Situated on the beachfront this 62-bedroom art deco hotel was once a very fashionable place to stay on the Isle of Wight. It opened in 1938 and is full of historic features such as the beautiful mahogany panelling in the dining room. This reportedly came from the ocean liner the Aquitania. The hotel saw its last visitors in 2012 and has since been the victim of arson attacks.
Only 4 years after opening, the Grand Hotel and other local sites were requisitioned by the military and used for the top secret Operation PLUTO. The purpose of the operation was to pump fuel through pipes on the seabed to support the allied invasion of mainland Europe after D-Day. It has been widely reported that the basement of the hotel was used as the control centre of the operation. However, after plans were submitted to demolish the hotel in recent years and concerns were raised over damaging the historical pipelines; it was discovered that the pipeline skirts around the hotel and the basement was never used as the control centre.
Sandown enjoyed great popularity through the 1950s and into the 60s. However, by the late 1960s tourist numbers had decreased with the rise of cheap package holidays. Like many other hotels in the area, The Grand Hotel closed its doors in 2012. Its current owners claimed that it is no longer fit for purpose. One reason is due to a lack of parking for tourists.
Exploring this art-deco hotel was highly exhilarating. Both facades of the hotel face either directly onto the High Street or the beach front. The current owners don’t appear to be trying to keep explorers out. The fast fencing was incomplete, the main entrance was only half boarded up and the beach-facing windows had no glass in. We waited until there was nobody passing by and ran inside.
The beauty of the hotel can be seen in the dining room and lobby areas. The dining room is panelled and the fireplace is still as imposing as it would have been during the hotel’s heyday. It was easy to imagine how beautiful it would have been to sit here and eat your breakfast.
The site has been abandoned and left unsecured for many years which has meant that the furniture that had been left behind is gone. Also, the site has been taken over by pigeons which scared us on a number of occasions! It seems that some repair work has been done to the hotel. The bannisters had been covered in bubble wrap and some builders’ tools left behind.
As we went upstairs we immediately noticed that the roof had completely collapsed due to fire damage. Some walls were crumbling and there was debris everywhere. Unfortunately we couldn’t explore all of the main building due to safety but we were able to enter a few rooms.
In September, the current owner Stephen Purvis, was due to appear in court after failing to secure the derelict property. He was given a month to board up all access points, install perimeter fencing and CCTV around the hotel. No action was taken by Purvis and he failed to appear in court. The Hotel has hit the headlines a number of times in recent years. The locals complain about vandalism and disorderly conduct inside the abandoned property. Just this year, a number of teenagers have been arrested for damage to the property.
There are no clear plans for the current eyesore of Sandown. Fires have destroyed a large percentage of the hotel, the roof and upper floor are extensively damaged. Plans were submitted in January 2022 to demolish part of the building and refurbish other parts to restore it to its former glory. There were no mention in the plans for the site to reopen as a hotel; these plans were withdrawn by the owner.
Last Updated on 11 October 2022 by Michael