Is 'The Halcyon' Hotel Real? The Show's Central Hub Is Deeply Rooted In Actual History
Ovation's British import, The Halcyon, harkens back to an era past, reimagining the sex, secrets, and scandals that fueled London society at the outset of World War II. Its namesake is a swanky, extravagant hotel where its aristocratic owners mingle with a revolving door of wealthy clientele and colorful support staff. But as alluring as its ensemble cast may be, the first question on viewers' minds will likely be whether or not the Halcyon hotel is real, given that it plays such a central role in the show.
And technically, it is. There's an upscale hotel named The Halcyon in Denver, Colorado, but the series looked closer to home for its hotel inspiration. According to the Radio Times, much of The Halcyon was shaped around The Savoy, one of London's most celebrated landmarks. Having opened in 1889, it was Britain’s first luxury hotel, and has been host to famous guests including Oscar Wilde, Marilyn Monroe, The Beatles, and Frank Sinatra. Also among The Halcyon's influences are The Ritz — a 1906-erected manor billed as "the finest 5 star luxury hotel in Piccadilly"—and The Goring, a family owned Edwardian hotel that's been around since 1910. All three have rich histories within the 1940s: The Savoy had high-end air raid shelters, and both British statesman Winston Churchill and French general Charles de Gaulle were known to lunch there; The Ritz served as a temporary home for displaced royals including the Queen of the Netherlands, the Kings of Norway and Denmark, and the Albanian royal family; and The Goring lodged 150 Polish officers and soldiers.
As for the actual hotel depicted in The Halcyon, however, it's strictly studio magic. Executive producer Sharon Hughff (EastEnders, Strike Back) told The Hollywood Reporter that the team did look for a possible real hotel to shoot at — from Liverpool to Manchester and Dublin — but ultimately decided on a studio space in London. The exterior shots are of London's Land Registry Building, while the interiors are filmed at the West London Film Studio and an on-location restaurant. As Hughff told the outlet:
"There isn’t really just the perfect hotel anywhere that’s just lying vacant. They all are quite interesting buildings, but nothing that would have suited us. We had so many conversations. You have an exterior that is this huge facade, and then you get in and it sort of looks like a B&B in Torquay ... Everything has to feel grand. So we built this. It has to be that big, because it has to be a five-star hotel in London."
But what the physical hotel lacks in authenticity, it makes up for with history. Per The Sun, hotels akin to the Halcyon became central hubs during WWII — a place for spies, politicians, and other blue bloods to take shelter from the ongoing bombings and continue their lives of privilege unbound. There, anyone able to afford it could indulge in the same sort of fine dining and posh affairs they'd enjoyed before any chaos struck. And according to star Jamie Blackley, who plays Lord Hamilton's son and heir, Freddie, it does feel quite real. As he told Radio Times:
"If you woke up on this set you’d think you were in a real hotel. It’s incredible. It’s so beautiful with lots of little details. You can go upstairs and you have the corridors and rooms. The royal suite is really beautiful. It’s like a different world. I’ve nearly fallen asleep on one of the beds. I also love the kitchen. It’s so intricate with all of the equipment."
So, while The Halcyon may be fictional per se, the hotel — and the story — are rooted in real life. See for yourself when The Halcyon premieres on Ovation Oct. 2 at 10 p.m. ET.