In 1906, the construction of the first grand hotel for Varna was started:
“The new Hotel London. The newly built five-floors London Hotel of Mr. Suzmeyan’s building has now been opened to the public. Needless to say, what need is filled in in Varna with the opening of this hotel. It is noticeable, however, that in Varna there were also people who did not feel sorry for either labor or means to create something modern. Huge amounts of money have been spent on furniture at this hotel. All its rooms are sumptuously furnished with soft furniture, spring beds, and the most selected mats. The contents have created from him a fully exemplary European hotel, which will undoubtedly keep many guests during the season, people who have so far escaped the inconveniences and costly in various lodgings and unclean hotels. The new hotel is named London and because it is in the city center, we have no doubt that it will work well, all the more so because the prices in it are not higher than those in the other hotels.” 21, 26 May 1912.
Thus, more than 100 years ago, the Varna print editions reflected an important event for tourism for the city. The opening of the first grand hotel in Varna is a moment in urban history, which is a kind of expression of the desire for Europeanization and modernization of the urban space in Varna.
The Grand Hotel “London” was opened on May 25, 1912. The official opening is part of a long series of events related to the building’s past.
Architect and owner
The Grand Hotel “London” was designed in 1906 by the famous Varna architect Dabko Dabkov. This name is too unknown to modern Varnas. Dabko Dabkov was born in Tryavna in 1875. Since 1906, work in private practice has carried out over 350 projects, most preserved to this day, and with the status of architectural monuments. Among the most representative buildings of arch. The Aquarium, the Varna Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Grand Hotels “London” and “Massala” and many others stand out.
The owner of the Grand Hotel “London” is the famous Varna trader and entrepreneur Parsec G. Suzmeyan. He is also the owner of the first Varna commercial house, known as “Paruche Market”.
Style and architecture
The hotel’s design has a modern look for its time. Arch. Dabkov forms two facades – small with a face of Blvd. “Prince Boris I” and a large one, looking at today’s pl. Musala. Rich and impotent is the decoration of the building. Elements of the French Baroque prevail, elegantly interpreted by the modern section of the session. Mascarons, carts, garlands, and hisses are only part of the plastic details used. The massive and representative front door, marquis type, also makes an impression. The Attica of the hotel is a kind of signature in the architecture of the designer Dabkov. Wavy curves symmetrically form the climax of the building.
In rough construction, the building was completed in the summer of 1911. Central heating is built and access to hot and cold water is provided in each room. The first elevator in the city is also installed here.
The hotel was completed in April 1912. And on May 25, 1912, the hotel officially opened its doors. In front of the central façade is formed piazza of the carriages, and in the 1920s car taxis appeared.
Symbol of the city
Many foreign guests have stayed here. Grand Hotel “London” quickly became one of the symbols of Varna, which often decorates postcards, photographs, and advertisements. For a long time, it was one of the tallest buildings in the city. The location of the building is key, as, in the past, Preslav is the main urban artery through which tourists arriving by steamer or train pass.
A colorful picture of nationalities were the guests of the hotel. The name “London” implies the presence of English tourists, but mainly germans stayed in the hotel. Among the famous guests stand out the names of Eng. Adolf Wasman, Petar Deunov, Eng. Hans Steffan et al.
With the outbreak of the wars for national unification between 1912 and 1918, the hotel experienced a difficult time. The ensuing post-war crisis further complicates the development of the tourist case. But thanks to the successful management mandates of the mayors Nikola Popov, Petar Stoyanov, Dimitar Kondov, etc. the city is overcoming the crisis. Moreover, prerequisites are created for the development of the resort base.
World War II (1939-1945) had another heavy blow to the tourism industry. This is due to the sharp decline of tourists to the city during the period. And on September 8, 1944, the Red Army occupied Varna. The advent of the so-called guerrilla squads in public and private buildings helps to loot them. The Grand hotel London was nationalized, and much of the furniture was looted by private individuals. Repression also began against Parsec Suzmeyan, arch. Dabkov and Damian Angelov.
In the 1950s, the hotels “Massala” and “London” were merged under the direction of a state-owned enterprise “Balkantourist”. In connection with the expansion and construction of the resorts “Druzhba” and “Golden Sands”, the flow of tourists deviates and the glory of the Grand Hotel “London” remains as an echo of the past.
The political changes in Bulgaria since 1989 put an end to the Balkan tourist enterprise. This, in turn, enables the London Hotel to restore its name and past glamour. That’s what happens. In 2004 the hotel was reopened initially under the name “Musala Palace”, and to date, it has been renamed “London”. A century after its opening, the Grand Hotel “London” is once again a symbol of Varna.