History of the
The hotel industry has been a significant part of this area of Kensington since its early transformation from agricultural to urban land during the 1860s.
Henry Browne Alexander, owner of the Alexander Estate of which this land was a part, had included a hotel within his early development plans of the Estate.
The opening of the Gloucester Road tube station in 1868, supported the development of the adjacent Bailey’s Hotel in 1875, which in turn catalysed the conversion of eighteen grand houses into fourteen hotels, defining the residential and hotel mix that still exists today.
Between 1929 and 1939, the trend of converting existing 1870s grand houses continued, no longer to hotels but to private apartments.
The effects of modern transport continued to shape this part of Kensington significantly. In 1957 the West London Air Terminal opened on the North Side of Cromwell Road, to facilitate a remote city-based terminal to Heathrow Airport.
Grand Metropolitan Hotels bought the Freeholds of the properties that bordered Ashburn Square Gardens with the intention of building a two-tower hotel, with linked access to the air terminal over Cromwell Road. This plan was granted conditional planning permission in 1963, but was never built. These properties later became the site of the present Kensington Forum Hotel.