WestEndExtra

The independent London newspaper

Brand new ballroom coming to Leicester Square

07 September, 2018 — By The Xtra Diary

 

It was one simple line in a planning application that caught Diary’s eye – it read: 1,000 capacity ballroom.

Who, you may ask, in this day and age builds such a thing in the heart of London?

Surely they are called night clubs, venues, concert halls, conference centres – ballroom? But that is what we are told to expect as part of the Edwardian Hotel Group’s exciting new £300million, five-star, 15-storey, hotel complex being built on the western side of Leicester Square.

Diary learns this whopping new addition to the West End will boast 350 bedrooms, including 15 luxury suites for those red carpet-walking celebs who have popped in to see a premiere and don’t fancy getting a cab home. It will also have five restaurants, a roof-top bar, two cinemas and an underground spa.

But what really piqued our interest was the inclusion of what designers call a 1,000- person capacity ballroom.

Now Leicester Square has a long history of ballrooms, and this sounds a most welcome return: the Hippodrome was a popular hangout between the wars, while the old Alhambra Theatre, dating from 1854, also hosted dances for the jitterbug generation.

And references to Leicester Square ballrooms litter one of the greatest novels ever written about the patch: the dark, sad work by Patrick Hamilton – 20,000 Streets Under The Sky.

Hamilton’s hero Bob, the barman at the Midnight Bell off the Euston Road, is in love with Jenny, a prostitute.

Smitten, he ignores her lack of interest in him and instead just wants to chase her till she succumbs.

Despite her ill treatment of him, he accompanies her to dances in Leicester Square, where beer and whisky can be bought if you also buy a curly-edged sandwich. How times have changed.

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