The First Class Reception was a room located on D Deck, at the foot of the Grand Staircase. The First-Class Dining Saloon on D-Deck was preceded by a large Reception Room, measuring 460 m2 (4,951 sq ft), located at the foot of the forward Grand Staircase and encompassing the entire width of the ship. An ornate candelabra rested on the middle railing at the base of the staircase, the light oak color of which contrasted warmly with the white-painted Reception Room. The Reception area would have been the first impression of the Titanic for many First-Class passengers entering through the two semi-enclosed entry vestibules on either side of the staircase. Around the corner from the Reception Room, forward of the staircase, was the set of three First-Class elevators which ran the length of the stairwell.
The Reception Room was decorated in richly carved mahogany Jacobean-style panelling painted a glossy white. Furnished with comfortable wicker chairs and Chesterfields upholstered in green damask silk, the room would have been conspicuously light and airy because of the beautifully illuminated leaded-glass windows which ran along either side of the room. These were lit naturally during the day through portholes concealed behind the windows and electrically in the evening. In contrast to the linoleum floors on the Olympic, the Titanic's Reception Room was covered with plush Axminster carpeting and there were potted palms in built-in holders in the corners of the alcoves. An imposing Aubusson tapestry, La Chasse du duc de Guise, hung in front of the staircase. On the wall close to the tapestry were letters indicating the name of the deck.
It was recorded on the inaugural voyage of the Olympic, whose reception hall was slightly smaller, that the room quickly filled up after dinner. On the starboard side, there was an area reserved for a quintet and it held a Steinway grand piano. The Titanic's Reception Room was enlarged in contrast to her sister ship through a reconfiguration of the two entry vestibules, reducing their size and adding broad arched entrances opening onto the foyer in front of the elevators.
The Reception Room was open to passengers before and after meals. Here, the orchestra played from 4 to 5 pm while tea was served, then after dinner, from 8 to 9:15 pm. Stewards served liquor and cigars until 11 pm, at which time the hall closed. Generally, there were many spectators in the Room while the orchestra played. The Quintet would return to host a 1st-Class Concert from 8pm until 9:15pm and return at 10:15pm and play until 11pm when they finished the Encore Concert with selections from Jacques Offenbach's "The Tales Of Hoffman". There were 2 stewards assigned to the area.
The Reception provided access to the upper decks via the Grand Staircase and lifts, the Grand Staircase from E Deck down to F Deck wasn't elaborate like the 5 decks above but was more of a single staircase (and, through it, the decks below) and the D Deck cabins.
RMS Olympic Edit
On Olympic, the reception room was smaller than Titanic's due to the layout of the entrance vestibules. Olympic's port side vestibule had a 3rd class staircase that went to the deck below. Later on, the entrance vestibules were changed to Titanic's layout and the 3rd class staircase was removed
HMHS/RMS Britannic Edit
On Britannic, the reception room would’ve had the same design as Titanic & Olympic. The entrance vestibules would’ve had Titanic's design. As a hospital ship, the reception room was used as an recovery room.
Entrance Vestibules Edit
The Titanic and Olympic both featured duplicate entrance vestibules on their port and starboard sides within the D-Deck Reception Rooms. There were sets of double gangway doors within the hull, screened by wrought-iron grilles. The vestibules were partially enclosed areas in the same white Jacobean-style panelling and each contained a large sideboard for storing china. One set of French doors led into the Reception Room, but there was also a broad arched entryway leading to the elevators. Separate corridors led off of the vestibules to the First-Class staterooms in the forward part of D-Deck.
The Titanic's vestibules differed from those on the Olympic – they were reduced in size to make the Reception Room larger and they eliminated the communicating corridor between the two sides in order to enlarge the elevator foyers. The Olympic vestibules contained Third-Class staircases that led down to E-Deck, which were eliminated on Titanic, and the elaborate wrought-iron grilles which covered the gangway doors were unique to Titanic.
It was reported that during the sinking 2nd Officer Lightoller ordered crew members to open the port side gangway doors on D-Deck for loading more passengers into the lifeboats nearer to sea level. The 1986 expedition confirmed that one of the port-side doors was wide open and the inner doors pulled back. This would have significantly increased the Titanic's flooding if the crew neglected to close doors.
The Reception Room has become one of the best documented rooms inside the wreck of the Titanic. It is accessed fairly easily via ROV from the forward stairwell, though there is a deep layer of silt and hanging rusticles which obscure large parts of the room. The Ghosts of the Abyss exploration in 2001 discovered that the Titanic's Reception Room differed in several minor details from the Olympic: there were more support pillars, the decorative grilles of the elevator entrances were different, and there was a completely unknown wrought iron grill door in the front of the D-Deck gangway entrance. Most of the exquisite leaded-glass windows remain in situ, along with much of the mahogany panelling, built-in plant holders, light fixtures, and carved framework surrounding the steel support pillars of the room. Small amounts of the original white lead paint survive in the carved creases of the woodwork, and several of the swinging doors with their bronze grilles still hang in the entrance vestibule doorways.