Emma Anderson

DPhil in Architectural History


The hotel de luxe: the social and architectural significance of the grand hotel in London in the late Victorian and Edwardian period.

Research abstract

The grand hotel, or hotel de luxe, was a new metropolitan building type that developed in the latter part of the 19th century. Constructed in London, a "world city" at the heart of the Empire, these purpose built hotels were located close to sites of social exchange, entertainment and consumerism. All were designed to fulfil the demands of a new clientele, requiring luxury, service and convenience.

In fulfilling these demands, the luxury hotel business developed a number of features that came to be essential. Principal among these were venues centred around the public consumption of food and drink. Employing large numbers of male and female staff from all ove the world, hotels incorporated modern technology in the provision of service and comfort, whilst referring to an idealised aristocratic past. These were hybrid spaces - public and private, neither wholly commercial nor domestic,  where the importance of the female client, both as consumer and commodity, was acknowledged. 

In these buildings, spatial, material and cultural choices produced a new cosmopolitan idiom.


Dr Claire O'Mahony


I commenced my DPhil in October 2012, having completed my MSc in Historic Conservation at Oxford Brookes in September 2010. My dissertation, for which I won the IHBC Gus Astley Prize in 2011, was on the Reconstruction of Listed Buildings after Catastrophic Destruction. 

Research interests

Luxury, Theatres, 20th century design, urban design