Throughout two world wars, an economic depression and now a global pandemic, the Grand Hotel in Tynemouth has stood overlooking one of the North East’s favourite beaches, Longsands.
Originally constructed as a summer residence for the Duchess of Northumberland in 1872 at a cost of just £10,000, the hotel has had many famous clients over the years, including Dame Vera Lynn, though the best-known are Laurel and Hardy. In fact, the comedy duo’s fan club still meet at the hotel, though the room that they would often stay in has been converted to a kitchen.
More recently, the hotel has welcomed local superstar Sam Fender and singer Sam Smith. And on Sunday August 28, the hotel will celebrate its 150th anniversary with an afternoon tea in its Orchid Suite and drinks on its newly refurbished roof terrace.
Gavin Turner-Groombridge, the Grand Hotel’s general manager, said: “We need to do something to celebrate the grand old girl being 150 because with everything that’s going on in the world, 150 is an absolute milestone. We’re renowned for afternoon teas and weddings so we thought let’s merge the two together to celebrate.
“We’ve done an afternoon tea themed around local celebrations. Obviously, I wasn’t here 150 years ago but we’ve touched on old English classic like classic cucumber sandwiches and our bar manager has come up with a cocktail which is like a summery garden fizz.”
As well as its afternoon teas, the Grand Hotel is renowned for its architecture. The classic seafront hotel is a Grade II listed building and has a dome which houses the original staircase, the latter of which is one of the building’s most standout features.
General manager Gavin says that the hotel itself is a reason that many guests have booked since he started 18 months ago, with this summer a busy one as the staycation market has remained strong since the Covid pandemic. Gavin continued: “It’s massive, the demographic because of the history of the hotel – and there’s no other hotel in the area that has this view, it’s second to none.”
Ayesha Rateb, who works in the hotel’s marketing team added: “We get guests from Australia and Germany but when it comes to afternoon teas, we rely on a lot of locals. And we still get people coming from Blyth or the city centre on staycations.”
“People love the history of the hotel and they love Longsands too, it’s an award-winning beach. They also come for Tynemouth village, which is a destination itself and you’ve got Whitley Bay, Cullercoats and even Newcastle City centre nearby.”
Gavin and Ayesha say that the team that work at the Grand Hotel is “close-knit” with some team members having been there more than 20 years. Gavin continued: “There’s a good flow between everyone and there a lot of people who have been paramount to other people’s development, there’s always someone to lean on and that’s important.”
With three places to eat and drink, including the drawing room overlooking the beach and hopes to make Copperfields pub a much-loved local, the Grand Hotel seems to ready to tackle the next 150 years.