The Grand Hotel, affectionately known as ‘The White Palace’, stands imperiously at the Western end of Eastbourne’s King Edward’s Parade.
Dominating the shoreline with its grand stature, this magnificent 19th century hotel is one of the finest of its kind, having welcomed a galaxy of the great and the good including Winston Churchill, Charlie Chaplin, Arthur Conan Doyle and King Constantine of Greece.
On the 13th May 1874 the Eastbourne Gazette announced that local resident William Earp was proposing to build a magnificent hotel with a 400-foot frontage at a cost of £50,000. The result was The Grand Hotel, constructed in 1875 in a superb position facing the sea, with views of Beachy Head, surrounded by ornamental gardens and tennis courts.
The Grand Hotel was built when the upper classes ruled the land and took their holidays by the sea, sometimes months at the time, taking with them their entire staff. The Grand Hotel is famous for its long association with music. Debussy completed his symphony 'La Mer' in Suite 200 in 1905. The Grand Hotel Orchestra broadcasted live on BBC from the Great Hall every Sunday night from 1924 to 1939 on the programme “Grand Hotel” and Dennis Potter, whose Cream In My Coffee was filmed there, called it ‘a huge, creamy palace’.
During the Second World War, Eastbourne was easy prey to air raids and the hotel eventually closed down and became a military headquarters. The hotel was taken over by the De Vere Hotel Group in 1965.
In 1998 Elite Hotels acquired the property, and a complete refurbishment took place. The luxury 5-star accommodation, with 152 rooms, many of which overlook the sea has been sympathetically restored to its former glory, whilst being modernised to meet 21st century requirements.