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Hotel History

A rich history and guest list...

In the 1890s, the music hall star George H Chirgwin built a prefabricated wooden house on Burgh Island, which was used by guests for weekend parties.

The island was sold in 1927 to the filmmaker Archibald Nettlefold, who built a more substantial hotel in an Art Deco style that was in vogue at the time. By the 1930s Burgh Island had become one of the most popular hotels of it’s time. Improvements and additions to the hotel were made during the 1930s, including the addition of The Captain’s Cabin, literally the captain’s cabin of HMS Ganges, a warship built in 1821 (and the last British wooden flagship in the Royal Navy).

In World War II Burgh Island’s convenient seaside location meant the hotel was used as a recovery centre for wounded RAF personnel. During the conflict the top two floors of the hotel were damaged by a bomb and despite being repaired, it suffered a period of post-war decline after being converted to self-catering apartment accommodation. The hotel was restored to its former glory in the first decade of this century and continues to thrive today as a special place to visit.

Today Burgh Island is a Grade II listed building and one of the foremost examples of Art Deco style in Europe. Agatha Christie made Burgh her second home, writing two books while on the Island. Noel Coward stayed on the Island, originally for three days, but this turned into three weeks.

Some of the other notable past guests include:

  • Lord Mountbatten of Burma and the last Viceroy of India
  • Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson
  • Winston Churchill
  • Amy Johnson, aviator
  • R J Mitchell, designer of the Spitfire
  • Nancy Cunard, socialite and muse
  • Gertrude Lawrence, actor
  • The Beatles