The Marlborough Hotel opened its doors on November 14, 1914, on the eve of the First World War. Originally named The Olympia, and described as "The Miniature Hotel Deluxe of Canada", it was located, as it is today, at the very centre of Winnipeg.
For their inspiration, the architect and designers had looked to the Gothic school of Medieval England, with just enough Renaissance influence to provide the elegance common to the luxury hotels of the era. The result was, and is, one of Winnipeg's most important heritage buildings. An elaborate Late Gothic Revival-style exterior façade in terra cotta and brick with a polished granite base also features a massive ornate cast iron marquee sheltering the street level Main Entrance. The interior Lobby Level restaurant and bar features some of the most beautiful Gothic and Renaissance-influenced interiors in Canada. Soaring 24' ceilings, imported English stained glass, hand-wrought iron light fixtures by Tiffany of New York, ornate plaster friezes, carved heavy oaken beams and walnut wainscoting created delightful settings. Constructed in concrete and steel, The Olympia was considered Canada's first 'fireproof' hotel, and was one of the first buildings in the nation with a fire sprinkler system.
The original 4-storey structure had been designed ready to support an increase in rooms, and by 1920 demand exceeded the supply. So in 1923, a $400,000 five-story addition was completed. Historic Marlborough Hall, the stately ballroom with a dramatic 8th floor perspective on Winnipeg's famous Portage & Main intersection, sits atop this addition.
In 1924 the now nine-storey structure was purchased by a group of Winnipeg businessmen and, in an era when Canada was still a proud part of the British Empire, the hotel was re-christened The Marlborough, after England's great 18th century military leader, John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough.