The White House Story

The White House was started in October 1970. The derelict 29 Upton Road became a 5 bedroom guest house boasting one bathroom and two toilets. The tariff for bed and breakfast including early morning tea, a newspaper and evening tea in the lounge was 17/6 or 87p. One year later there was one room with an en-suite bathroom. The first guest was a gentleman from Rolls Royce. In 1994 they ceased their operation at the nearby Leavesden airport, which is now home of the Harry Potter films.

Business boomed and after 18 months we purchased the adjoining No 27, the home and surgery of Mr. Johnston the dentist. The contract was written on the back of a brown paper envelope and contained a ‘delayed for one year’ completion clause. In due course we added 9 bedrooms. The erstwhile surgery is now the “Rosslyn Room”, which is one of our four conference rooms. Before the year was out we were turning away as many guests as we were able to accommodate. Mrs Doreen Carlisle, the manageress of the Rank banqueting suite in Watford, was appointed part-time manageress and lived in with her mother, Mrs Beck, who did the daytime shift.

By the end of the second year we purchased No 28 opposite. Extensive negotiations with the Town and Country planning resulted in the strange entrance to “Upton Lodge” and car park. This house in common with the other properties we occupy was built in the late 1890s and was in need of virtual re-building. The result was 14 additional rooms all with full en-suite facilities.  We are proud to say that by the time we obtained possession of No. 27 our turnover justified sufficient additional borrowing to start work immediately.

By 1974 there were 28 rooms, the majority having en-suite facilities. We added a small restaurant bar. Doreen became full time, working on average 75/80 hours per week. In the quest to satisfy demand we made an offer for No 26 Upton Road. Our offer was accepted and in due course we had 40 rooms. Due to massive difference in room sizes, we also had about 20 different tariffs.  By the late 1970’s we needed a real dining room and with even more borrowing the now Cassio Suite was built at the rear of 27/29.

 Business boomed and we bought No 31 with additional borrowing and even larger personal guarantees, Town and Country Planning objections were overcome, and approval was granted and 20 purpose built rooms were built. We now cater for many conferences and weddings. In the early 80’s Doreen announced her marriage to Alf Tack, a guest of long standing. After Doreen, Dania and Bill Moussalli were appointed as General Managers and remained with the company for 12 years. We added more conference space now the “Upton Suite”. Celia Egan ran reception from 1982 until 1998.

 In 1989 we demolished 31 Upton Road and used the site to build 27 luxury rooms and suites .The next stage was to extend our Conference and Function suites for the first time including Air Conditioning.  About this time, the economy produced the nightmare of nightmares that we all experienced. For the first time in our long experience, occupancy took a massive down turn. We were faced with very large commitments and very small income, our largest capital investment having been made in the mid to late 80’s, just prior to the massive recession. Fortunately, and at this we still marvel, we pulled out every possible stop and weathered the raging storm. Battered but not beaten, we rebuilt our client portfolio.

In January 1996, after yet another very difficult planning battle, we proudly opened our fine, new award winning Conservatory restaurant.  In 1997 we embarked on a massive revamp of the Hotel Entrance, the reception and the public rooms and admin office. Between 1997 and 2000 all 26 rooms in *Upton Lodge* were completely renovated.. In 2010 we celebrated 40 years in business but did so unfortunately without Ivan Hartog who sadly passed away, the person who started the business and driving force behind it over the years.

The hotel then passed onto his family and was finally sold in June 2014 to another family business – Jitesh& Suresh Patel whose same ethos of traditional hospitality and warm welcome looks to be continued for many more years.

Our current kitchen team is lead by Eddie. Your breakfast team is headed up by Pam Davis who is in her 16th year. Our Food and Beverage Manager Giedrius Masonas and his devoted team will be serving you at the bar and restaurant. Your Head Housekeeper is Zora Kocovoska who joined us in 1983. Reception is overseen by Jane Havlin who joined us in 1996. Tom Ramage, our Night Manager has been providing sandwiches, drinks and jokes since 2001.

Finally this team of dedicated staff are headed up by Peter Michalak who joined us from the Best Western Buckingham Hotel this year. Alongside him on the management team are Jane Havlin and Neil Patel. 

We hope you have enjoyed this potted history and wish you an enjoyable stay. If you would like any further information we would be happy to provide it.                                               

Last updated: 21.09.15