History & Heritageof The Majestic Hotel
A Yorkshire Spa
Harrogate’s spa credentials trace back to 1571, when William Slingsby brought Harrogate’s sulphurous water to the attention of Queen Elizabeth’s physician. The water from the Tewit Well was judged to be very similar to that found at the Wallonian town of Spa, and so English aristocrats were encouraged to visit the new English spa.
The grand Majestic Hotel was built in the 19th Century at the height of Harrogate’s fame and prosperity and was the first modern Victorian hotel built to accommodate Harrogate Spa’s growing popularity.
The Early Days
When it formally opened on 18 July 1900, the newly completed Majestic resembled a great railway station hotel, proving itself to be a roaring success. A new Kursaal, now the Royal Hall arts centre, was opened in 1903 just below The Majestic, with many of its guests going on to lodge at the lustrous hotel. However, disaster struck some 20 years later when the top floors of the hotel caught fire, costing over £50,000 to restore.
Victim Of War
The outbreak of WWII saw the Majestic requisitioned by the British government, who intended to move the Air Ministry up to Harrogate. Despite of this, the management of the hotel received permission to reopen for Christmas. Sadly though, war reached The Majestic on 12 September 1940, when three bombs struck the hotel which was targeted in the knowledge that it was occupied by the Air Ministry.
In the years before the First World War, Europe’s spas were frequented by royalty. Prince Henry of Prussia stayed at The Majestic while organising an Anglo-German car rally in Yorkshire, the extremely wealthy and extremely handsome Maharajah of Patiala was also a guest, as were a number of Russian grand duchesses.
A New Era
At the end of the Second World War, the Majestic received all necessary repairs and restoration, with the exception of The Winter Garden which fell victim to the blast. That aside, the fabric of the hotel has remained remarkably the same; Venetian chandeliers (now valued at £60,000 each) still hang in the Reading and Drawing Rooms and eight spa murals run the full length of the Great Lounge, as they did in the 1900s.