Royal Albion Hotel

A prime site

By Jean Penney, pensioner

"This is the Royal Albion Hotel and the Lion Mansions Hotel. The Royal Albion was very famous before the war because it was run by Sir Harry Preston who was a great sportsman and he entertained all the most famous people.

These hotels faced inward to the Steine because at that time people didn't want to look at the sea - they wanted to look at the gardens. On the shore side of the hotel was a house and that is where Louis Toussaud had his waxworks for very many years."

Photo:Royal Albion Hotel

Royal Albion Hotel

Image and text from the 'My Brighton' exhibit
This page was added on 22/03/2006.
Comments about this page

The veteran broadcaster Gilbert Harding was once a regular in the bar at this hotel. He was known in his heyday for being famously rude (at least on the air). He is of course now long dead.

By Edward Castle-Herbert (13/05/2007)

The Royal Albert Hotel must have witnessed much over the years.  One of the stories its walls could tell is that of the lone death of Edmund Gurney on June 23rd 1888. Many will not be familiar with his name so first a little bit about this interesting man. He was a classical scholar, musician and student of medicine. He was a friend of William James the great psychologist and author of 'The Varieties Of Religious Experience'. He was a friend also to Samuel Butler and Geoge Elliot and many other intellectuals of the period. He was also one of the key members of the SPR (Society For Psychical Research). He is described rather bluntly in The Dictionary Of National Biography in 1890 as a philosophical writer.  In June 1888 he recieved a letter asking him to go to Brighton but tell no one, not even his wife. This he did and booked into the Royal Albion Hotel alone. In the morning he was discovered dead in bed with a chloroform soaked pad over his face.  The verdict by the coroner was accidental death as he was known to have used this means to relieve neuralgia. Others have seen his death as deliberately by his own hand as he was a known manic depressive. I think that we shall never know and speculation can never be anything but idle. How ironic if, as he devoted his life to psychical research, his ghost still haunts the hotel?

By Edward Castle-Herbert (25/05/2007)

Should anyone have any stories in relation to hauntings at the hotel I would love to read them.

By Edward (30/05/2007)

In a recent letter my relative Len Prossor, now resident in California and in his 90th decade, shared with me a Gilbert Harding memory. Len when he was starting out as a musician, played with a band at The Albion and recalls that Gilbert Harding always requested show tunes. Somehow that makes sense. I can imagine the easily irritated Mr Harding tapping his foot along to a good tune when he was in a good mood. When he was not in a good mood however watch out.

By Edward (18/08/2007)

Yes, I've done the oujia board there and got plenty of spirits through. I have been a ghost hunter for 20 years.

By Bridget (07/10/2007)

Bridget, in passing did you know of Gurneys association with the place through his death?

By Edward Castle-Herbert (02/07/2008)

Me and my friend stayed in the hotel in Brighton, and we will never stay there again. It more than shook us up! There were many unexplainable incidents throughout the 2 nights there. Firstly the window did not open, so we put a book to wedge it open, we got back from the pier about 2 hours later to find the window was shut and the book was in the middle of the room and the window was off its hinge. (Room service had not been in the room because we put a do not disturb sign on the door.) Secondly, at another time, we came back to find the toilet roll off the hook in the middle of the bathroom. This freaked us out a lot! Finally, as we came out of the lift about 1 o'clock'ish in the morning, there was nobody around, the door in front of us slammed open and then shut right in front of our eyes. There was nobody on the other side of the door. We had strong feelings and this evidence that this hotel is haunted. Hope this helps!

By Lauren Hinks (23/08/2009)

My partner and I have just got back from a two night stay at the hotel. On our first night I got locked in the bathroom, although it could not be locked. My partner woke up to me shouting to let me out, and opened the door. Last night while I was fast asleep my partner was reading her book when a man walked behind her and across the bedroom. After this the bed moved significantly twice, she couldn't get warm and could not sleep. It was a very strange stay....

By Clare Phillips (24/03/2010)

In the early 1970s I used to play keyboard for the Tom Harriot Quartet as part of the hotel's entertainment, dances etc. There was a pianist playing in the lower bar in those days, I think his name was George Murell, but not quite sure.

By Barrie Searle (06/03/2011)

In the years immediately prior to the First World War my grandfather, a recent immigrant from Switzerland, worked as a waiter at the Royal Albion. I have a photograph captioned "Royal Albion Hotel 1912-14" depicting the entire dining room staff including my grandpa. Later he served many years as a waiter, and eventually Head Waiter, at the Metropole. He never mentioned any supernatural episodes concerning either location to me.

By Len Liechti (12/09/2011)

I was born and bred in Brighton, passed the Royal Albion many times and always fancied staying there as it seemed so posh to me. I know many celebs stayed there as well. I read these comments after I booked so was almost put off by the hauntings. I eventually stayed there in 2010 and was so glad I did. I know it's had its best days but I really enjoyed it. I went to do some family history research. I was on my own but had a room with 3 beds with a sea view. It was great but I did leave the bathroom light on all night just in case! My grandad worked in the Brighton Union Club in 1911 as a cook. It was in 138 Kings Road, probably a gentleman's club. His name was Frederick Newman. When he was old he was the car park attendant at The Ship Hotel I think.

By Anne Newman (10/03/2012)

Although I never stayed in this hotel I have fond memories of the place courtesy of the hi-fi shows they used to have there. Various floors and rooms were cleared of the furniture and the exhibitors would bring in their hi-fi sound equipment for demonstration purposes. The acoustics of the Royal Albion's rooms seemed absolutely spot on and far superior to hearing a sound system demonstrated in a showroom. Oh the glorious days of the Linn Sondek record deck, direct cut vinyl discs, Naim amplifiers, and Nightingale speakers!

By David Scott (11/03/2012)

I stayed here for one night on June 23rd last year with my husband. I woke in the night to find my reading glasses on the side of the bath even though I had been reading in bed prior to going to sleep. In the morning my perfume had its lid off and some of the scent had been poured in to a mug on the tea tray. When I looked on the web for any information on the hotel, I discovered Edmund Gurney philosopher was found dead in mysterious circumstances at the hotel in 1888, but the creepy thing was he was found on 23rd June. The date we stayed! 

By Donna Mccann (29/03/2014)

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