Town mouse on London in the 1960s

Next month, the Carlton Tower Hotel, on Cadogan Place, will be 50 years old. It was the first of London’s modern hotels, and must have seemed the height of sophistication in a smoke-blackened city that was still recovering from the Second World War.

The Hotel Corporation of America, which ran it, was self-evidently American, at a time when the dollar was strong and American living standards enviably high. Beef was served in the Rib Room, to diners not very long released from the privations of rationing.

The Carlton Tower formed part of a grand vision for Sloane Street, hatched by the 7th Earl Cadogan, whose Cadogan Estate owned the freehold. It would have been entirely redeveloped, according to the planning ideas of the 1960s; few readers will be sorry it wasn’t carried through. Still, most of the remaining houses built by Henry Holland, including those on the site of the Carlton Tower, went.

Holland, a developer as well as an architect, began building Hans Town, as the area was called after Sir Hans Sloane, in the 1770s. He did well out of it. Hans Place effectively became the front garden of his own house, the Pavilion, the name echoing the Royal Pavilion he built for the Prince of Wales in Brighton. There were 16 acres of garden: not so bad for the son of a builder.