Fit for a Queen.

With a private butler, bathrooms made of marble, and a complimentary mini bar (stocked with handpicked spirits), Cunard’s Queens Grill is the epitome of luxury accommodation at sea. We open our archive to see how this signature experience has evolved over the years.

A stay in our Princess or Queens Grill suites is an experience perfectly adjusted to the present, but one that has a deep-rooted connection to Cunard’s past. Our expert, historian Chris Frame, takes us back to the beginning, and examines the evolution of the Grills to the ultimate voyage experience they are today.

Cunard had been operating for over 70 years when the concept of Grills was first introduced, and it looked quite different than the experience we offer today.

“The first Cunard Grill Room was found on board the Aquitania," says Chris. "It was beautifully appointed, with tables set for couples or larger groups. It offered a quiet and intimate escape from the ship’s larger, grander, main first class dining room and first class passengers were welcome to dine here, at no extra cost.”

Although Aquitania’s Grill Room was the first in Cunard’s history, it wasn’t until Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth’s Verandah Grills, post war, that the Grills experience really came into its own.

“The Verandah Grills were a special experience aboard the Queens, with highly attentive service, a diverse menu and a club-like ambience," Chris says. "These restaurants were also more private than the main dining room, making them a popular place for celebrities of stage and screen.”

For a charge of 10 shillings, First Class passengers could drink, dine and dance to the Verandah Grill orchestra into the early hours. Guests were encouraged to request special orders - a tradition that continues today in the Queens Grill restaurant.

Browsing a vintage Cunard brochure titled Gracious Living at its Best from the late 1940s or early 1950s, a wonderful review of Queen Elizabeth’s Grill dining room was spotted:

“If you prefer the more intimate atmosphere of a night-club you can go up to the Starlight Roof Club in the Verandah Grill (the highest room in the ship) and have supper. Dancing up there with the great ship all ablaze with lights driving through the Atlantic night is a sensation to remember.”

Why "Grill"?

The use of the term "Grill" in this context can be dated back to the start of the 20th century, when the HAPAG liner Deutschland opened an "extra tariff" restaurant specialising in grilled meats, such as steaks. Cunard followed just over a decade later with the first Grill Room, only the restaurant did not involve an extra charge: instead, it was an exclusive, intimate dining experience for first-class passengers. The Grills themselves have evolved over the years, but the name has remained for over a century.

When it comes to exploring the world, few experiences top the glamour of ocean travel on a Cunard Queen. With afternoon tea served by white-gloved waiters and even your own personal butler, Cunard's Queens Grill suites offer another level of style and sophistication.

Fashionable travel.

This photograph, taken in either the late 1940s or 1950s, was captured on board Queen Elizabeth while at Southampton Dock during a photoshoot by British fashion company Roecliff & Chapman. Specialising in women’s formal evening wear, they would advertise in high-end fashion magazines such as Vogue.

The exquisite dress was named Sea Mist. The picture is in the Verandah Grill which is on the Sun Deck. The large decorated glass screen was designed by Jan Juta, and the walls are covered in ivory-coloured sycamore veneer.

Passing the torch.

The Grills concept continued on Queen Elizabeth 2 in 1969 which, like Aquitania in 1914, had a Grill Room for those travelling in first class. The Queens Grill was added in 1970, becoming the ship‘s highest-rated restaurant, while the original Grill Room was relaunched as the Princess Grill.

As Chris explains: “The popularity of these restaurants led to their inclusion on Queen Mary 2 when she entered service, and they have become signature Cunard experiences, found aboard all Queens.”

Be inspired.

The Cunard experience has been enjoyed by Hollywood stars, presidents and royalty for 180 years. Delve into more articles from our archives and discover what sailing with Cunard was like then, and now.

Cunard celebrates 180 years.

Discover the extraordinary moments that define our past and continue to inspire our future.

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Famous faces on the high seas.

Historian Chris Frame offers a behind-the-scenes look at some of Cunard's famous passengers in the first instalment of our two-part series.

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