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10 Historic South Coast Hotels

by Adrian Mourby

The British seaside holiday was invented on the south coast of England when George III’s family, and then the aristocracy, left London to go seabathing for their health. Once a new fashion had been created, the middle and working classes followed in full force as railways linked towns like Brighton, Hove and Eastbourne to the capital. I tend to think of seaside towns in Britain being Victorian but the south coast can boast a delightful amount of Regency architecture. Further inland, Canterbury and Eastwell have hotels going back to the middle ages, while the Isle of Wight and the man-made island of Spitbank Fort have their own idiosyncratic histories.


Showing below are all 4 records in "10 Historic South Coast Hotels"

The Grand Hotel

King Edward's Parade, Eastbourne

The Grand Hotel, King Edward's Parade, Eastbourne, East Sussex

Eastbourne became fashionable in the 1780s when George III sent four of his children on holiday here, but it was in the nineteenth century that tourism took off. The crowning glory of the town has always been the gracious sweep of its massive Grand Hotel, built in 1875 by William Earp at the huge cost of £50,000. In 1905 Claude Debussy corrected the proofs of 'La Mer' in a room here overlooking the English Channel.

The Waterside Hotel

11/12 Royal Parade, Eastbourne

The Waterside Hotel, 11/12 Royal Parade, Eastbourne, East Sussex

The distinctive double-fronted blue facade of the Waterside Hotel is located on Eastbourne’s Royal Parade at the northern end of the town’s lengthy promenade. Until 1879 a row of fisherman’s cottages stood here, but they were often inundated by spring tides. The construction of the celebrated Parade raised Eastbourne’s sea defences and the full force of the spring tides moved along the coast to what became known as Redoubt Splash Point.

The Royal Hotel

Belgrave Road, Ventnor

The Royal Hotel, Belgrave Road, Ventnor, Isle of Wight

The Ventnor Hotel was built in 1832 when its most famous future resident was not yet queen. It was Victoria’s surgeon Sir James Clarke who recommended the air on the Isle of Wight for the royal personage. Suddenly this hotel in a sleepy fishing village found itself not only fashionable but able to rename itself The Royal. Today the hotel is one of only 30 in the UK to have been listed in every Michelin Guide since 1911.

Solent Forts

Canal Side, Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth

Solent Forts, Canal Side, Portsmouth, Hampshire

Spitbank is one of “Lord Palmerston’s follies”, a circular island fort rearing up out of Portsmouth Sound. Palmerston, one of Queen Victoria’s prime ministers, built three maritime forts here to protect the Royal Navy dockyard in case Napoleon III attacked. Ironically the only French battleship ever seen from Spitbank was Le Coubet, which was seeking refuge from occupied France in 1940. In 1982 the Ministry of Defence sold off its coastal defences and Spitbank became a luxury hotel.

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