Gleneagles Hotel, Torquay

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The Gleneagles Hotel

The Gleneagles Hotel is a hotel in Torquay, Devon, England. It is best known as the inspiration for the British situation comedy Fawlty Towers.[1] It was owned by Donald Sinclair until 1973.[2] The hotel contains 41 rooms and is owned by Best Western.


The Gleneagles was not originally built as a hotel but was modified to become one. The hotel was first opened in 1963 and was managed by Donald Sinclair.[2] It was initially described as "upmarket" because it advertised private bathrooms in every room.[1] In the early 1970s, cast members of Monty Python's Flying Circus stayed at the Gleneagles for a planned three weeks, while filming in Paignton.[3] Due to Sinclair's rudeness towards them, which included criticising Terry Gilliam's table etiquette and tossing Eric Idle's briefcase out of a window "in case it contained a bomb",[4] the cast left the hotel apart from John Cleese and his wife, Connie Booth.[1] Cleese described Sinclair as "the most marvellously rude man I've ever met" and based his Basil Fawlty character on him when he and Booth created Fawlty Towers five years later.[5] Sinclair sold the Gleneagles in 1973. A key reminder of the Sinclair legacy remains at Gleneagles the 41 rooms all have names such as Coral or Mimosa. This was introduced in the Sinclair era of Gleneagles.[2]

In August 2003, developers submitted plans to demolish the hotel and build a block of flats on the site, claiming the building was "unattractive with little architectural merit".[6] In October, Torbay Town Council rejected the application, claiming that it would be against its rules of tourism.[7] In September 2006, Prunella Scales, who played Sybil Fawlty, was "guest of honour" at the reopening of the hotel after a £1,000,000 makeover.[4] The hotel is currently a part of the Best Western hotel chain.[1]

In popular culture[edit]

The Gleneagles Hotel is referenced in "The Builders" episode of Fawlty Towers as a suggestion for alternative dinner arrangements for the guests while Fawlty Towers was undergoing renovations.[8]


  1. ^ a b c d Savill, Richard (18 May 2002). "Fawlty hotelier was bonkers, says waitress". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 6 January 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c "The Gleneagles Hotel, Torquay". Retrieved 6 January 2014. 
  3. ^ Lethbridge, Henry J. (1 October 2003). Torquay & Paignton: the making of a modern resort. Phillimore. p. 201. ISBN 978-1-86077-260-3. 
  4. ^ a b "Sybil back at Fawlty Towers". BBC. 18 September 2006. Retrieved 6 January 2014. 
  5. ^ Drum, Rosie (22 July 2011). The Simple Life?: A Candid Account of Rosie Drum's Life from 1960s Scotland. p. 20. ISBN 978-1-4628-9296-9. 
  6. ^ "'Fawlty' hotel may be demolished". BBC News. 21 August 2003. Retrieved 6 January 2014. 
  7. ^ "'Fawlty' hotel saved from threat". BBC News. 8 October 2003. Retrieved 6 January 2014. 
  8. ^ "BBC Two – Fawlty Towers, Series 1, The Builders". BBC. 9 November 2012. Retrieved 6 January 2014. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 50°28′11″N 3°30′13.5″W / 50.46972°N 3.503750°W / 50.46972; -3.503750