From London to Beverly Hills: The Fascinating History of Hilton Hotels

101 years of hilton hotel

Hilton Hotel History, 1919 Conrad Hilton founded the first Hilton in Cisco Texas, called The Mobley. His belief was that travel can make the world a better place. A Mantra the company has kept going ever since. 101 Years of Innovations

Random Acts of Hospitality

As part of the centenary celebrations, the Hotelier launched the “Random Acts of Hospitality”. Hilton Hotels launched its “Random Acts of Hospitality” campaign in 2019, with the goal of making people’s travel experiences more memorable and enjoyable. The campaign was a response to the findings that nearly 80% of Americans preferred experiences over material possessions.

The concept behind the campaign was simple: hotel staff would surprise guests with unexpected acts of kindness and generosity during their stay. This could be anything from free room upgrades and complimentary drinks to personalized welcome gifts and handwritten notes.

The campaign started with a focus on social media, where Hilton encouraged guests to share their experiences using the hashtag #RandomActsOfHospitality. This generated a lot of buzz and positive feedback, with many guests expressing their surprise and gratitude for the unexpected gestures.

The campaign was not just limited to guests but also extended to employees and the wider community. Hilton staff were also encouraged to perform random acts of kindness for each other and for members of their local community. For example, employees at the Hilton Anaheim Hotel volunteered at a local school and donated school supplies to children in need.

The Random Acts of Hospitality campaign was a huge success for Hilton, generating a lot of positive media coverage and social media engagement. It also helped to reinforce Hilton’s brand image as a company that values hospitality and customer satisfaction.

The campaign is ongoing, with Hilton continuing to surprise and delight guests and employees with unexpected acts of kindness. It serves as a reminder that small gestures can go a long way in creating memorable experiences and building customer loyalty.

Hilton Innovations a world of firsts

Hilton hotels where innovators of their time:

  • 1893 Bertha Palmer invented the Brownie cake in a hotel that became Chicago’s, Palmer House Hilton.
  • Air conditioning: Hilton was the first hotel company to introduce air conditioning in guest rooms in the 1920s.
  • 1927 Hotel Waco Hilton was the first Hilton to have running water and air conditioning.
  • 1931 The largest Hotel in the World, the Waldorf Astoria Art Deco Gloriana became part of the Hilton Fleet. It was the first to start room service.
  • Central reservation system: In the 1940s, Hilton introduced a centralized reservation system that allowed guests to book rooms across the country.
  • Hilton was the first hotel brand to introduce a multi-hotel reservations system, called the Hilton Reservations System, in the 1940s.
  • In 1973, Hilton introduced the first-ever central reservations system, which allowed guests to book rooms at any Hilton property through a central database.
  • In 1984, Hilton introduced the first-ever hotel loyalty program, called Hilton Honors, which rewarded guests for their loyalty with exclusive benefits and perks.
  • Digital key: In 2015, Hilton became the first hotel chain to offer a digital key that allowed guests to use their smartphones to check in and access their rooms.
  • In 2005, Hilton introduced the first-ever luxury lifestyle brand, called Conrad Hotels & Resorts, which offered a modern and sophisticated approach to luxury hospitality.
  • In 2014, Hilton launched the first-ever hotel room that could be controlled by guests’ smartphones, called Hilton Digital Key.
  • In 2019, Hilton became the first hotel brand to eliminate single-use plastic toiletry bottles across all of its properties worldwide.

World War 2

The Roosevelt Hilton, also known as The Roosevelt Hotel, is a historic hotel located in Midtown Manhattan in New York City. It first opened its doors on September 22, 1924, and has since become an iconic landmark in the city. The hotel was named after President Theodore Roosevelt and was designed by architect George B. Post & Sons. The hotel was initially constructed with 20 floors, but later expanded to 33 floors with a total of 1,015 rooms.

Throughout its history, The Roosevelt Hilton has played host to many notable events and figures. It served as the venue for the first Emmy Awards in 1949 and was also the location of the negotiations for the release of U.S. hostages in Iran in 1980. The hotel has welcomed a variety of famous guests, including the Beatles, Frank Sinatra, Muhammad Ali, and Joe DiMaggio. Today, The Roosevelt Hilton continues to attract guests from all over the world with its luxurious accommodations and prime location in the heart of New York City.

After World War 2, 1947, The Roosevelt Hilton in New York became the first hotel in the world to have Television sets in guest rooms.

Hilton Bartender created the Piña Colada drink

In 1954 Hilton bartender Ramón “Monchito” Marrero created the drink Piña Colada, Caribe Hilton in San Juan, Puerto Rico, after much work, the drink captured the essence of Puerto Rico.

In 1959, Queen Elizabeth II was honored with a dinner at The Conrad Hilton in Chicago, which is now called the Chicago Hilton. The hotel was one of the largest and most luxurious in the world at the time, and it was a fitting venue for the queen’s visit. The event was attended by many notable guests, including the then-governor of Illinois, William Stratton, and the mayor of Chicago, Richard J. Daley.

(linked from the Chicago public library)

From London to Beverly Hills: The Fascinating History of Hilton Hotels 1

Beverly Hilton and the first Annual Grammy Awards

The first Grammy Awards ceremony was held on May 4, 1959, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. The event was hosted by comedian Mort Sahl and honored musical achievements in the recording industry for the year 1958. The ceremony was attended by around 400 guests, including music industry professionals, record company executives, and musicians.

The awards were presented in 28 categories, including Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Album of the Year. The big winners of the night were Domenico Modugno and his song “Volare”, which won Record of the Year and Song of the Year, and Henry Mancini and his album “The Music from Peter Gunn”, which won Album of the Year. The first Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award was also presented to the famous composer and conductor, John Philip Sousa. The success of the first Grammy Awards ceremony led to the establishment of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, which organizes the awards show to this day.

The First Hilton Airport in San Francisco

The first airport Hilton, also known as the San Francisco Airport Hilton Inn, opened in 1959 in San Francisco, California. The hotel was strategically located close to the airport, which made it convenient for travelers who needed a place to stay before or after their flights. The hotel featured 117 rooms, a restaurant, a cocktail lounge, and a banquet room that could accommodate up to 500 guests.

The airport Hilton concept proved to be successful, and soon after the opening of the San Francisco location, several more airport Hiltons were opened in other cities across the United States. These hotels became popular among travelers and helped establish the Hilton brand as a leader in the hospitality industry. Today, Hilton has hundreds of airport hotels worldwide, offering convenient accommodations for travelers on the go.

Elvis Presley at the Hilton

Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll, had a long-standing relationship with Hilton Hotels. In fact, Hilton Hotels played a significant role in his career and personal life. Presley’s connection with the hotel chain began in 1956 when he stayed at the Hilton in Las Vegas during his early days as a performer. He would go on to perform more than 664 shows in Las Vegas, many of them at the Hilton.

In 1961, Presley starred in the movie “Blue Hawaii,” which was filmed on location at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort in Honolulu. The movie was a huge commercial success and helped to popularize Hawaii as a vacation destination. Presley’s association with the Hilton continued in the years to come. He performed at Hilton Hotels in many cities, including Las Vegas, New York, and Washington, D.C. In 1969, he staged his famous “comeback” concert at the International Hotel in Las Vegas, which was later renamed the Las Vegas Hilton in his honor. The concert was a huge success and marked a turning point in his career.

Presley’s personal life was also connected to Hilton Hotels. In 1967, he married Priscilla Beaulieu in a lavish ceremony at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas, which was owned by the Hilton at the time. The wedding was attended by many celebrities, including Sammy Davis Jr., Cary Grant, and Ann-Margret. The couple spent their honeymoon at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort, where they were given a suite that was decorated with flowers and fruit. Presley was known for his love of luxury and he certainly found it at the Hilton hotels where he stayed and performed.

1961 Elvis really had a Blue Hawaii, whilst filming, he stayed at the Hilton Hawaiian village throughout his visit.

John Lennon’s Song Imagine written at the Hilton

John Lennon’s iconic song “Imagine” is known around the world for its message of peace and unity. What many people may not know is that Lennon wrote the song while staying at a Hilton hotel in New York City in the early 1970s. According to legend, Lennon was inspired to write the song after seeing a sign with the word “Imagine” in the hotel’s lobby. He later said in an interview, “It just came to me. I thought of all the people, all the leaders, who had failed the people over the years. And I thought, ‘Imagine if they had done the right thing. Imagine if they had worked for the people instead of themselves.’ And that’s how the song came to be.”

Lennon was staying at the Hilton as part of his immigration battle with the US government. The hotel was one of several locations where he stayed during this time, as he was not allowed to leave the country while his case was being processed. “Imagine” went on to become one of Lennon’s most famous songs, and its message of hope and unity has resonated with people around the world for decades. The Hilton Hotel where Lennon wrote the song is now known as the New York Hilton Midtown, and it has become a destination for fans of the Beatles and John Lennon.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono 1969 hosted a Bed-in from the Presidential Suite Hilton Amsterdam during their Honeymoon.  John Lennon uses stationery from the Hilton New York to pen his song “Imagine”.

Reservation system called Hilton, 1973

Hilton pushed the technological envelope to be the first hotelier with a computerised reservation and reporting system called HILTON, in 1973. \

The first Cellphone call was made outside the New York Hilton by Martin Cooper in 1973

Elvis revisits Hawaiian Village during another shoot “Aloha From Hawaii concert”. The Hotel was called Ocean Tower, now known as Ali’I Tower.

The 1980s saw more sub-companies, inns, and international locations, and guest Loyalty programs.

In the 1990s, the Conrad Dublin is named one of the best hotels in the world. By the mid-nineties, the brand launched

The 1990s and the Golden Globes at the Beverly Hills Hilton

At the end of the 1990s, Hilton hosted the Golden Globes at the Beverly Hilton, where Angelina Jolie agreed that if she won an award, she would jump into the Beverly Hilton swimming pool. She followed through, still wearing a designer gown.

The new Millenium marked the hotel chain’s 1000th hotel open and by 2003 all hotels became connected to fast high-speed internet.

Films shot at the Hilton Chicago

  • Home Alone II
  • Little Fockers
  • U.S Marshals
  • Fugitive
  • My Best Friend’s Wedding
  • Unconditional Love
  • The Package
  • Love & Action in Chicago
  • Primal Fear
  • The Express
  • Road to Perdition

Save a Landmark Programme

In 2006 the hotelier received the ‘Save a landmark program’, preserve America presidential award. Making Hilton the first Hotel chain to be recognised by a US president for their preservation work. The award was given by G.W Bush

Six movies have been filmed at Hilton New York.

The Hilton New Identity

A new logo, new corporate identity, and the word worldwide is dropped (source: under consideration). Around 2007, they placed the name Hilton before the city name in all hotel locations.

From London to Beverly Hills: The Fascinating History of Hilton Hotels 2
From London to Beverly Hills: The Fascinating History of Hilton Hotels 3

President Barack Obama in 2008 gave his landmark acceptance speech in front of the Hilton Chicago hotel, over 8 news networks filmed the event from the hotel’s rooftop.

By 2010, the group counted 123 spas, making the chain one of the largest providers of Spas. A collection brand and lifestyle brand is launched called Curio, and Canopy.

In 2014 Times Square Hilton live-streamed a music concert on YouTube.

2018 – Hilton ranked as one of the best places to work

The Company exists in at least 113 countries and over six continents, with plans to reach further. Their innovation and interest in technology-enabled Hilton to be the first hotel to allow visitors to control certain parts of their accommodation with an app on their mobile phone “Connected Room”. This Mobile centric technology can also allow visitors to stream personalised Netflix programs to their rooms.

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