Norfolk Hotel

An inscription on the side of the Norfolk Hotel bears the date 1864. That was when its foundation stone was laid and it was also the year that the nearby Grand Hotel opened.

The Norfolk, at 149 King’s Road, in fact opened two years after the Grand in a similar Italian Renaissance style. Griffins on lamp bases guard the hotel’s forecourt as lions stare down from the balconies of the second floor. Corinthian columns hold up the porch which leads on to a delightful revolving door that was perhaps added in the 1930s judging by its brass fittings.

Much of the original plasterwork survives in the lobby along with a fine set of Doric columns. On the right, a small staircase leads up to a stunning glass dome overhead and then on to the ballroom which has fluted Ionic columns and a stage that is now used as a bar. The best bit is a wonderful wooden staircase which rises to the top of the building with iron balusters which feature the abbreviation ‘NH’. Unfortunately, some of the staircase has been boxed in but presumably it’ll be easy to restore it to its original glory in due course.

The Grade II Listed Norfolk Hotel was designed by Horatio Goulty and was presumably named after the Duke of Norfolk whose family seat was and still is Arundel Castle. Having been refused planning permission for flats, a company called AVP Industries sold the hotel in 1969 to the Feld family and it became the Norfolk Resort. A £2 million refurbishment programme took place during the 1980s and the town centre’s first hotel pool was added in 1985 which now sits empty. The building is in good shape generally, though a bit of cash could be spent here and there. Today’s owners call it the Ramada Brighton but it’ll always be the Norfolk to me.

There are eight storeys in total and the best bit, shown to me by Hayley Gauna who was my excellent tour guide, is at the top. The roof space once housed a nightclub called Rafters but it’s now used for conferences. It’s certainly true to say that the sea views are stunning but I can’t help but feel that a trick is being missed as the views to the north, west and east, which I could only see from a fire exit, are amongst Brighton & Hove’s finest.