As with any grand building there is generally a history. The Paragon Hotel in Digbeth is no exception. It used to be known as the Chamberlain Hotel. Unless you have stopped and looked at it closely you may not have noticed how large this building actually is.
This was a Rowton House built in 1903 by architect Harry Bell Measures. There are some very similar buildings in London that were also designed by the same architect.
This was a hostel for men who happened to come upon bad times through unemployment or debt. However, it was a dignified place designed to help those in need get back into gainful employment.
Rowton House in Birmingham could house over 800 men. It provided every facility necessary to assist working men and get them out of the inferior housing and dirty conditions of the notorious lodging houses.
Lord Rowton was a wealthy British Philantropist and served as a diplomat under Benjamin Disraeli. Lord Rowton was responsible for building a chain of hostels in London which gradually became popular elsewhere.
For only sixpence a day a lodger got his own bed within a separate cubicle, complete with horsefair matress and all bedding. Hot and cold water was provided with access to a dining hall that offered cheap meals. The Paragon would have had a reading room, smoking room and washing and drying facilities.
Each Rowton house would keep a register of the local situations vacant and provide secure lockers for its guests. Within the complex you would typically find a tailor, barber and a shoemaker.
Today the Paragon Hotel is a Grade II listed building within walking distance of the city centre. It has facilities for conferences and seminars and offers reasonably priced accommodation with easy access to central Birmingham and the motorway network.
The building has recently been refurbished and has 250 rooms that have been designed to blend in with the existing architecture of the building.
145 Alcester Street, Digbeth, Birmingham. B12 0PJ. Tel: 0121 627 0627