Cliftonville’s unique Walpole Bay Hotel to put business ‘on hold’ for the winter

Walpole Bay Hotel Photo Frank Leppard

The historic Walpole Bay Hotel will close over the winter season, meaning redundancy for its remaining 18 staff.

Owner Jane Bishop says the venue will shut its doors on October 31 and remain closed until April 1 due to the impact of covid meaning there are no bookings to sustain business through those months.

The hotel and museum shut in March when covid restrictions were brought in by the government to try and stem the pandemic. The site reopened in July with social distancing measures in place and currently has guests. However, the cancellation or postponement until next year of weddings and family events, plus the knock-on effects of Dreamland’s 2020 closure meaning bookings for gig goers evaporating – and many needing to be refunded – has meant Jane and her family have had to make the decision to put the business on hold.

She said: “We are closing for the winter to preserve the business. We could not have had more help from the government but there are no bookings and we cannot hold functions.

“We knew this might happen when Dreamland shut for the year as we get their accommodation bookings and fill up overnight when a concert is announced. Everyone cancelled shows in March and we have been having to refund all those bookings.

“Everybody is in the same boat but we have had to make this decision and put all our staff on redundancy notice.

!We will be ‘cocooning’ from the 31st (October) and will rise like a phoenix from the covid ashes on April 1.

“Next year will be a bumper year. Our clients are so loyal any have rebooked their weddings for next year so they can come here. We have been here 106 years and this happened under our watch, which saddens me, but we will be back with a bang in April.”

Jane says she hopes to be able to re-employ her staff when the hotel reopens.

Photo Frank Leppard

The Walpole Bay Hotel was built in 1914, extended in 1927 and was then  lovingly restored to her former glory by the Bishop Family.

It was built by Louisa Budge and stayed in by her family until 1995 when the Bishops took over.

The hotel is widely known for its Edwardian restaurant, 1920’s Ballroom and quirky living museum with memorabilia and documentation from across eras.

The venue has also been a filming hotspot over the years, hosting movie and music shoots, adverts and more.

It has been used as a back drop for The Republican video for “Try Everything” featured on Top of the Pops and MTV. It was transformed to a ‘Scottish tenement building’ in a film by Matt Coleshaw, a Gentlemen’s Club for an Aston Martin trade advertisement, the “Dastardly Deed” Hotel location in “Mack & Mabel” for the Marlowe Theatre, the secret venue for “Star of the Night” with Jane MacDonald, BBC2 “One Foot in the Past.”

Photo Daren Carter

Paloma Faith stayed as a guest while shooting a music video last year and, also last year, actress and producer Sadie Frost, son Raff Law, Libertines member Carl Barat, Vikings actor Jack McEvoy and writer/musician Johnny Cooke filmed short movie Running Man at the venue.

Sadie Frost was producer for the film shot at the Walpole Bay Hotel

House of Fraser also filmed at the site, with Jane – or rather her magnificently Bee-hived hair – taking a role in the shoot and the hotel and the Bishops featured in The Hotel Inspector with Alex  Polizzi and on antiques programme Salvage Hunter.

Last year alone year alone the hotel hosted five music video productions, 12 fashion shoots, vlogs plus adverts and films. Channel 4 filmed its  interview with Libertines frontman Pete Doherty there, rap and Top Boy star Kano booked out the dining room while filming for the series in 2018 and presenter Louis Theroux was spotted enjoying a stay in December of that year.


  1. Worrying that they can’t get decent occupancy from OTA channels. I thought “staycations” were all the rage.

  2. A great shame. One of Thanet’s unique gems. I do so hope that The Walpole Bay and its staff will return in April in a good place to continue next year, when hopefully we have moved on from these devastating times ❤️

  3. Good luck to everyone associated with Walpole Bay Hotel, we will miss you until you arise Phoenix like…..

  4. To Jane, your family, and all your wonderful staff, we hope that next year will bring better times for you and know that you have not taken this decision lightly as “the Bay” is your life! All the best from Lorraine and Alan Barker

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