Gleneagles Hotel, Torquay

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Gleneagles Hotel
Gleneagles Hotel, Torquay - - 1444339.jpg
The hotel in 2009
Alternative namesBest Western Gleneagles Hotel
General information
Architectural styleModern
Coordinates50°28′11″N 3°30′13.5″W / 50.46972°N 3.503750°W / 50.46972; -3.503750Coordinates: 50°28′11″N 3°30′13.5″W / 50.46972°N 3.503750°W / 50.46972; -3.503750
ClosedFebruary 2015
Technical details
Floor count3
Other information
Number of rooms41

The Gleneagles Hotel was a hotel in Torquay, Devon, England. The 41-bed establishment, which opened in the 1960s, was the inspiration for Fawlty Towers, a British situation comedy first broadcast in the mid-1970s. John Cleese, and his then wife Connie Booth, were inspired to write the series after they had stayed at the hotel and witnessed the eccentric behaviour of its owner, Donald Sinclair (who sold the hotel in 1973[1]). Later the hotel was managed by Best Western. In February 2015 the hotel closed. It will be replaced by retirement apartments.


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.[3] 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.[4] Due to Sinclair's rudeness towards them, which included criticising Terry Gilliam's "too American" table etiquette and tossing Eric Idle's briefcase out of a window "in case it contained a bomb",[5] the cast left the hotel apart from John Cleese and his wife, Connie Booth.[3] 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.[6] Sinclair sold the Gleneagles in 1973. For the rest of its existence the hotel retained a reminder of Sinclair's legacy: the 41 rooms all had names such as Coral or Mimosa. This was introduced in the Sinclair era of Gleneagles.[1]

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".[7] In October, Torbay Town Council rejected the application, claiming that it would be against its rules of tourism.[8] 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.[5] The hotel was a part of the Best Western hotel chain.[9]

After the hotel was closed permanently in February 2015, permission was given in November 2015 to demolish the hotel and replace it with retirement apartments, to be built by Churchill Retirement Living.[10][11]

In popular culture[edit]

The Gleneagles Hotel is mentioned in "The Builders" episode of Fawlty Towers as a suggestion for alternative dinner arrangements for the guests while Fawlty Towers was undergoing renovations.[12]


  1. ^ a b "The Gleneagles Hotel, Torquay". Retrieved 6 January 2014.
  2. ^ "The Gleneagles Hotel, Torquay". Retrieved 26 April 2016.
  3. ^ a b Savill, Richard (18 May 2002). "Fawlty hotelier was bonkers, says waitress". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 6 January 2014.
  4. ^ Lethbridge, Henry J. (1 October 2003). Torquay & Paignton: the making of a modern resort. Phillimore. p. 201. ISBN 978-1-86077-260-3.
  5. ^ a b "Sybil back at Fawlty Towers". BBC. 18 September 2006. Retrieved 6 January 2014.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ "'Fawlty' hotel may be demolished". BBC News. 21 August 2003. Retrieved 6 January 2014.
  8. ^ "'Fawlty' hotel saved from threat". BBC News. 8 October 2003. Retrieved 6 January 2014.
  9. ^ "Best Western Hotel Gleneagles". Best Western. Archived from the original on 19 September 2013. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  10. ^ "'Fawlty Towers' hotel in Torquay to be demolished". BBC NEWS. 26 November 2015.
  11. ^ Morris, Steven (16 March 2016). "Hotel that inspired John Cleese's classic Fawlty Towers demolished". The Guardian. Guardian Newspapers. Retrieved 26 April 2016.
  12. ^ "BBC Two – Fawlty Towers, Series 1, The Builders". BBC. 9 November 2012. Retrieved 6 January 2014.

External links[edit]