Decks. On E-Deck the staircase narrowed and lost the sweeping curve of the upper flights; a modest single flight terminated on F-Deck, where the Turkish Baths and Swimming Pool could be reached.
There was in fact a second Grand Staircase located further aft in the ship, between the third and fourth funnels. Although it was in the same style with a dome at the center, it was of much smaller proportions and only installed between A, B, and C Decks. One could access the Smoking Room and Lounge from the A-Deck level, and there was a small reception area in the B-Deck aft Grand Staircase for patrons of the Á La Carte Restaurant and Cafe Parisien. This staircase was located in the area where the Titanic broke apart during the sinking, and it is assumed that much of the woodwork recovered as wreckage came from this aft staircase.
- (Bruce Beveridge 2009, p. 282)
- (Bruce Beveridge 2009, p. 286)
- Louis XVI style
- (Mark Chimside 2004, p. 51)
- (Bruce Beveridge 2009, p. 287)
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- (Bruce Beveridge 2009, p. 366)
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- (Bruce Beveridge 2009, p. 250)
- (Bruce Beveridge 2009, p. 255)
- (Bruce Beveridge 2009, p. 259)
- (Bruce Beveridge 2009, p. 288)
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