Glass dines at Theo Randall restaurant in the InterContinental hotel London

 The InterContinental hotel group is celebrating seven decades of high-end hosting

CONCEIVED in the USA by a figure no less than Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the president of Pan Am at the time, Juan Trippe the idea behind the InterContinental luxury hotel chain was born from a concern that Latin America needed development dollars. They needed to generate a thriving tourism industry and the financial benefits that often come with opening up to foreign visitors. So, in 1946 a year later than the first discussion about the plan, The Grande Hotel in Belém, Brazil was bought, the first of the now widely known luxury hotel chain Intercontinental (now InterContinental).

While the popularity of air travel increased, the world became a smaller place – in the travel sphere at least. The company grew rapidly acquiring a portfolio of properties in the 1940s and continuing throughout the ‘50s and ‘60s at equal pace. What began as one hotel in Brazil soon became the go-to brand for hotels throughout South America, the Caribbean, and was the first of its kind in Eastern Europe. Those who could spend on foreign travel wanted exciting adventures on shores unlike their own and this hotel brand paved the way for such exploration. A year after their first hotel opened in the USA, InterContinental unveiled their British bolthole in Park Lane, London.

InterContinental London Park LaneInterContinental Park Lane, London.

The restaurant on the ground floor of the InterContinental Park Lane, Theo Randall’s, is also celebrating a significant anniversary of 10 years this year. For the past decade the ex-River Cafe chef, whose restaurant is named after him, has kept the menu in tune with his Italian training from the celebrated Michelin-starred Hammersmith restaurant. With a refurbishment that’s light and bright – light woods are combined with polished stone and high eating tables for those wanting a more informal experience. The challenge of a lack of exterior windows must be a hard one for any interior designer but the redesign has given the space and menu a firm push forward.

 

InterContinental London Park LaneTheo Randall restaurant at the InterContinental, London Park Lane.

Glass visited the restaurant on a dark and gloomy December evening, so the light interior was warm welcome to the opposite outside. A summer evening will be the real challenge. Favourites from the menu were the fresh Devon crab salad – the flavour lifted with dandelion leaves – and we continued the West coast theme with Dorset blue lobster linguine.

 

InterContinental London Park LaneA dish on the menu at Theo Randall restaurant at the InterContinental, London Park Lane.

Over the years, the InterContinental portfolio has served a myriad of cultural figureheads including Audrey Hepburn, Martin Luther King, The Rolling Stones and Sir Elton John. And presently the hotel group’s current roster of star chefs include Gordon Ramsey at InterContinental Bordeaux – Le  Grand Hôtel, Theo Randall at InterContinental London Park Lane, Jason Atherton at InterContinental Dubai Marina and 2015’s “world’s best chef” Pierre Gagnaire, at ANA InterContinental Tokyo.

To celebrate their seven decades of service InterContinental has published figures of the work that goes into hosting on such a global scale. In just one year, this includes 80 million meals, 27 million pastries, half a million bottles of champagne are popped and no less than 400kg of honey produced. Creating a luxury service on this scale requires a painstaking attention to detail and what must be buckets full of patience.

With the group’s boasting nine Michelin stars across its restaurants, and after 70 years in business, the InterContinental brand continue to maintain and better their own high standards.  Onwards then to the 27-plus million pastries that will be made this year.

by Stephanie Clair

Further information about the InterContinental group can be found here and booking and menu information for Theo Randall at the Park Lane property can be found here.