It was once one of London’s most storied hotels. Built in the East London neighborhood of Shoreditch by the Brothers Barry—Edward and Charles, Jr., who designed a number of 19th century English icons, including the Houses of Parliament—the Great Eastern Hotel opened in 1884. It was constructed on a storied site, the infamous former home of the Bethlehem Royal Hospital, also known as “Bedlam,” Britain’s first hospital for the mentally ill.
Over the years, the stylish, Gothic, red-brick hotel housed various luminaries, both real and fictional—including Van Helsing, Bram Stoker’s intrepid vampire hunter, who resided here in Stoker’s first Dracula novel. Postcards were produced of the hotel’s façade. Sea water was transported by train, so guests could enjoy healing salt-water baths.