First Class on R.M.S. Olympic
Outstanding features of her construction are the broad sweeps of her decks, the liberal size of her staterooms, and the beauty and dignity of her public apartments, in the finish of which English oak has been employed with a free hand.
Olympic remained a popular and fashionable liner throughout the 1920s, maintaining a reputation for tranquil luxury. A veritable 'film star liner', her opulent First Class accommodations often attracted the famous. Her decor, with its medley of period styles, transported passengers back to Le Belle Époque and the first great age of ocean travel from which she was born.
Proceeding from deck to deck aboard Olympic was an elegant experience, with every level of First Class accommodation being connected by a magnificent Grand Staircase. Carved from English oak, this sweeping structure was constructed in the neoclassical style popular during the reign of William III & Mary II. The banisters were fitted with intricately decorated ironwork panels centered with Louis XIV style ormolu swags. At the top of the Grand Staircase, connecting the Boat-deck with A-deck, a lofty two-story high Entrance Hall was crowned by a vast dome. This was constructed from glass and wrought iron and fitted with an extravagant crystal chandelier. Contained within a protective deckhouse on the top of the Boat-deck, this dome allowed natural light to flood the staircase during the day. The middle landing of this top level was fitted with an impressive clock, its carved decoration showing 'Honor and Glory Crowning Time'. At each landing of the staircase, passengers found themselves within a large Entrance Hall for every deck. On A-deck, a long corridor stretching aft connected passengers with Olympic's principal public apartments. The ceiling of this deck was raised half-height above the boat deck above, allowing these rooms to reach a lofty height of over twelve feet.
Potted palms were placed within the corners to add to the elegant atmosphere. On the port side wall, a great bay window provided views out over the enclosed promenade deck. Generously sized writing desks furnished this bay. This arrangement allowed passengers to enjoy the view of the passing sea or gaze upon their fellow travelers outside whilst writing letters. When Olympic first entered service, this room had been larger, with an additional inner recess accessed through a large archway with oeil-de-boeuf windows, creating an L-shaped arrangement. Although a charming space, this additional area of the room had little popularity with passengers. During her refit of 1913, this space was removed in favour of four additional staterooms. The Drawing Room still remained an exceptionally spacious apartment.
The Smoking Room for First Class passengers was located further aft of the Lounge beyond the Aft Grand Staircase within a large apartment covering four-thousand square feet. Its distinctive decorative style made this room one of the most unique and civilised spaces on the North Atlantic. The Smoking Room was Georgian in decor and panelled in the finest dark mahogany. The walls were richly carved and inlaid with mother-of-peal arranged in intricate designs. A series of impressively sized stained glass panels depicting nautical themes were placed on the inner walls and within the outer windows. These panels were illuminated from behind when closed, thereby provided elegant notes of colour to complement the darker tones of the wood panelling.
Here in this room, which combines the dignity of a club with the intimate comfort of a room at home, the passenger settles in well-cushioned chairs, content just to live and to enjoy life.
White Star Line Brochure; "The Big Three: Olympic, Homeric, Majestic"; circa 1928
At the farthest aft end of A-deck overlooking the stern, Olympic was fitted with two Verandah Cafés, otherwise referred to as the Verandah & Palm Court. These two apartments were light, airy, and elegant in style, creating the impression of outdoor sidewalk cafés and providing uninterrupted views over the sea outside. Decorated in the manner of winter gardens, the walls were fitted with dark green trellises supporting climbing ivy, accompanied by potted plants throughout the room. The Verandahs were furnished with large cream wicker furniture arranged intimately around tables for three or four people. Large arched windows flooded the rooms with natural light as well as provided the expansive views across the promenade which made them so popular with First Class passengers.
It looks out across the illimitable ocean, stretching in the sunshine or the deep blue under the stars. In this attractive spot, with the tang of salt air filling its cosy protection, passengers enjoy many an hour of content and good fellowship.
Descending the Grand Staircase to arrive at D-deck, passengers found themselves within a capacious Reception Room adjacent to the main Dining Saloon. Extending over almost five-thousand square feet, this impressive apartment was the first space that many First Class passengers would encounter aboard Olympic, having boarded through one of the two entrance vestibules at either side of the room. This room was the principal meeting place before and after dinner with the ship's orchestra playing as passengers gathered. During the day, it served as an additional lounge and social space, with afternoon tea being served here most days during a voyage. The walls were covered in elegant white Jacobean woodwork in continuity with the adjoining Dining Saloon. The portholes were stacked double height to improve the presence of natural light. These were hidden by Luxfer tiled glass windows with painted panels. These windows were lit from behind during the evening to enhance the bright atmosphere of the room.
The bedrooms in these suites are designed to suit those accustomed to luxury and good taste in their homes [...] such are the bedrooms that ensure to the passenger that deep and refreshing sleep which is an essential part of the voyage.
Facilities for leisure and fitness were extensive aboard Olympic. White Star Line had previously introduced the world's first ocean-going fitness suite with the Turkish Baths, Plunge Pool and Gymnasium aboard Adriatic. Building upon their success, the company offered a greatly expanded range of facilities on their Olympic-Class Liners, placing them ahead of their competitors including many subsequent vessels. Located on F-deck, accessed down a simpler section of the Grand Staircase, First Class passengers had access to a large Swimming Pool and Turkish Baths. The Swimming Pool measured thirty feet in length and was provided with thirteen changing cubicles along its edge. The Turkish Baths consisted of a hot room, temperate room, shampooing rooms, and cooling room. Whilst the former three rooms and the Swimming Pool were decorated quite plainly, the cooling room by contrast was stunning in its decor. Decorated in the Arabian style of the seventeenth century, its walls were tiled in deep blue and green, with gilded detailing adorning the cornice and beams on the ceiling. The room furnished with low couches and neatly divided by teak columns intricately carved with Moorish designs. An electric bath was also fitted as part of the Turkish Bath facilities, located within its own small apartment adjacent to the cooling room.