The concept of modern hotels was brought to Calcutta by the British. The oldest hotel in Calcutta, Spence’s Hotel, was said to be the first ever hotel in Asia. David Wilson established the Auckland Hotel in Calcutta, probably in 1840 or 1841, and named it after the then Governor General of India, George Eden, 1st Earl of Auckland. Before the foundation of the hotel, Wilson was doing a separate business of bakery at the same site. It is said that the Auckland Hotel opened with hundred rooms and a departmental store in the ground floor. The hotel has had many illustrious guests including Mark Twain.
With time as the visitors to Calcutta increased, the expansion of the Hotel became a necessity and it was done during the 1860s. At the same time its managing company decided to change the name from D. Wilson and Co., to Great Eastern Hotel Wine and General Purveying Co. Within no time the Hotel flourished as expected and became a real rival of Spence’s Hotel. Possibly it was amongst the first Indian hotels to be beamed with the lights of electricity in 1883. It also created a history to have an Indian on its board of directors, in 1859.
Finally, the name of the hotel was changed again to the Great Eastern Hotel in 1915 and the existence of the Auckland Hotel was erased from Calcutta forever.
However, it may be mentioned here that, during 1970s the management of the Great Eastern Hotel was taken over by the local Government and the State in turn, sold it to a private hotel group.