Alice Dunn

Five British hotels that have featured in films

  • From Spectator Life
Burgh Island Hotel, Devon

The thought of staying in a hotel remains a distant memory for many. To remember how it’s done, and for inspiration of where stay, look no further than your favourite films, and the real-life hotels they feature.

The Headland Hotel in Cornwall


The Headland Hotel in Newquay was renamed ‘Hotel Excelsior’ for the film ‘The Witches’, the adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic book. Luke and his aunt Helga stay at the beachside hotel for the summer on doctor’s orders for Helga’s fluctuating diabetes. Here they encounter a convention of witches who are staying under the guise of the ‘Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.’ In fact, they plot the opposite. Anjelica Huston plays the Grand High Witch who leads the other witches in their plans to turn every child in the country into a mouse.

In real life, the five-star luxury hotel has on its doorstep the beautiful Fistral Beach, a popular destination for surfing. When Rowan Atkinson (who plays the hotel manager) ran a bath during the shoot and went to bed without turning the taps off he caused a flood on the ground floor from his second-floor bedroom, destroying lots of expensive equipment in the film’s production office on the level in between.

If you decide that hotel life is too much, you can always opt to stay in one of the luxury self-catering holiday cottages nearby on a private cliff-top.

Burgh Island Hotel in Devon


Agatha Christie wrote Evil Under the Sun while she was staying at the Burgh Island Hotel in south Devon and wrote the hotel into her story. For the glossy television adaption starring David Suchet, Poirot travels across the sea with Captain Hastings on a sea tractor to reach the residence, which is enviably positioned on its own separate island.

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