24th May 1895

The Imperial Hotel opened for the first time

The Imperial Hotel has been a feature of Rocquaine Bay since 1895. It opened in time for the start of that year’s summer season, on 24 May.

It had 17 rooms for guests and a pavilion for picnic eating to one site. The Star described it as being “a considerable distance from town [but] placed in direct communication with it by the many cars that run daily around the island during the season”.

Just like old times

Getting to and from Town may now be easier, and the hotel has been extended over the years, but otherwise many features remain the same. It still has just 17 guest rooms, all of which have en suite bathroom facilities. In an age when bathing facilities might have been a second thought, The Star did comment on “its sanitary arrangements being perfect” at the time of the hotel’s opening.

One thing has disappeared since the Imperial opened more than a century ago, and that’s the stable. This housed the horses that were used to take the aforementioned “cars” up and down the steep hill to Pleinmont.

The hotel was established by Henry Shirvell, whose father – also called Henry – ran the Channel Islands Hotel.

Another Imperial Hotel

The name Imperial was a popular one. This wasn’t the first Imperial Hotel in the Channel Islands: an establishment with the very same name had opened in Jersey almost 30 years earlier – in September 1866. Sadly, though, that Imperial hadn’t lasted. With a downturn in business it shut its doors before Guernsey’s more modest equivalent opened up.

The building that once housed Jersey’s Imperial Hotel is still standing, and in fact re-opened as a hotel in the 1950s, albeit under a different name. St Helier’s four-star Hotel de France, as it’s now known, remains one of the largest hotels in the Channel Islands, with 129 rooms and a 17,000 sq ft wellness spa.


FREE Guernsey history newsletter

Don't miss our weekly update on Guernsey's fascinating history. We promise never to sell your data to anyone else, and there's a super-easy unsubscribe link on the bottom of each email so you can leave whenever you want. We'll also keep you up to date with our latest book releases and early-bird discounts.


Other events that occured in May

Priaulx Library opens for the first time 1st
Horse racing returns to L’Ancresse race course 2nd
Guernsey deportee, nurse Gladys Skillett was born
“Twink” goes missing on its way to Guernsey 3rd
Role of Chief Minister of Guernsey abolished 4th
Guernsey Airport opened for business 5th
Alderney debated in the House of Commons 6th
Songs of Praise comes from Guernsey 7th
Final issue of Deutsche Guernsey-Zeitung was published 8th
Guernsey was liberated from German occupation 9th
A Guernsey retiree’s £1m offer attracts 57,000 requests 10th
A liberation celebration ended in disaster 11th
Guernsey plays Tottenham Hotspur 12th
Guernsey’s telephone wars broke out 13th
British papers reported Dame of Sark’s deportation 14th
The States of Guernsey bought Aurigny 15th
Alderney was liberated at the end of the second world war 16th
Herm goes back on the market 17th
A mainland murder with a Guernsey connection 18th
Guernsey declared a State of Emergency 19th
Wartime diplomat Wilfred Gallienne born in Guernsey 20th
Hauteville House is bequeathed to the City of Paris 21st
Guernsey poet and painter Denys Corbet was born 22nd
John Doyle was appointed Lieutenant-Governor 23rd
The Imperial Hotel opened for the first time 24th
Elizabeth College is founded in St Peter Port 25th
Game of Thrones actor Roy Dotrice was born 26th
Head of Guernsey CID is shot in St Peter Port 27th
Work started on the Victoria Tower
Guernsey’s first paid constables were hired 28th
Guernsey woman advised to leave for her safety 29th
Occupation stories occupy the mainland papers 30th
“Overdose” verdict in Guernsey farmer’s death inquiry 31st