The elegant and charming Langtry Manor Hotel is located in Bournemouth, Dorset, within walking distance to the award winning sandy beaches, and just a short drive from the Town center. Originally named ‘the red house’, the manor was built by Edward VII for his mistress and lover, Lillie Langtry in 1877. The Prince of Wales (his official name at the time) or ‘Bertie’ as he was affectionately known, wanted to build somewhere the love struck couple could escape to, relax and be themselves. So he bought a piece of land in a secluded area of Bournemouth and began work on the construction of the manor.
In 1977, 100 years after the Langtry was built, the house was purchased by the current owner, Pamela Hamilton-Howard. Investing over £0.5M in renovations, the Howard family refurbished the hotel to add a clean, contemporary feel, whilst also keeping the grace and elegance of the original building.
Originally, the majority of the manor was designed by Lillie herself, adding unique personal touches such as the white enamelled covered wood, due to her distaste for dark wood; and the extra high ceiling in the luxurious King`s Room provided an area for Bertie’s cigar smoke to disperse. The foundation stone features the letters ELL (Emily LeBreton Langtry) and the huge oak carved fireplace displays tiles depicting scenes from Shakespeare – illustrating the couples` love for the theater.
There are many wonderful gems to discover when you visit the Langtry Hotel and Lodge, each giving a little insight into Lillie’s lively personality and fondness for her beloved. A peep hole was created through to the grand dining room whereby ‘His Majesty’ could view his guests before deciding whether or not to join them for dinner, and Lillie also decorated the curtain tie back hooks with the Prince’s emblem. Controversially, there is a stained glass window within the house depicting the birth of Lillie`s daughter, named Jeanne Marie (dated 1881), rumored to be the result of a brief affair with the Prince`s nephew, Prince Louis of Battenberg.
Whilst the house was under construction, Lillie and Bertie used the nearby house of Lord Derby – now named Langtry Lodge, and since the early 1980s this has made up part of the hotel complex. It is older than the house itself and features luxury hotel rooms, in particular the lavish Gold Cup Room, and the Goodwood Suite. The lodge is frequently used for conferences and is licensed for weddings and civil ceremonies too.
As with many old houses, rumors of ghosts and hauntings are rife, with both staff and guests claiming to have witnessed a grey shadow thought to be Lillie Langtry herself, as well as footsteps and voices and warm and cold spots in the hallways. It certainly would be a spectacular place for a ghost hunt.
It seems that the owners of this opulent luxury hotel are keen to preserve the unique and interesting history of the hotel complex. This is not just through the careful maintenance of the buildings and it`s features, but also through some of the events that it hosts. The manor is a perfect setting for the frequent Murder at the Manor Mystery weekends, due to its rich history and intriguing surroundings.
Every Saturday evening, Langtry Manor presents a royal Edwardian style 6-course banquet, at which one can enjoy an exquisite menu of tastiness, and is served by staff in authentic Edwardian dress. Coupled with the seductive and charming backdrop, this really seems like a treat fit for a king.
Whilst preserving the character and elegance of this beautiful old manor house, the Howard family really seem to have done a great job in giving it a modern and comfortable feel. It is obvious that the pride and affection that went into the building the original ‘red house’ has been carefully maintained by its current owners.
So if you’re thinking of celebrating a birthday, anniversary or other special event, a visit to the unique and historic Langtry Manor will surely fit the bill.