Gulshan Bhatia, 87, a Tanzanian Asian hotel visionary passed away on 29th December 2020, a self-made millionaire, with a fortune of over £90m has steadily worked her way up the property ladder with her hotel stretching from Hiltons in London’s Euston and Paddington as well as a hotel in Kensington Hyatt Regency in Birmingham and Grand Cayman.
In January 2008 she acquired 1908-built, 299-room, the Hilton Waldorf Hotel in the Aldwych, near Covent Garden, Central London, from Royal Bank of Scotland in central London for £180m with the help of family-owned companies Prestmade, Tradesup, and Hyatt Regency Birmingham which had a total sale of £43m in 2006 and has more than £66m net assets.
In 1976 when she came from Tanzania with her husband and four children, she could not speak English, having left school aged 12 to work for her father’s textile business when he fell ill. In the Uk, Mrs.Bhatia used her life savings to buy a B&B in Paddington for £190, 000 and charged £3 per room. “ I did everything on my own because my husband was ill and then passed away. I did 16-hour days. Now I am too old and my son Asif looks after the hotels” Gulshan Bhatia explaining her conservative lifestyle.
She is the first female franchisee in the UK to be granted a Holiday Inn licence when she took over the Holiday Inn in Gatwick in 1990. She eventually went on to acquire five hotels and sold three to buy her crown jewel the Great Western in Paddington for £ 10m in 1986. The hotel. Built to resemble a Louis XIV chateau, reopened in 2002 after a £60m renovation. She does not own or use a mobile phone or a computer and even a calculator and until a few years ago drove a Mercedes Benz she owned for 16 years.
Today’s Hilton London Paddington hotel is something very special, as when a man had a dream to travel from New York to the heart of London, as 27-year-old Isambard Kingdom Brunel, in March 1833, was appointed the chief engineer of the Great West Railway. The charismatic chief engineer Brunel imagined they would take the railway passenger on the Great Western Railway ships across the Atlantic to America and bring American passengers back to London, where they would greet by the open arms of Paddington Station, the terminus of the Great Western Railway and foresaw the finest hotel of their journey would be waiting to become their home away from home, a hotel at the beginning of each journey via Heathrow as the Heathrow Express departs right at the hotel and takes you to the airport in 15minutes non-stop. And now Gulshan Bhatia had a dream and bought the hotel and brought it back to life.