A look at seven hotels in the United Kingdom that feature bars, rooms and dining spaces hidden behind fake walls and bookcases.
REPORT FROM THE U.K.—In what will become a new era of social distancing when hotels reopen, those with secret rooms hidden behind bookcases or false walls might have an edge.
Some lead to bars—perhaps a drink is needed after the shock of falling through a false wall after inadvertently leaning on it—while others end up in guestrooms, private dining spaces and meeting and event spaces.
Hotel News Now lists seven hotels with hidden rooms in the United Kingdom:
Great Scotland Yard Hotel, London
Part of Hyatt Hotels Corporation’s soft brand Unbound Collection, the 152-room Great Scotland Yard Hotel served as the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police until the late 19th Century, so perhaps there is no surprise it has secrets contained in its walls.
In London’s Charing Cross district, the hotel has a whisky bar, named Sibin, behind a false bookcase.
The hotel’s GM Sholto Smith said “the whole hotel is brand new, only the walls are old,” adding that it was decided to keep an originally hidden room hidden.
“It is a great space, a striking space, and we wanted to give it the feel of a speakeasy whisky bar. When we come out of temporary closure, we’ll see how business looks to be. … Demand initially will be quieter, but rooms like this I think will be popular,” Smith said.
The Bushmills Inn, Bushmills, Northern Ireland
Another hotel with a whiskey (in Ireland, the drink is spelled “whiskey”) background is the 41-room Bushmills Inn, which is adjacent to the Bushmills whiskey distillery, world-class Portrush golf and the geological formation of the Giant’s Causeway.
Starting life in the early 17th Century as a coaching inn, with perhaps some history of smuggling, the hotel has a small, private dining space also behind a false bookcase.
Dalhousie Castle Hotel, Scotland
Billing itself as the oldest inhabited castle in Scotland, the 35-room Dalhousie Castle Hotel sits on 11 acres along the banks of the River Esk a few miles from Edinburgh. The 13th-Century hotel supposedly welcomed overnight guests such as sovereigns King Edward I (who ruled between 1272 and 1307), Queen Victoria (1837-1901) and Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell (1653-1658, during the U.K.’s brief years of being without a monarch).
The property has a bar hidden behind a bookcase, and after an aperitif, dinner is served in what was the dungeon.
Coombe Abbey Hotel, Binley, England
In the English county of Warwickshire, close to the city of Coventry, the stately Coombe Abbey Hotel opened in 1995 on a sprawling site with a history dating even earlier than Dalhousie Castle, to the 12th Century.
The building, which has a guestroom with a hidden bathroom, was a former abbey dissolved by Henry VIII, had a role in the infamous Gunpowder Plot of 1605 to install a Catholic monarch and blow up the House of Parliament in London, and featured gardens landscaped by famed Lancelot “Capability” Brown.
Joanne Evans, now weddings manager, has been at the hotel since it debuted and said the guestroom is popular, even though it appears initially to have no private bathroom.
“Colleagues would explain to guests that they needed to share a bathroom and then wait a while to see the guests’ reaction. Then they would lean on the bookcase door, and it would open,” Evans said.
“If a porter was not able to take them to the room, then guests would call down to reception, with some quite angry thinking they had been given a room without a bathroom, but it is one of our more popular rooms due to this unique feature,” she said.
London Edition, London
Part of Marriott International, the London Edition opened in September 2013, a conversion from the Berners Hotel, which opened in 1909 after designers placed together five adjacent townhouses.
Here, a hidden door opens up into the Punch Room bar, a re-creation of a 19th-Century club bar. The room was designed to be a secret space and is hidden at the back of the hotel’s lobby bar, so many hotel tipplers are blissfully unaware of its existence.
Andaz London Liverpool Street
Another London secret and another hotel part of Hyatt, this 267-room hotel has what might be London’s most hidden space.
When the property was being renovated in the late 1990s—it has been an Andaz since 2006—a wall was torn down to uncover the 1912 Grecian Masonic Temple, the work of the two sons of the Charles Barry, the architect who built the Houses of Parliament. The sons designed the rest of the building, originally the Great Eastern Hotel where in fiction Bram Stoker, the author of “Dracula,” had vampire hunter Abraham van Helsing stay when the title character moved to London seeking new blood.
Twelve different varieties of Italian marble and a grand organ of golden pipes add to the luster of the property, which is now used for very grand meeting and event space.
Abbey Hotel, Penzance, England
The southwestern England county of Cornwall has many tales of smuggling and smugglers, and its seaside town of Penzance most likely still has secrets to divulge. One that is known is the secret room hidden inside the Abbey Hotel in Penzance.
Dating from the late 17th Century, this seven-room hotel overlooks the port’s St. Michaels Mount, which is occupied by a castle, accessible by foot at low tide and is the smaller cousin to France’s Mont St. Michel. Room 3 has a bathroom hidden behind a bookcase.
The hotel has been owned for many decades by internationally successful model Jean Shrimpton, perhaps the first supermodel, known affectionately as “The Shrimp” and one of the principal faces and celebrities of The Swinging Sixties.