What young girl hasn’t dreamed of being Dorothy Gale from Kansas, swept away to the land of Oz? The original dress from the film that launched innumerable Halloween costumes, a blue gingham pinafore with white puff-sleeve blouse, was recently on display in the lobby of The Stafford London hotel, and while it’s no longer there, the hotel isn’t finished honoring the iconic costume.

In the spirit of the season, from now until October 31st, guests and locals are welcome to head into the hotel’s American Bar wearing their own ruby red slippers and click their heels. Each guest with a pair of the instantly recognizable footwear will get an adult Halloween treat: a glass of bubbly!

The Stafford London hotel
The Stafford London hotel

Dorothy’s original dress will go to auction at Julien’s Auction House on November 10-11.  Although several identical dresses were made for the production, the dress to be sold at Julien’s is the only version seen in the film and the only complete original dress to survive.  It is expected to sell for half a million dollars at auction.

The Stafford’s American Connection: The Stafford’s American Bar first got its name back in the 1930s, when cross-Atlantic ocean-liner travel reached its peak, and most West End hotels in London renamed their bar ‘The American Bar’ in an attempt to attract the business of the increasing numbers of North American visitors. These intrepid travelers brought with them such exotic drinks as Manhattans, Martinis, Sidecars and The Vanderbilt and so the cocktail era in the UK was born.

The Stafford is one of the last two hotels in London (the other one is The Savoy) to retain this moniker. During the Second World War, The Stafford also served as a club for American and Canadian officers stationed overseas who sought refuge in the hotel’s 380-year-old Wine Cellar during the Blitz. This led to the formation, in later years, of the Better ‘Ole Club whose membership includes guests recognized for services above and beyond the call of duty – one of its most famous members is HRH the Prince of Wales.

Today, the Stafford remains a favorite of visiting Americans wanting to celebrate the rich history that the United States and Britain shares. While the hotel provides an authentic British setting it has made a point of ensuring its overseas guests have all the comforts of home through a variety of little touches ranging from favorite foods and cocktails to the installation of 110 Volt plugs fit to American Standards in all their guest rooms.

Ben Stagg
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