The regency gem leading a revival: Inside the once-crumbling edifice in Kent that’s now a luxury boutique hotel with sweeping sea views
- Albion House looks out across the harbour to the English Channel and across Ramsgate Sands, Kent
- The luxury boutique hotel has 14 rooms, ranging from cosy eaves to airy suites with balconies
- Breakfasts merge into lunch and dinner, with ‘all day’ and ‘locally supplied’ the restaurant’s bywords
High on the edge of the East Cliff, Albion House looks out across the harbour to the Channel in one direction and across the vast sweep of Ramsgate Sands in the other.
In Georgian, Regency and Victorian times, Ramsgate was a thriving resort, partly due to the largesse of Mary Townley, the then owner of Albion House. She threw balls and entertained nobility, including Victoria herself, who stayed for months as a young princess.
When Mary died in 1839, a little bit of Ramsgate went with her. The house was sold and the resort’s popularity began to wane.
Grand entrance: Husband-and-wife team Ben and Emma Irvine have transformed a once-crumbling edifice into a luxury boutique hotel
There are 14 rooms, ranging from cosy eaves to airy suites with balconies. Pictured is the view from one of the rooms
Fast-forward nearly 200 years and the new host and hostess on the Regency block are husband-and-wife team Ben and Emma Irvine. They set their sights on Albion House and have transformed the crumbling edifice into a luxury boutique hotel.
The interior is full of period furniture from France, restored antique lighting, reproduction busts and contemporary linen and decor.
The walls appear to fade as you ascend the curving Georgian staircase: from a bold, dark, stormy grey in the parlour and restaurant to a pale dawn grey in the bedrooms. The beds are remarkable for their height – designed so that guests can get the best of the sea views.
The real jewel in the crown is the Townley Restaurant, a huge, high-ceilinged room, complete with sketches that hint at Victorian accomplishment and quirky features such as inkwells set into the bar rail.
French windows open on to a terrace, perfect for soaking up the last of the evening sun with a glass of sparkling Brut from Kent’s Chapel Down vineyard.
Breakfasts and brunches (ricotta pancakes with stewed pears and toasted seeds after my early-morning dip) merge into lunch and dinner, with ‘all day’ and ‘locally supplied’ the restaurant’s bywords.
Breakfasts and brunches merge into lunch and dinner, with ‘all day’ and ‘locally supplied’ the restaurant’s bywords
Albion House looks out across the harbour to the Channel in one direction and across the vast sweep of Ramsgate Sands (above) in the other
For dinner I had half a kilo of mussels with garlic, white wine and parsley (£7), followed by lamb chops with kale and salsa verde (£17).
Ramsgate boasts a wealth of Regency crescents, Georgian townhouses and Pugin-designed buildings and a diverse array of Blue Plaques – Coleridge, Darwin, Marx and Wilkie Collins all lived or lodged here.
But it’s the combination of past and present that gives it real charm: the steps leading from hotel to harbour are lined with Pugin-inspired tiles and ornate Victorian brick seafront arches contain bustling restaurants, cafes and workshops.
Albion House, with its blend of luxury boutique and Regency grandeur, is the perfect place from which to explore it all.
The rooms: There are 14, ranging from cosy eaves to airy suites with balconies. Victoria’s Room, with harbour views, is fit for a princess.
The USP: High ceilings, big windows and unrivalled vistas.
The food: Varied brunches, lunches and three-course seasonal dinners.