Most, if not all higher-end Hilton hotels have a restaurant and/or bar in them. Having an eatery (or drinkery…you see what I did there?) on site is actually one of the differences between a hotel and a motel (here are several more).
Sometimes a hotel’s food and/or beverage establishment will change on a regular basis. Rents go up, management isn’t great, etc. However sometimes a bar or restaurant that’s attached to a hotel will hang on for years. Decades, even.
Such has been the case of the Trader Vic’s, which has been at the London Hilton on Park Lake since 1963. That’s just shy of 60 years.
Trader Vic’s is a legacy brand of Tiki bar and restaurant that’s been around since the early 1940s. Victor Jules Bergeron, Jr. founded the chain of Polynesian-themed restaurants that bore his nickname, “Trader Vic”. He was also one of two people who claimed to have invented the Mai Tai.
During the Tiki culture fad of the 1950s and 1960s, there were as many as 25 Trader Vic’s restaurants in operation around the world. They all featured the popular mix of Polynesian artifacts, unique cocktails, and exotic cuisine. The chain of restaurants grew and, in fact, is credited as one of the first successful themed chains.
The chain began to shrink in the 1980s and 1990s, as younger drinkers didn’t have the same connection with the Tiki theme. However as Tiki bars became popular again in the 2000s, so have the number of Trader Vic’s, and there are currently 22 locations: three in the U.S., two in Europe, ten in the Middle East, two in Asia, and one in Seychelles.
|United Kingdom||Greater London||London||1963||Located in the London Hilton on Park Lane|
|Germany||Bavaria||Munich||1971||Located in the Hotel Bayerischer Hof|
|United States||California||Emeryville||1972||Flagship restaurant location|
|Japan||Tokyo||Tokyo||1974||Located in the Hotel New Otani Tokyo|
|United States||Georgia||Atlanta||1976||Located in the Hilton Atlanta|
|Thailand||Bangkok||1992||Located in the Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort, formerly Marriott Royal Gardens Riverside|
|United Arab Emirates||Emirate of Abu Dhabi||Abu Dhabi||1994||Located in the Beach Rotana Abu Dhabi|
|United Arab Emirates||Dubai||Dubai||1994||Located in the Crowne Plaza Dubai|
|United Arab Emirates||Abu Dhabi||Al Ain||1999||Located in the Al Ain Rotana Hotel|
|Bahrain||Capital Governorate||Manama||2000||Located in The Ritz-Carlton Bahrain, formerly Le Royal Meridien Bahrain|
|Oman||Muscat Governorate||Muscat||2000||Located in the InterContinental Muscat in Shati Al-Qurm|
|United Arab Emirates||Dubai||Dubai||2004||Located in Souk Madinat Jumeirah|
|Jordan||Amman||Amman||2007||Located in the Regency Palace Amman Hotel|
|Qatar||Ad Dawhah||Doha||2012||Located in the Hilton Doha in West Bay|
|Seychelles||Mahe Island||Beau Vallon||2017||Located in the H Resort|
|United Arab Emirates||Dubai||Dubai||2018||Located in the Hilton Dubai Jumeirah|
|United States||California||San Jose||2021||Trader Vic’s Outpost – Located in San Jose International Airport|
|United Arab Emirates||Dubai||Palm Jumeirah||2022||Located in the Hilton Dubai Palm Jumeirah|
Trader Vic’s in London, located in the basement of the London Hilton on Park Lake since the day the hotel opened, was the first Trader Vic’s located outside the U.S. In fact, it’s currently the oldest Trader Vic’s in the world.
And unfortunately, it’s slated to close next week.
Various sources reported in November that the London Hilton notified the historic icon that its lease would not be renewed and its last day of business would be December 31, 2022. Interestingly, the London Hilton’s website calls the bar and restaurant “a London institution.” It also says nothing about the impending closure (although whereas the other of the hotel’s restaurants and bars and links to their respective menus etc., Trader Vic’s does not).
Trader Vic’s own website shows December 31st as the only date when one can still make reservations. Online booking is not available for any days before or after December 31st.
Joe and I visited Trader Vic’s in London on our last visit to the U.K., in March, 2019. As I recall, the food and drink were good, but not cheap – but that also wasn’t surprising for a well-known themed restaurant in a hotel. I wasn’t expecting McDonald’s prices ;-).
Rhett Rosen, CEO of Trader Vic’s, has said in a statement to fans of the bar that the Hilton has “decided to renovate.”
November 28, 2022
I wanted to address some rumors that have begun swirling around the last few days. First, the good news. Our flagship Emeryville location isn’t going anywhere, so we hope you are ready for even bigger and more fun celebrations. Now, the bad. We just learned, like most of you, that London Hilton Park Lane has decided to renovate, and unfortunately (for now), we will be shutting the doors on January 1st, 2023. More info to come. But I wanted to say from the bottom of my heart how much we appreciate and love all of you.
A petition to save the bar can be found at Change.org. It currently has just shy 7,500 signatures. A “Save Trader Vic’s” website also reports applying to Historic England (the UK’s the public body that looks after England’s historic environment) in an attempt to have Trader Vic’s London listed.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary