A century of memories at popular hotel

Eastbourne's Lansdowne Hotel
Eastbourne's Lansdowne Hotel

THERE are not many hoteliers who can say they are as old as their hotel.

But 100-year-old Margaret Lewis is still a part of daily life at Eastbourne’s Lansdowne Hotel which has been in her family since 1912.

Mrs Lewis still lives at the long established hotel, which has pride of place on the seafront opposite the Wish Tower and Western Lawns.

And as the hotel’s management and staff get ready for their centenary spectacular this month, Mrs Lewis will be having her own 101st birthday celebrations.

Her son Edward Lewis said the centenary would be a momentous occasion for his family.

“We are very proud of the fact the hotel has been in the same family ownership since 1912,” he said. “It is this that has given the hotel a personal touch that is still very evident today. We are flattered that so many guests express their appreciation of this fact.”

It’s all a far cry from the hotel’s early days when it consisted of 13 separate private houses along what was then called Lansdowne Terrace and Mrs Lewis’ aunt, Miss Robinson purchased a share of the Lansdowne which then had 36 letting rooms.

The hotel prospered during the Great Way of 1914-1918 and after steady expansion by the outbreak of the Second World War, the hotel consisted of five inter-connected houses with 72 letting bedrooms.

Mrs Lewis joined the management in 1929 and her husband Alan Lewis, who died in 1998, joined the partnership in 1939.

The hotel was closed from 1940-1946 because of the Second World War and during this period the premises were acquired by the War Department and occupied by troops who were manning a coastal battery of the Royal Artillery stationed on the slopes of the Wish Tower.

At the end of the war there was yet more expansion and in 1953 Mr and Mrs Alan Lewis, along with a Mr Robinson, purchased the adjoining Burns House Hotel and incorporated it into the Lansdowne to give a total of 84 bedrooms.

In 1959 the partners acquired the neighbouring Beaulieu Hotel, which after considerable alterations and refurbishment was re-named the Lawns Hotel, which operated as a separate unit until 1973 when it joined with the Best Western Lansdowne Hotel and became a 42 bedroomed hotel.

Mr and Mrs Lewis’ son Edward joined the family firm and, after hotel management and training and practical experience, became a partner in 1968. Their daughter Rosemary Bowker also joined the hotel as a partner but died in 2004.

On January 1 1973 the two hotels were merged to form the new Lansdowne Hotel and it has gone from strength to strength since and is now an elected member of the Best Western Hotels consortium with three stars from the RAC/AA.

It has 102 bedroms with 182 bed spaces and its motto is offering the personal touch with elegant surroundings.

To celebrate the centenary the hotel will be having an invite only drinks reception on September 14 with an exhibition of photographs from yesteryear.

And for the public who want to join in the celebrations there is a chance to enjoy a centenary cream tea priced at £19.12 for two people as well as a centenary dinner at the special price of £19.12.

For further information call the Best Western Lansdowne Hotel, King Edward’s Parade, Eastbourne, East Sussex, BN21 4EE, Eastbourne 01323 745483.