Folkestone has many hotels in all price ranges, catering to both the holidaymaker and the business person. Although certainly nowhere near as many now as there was a hundred years ago. This is not a website promoting one hotel over another, and lets face it, many that I will show you have been rubble for years! I am not going to delve too deeply into the history of each hotel, if you are interested in knowing more, you will find lots of information online. Failing that, a good resource is the Folkestone & District Local History Society.
Talking of rubble. Let's start with the pile of rubble above left, and what a magnificent pile the Royal Pavilion was for many years, until it was demolished to make way for the Burstin on the right. Located right on the edge of the harbour, the view on this side is magnificent. The Royal Pavilion of course was a perfect location for people arriving off the cross channel ferries as they could walk to it from the dock.
So let's begin with more photos of the Royal Pavilion Hotel. Built in 1843 it began life a lot more modestly Smaller than it became later, and was named just Pavilion Hotel. I have read a few different accounts as to why the 'Royal' name was added. One source states that Prince Albert stayed there in 1855 when visiting Folkestone to inspect the troops at Shorncliffe Camp. Another says that both Victoria & Albert were visitors, and it was following that visit that the hotel gained its 'Royal' status. Regardless, it was a very elite hotel of the day, attracting many well known visitors like Charles Dickens, members of the Rothschild family and Sir Joseph Paxton.
The hotel underwent major refurbishment in 1899, becoming the magnificent building many of us remember.
A luggage lable
The hotel was furnished and decorated by Maple & Co, London and Paris. A company that enjoyed a very lucrative business for 150 years until they went into receivership in 1993. If you would like to drool over some of their wares from 1905, there is a catalogue online: Cabin Creek
Taken from the beach. The harbour was very full of sailing ships that day.
1843 Pavilion built to sleep 230 guests.
1930's Motyl Burstin stays at hotel.
1939 Hotel used for survivors of Dunkirk (Mortuary & Hospital)
Post War Hotel used for Soldiers & their families
1955 Motyl Burstin bought Pavilion, (residential home for the elderly and retreat for the needy)
1974 Motyl's dream of Motel Burstin realised. New hotel built in the image of a ship, named Motel Burstin.
1987 Burstin sold to Land Leisure PLC and subsequently:
Ascot Holdings PLC
1995 Leisure Great Britain PLC
2004 Britannia Hotels
Fancy a stay in the Royal Pavilion? I would love it if only it were still possible! I would especially like to stay for the prices they charged when most of these photos were taken. Click HERE to see what was referred to as the 'Hotel Arrangements', which covered room prices, dinner menu, wine list with prices, the cost of your servant's meals plus the stabling of your horses. For comparison, I will also list some current prices to stay in the Grand Burstin Hotel.
This is what Motyl Burstin did to it. He pulled a part of it down, and built a new hotel, calling it the Motel Burstin.
This is what it became, Some of the old Royal Pavilion remains behind, in fact the beautiful Victorian Dining room is still in use which I will show you in a minute.
This picture of the Burstin was taken in March, 2005 by Sylvia, who was kind enough to send it to me. Thanks Sylvia! :-)
You rarely see photos of it from this side, as most people aim to take it from the front, where it looks more like a ship. (Or a great white wedding cake, as one of my readers described it!).
This is the card I sent home when I stayed there in 2014, I was put into a room on the 13th floor, as you can see by the arrow. The view was magnificent, but I am afraid that is the best thing I can say about the hotel. The elevator only goes to the 12th floor, so had to lug my bags up two flights of stairs. The room wasn't very clean, and the food left a lot to be desired. The decor was shabby, and the carpets worn. They cater mainly to coach tours these days, people who are just passing through for one night on their way to somewhere else. The prices are reasonable, and the service reflects that.
However, while I was there, I went exploring because I had never been inside the Royal Pavilion, so wanted to see what was left of it. This is what I found:
Yes, the first six photographs were all taken in the beautiful Victorian Dining Room. I didn't try the food in here, but feel it is probably better than the buffet in the cafeteria that was included in the price of my room.
Sneaking through a back door from the dining room, I found myself further into the Royal Pavilion, everything immediately gave me the feeling it was solid, that once upon a time, quality had been paramount.
This mirror is so large, I had to take two pictures to get it all in.
This room was being used for storage, but the old chandelier, the leaded glass in the windows and the neglected fireplace gave it away that it had once known far better times.
This lovely photograph was sent to me by James Ashby of Luton
It has surprised me just how many photos I have of the Royal Pavilion/Grand Burstin Hotel, so think this might be a good time to start a new page, and show you some of the other Folkestone Hotels.
Page updated August 2, 2020
This photo of the Royal Pavilion Hotel was sent to me by Sandra Evans, who is in the picture with her younger sister. Sandra tells me that when she was 9 years old, she, her mother and younger sister stayed for 18 months at the Royal Pavilion, which was at the time an army hostel. I had not heard about that before, so was very interested. If you would like to read her memories of her time in Folkestone, click HERE. Thank you so much for sharing them with us Sandie, they brought back a lot of memories for me too!
Finishing with this unusual view of the Pavilion Hotel, sent to me by Peter Langmaid of Somerset. In the background you can see the London & Paris Hotel, but I am not sure if that was the name of it at that time, because the photograph had 1861 written on it. Peter feels it is probably a later photograph than that, but if indeed there were cameras at that time, it could be correct, because this is the hotel in its original state before it was refurbished into the grand building it became later. Also, the name written on the photograph was 'Pavilion Hotel', not the Royal Pavilion - and although I don't have a date for the change, I think it was quite a while before the 1890's. Note the masts of the collier boats over on the right. Thank you Peter, this is a gem!
Now, a lot of you know about the existence of the Royal Pavilion Hotel, but you are about to see some very rare photographs of a part of it that was located at the back. Personally I knew the hotel had a Winter Gardens, because I had seen mention of it in their advertising, but had only seen newspaper sketches showing a few plants and ladies in elegant dresses nearby. So I had envisioned something like a small heated greenhouse where patrons could sit and admire the plants in the middle of winter. Oh it was much more than that! Yes it had plants, lots of them, but it also had a large ballroom with a stage and orchestra, plus it also had a swimming pool! The following five photos were supplied by historian Alan F. Taylor, and I am so grateful that he has allowed me to add them here.
The back of the hotel showing the Winter Gardens. Now that was some greenhouse!
I am leaving them large, because I want you to be able to see every detail. Wasn't it wonderful?
I can't make out the name on the drums, did the hotel have their own band or orchestra perhaps?
As you can see, they could cater very large banquets in there too.
This was the Folkestone Swimming Club who used the swimming pool in the Winter Gardens. Alan tells me this photo dates from 1921 and one of the ladies in the picture is his Mother's cousin - which actually makes her Alan's first cousin once removed. What a lovely keepsake! (If he identifies her, I will let you know)
This was 2014, possibly things have improved since then.