The Bristol Marriott Royal has an exciting and rich history. This year the hotel is celebrating is its 150th anniversary. We joined the team at the hotel to raise a glass to the Royal and to find out how it all began. 

The idea for a luxury hotel in College Green was initiated in 1863 by Walter William Hughes, who ran a firm of estate agents and appraisers. In 1865 the building work began with the construction of the hotel taking three years. 

The hotel opened on Monday 23rd March 1868 and was named the Royal Hotel. A plethora of famous and well known people have frequented the hotel over the years, including Cary Grant, Winston Churchill, Gracie Fields, Laurel and Hardy, and Tommy Steele. 

Marriott 150 Celebrations

In 1965 the hotel was sold to new owners, who in 1969 worked hard to modernise the property. Despite their best efforts, trading at the hotel remained difficult, and in 1980 they sold the Royal to Bristol-based property developers M.P.Kent for just £1 million. The hotel was closed in preparation for a 3 year major refurbishment programme. However, planning and regulatory difficulties along with some local objections to building work delayed matters. 

To complicate things further M.P.Kent was taken over by Bath-based C.M. Beazer Properties. Beazer commissioned an architect to prepare plans for the restoration of the still closed and virtually derelict building. In May 1987 Swallow Hotels LTD bought the Royal Hotel site from Beazer Properties for £2.8 million.

New plans were drawn up in September 1987 to regenerate the hotel. By this time the interior of the building had been wrecked by rain, floors had rotted, and the walls had been attacked by algae. £1 million had to be spent almost immediately to save the structure from possible collapse.

Marriott 150th anniversary

In October 1988 the planning permission was finally granted for the development, and work began in early 1989. As the interior was in such poor condition, all but the listed facade and side walls, and the Palm Court, were demolished and rebuilt. A large bedroom block was added, and the rock beneath the hotel excavated to create a four storey underground car park. The three adjacent listed mews houses were renovated and an office block added behind. 

At the end of 1999 Whitbread PLC, the hotel and leisure group, who held the franchise for the Marriott name in Britain at that time, acquired the Swallow Group becoming the new owners of the Royal Hotel. After implementing changes to the hotel so as it met Marriott standards, it changed its name to the Bristol Marriott Royal Hotel in August 2000. In 2004 Whitbread PLC sold its franchise licence to Marriott Hotels LTD, a subsidiary company of Marriott International. 

In March this year the Bristol Marriott Royal began celebrating its 150th anniversary. A programme of events will be run throughout the year by the hotel’s dedicated team.

The celebrations started at the end of last month with an evening reception for local charities in the beautiful Palm Court. The event celebrated the hard work of the cities charities as well as the hotels 150th anniversary. All staff wore period dress from the year 1868 and a free raffle was organised with a selection of desirable prizes that were handed out to the winning companies by the Hotel’s Manager Niten Sobti.  

The hotel will once again be experiencing some exciting changes in the future, sign up to our monthly MICE newsletter to keep up date. 
For further information about the history of the Bristol Marriott Royal click here

Historical information taken from ‘Historical notes’ by Nicholas Redman Archivist, Whitbread PL

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