Midland Hotel, Morecambe, Marine Rd W, Morecambe, LA4 4BU – Visit Now
The Midland hotel in Morecambe is perhaps one of the most recognisable buildings on the shorefront. A bright white structure dating back to 1933, the hotel curves away from the coast, elegantly-tiered and with two statement seahorses above its entrance. Now managed by English Lakes, it’s a four-star establishment, with 44 Art Deco rooms. The hotel’s Rotunda bar boasts an extraordinary circular chandelier and its Sun Terrace restaurant, with stunning views over Morecambe Bay, was awarded an AA rosette for its contemporary British cuisine, focusing particularly on local ingredients. Guests also have use of the Sandpiper Club at nearby sister hotel Lancaster House.
Now Grade II listed, The Midland was originally designed to be one of the most ambitious and progressive buildings of its time. The architect was Oliver Hill, who saw an opportunity to create the first really modern hotel of the 1930s. His aspiration was to create a building of international quality – a goal he achieved by overseeing every last detail, from the streamline structure to the door handles. Hill collaborated with sculptor Eric Gill on the interiors: Gill created the hotel’s iconic seahorses, as well as the ornate medallion above the main staircase, and a huge bas-relief for the entrance lounge. His original design for the latter was deemed too controversial at the time; depicting capering, naked young men and women, it was initially titled ‘High Jinks in Paradise’.
Even when The Midland first opened, it was considered a landmark building: over 500 people turned up unannounced on the day, and Architecture Illustrated magazine dedicated an entire issue to it. The Grand Opening saw dignitaries and VIPs enjoying a luncheon of iced melon or shrimps, cold soup, and a main of salmon or lamb. Subsequent guests are said to include Coco Chanel, Sir Laurence Olivier and Noel Coward, as well as many of the numerous actors and musicians who’ve performed at Lancaster’s Winter Gardens theatre.
Used as a military hospital during World War II and as a location to film Agatha Christie’s Poirot series for TV in the 1980s, The Midland fell into a state of disrepair over the years and was closed in 1998. It wasn’t until 2006, after nearly a decade at the mercy of the coastal weather, that property developers Urban Splash took it over, restoring the building to its former glory. Now, the Midland has regained its rightful place as one of the architectural jewels in Morecambe’s crown.