The original hotel lobby was actually located on the floor directly above it’s present location. The space which has been the lobby for more than the last 25 years was originally graced with a cafeteria style restaurant, a large laundry facility and showcases featuring exquisite merchandise of the day. Today this space features the Stovin’s Lobby Lounge, The Samurai Japanese Restaurant, Damara Day Spa, the pool & fitness area and the front desk. A portrait of the Earl of Bessborough, the hotel’s namesake hangs near the elevators.
This level was once the original hotel lobby with the front desk being situated where the Spadina boardroom is now located. The opening to below was not added until 1971 when the front desk was relocated to the level below. What is now known as the William Pascoe room was the original formal dining room of the hotel. Where the Signature Club Lounge now exists once was the elegant writing room which was furnished in English Jacobean style with solid oak furniture covered in fine rich tapestries. The Garden Court Café on this level was once part of the main kitchen.
This level has remained virtually unchanged since the hotel’s inception. The elegant Adam Ballroom has been restored to it’s original elegance as has the foyer area. The ballroom gets its name from its interior design style that blends Etruscan, Greek and Roman architectural features know as “Adamesque design. The ladies restroom adjacent to the Adam Ballroom features the “ladies retiring room” a comfortable and private sitting room that allowed ladies access to the coatcheck out of view from the prying eyes of their male counterparts.
The five acre Elizabethan gardens overlooking the South Saskatchewan River have been a focal point of the hotel throughout it’s history. Once the site of elegant garden parties and mildly competitive croquet games they now serve as a focal point for numerous festivals, community events and special occasions. The towering pines were once small saplings relocated from Prince Albert National Park in the 1940’s.
Upon completion the Bessborough Hotel was considered the most modern and luxurious hotel in the Dominion. Complete with telephones, baths and showers in every room. In addition “automatic” elevators, complete with instructions and operators, offered access to the guestroom floors. The bathrooms were featured deep elegant cast iron bathtubs and intricate mosaic tile floors which have all been carefully preserved during recent renovations. Among some of the other unique amenities were razor disposal slots in each bathroom and service call lights outside each guestroom door. Today the razor disposal slots no longer exist however the access panels to service guestroom plumbing and retrieve disposed razors are still visible in all guestroom corridors. A pneumatic tube system also existed to carry messages around the hotel. Outlets for the original central vacuum system are readily apparent throughout the guestroom corridors and various other areas of the hotel.
The 7th floor originally housed sample-bedrooms which allowed travelling salesmen to sleep adjacent to the specially designed showrooms where they displayed their wares. The 8th floor housed sample rooms without attached bedrooms and some staff dormitories. These floors were converted to commercial office space in the mid-seventies.
Fine examples of Grotesques, Gargoyles and Heraldic Emblems exist on the exterior of the building. Numerous designs are apparent but a definitive study of all their meanings does not exist. The special Claybank Tapestry brick and Tyndall stone used to construct the buildings façade are in incredible condition compared to other such structures in major centres, which is a testament to the air quality of Saskatoon.
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