A good old British summer holiday wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the seaside. In times gone by, the Victorians built beautiful English beach hotels with grand hotels, ballrooms and unbeatable views, plus piers and promenades for you to take in the fresh salty air.
So take a look at these eight resorts once built for the exclusive use of the elite that are now the Grand Dames of the British seaside.
The Grand, Brighton
Steeped in British history, The Grand is the perfect example of how some hotels just keep getting better with age. Center stage on Brighton’s seafront, the hotel is a high ceilinged gilded affair, with a sumptuous day spa and a glamorous restaurant boasting wonderful sea views.
Enjoy afternoon tea from the opulent Victoria Lounge, which boasts sea views, comfy sofas and arm chairs. A covered conservatory is also available so you can relax in the outdoors, whatever the weather!
The Grand Hotel, Torquay
Taking pride of place on the English Riviera, The Grand Hotel is a historic jewel, which has looked out over one of Devon’s finest bays for 130 years. The old-world grandeur of this Victorian hotel is matched by modern fittings and a fully equipped spa, including heated indoor and outdoor pools, hot tub, sauna and gym.
The hotel’s restaurant, Restaurant 1881, serves delicious seasonal food using the best quality local produce creating wholesome and healthy dishes. The atmosphere is a relaxed yet elegant affair in the main dining room with sweeping views over the surrounding sea. The hotel also offers exquisite Devonshire Cream Tea, which can be enjoyed in the compass lounge.
The Grand Hotel, Scarborough
Built in 1863, the Grand Hotel Scarborough is ideally located overlooking the harbor and sandy bay. An instantly recognizable landmark, the hotel is a nod to days gone by, when coming to the seaside was a pastime of the elite. The hotel is also a highly sought after wedding venue with its own Palm Court Ballroom that can host up to 150 people.
Scarborough is a family resort boasting all the usual seaside attractions, including a miniature railway and Sealife Centre. You can also visit the historic Scarborough Castle or simply enjoy lunch at the hotel’s Harbour Lights Restaurant.
The Imperial Hotel, Blackpool
The Imperial Hotel is Blackpool’s superb 19th century hotel, recalling the grandeur of the Victorian era when Blackpool saw its heyday. Since Charles Dickens came to stay two years after its opening, the hotel has welcomed royalty, politicians, and stars of the stage and screen through its doors. One of its gems is the Washington Ballroom, with an impressive arched ceiling covered in rich carvings and surrounded by plush fabrics of silver and gold.
The hotel health club includes an indoor swimming pool, saunas, team room and a Jacuzzi, plus a fitness suite so there’s no excuse to leave your gym routine behind. Once you’ve finished being pampered check out the Palm Court Restaurant for fine-dining and sea views.
The Falmouth Hotel, Cornwall
Situated amidst five-acres of gardens and overlooking the Castle Beach, The Falmouth is a striking Victorian building which is known for of being Falmouth’s first ever hotel. The hotel offers 71 well-appointed rooms, a luxurious spa – including a heated indoor pool – and an award winning restaurant, which features an à la carte menu and impressive wine list.
The hotel opened in 1865 and throughout its rich history has played host to illustrious guests like Beatrix Potter and Edward VII, as well as temporarily becoming a hospital during the First World War.
Best Western Royal Victoria Hotel, Hastings
Situated on the beachfront in the heart of St Leonard’s, the Royal Victoria Hotel is a stunning period building with a welcoming piano bar and lounge straight off the seafront. Although part of the Best Western chain the hotel is still independently owned, retaining its charm and individuality. The Sea Terrace Restaurant brings you fine-dining looking across the pebbles of this beautiful beach.
Hastings became a popular resort in the late 18th century when it was believed that ‘taking the waters’ had healing qualities, and no doubt some fresh sea air was all it took to get away from the noxious London smog. Still today it’s a place of relaxation and beauty.
Sands Hotel, Margate
A beautiful boutique hotel with stunning views over Margate Sands, the Sands Hotel offers a chic hotel experience and a good old-fashioned beach escape. From enjoying a chilled glass of wine on the terrace to sinking into silk cotton duvets and Egyptian cotton linens, it’s the perfect way to indulge whilst enjoying the simple pleasures of the seaside.
The hotel was bought in auction in 2011 and intended to be luxury apartments but when the owner discovered the building was originally a 19th century hotel he decided to restore it to its former glory – lucky for us! Old Margate houses many boutique shops and restaurants and the Turner Gallery along the seafront is well worth a visit.
Looking for more beach-side inspiration? Check out Ireland’s best beaches…