Built in 1810 by James Burton Esq., Cartwright Gardens is part of an estate owned by the City Guild of Skinners. The Gardens form a classic Georgian crescent. The hotel, a Grade II listed building, overlooks the private garden square and four tennis courts. The Gardens and Courts are available to guests - an oasis of quiet in the centre of London.
Cartwright Gardens has a tradition of radicalism. It was renamed from Burton Crescent, in honour of Major John Cartwright (resident between 1820-24), the political reformer who campaigned for universal suffrage, vote by the ballot, annual parliaments and the abolition of slavery. There is some suggestion that the renaming may have been prompted by the unsolved Burton Crescent murder of Rachel Samuel, a particularly brutal crime. Among the Crescent's other notable residents were Sir Rowland Hill (1837-39), originator of the penny postage system, Edwin Chadwick the social reformer who fought the water companies to provide Londoners with clean water and Sidney Smith (1835-39) who was an Anglican clergyman and philosopher who protested the restrictions on Roman Catholics.
Cartwright Gardens featured in the Poverty Map drawn up by Booth (founder of the Salvation Army). In fact No 49, that now forms part of the hotel was once the Main Memorial Home for Deserted Mothers. More than once people researching their family tree have come to the hotel while following up leads from their relatives' birth certificates.
Though Bloomsbury has a significant literary tradition Cartwright Gardens specifically features in a quite varied literature. In Trollope's The Small House at Allington, John Eames is in lodgings in Cartwright Gardens and the object of the wiles of the landlady's daughter. The Hotel and Cartwright Gardens also features in the writings of the contemporary French poet and mathematician, Jacques Roubaud. In The Cartwright Gardens Murder (J S Fletcher) a resident of Cartwright Gardens, who witnesses a man collapse and die from poisoning, embarks on a search for the murderer, with not entirely honourable intentions.