“NO BETTER ADDRESS!”
A BRIEF SOCIAL HISTORY OF THE HOTEL CECIL, TANGIER
Andrew Clandermond and Dr. Terence MacCarthy
Andrew Clandermond and Dr. Terence MacCarthy
On the Boulevard d’Espagne (recently renamed Boulevard Mohamed VI), Tangier, a crumbling somewhat eclectic façade of hybrid classical and Moorish architectural styles is all that remains to be seen of the Hotel Cecil, once one of the truly great Hotels of North Africa. For several decades it was patronized by members of European Royal Families, aristocrats, diplomats, high ranking military and naval offices, colonial bishops, artists and writers. Its long lost guest register was a veritable Almanach de Gotha of the Royal and noble families of the Belle Epoch and a Who’s Who of the rich and famous (see Appendix One). The Cecil was, to Tangier, what the Hotel Danelli is to Venice, Shepherd’s Hotel to Cairo, or the Pera Palace to Constantinople, a byword for elegance, sophistication and discretion! Quite simply there was no better address for visitors to the White City to stay at.
Although the Continental Hotel, built in the 1865, claims to have been Tangier’s first the Cecil might, perhaps, with some justification, claim an at least equal precedence, for the newspaper report of its inauguration, printed in Al-Moghreb Al-Aksa on February 25th 1899,
makes it clear that it had merely replaced an earlier building: “The inauguration of the Hotel Cecil, situated on the beach, took place on Saturday evening. The building which was formerly occupied by Senor Recio’s Universal Hotel has been thoroughly reconstructed and the newly fitted hotel is under the able management of Mr. John Sacone.” (1)
From the moment it opened its doors the Cecil was considered the best hotel in the city. In advertisements it was described as: “A first class modern hotel, built expressly for the purpose, situated in its own grounds on the grand beach, five minutes walk from the pier, in the centre of the new town, and has splendid views of the Straits and surrounding countryside. Commodious and well ventilated rooms with the latest sanitary arrangements. Suites of rooms with private bath, toilet and w.c. Spacious Dining, Drawing, Reading and Billiard Rooms. Electric light throughout. Bathrooms on every floor. Large terraces, kiosk, lawn tennis court. Motor-bus meets all steamers.” (76)
Given such facilities the Cecil was a success au commencement! Tangier, which was becoming a fashionable winter resort almost rivaling Monte Carlo, was increasingly attractive to fashionable and rich traveler who sought winter-sun in a more exotic setting than the Cote d’Azur. Once an hotel had established a reputation amongst that class for luxury, comfort and a certain discretion its’ fortune was assured. Just how rapidly the Cecil acquired such a reputation is underlined by the fact that within a year of opening it counted H.R.H. Prince Henri d’Orleans, among its guests (2). Prince Henri d’Orleans (1867-1901) was the son of H.R.H. Prince Louis Philippe, Duc d’Orleans, and the grandson of His Majesty King Louis-Philippe I of the French. A distinguished traveler and explorer he discovered the source of the Irrawaddy and was the recipient of the gold medal of the Geographic Society of Paris in 1890. He died, unmarried, a few months after leaving Tangier, at Saigon on August 9th 1901.
The very fact that Prince Henri had been a guest in the Cecil gave it an undeniable cachet in high Society, and this is borne out by the fact that for several decades the hotel was patronized by the bluest blood of Europe (see Appendix One). In 1907, for example, the guests included H.R.H. Princess Margaret Mathilde of Saxony (1863-1933), the daughter of His Majesty King George I of Saxony, and sister of King Friedrich-August III. Her visit was eagerly reported in Al Moghreb Al-Aksa in the April 6th 1907 issue: “Her Royal Highness Princess Margaret Mathilde, sister of His Majesty the King of Saxony, and suite, arrived this morning from Seville, via Algeciras, for a short stay at the Hotel Cecil. Her Royal Highness was received at the pier by His Excellency Dr Rosen, German Minister, and other members of the Imperial German Legation.” (55). Exactly one week later Her Highness Princess Schronburg of Saxony also reserved rooms in the Cecil (56), as did several Spanish Grandees, the Marques de Lerta and the Conde del Fresno (57) and the Marques and Marquesa de Almodovar (58). It is not unlikely that the German Princesses’ visits to the White City had been inspired, at least in part, by the Emperor William II of Germany’s dramatic, politically motivated, saber rattling visit to Tangier the preceding year.
The very fact that the Cecil was patronized by people of such high status in European aristocratic Society had the effect of popularizing the hotel among their peer group. Diplomats were equally keen to use the hotel’s facilities. Just over a year after Prince Henri d’Orleans visit, in June 1901, the French residents of Tangier chose the Cecil as the venue for an early version of the cocktail party. It was given in honour of their Ambassador: “On Monday night a ‘punch d’honneur’ was offered by the French residents to His Excellency Monsieur Révoil, which was also attended by Rear-Admiral Caillard, the officers of the two French cruisers in port, and the personnel of the French Legation. The kiosk of the Hotel Cecil, were the refreshment was served was decorated with French Flags, flowers and green foliage, and the band of the cruiser Pothau played at intervals. Patriotic speeches of congratulations and a hearty farewell were given to the Minister, and responded to by His Excellency (14). The early twentieth century, when almost all of the European powers were monarchies, was an era during when many diplomats were coincidentally aristocrats, as exemplified by His Excellency the Duque de Tovar, Grandee of Spain and that country’s Ambassador to the Holy See, who was a guest at the Cecil in May 1908 (61).
Even the representatives of the world’s brashest and most proselytizing republic, the United States of America, were enchanted by the Cecil. In August 1902 no less a worthy than Mr. James M. S. Langerman, who was on a diplomatic mission to persuade the Sultan of Morocco to participate at the St. Louis World Fair, booked into the hotel. His arrival was eagerly reported in Al-Moghreb Al-Aksa: “Mr. James M. S. Langerman, Vice-Consul General of the United States of America, and Commissioner General of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, accompanied by Mrs. Langerman, arrived here last Thursday and are staying at the Hotel Cecil.” (31). In a follow-on report published in the same journal in December 1902 its readers learned that: “Mr. Langerman was received by His Majesty the Sultan on Monday evening the 8th instant at the Shereefian Camp, near Fez, whence he was escorted by 20 horsemen expressly sent for that purpose. Mr. Langerman has been commissioned to obtain His Majesty’s consent to have a proper exhibit of Moroccan products, arts, industry, etc., at the Louisiana Exhibition. We understand that he is quiet confident of the final success of the Moroccan session in the magnificent World’s Fair.”(35).
Mr. Langerman finally booked out of the Cecil in January 1904: “confident that the Moroccan section in the St. Louis Exhibition will constitute the best foundation for future commerce between the United States and Morocco, thus strengthening the ties of friendship and cordial relations happily existing between the two countries.” (35). It was as well that the hotel boasted its own stable block for the departing diplomat took with him “four beautiful Barbary horses he lately bought from Fez, three of which, with magnificent saddles, were presented to him by His Majesty the Sultan.” (35). Perhaps it was Langerman who recommended the Cecil to his compatriot and fellow politician, Congressman the Hon. W. Burke Cochran, who booked into the hotel in May 1906 (52).
Langerman’s diplomatic mission, to encourage the Sultan to authorize Moroccan participation at the St. Louis World fair, was indicative that, like it or not, the Shereefian Empire was about to undergo forcible modernisation. The French government had already embarked upon a policy of ‘political penetration’ or, more accurately, a creeping economic colonization which culminated, in 1912, in the country being effectively partitioned into French and Spanish ‘protectorates’. It is interesting to speculate whether Langerman met a certain Monsieur Hermand, a shadowy individual, perhaps an agent of French intelligence, who was very much to the fore in realizing the political objectives of the Third Republic. We know, from an entry in Al-Moghreb Al-Aksa, that he was actually a guest at the Cecil during Langerman’s stay, and it is entirely possible that he accompanied the Vice-Consul on his visit to Fez: “Monsieur Hermand, a French electrical engineer, who lately returned from Fez, is staying at the Hotel Cecil, and will shortly proceed to Rabat on a commission to establish wireless telegraphy in this country.” (34).
An as yet unresolved question is whether or not Sir Winston Churchill, K.G., was once a guest at the Cecil. In April 1901 the AL-MOGHREB AL-AKSA referred to a ‘Mr. Churchill’ who had just booked into the hotel (6). Elected as the Member of Parliament for Oldham in 1900, parliament would have been in recess for the Easter holiday in April 1901, the very period of the mysterious Mr. Churchill’s visit to the hotel. Unfortunately, as neither the guests Christian-name not initials were published, it is impossible to establish if this entry is a reference to Britain’s famous World War II Prime Minister or not. However, considering other factors, political as well as social, he may well have been. Churchill was keenly interested in the ‘Moroccan Question’, and particularly in the French, Spanish, and Kaiser William II’s colonial designs on the country, which threatened Gibraltar and hence British Naval supremacy in the Mediterranean! He might well have paid a low-key visit to Tangier, the better to access the political situation. Churchill was also a friend and pupil of Sir John Lavery, the Irish society painter, who was certainly a patron of the Cecil in 1906 (48, 50). Furthermore Sir Winston made several later trips to Tangier during the late 1940s and 1950s when he was a client of the Hotel Rif, a few hundred yards distance from the Cecil which, by then, had ceased to be considered fashionable. On balance it is entirely possible that Sir Winston Churchill was infact one of the Cecil’s earliest patrons.
The Cecil also attracted painters and writers of some repute, of the former the most notable was the great Irish portrait painter, Sir John Lavery (1856-1941), R.A., R.H.A., R.S.A., who was a guest, twice, in 1906, immediately preceding and following his famous painting trip to Fez (48, 50). Another British artist of some standing who patronized the hotel was George Owen Wynne Apperley (1884-1960), R.I. (23) as did the great Spanish Orientalist painter, Mariano Bertuchi (1884-1955), who founded L’Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Tetouan (15). Both were guests in 1901. A year earlier the noted British writer and Moroccan historian and fluent Arab speaking Mr. Budget Meakin was one of the first clients of the Cecil (3) as indeed was an even more bizarre character, Mr. Walter Burton Harris F.S.A.
Born in London in 1866, the second son of Frederick Waler Harris, D.L., J.P., a wealthy Quaker ship owner, and educated at Harrow he was a friend of Oscar Wilde and the Godfather of Cyril Wilde, the playwright’s eldest son. Walter Harris settled in Tangier in 1886, anxious to escape from the Victorian moralizing of London Society. His attraction to Tangier must, at least in part, have been due to the indulgent sexual mores of the Moors. His own unconventional sexual practices would certainly have attracted less criticism in the moral morass of the White city’s expatriate colony than they would in Mayfair or Belgravia. Even so, several contemporary sources state that he once so mistreated a Negro boy servant that the unfortunate child died of his injuries.
In 1898, Harris married Lady Mary Saville, daughter of the 4th Earl of Mexborough. Unsurprisingly it was neither a happy nor a fruitful union and the marriage was dissolved in 1906 on the grounds of non-consummation. The embarrassing detail that Harris had taken refuge on top of a wardrobe on their wedding night in order to avoid his wife’s physical advances was widely reported by several London newspapers including THE TIMES which employed him as a journalist!
Reputedly a British spy, Harris was a friend of King Edward VII, and the author of numerous articles on Morocco, many of which were published by the Royal Geographical Society, and several travel logs including THE LAND OF AN AFRICAN SULTAN, TRAVELS IN MOROCCO (1888) and MOROCCO THAT WAS (1921). Noted for his refined taste in Moroccan architecture he built the ‘Villa Harris’ at Malabatta from which he was abducted in 1903 by the notorious Moroccan brigand Molay Ahmed El Raisuli. Held captive for three weeks, on his release he abandoned his isolated Villa in favour of a suite of rooms in the Hotel Cecil.
The Billiards and Games Room of the Hotel Cecil, 1900
Situated within sight of the Rock of Gibraltar, the most important naval base of the British Empire in the Mediterranean, Tangier was a favoured resort of the garrison officers, colonial administrators and their wives (see Appendix 1). Even the most perfunctory examination of guest lists published in Al-Moghreb Al-Aksa will immediately confirm that the officers were traveling in organized parties. For example in the two-week period between the end of July and mid August 1901 Major Rankin, Captains Cave, Betty, Gamble, Whitloch, Zaras, and Lieutenants James, Fanchawe, and Mortimer were registered as guests of the Cecil (18, 19, 20). The attraction was, of course, that Tangier offered a myriad of sporting attractions to young officers that were unavailable on the claustrophobic Rock, whether from Pig-sticking in the diplomatic forest, hunting with the Tangier Tent Club, bathing, tennis, and even polo.
Tangier also offered the opportunity for bored young officers to escape from the moral strait-jacket of garrison life on a desolate rock invested with prim, proper, puritanical and priggish middleclass females intent on policing their morals. And, alas, Tangier ladies were sometimes not as virtuous as they might have been. One of the hotel’s earliest guests, in 1901, was Mrs. DeVere MacLean (8), the first wife of Kaid, afterwards Sir, Harry Aubrey DeVere MacLean, K.C.G.B. Of an extremely swarthy complexion she had been born Catherine Coe, of mixed Gibraltarian and Irish ancestry. Rather unflatteringly nicknamed “the Negress” by her enemies, who were as doubtful of her racial as they were of her moral purity, she married MacLean in 1882. In 1905 their daughter, discovering her mother in bed with her own fiancé, a young Gibraltarian subaltern, placed a chair against the door, blocking their exit, and sent for her father. Faced with such indisputable proof of Mrs. DeVere MacLean’s blatant immorality he drove her from their home and immediately instituted divorce proceedings on the basis of what was then euphemistically called ‘criminal conversation’, which is to say adultery! Mrs. DeVere MacLean accordingly had the very dubious ‘honour’ of becoming the first member of Tangier’s British community to be divorced for immorality! Whether she had behaved with equal indiscretion with either of the young Officers who were her fellow guests that week at the Cecil, Captain Locke, R.A., Lieutenant R. Betts-Brown, R.A., is a matter of mere speculation, but, if so, doubtlessly she believed that she could rely on the discretion of the hotel management!
More senior Officers and their wives were equally delighted to escape the stiff, stultifying, parochial colonial society of Gibraltar in order to enjoy the raffish charms of the White City’s notoriously eccentric expatriate society. General Sir Wilsone Blacke, K.C.B., and Lady Black, and General Nicholson made multiple visits to the Cecil (24, 25, 27, 30 60) which was also patronized by high raking Naval Officers including Vice-Admiral Sir Hugh Tooting and Lady Tooting, and Admiral Sir Reginald Hall and Lady Hall (69, 83). Gradually the Cecil acquired somewhat the character of a British club, albeit one decorated ‘a la Raj’ rather than ‘a la St. James’! Indeed the hotel, as depicted in Edwardian period postcards, was furnished in the style of an exclusive Indian Hill Station Club. Its drawing room, boasted numerous, comfortably upholstered, cushion covered sofas, rosewood Islamic octagonal occasional tables, richly inlaid with complicated ivory or bone geometrical patterns, hanging enameled brass lamps, and walls decorated with crossed sabers and riffles, none of which interior decorators’ whimsies would not have looked at all out of place in the smarter clubs at Simla or Ootacamund, but then much of what we tend to consider ‘Raj’ or ‘Moghol style’ is essentially Arabic in derivation.
For more than two centuries the British military class has been closely associated with the Freemason movement and thus, given that the Cecil had acquired the character of a military club, it is hardly surprising that the hotel played an important role in the establishment of Freemasonry in Morocco. There had been an earlier attempt, in 1882, to found a Lodge in Tangier. According to a brief article in THE ILLUSTRATED LONDON NEWS the Al-Moghreb Al-Aksa Lodge was established in that year in the White City by two Muslims, three Jews, four Spanish Roman Catholics (who were automatically excommunicated from their Church), and several English and Canadian Protestants resident in Gibraltar! The Lodge appears to have failed within a decade for in 1902 a second and more successful attempt was made to constitute a Tangier Lodge. According to an article published in AL-MOGHREB AL-AKSA on August 23rd 1902: “A large number of Freemasons arrived this afternoon by the S.S. Gibel Tarik for the purpose of the consecration of a lodge S.C at the Hotel Cecil.” (32). It was typical of the discretion of the hotel management, and the anonymity preserved by Freemasons, that the guest list was not published in that week’s edition of the local newspaper!
If Freemasonry may be considered a sort of pseudo religion of ‘occultist universalism’ the Cecil was no less popular with more bona fide clergymen (see Appendix 1). According to an article published in AL-MOGHREB AL-AKSA on December 2nd. 1905, the Rt. Reverend Dr Collins, Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe arrived in Tangier “aboard His Majesty’s Torpedo Boat, No. 96” in order to consecrate the recently completed Saint Andrew’s Anglican Church. On the following afternoon “The Reverend and Mrs. More were ‘at home’ at the Hotel Cecil on Monday afternoon when a large number of the British community was invited to meet the Lord Bishop of Gibraltar. From 4.30 p.m. a constant stream of visitors arrived, everyone being evidently anxious to take the rare opportunity afforded them of meeting together. Mr. and Mrs. Moore, with the Bishop, received their guests in the Drawing Room, where each of them was introduced to his Lordship who charmed everyone with his kindly and gracious manner, and contributed so very much to the success and enjoyment of the afternoon.” (45). Among the guests were some of the most significant figures in British expatriate society including Lady Kirby-Green, widow of Sir William Kirby-Green, K.C.M.G., British Minister to Morocco (1886-1891) and the British Consul Mr. H. E. White (45).
The elegance of the Cecil made it a very desirable venue for social events. According to Philip Abensur, ‘TANGIER ENTRE ORIENT ET OCCIDENT’, 2009, at a banquet given in the hotel by the Commission of Hygiene (a body which subsequenly developed into the Legislative Council of the Tangier International Zone) the lavish menu included: “Soup a la tète de veau, mayonnaise de poison, filet de bœuf aux champignons, asperges au beurre fondu, dinde farcie rôtie, haricots vert à la française, pommes de terres nouvelles, salade de saison, glace à la vanille, biscuits dessert, café, liqueurs”! Doubtlessly it was the skill of the hotel’s chefs which made its’ restaurant one of the most popular in Tangier. A glowing report published in THE TANGIER GAZETTE on December 24th 1924 certainly stressed the delights of dining à la Cecil: “The excellent fare offered by the Hotel Cecil on Christmas Day encouraged several people to give dinner parties there. Over 60 people sat down to dinner which was accompanied by much laughter and fun. The evening ended with a dance which was very well attended and much enjoyed. The Hotel was splendidly decorated and the large fires and tastefully shaded lights helped to produce a very charming effect.” (95).
Several prestigious local societies including the British Chamber of Commerce (77), the Drag Hounds (96) and the Tangier Hunt (97) patronized the Cecil. Perhaps the Swansong of its heyday as the city’s most fashionable hotel was the Hunt Ball which it hosted in April, 1930: “Last Tuesday night at the Cecil Hotel a Hunt Ball was given as the coming out party of the newly formed Hunt Club, and partly as a means for collecting funds for the maintenance of the Tangier Hounds, which have hitherto been supported by private subscription only. The Drawing Room of the Hotel was cleared for dancing, and as was most appropriate, hung with bridles, polo sticks, etc., and a few saddles were variously disposed about the room. Music was dispensed by a string orchestra who played extraordinarily well, not only the Fox Trot and Waltzes, but also Paul Jones and Strip the Willow, both of which dances proved to be very good fun and greatly enjoyed. An appetizing selection of cakes and sandwiches were laid out in the dining room with cup of two kinds to wash them down. The ball finished at One, rather an early hour seemingly for Tangier, but this time was fixed out of consideration for those who were going out Pig-sticking camp on the following day. A most successful show and very well attended by the English colony as well as certain officers from H.M.S. Tourmaline and H.M.S. Splendid anchored in the Bay” (97). Ominously, for the future of the Cecil, the same edition of THE TANGIER GAZETTE which reported the Hunt Ball carried an advertisement which announced the forthcoming opening of the Hotel El Minzah (98).
Two events which occurred almost simultaneously augured the rapid eclipse of the Cecil as Tangier’s leading hotel, the first was the opening the Lord Bute’s luxurious El Minzah, and the second, no less important, was a change in management. Although, at the time, the latter event might have seemed much the less important of the two, the editor of THE TANGIER GAZETTE had some inkling of its real import and clearly foresaw the potential damage it might cause: “October 18th 1930, It is with great regret that we hear that Mr. and Mrs. O’Brien are leaving the Cecil Hotel this week. Mrs. O’Brien has for so many years done so much to make the Hotel a success that it will require a strong personality to retain the position. We understand that Senor Don Marchena is to act as director, La Senora Marchena being the heiress of the late Mr. Eugene Chapory.” (99).
It is impossible to discover eighty years after this event why the efficient Mr.O’Brien and his socially popular wife resigned as directors of the Cecil after “many years”, but one might posit that they were ‘head-hunted’ by the Bute family! There is evidence to suggest this. In 1923 “Lord Crighton Stuart, M.P.,”( more properly Lord Colum Crichton-Stuart, M.P., for Cheshire) the younger brother of the 4th Marquess of Bute, founder of the El Minzah, was listed as a guest at the Cecil (66). He undoubtedly met Mr. and Mrs. O’Brien and as, even then, his brother was planning the construction of the El Minzah, and noting just how professional and socially popular the couple was, he may have decided to poach them. What is indisputable is that within a few months of leaving the Cecil the O’Briens were appointed as directors of the Grand Hotel Villa Valentina, part of Bute’s Rentistica Group (105). Given the couple’s social skills and popularity, especially among the members of the British Colony, they were able to attract to the Villa Valentina the patronage of many of theCecil’s most valued customers and societies. Thus, for example, the Tangier Hunt Ball, in January 1932, was held not in the Cecil but at the Villa Valentina (103). The advertisements of the Valentina published in THE TANGIER GAZETTE made much of the fact that the hotel was under the management of “Mr. and Mrs. T. Q. O’Brien” (105).
Mrs. O’Brien seems to have been particularly well liked by Tangier Society and in press references to events held in the Valentina she was frequently singled out for praise: “April 23, 1932, a dance was given in aid of the funds for the Peoples’ Dispensary for Sick Animals at the Hotel Valentina on the 14th instant. It was a great success and much enjoyed by all present. The Committee of the P. D. S. A. desire to accord their warmest thanks to Mrs. O’Brien who organized matters so excellently.” (106). It was doubtless Mrs. O’Brien who gained for the Valentina the patronage of the British Women’s Association (107, 109, 117), Tangier Friends of Music (108), and the Oversea’s League (111). She seemed irrepressibly inventive in promoting the hotel even using her membership of the Tangier branch of the Tail-Waggers’ Club to do so: “We are informed that the Tail Waggers’ Club has already passed the half million mark on the British register. But there still exist another 3 million dogs in Great Britain that have not yet joined the Club. We wonder how many Tail-Waggers there are in Tangier? Mrs. O’Brien, the popular manageress of the Hotel Villa Valentina, has the distinction of her dog Ju Ju, bearing the sign No. 1 on its medal. The subscription to the Tail-Waggers’ Club is half a crown per annum per dog. Subscriptions may be sent to Mrs. O’Brien, c/o the Hotel Villa Valentina.” (115).
Mrs. O’Brien not only excelled in manipulating the local press but was also an intelligent business woman and innovative manageress. In December 1932, according to a report in THE TANGIER GAZETTE, a Boxing Day Ball was held at the Valentina “by the popular management, Mr. and Mrs. T. Q. O’Brien and the guests, who were many, came early and stayed late, and there was a general consensus that not for a long day had a jollier show been held in Tangier.” (110). Shortly thereafter she began to give Moorish Dinners at the hotel. The first of these, held in October, 1933 was attended by: “nearly 60 persons (who) took their seats – some with difficulty, for it is not easy to sit cross-legged when one has passed the first flush of youth! The ballroom had been tastefully arranged by Mrs. O’Brien with long divans having in front of them low tables on which the Moorish food was served . . . An additional touch of colour was given to an already bright and animated scene by the presence of a Moorish maiden dressed in all her resplendent robes. The dinner was followed by a dance in the ballroom, and the whole night’s entertainment was voted by all those present to be a great success.” (115). Continuing her triumph, the indefatigable Mrs. O’Brien gave another ball in March 1933 at which, “by kind permission of Rear-Admiral James, the band of H.M.S. Hood will play. Admission by invitation only.” (112).
The O’Briens proved so successful at the Valentina that in February 1934 they were appointed joint-managers of Lord Bute’s Grand Hotel Villa de France (118). By that date no reference to, or advertisement for, the Cecil had appeared in THE TANGIER GAZETTE since the O’Briens had left its employment. Their successors, the Marchenas, appear to have been complete business failures and social non-entities to boot. They no longer published the hotel’s guest list in the local press, a mistake the O’Briens did not make, carefully submitting the Valentina’s weekly to THE TANGIER GAZETTE (104), and relentlessly advertising the hotel’s facilities and their own management: “Grand Hotel Valentina. A first class All-British hotel, management Mr. and Mrs. T. Q. Brien, thoroughly modernized, all bedrooms fitted hot and cold water, rooms with private baths, self-contained suites, Moorish and English lounges, card room, large terrace, sheltered garden, billiards, ballroom, ping pong, tennis, the most attractive American bar in Morocco, excellent cuisine, open to non-residents.” (105)
Whilst the Cecil stagnated under the mismanagement of the Marchenas, the El Minzah went from strength to strength! It too proved innovative in the services it provided to its clients. In 1933 it opened an art gallery, under the management of Monsieur Marcel Levy, which held regular exhibitions (113, 114) and shortly thereafter it began to host weekly Sunday tea dances (116). Its partner hotel, the Villa de France, under the O’Briens, boasted a ladies’ hairdresser offering the “latest and best permanent waving, for One Pound One Shilling.” (113). (the equivalent of 150€ in today’s values).
By the mid 1930s the Hotel Cecil, which less than a decade earlier had counted His Serene Highness Prince Murat (81), the Marques de Hara (67), the Marquis and Marquise de Crequi-Montford (73), the Marquis de Mos (85), the Marques de Lazengren (72), the Marques de Pontejos (88) the Comte and Comtesse de Harcourt (85), the Conde de Barbate (82), the Comte de Pomeru (81), the Conde and Condessa di San Luis (74), the Marquis of Bute (66), the Earl of Airlie (85), the Earl of Selborne (66), Lord Killanin (82), Viscount Peel (82), Lady Malmesbury (84), Lady Munro (86), Lady de Roebeck (86), and the Baron and Baroness Aersen Beyern (90) amongst its’ clientele, had been completely eclipsed. From the departure of the O’Briens in October 1930 until December 1935 it failed to be mentioned even once in the columns of THE TANGIER GAZETTE. Neither was in mentioned in a survey of the selected years 1940, 1945, 1950 or 1955. Quite simply the Cecil simply ceased to exist so far as ‘International Society’ was concerned. However, on April 9, 1947, in an ironic twist, the British owned hotel, which had hosted many European statesmen through its doors, welcomed Sultan Mohammed V. He came to Tangier to make his historic speech at Grand Socco (now called Place du 9 Avril 1947) calling for Moroccan independence. Tragically, what had once been one of the great institutions of Tangier, the favoured venue for the ‘grande monde’, went into a prolonged decline from which it emerged, in the 1960s, as just another non-descript Tangier tourist hotel.
The following lists have been extracted from references published in AL-MOGHREB AL-AKSA between the opening of the Hotel Cecil in 1899 and 1908, and from THE TANGIER GAZETTE between 1923-1924 and 1930-1934.
|Sultan (later King) Mohammed V||1947|
|Rt. Hon. The Earl of Airlie||1924||85|
|Conde de Albis||1924||81|
|Marques de Almodovar||1907||58|
|Marquessa de Almodovar||1907||58|
|Conde de Barbate||1924||82|
|Baron de Bartouch||1908||62|
|Baron de Aersen Beyeren||1924||90|
|Baroness de Aersen Beyeren||1924||90|
|Baron de Brichanvant||1924||89|
|Lady Augusta Browne||1905||39|
|Baron de Burjania||1923||76|
|Sir Winston Churchill, K.G.?||1906||6|
|Hon. Miss Dashwood||1903||36|
|Conde del Fresno||1907||57|
|Rt. Hon. The Earl of Galway||1901||16|
|Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon||1924||80|
|Marques de Hara||1923||67|
|Comte de Harcourt||1924||85|
|Comtesse de Harcourt||1924||85|
|Lady Elizabeth Harris||1924||84|
|Baron de Hesent||1924||89|
|Baron de Hortega||1906||49|
|Baronesse de Hortega||1906||49|
|Hon. Mrs. Jorcey||1923||69|
|Rt. Hon. Lord Killanin||1924||82|
|Baron de Larnbea||1924||89|
|Sir John Lavery, R.A.,||1906||48, 50|
|Marques de Lazengren||1923||72|
|Marques de Lierta||1907||57|
|Conde de Lieyva||1924||88|
|Lady DeVere MacLean||1901||8|
|Comtesse de Menace||1923||70|
|Marquis de Crequi-Montford||1923||73|
|Marquise de Crequi-Montford||1923||73|
|Marquis de Mos||1924||85|
|H.S.H. Prince Charles Murat||1924||81|
|H.R.H. Prince Henri d’Orleans||1900||2|
|Rt. Hon. Viscount Peel||1924||82|
|Marques de Pontejos||1924||88|
|Comte de Pomereu||1924||81|
|Comtesse de Revenel||1907||53|
|Lady de Roebeck||1924||86|
|Marchioness de Sain||1907||53|
|Conde and Condessa de San Luis||1923||74|
|H.R.H. Princess Margaret of Saxony||1907||55|
|H.H. Princess Schronburg||1907||56, 58|
|Rt. Hon. The Earl of Selborne||1923||66|
|Countess of Selborne||1923||66|
|Sir William and Lady Smith||1923||71|
|Baron de Vos van Steenwyk||1907||59|
|Baroness de Vos van Steenwyk||1907||59|
|Lord Crighton Stuart||1923||66|
|Rt. Hon. Lord Teynham||1903||36|
|Duque de Tovar||1908||61|
|Visconde de la Vega||1902||34|
|Viscondessa de la Vega||1902||34|
|Comtesse de Villeneuve||1923||70, 75|
|Lady Wilbraham||19O5||39, 47|
|MILITARY OFFICERS OF THE RANK OF GENERAL|
|General Martinez Anido||1923||68|
|General R. F. J. Banfield, C.B.||1906||46|
|General Sir Wilsone Black, K.C.B||1901||27, 60|
|General Sir Reginald Gipps, G.C.B.||1907||54|
|General Gomez Jordana||1923||67|
|General Arsenio Linares||1901||22|
|General Sir Charles Munro||1924||86|
|General Nicholson||1901||24, 25, 30|
|Brig. General Rudkin||1924||85|
|NAVAL OFFICERS OF THE RANK OF ADMIRAL|
|Admiral Sir Reginald Hall||1924||83|
|Admiral E. Reeves||1923||75|
|Vice-Admiral Sir Hugh Toothill||1923||69|
|Lt. Colonel Ellis||1923, 1924||65, 79|
|Lt. Colonel Little||1908||63|
|Captain Locke, R.A.||1901||8|
|Lt. Colonel Newman||1923||70|
|Major Rankin||1901, 1902||19, 27|
|DIPLOMATS AND POLITICIANS|
|Dip. Agent Brambilla||1923||68|
|H.E. Ambassador Dearing||1924||87|
|Consul de Costa Freire||1903||38|
|Consul Col. MacKerath||1923||77|
|H.E. Ambassador Révoil||1901||14|
|Naval Attaché Sorela||1905||42|
|Lord Crighton Stuart, M.P.||1923||66|
|H.E. Ambassador Duque de Tovar||1908||61|
|AUTHORS, PAINTERS, ACTORS AND WRITERS|
|Owen W. Apperley, R.I.||1901||23|
|S. L. Bensusan||1903||36|
|R. B. Cunnighame-Graham||1906||48, 50|
|Archibald S. Forrest||1903||36|
|John Lavery, R.A., R.S.A., R.H.A.||1906||48, 50|
|Cesar González Ruano|
|Bishop Collins of Gibraltar||1905||45|
|Reverend J. Hacket||1902||30|
|Reverend J. A. Moore||1905||45|
A Social History of the Hotel Cecil, Tangier
THE JOURNAL AL-MOGHREB AL-AKSA, 1883 – 1908
EXTRACTS FROM THE TANGER GAZETTE, 1923-
GAP IN THIS JOURNAL DECEMBER 1924 to JANUARY 1930
NO GUEST LISTS PUBLISHED HEREAFTER FOR THE HOTEL CECIL.
END OF CONTINUOUS SEARCH OF TANGIER GAZETTE, DECEMBER 1935. THEREAFTER SAMPLE YEARS, 1940, 1945, 1950, 1955. NOTHING FOUND REFERRING TO HOTEL CECIL.
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Eldridge, Mona, In Search of a Prince, Sidgwick & Jackson, London, 1988.
Finlayson, lain, Tangier, City of the Dream, Harper-Collins, London, 1992.
Harris, Walter, East Again, Thornton & Butterworth, London, 1933. with a Foreword by Sir James M. Macleod on the life of Walter Harris.
Harris, Walter, Morocco That Was, Eland, London, 2000. with an Afterword by James Chandler on the life of Walter Harris.
Harter, Hugh, Tangier And All That, Passeggiata Press, Pueblo, CO., 1996.
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Stuart, Graham H., The International City of Tangier, Stanford University Press, California, 1931.
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Burke’s Irish Family Records, 1976.
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Burke’s Peerage, Baronetage & knightage, 1970.
The Concise Dictionary of National Biography, 1901-1970.
Debrett’s Peerage, Baronetage, Knightage and Companionage, 1935 & 1950.
The Dictionary of National Biography, 1903.
Livre D’Or du Maroc, 1934-4935.
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Al-Moghreb Al-Aksa, 1883-1908.
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