In the very heart of Varna, there is a small, cozy boutique hotel with 100 years of history and unique design. The unique appearance of the building, preserved to this day, ranks it among the recognized European architectural monuments. The hotel has 24 luxuriously furnished and tastefully furnished rooms, a cozy lobby bar with a garden, and a refined gourmet restaurant.
Arch. Dabko Dabkov is one of the big names in the architectural and construction past of Varna. He was born on January 21, 1875. in Tryavna. As a child, he arrived in Varna, where he studied at the Ferdinand I Men's High School. Higher academic education graduated with distinction in Munich, Germany in 1899. Returning to Bulgaria, arch. Dabkov became part of the most popular architects and engineers who adopted the achievements of the European architectural tradition, helping to build the new modern look of Varna. Among the most popular creations of the architect is the exclusive for his time the first grand hotel in Varna - Grand Hotel London, the Aquarium, the Turkish Bath, the Macedonian Home, the building of the Sofia Bank.
The monument to arch. Dabko Dabkov, who designed and participated in the construction of more than 200 iconic buildings in the sea capital, was opened on April 6, 2016, and is the work of sculpture Veselin Kostadinov. The figure of arch. The monument is located next to one of the most remarkable works of the architect - the Grand Hotel London.
The economic growth of the country and the good years of Europe since the beginning of the twentieth century, known as the “Belle Epoque”, provide a suitable environment for larger architectural projects. Thus, in 1906 the construction of the first grand hotel in Varna was started:
This is how 100 years ago Varna journalists covered an important event for the city. The opening of the first grand hotel in Varna is a moment in the city’s history, which is a kind of expression of the desire for Europeanization and modernization of the once soaring oriental spirit. Grand Hotel London was inaugurated on May 25, 1912, with a big celebration. For a long time, this is the most luxurious private building in Varna. However, few know what history is encoded behind the elegant facades of the building.
The official opening is part of a long series of events related to the building’s past. The Grand Hotel “London” was designed in 1906 by the famous Varna architect Dabko Dabkov. 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”. 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. Petar Antonov, the long-time butler of the Italian consulate Villa Asareto, has been appointed manager of the hotel.
On the first two floors of the hotel are formed two iconic Varna restaurants. The first-class restaurant “Elite”, which imports European cuisine and French wines, and the renowned cafe “London” with owner Damyan Angelov, quickly became the center of the intellectual and monetary elite of Varna. Among the famous notables stand out the names of arch. D. Dabkov, the diplomat Dimitar Stanchov and his wife Countess Anna Roz Carolyn Dolphin Josephine Françoise de Greno-Stanchova, Atanas Burov, arch. Stefan Venedikt Popov and others.
From the 1920s, the London Casino, comfortably furnished and having an orchestra with conductor Kosta Kirov, opened its doors 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.
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 are the names of Eng. Adolf Musman, Peter Danov, Eng. Hans Stefan and others. Few people know that on June 22, 1922, the Varna Chess Club was established in the London Cafe.
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. The fame of Varna in Western Europe as the “Slavic CULTURAL HERITAGE OF VARNA NOTICES OF THE UNION OF SCIENTISTS – VARNA 2014 164 Nice” contributes to increasing the flow of tourists.
In 1932 the hotel was advertised in the municipal tourist magazine “Varna-resort town”. In 1940, the City Omnibus Station was built in front of the hotel, which is a convenience for hotel guests who now have the opportunity to travel comfortably to the more remote sights of Varna such as Aladzha Monastery, the resort “St. Constantine” and the area “Dikili Tash ”(Pobiti kamani).
World War II (1939-1945) dealt a severe 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. Grand Hotel London has been nationalized, and much of the furniture has been requisitioned 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.
The text uses material from the Varna local historian Hristian Oblakov and his material “THE FIRST VARNA GRAND HOTELS”