The Regent Hotel is a hotel in the town of Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, England. In recent times the hotel, like the town, has seen a decreasing number of guests from the celebrity and nobility circles. It has however had a colourful past with many famous guests and interesting events and is still by far the finest and most famous hotel in the town. It is located right in the centre of the town on the Parade not far from the town's other attractions and only a ten-minute walk away from Leamington Spa railway station.
The first steps towards building the hotel came in 1809 with the purchase of the triangular plot of land to build on, which cost £1,000, quite a sum in those days. The foundation stone was laid some eight years later on 18 July 1818 by the granddaughter of the original landowner. The hotel was officially opened on 19 August 1819. It was during the early years that the hotel had its most famous visitor, Princess Victoria, the future Queen Victoria. In 1830 the princess, age 11, stayed overnight at the hotel with her father. Eight years later from the balcony of the hotel it was announced that Victoria, now Queen, had allowed the prefix Royal on its name, which the town still bears to the day. In these early days the hotel was one of the largest in Europe with over 100 rooms. In these early days the hotel was not just a place where the wealthy tourists stayed whilst 'taking the waters' but it was also an important meeting place for local gentry and landowners, those who were to shape the future of the town.
The first of the Regent Hotel's famous set of sporting visitors stayed at the hotel on 8 April 1882. This group of aristocratic men had held a few other meetings around the county and had formed a cricket team. It was on this date however that Warwickshire County Cricket Club formally came into existence. In the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, according to Billy Wright's autobiography Captain of England the England national football team used to meet before they travelled to away matches abroad. More recently the cast and crew of the British comedy Keeping Up Appearances including Patricia Routledge, Clive Swift and Geoffrey Hughes stayed at the hotel whilst filming in Leamington.
The Hotel today
For some years now the hotel has been a Grade II* listed building. In 1998 the hotel fell on hard times and closed its doors. There was even talk of the hotel being demolished which led to an outcry amongst the residents of the town. In 2003 however it was decided that the hotel was to be extensively redecorated and refurbished as part of a scheme to regenerate the area around it. The hotel reopened in March 2005 with 54 rooms. The total cost of the work was £3 million. Although the facade had changed little, most of the ground floor is now used for as a Wagamama restaurant and the hotel itself, occupying the other floors, is a Travelodge.
- A retrospective report of the visit from The Telegraph website
- A short guide to the history of the town of The Courier website
- Brief history of the hotel in a Warwickshire County Council report on the building
- History of Warwickshire Bears on their official website
- Filming locations of Keeping Up Appearances
- An English Heritage webpage about the hotel
- Building company Wilson-Bowden's end of year report
- Local newspaper report on the opening of the restaurant