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Burgh Island

Back in the 1930s there was a beautiful white modern and very luxurious hotel called Burgh Island. Like St Michael’s Mount it was sometimes an island and sometimes accessible from the mainland – you just strolled across the beach. It was the fashionable place to stay and the great and the good (Noel Coward, Wallace Simpson, Agatha Christie) went to stay there and enjoy its sumptuous surroundings, the tranquillity of its location and the lovely Devon climate (assuming you don’t mind the odd spot of rain). They dined and danced in the ballroom, enjoyed cocktails in the bar with its beautiful glass ceiling, or on the terrace overlooking the mermaid pool which trapped the seawater allowing it to heat up in the sun. Or they walked around the island and if they were Agatha Christie imagined “the murder most foul” taking place in that peaceful spot, and set their novel “Evil Under the Sun” there – which incidentally was also filmed on the island.

Burgh Island from afar
Burgh Island Hotel View
Burgh Island Sea tractor

But with Burgh Island, like everything in this world, the second law of thermodynamics came into play and it fell into decline and a state of woeful disrepair.

Burgh Island Hotel Bar
Canapes with Aperitif
Low relief in Burgh Island Hotel Bar
The band at Burgh Island

Jump forward to the mid 1986 and Burgh Island is up for sale. It could so easily have been pulled down and/or converted into holiday lets if it hadn’t been for the vision of Tony Porter and his wife B who looked at the ramshackle mess and in their minds saw the beauty of what had once been and what could once again be. If they’d known how vast the project they were taking on actually was perhaps they wouldn’t have bothered! And you can read the story of the restoration in Tony’s book “The Great White Palace”.

Causeway to Burgh Island
Burgh Island
But thankfully they did, and now visitors can enjoy the unique experience of stepping back into a different world, travelling back in time to that era of elegance that was the 1930s. The rooms are all furnished with period furniture, it is de rigueur to dress for dinner – black tie for the men and evening dress for the ladies (cocktail dresses are acceptable). The Mermaid pool has been fully restored though personally I wasn’t able to swim in it (March this year has been a tad chilly). Nor could I have my cocktails on the terrace . . . but they tasted just as nice in the bar with its beautifully restored glass domed roof.

Dawn on Burgh Island 2
Pilchard Inn, Burgh Island
sea and rocks near Burgh Island
The Ganges deck, Burgh Island
The hotel Burgh Island
the sea Near Burgh Island

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