Burgh Island Hotel

Hotel Interiors

One day I received a call asking me to take pictures of the Burgh Island hotel. This Art Deco hotel that stands on its own island off the Devon Coast, had undergone a refurbishment. I was so excited, traveling down through the beautiful west country. You can image how in awe I was when I finally laid eyes on the island. 

Burgh Island has stood the test of time since its construction in the 1920s, the era of elegance and glamour. The hotel has hosted many famous people. Agatha Christie wrote two of her books and stayed in the beech house for an extended stay. It’s featured in a few films and TV programs. A friend of mine who’s a Make Up Artist knew it well having worked on a production of a Poirot there.

My first visit allowed me to capture the recent renovation of the hotel’s public spaces. The Nettlefold dining room with views of the sea and Devon coastline. Then the Grand Ballroom, with its grand piano, sophisticated surroundings and glamour. Then of course, The Palm Court where they serve cocktails under the colourful peacock stained-glass dome ceiling.

I had the whole hotel to myself

I will never forget the privilege of being the only person in the whole hotel. I have had some surreal moments in my career and this was definitely one of them. Just as we came out of lockdown in 2021, once again I came back to shoot the hotel. They had taken the opportunity of this quiet time to refurbish all the bedrooms. I had the entire hotel to myself; it was like being in an episode of Scooby Doo. It was a wonderful time to wander through the deserted hotel, capturing its beauty. I shot every bedroom bar one.

That didn’t sit well with me, how was I supposed to say I shot the whole hotel when there was a room that wasn’t ready? So, one visit turned into three, my love for the Island hotel increased with each visit. I returned again to photograph that one bedroom and the Artist Studio. A suite that sits above the historic Pilchard Pub; a 700 year old smugglers inn, that belongs to the hotel.

Since my last visit that glass Peacock dome ceiling in the Palm Court bar had a refurbishment. It is such a beautiful feature, I wanted to do a great job of capturing it.

Dawn Verses Dusk

The challenge when photographing a hotel is working around the working property. Guests are always a priority, and you can’t ask for everyone to leave a space so you can photograph it. As a photographer I’ve learnt to get up super early and shoot the public areas when they are quiet. I remember telling my client I would shoot the bar a bit before 6 – she looked shocked, until I clarified I meant AM not PM. She did think I was going to make her clear the bar of guests as they were coming down for pre-dinner cocktails. 

Burgh Island Hotel is such a special place and I do feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to photograph it. Even more so 3 times! And not forgetting that I also got to stay there and eat the amazing food that they served. I never had the correct attire to spend an evening in the ball room but maybe one day…

Art Deco Hotel Bar, Palm Court, South Devon