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The glamorous hotels that have been converted into flats and offer grand ballrooms and basement pools

Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin and Leonard Cohen all, famously, lived in New York s bohemian Chelsea Hotel. It s now undergoing refurbishment and set to re-open to guests next year.

But these days you can check into hotels, even those with an illustrious past, full-time as an owner because many are being turned into houses.

In Hertfordshire, Harpenden s last hotel is set to become 37 homes, while a scheme of new apartments called 51 Degrees Latitude is being carved from a former hotel overlooking Tenby s South Beach.

Art Deco masterpiece: The Grand Ocean Hotel at Saltdean, near Brighton

Art Deco masterpiece: The Grand Ocean Hotel at Saltdean, near Brighton

In Sheffield, the city s historic Beauchief Hotel will become 30 new homes and in Newquay, Cornwall, two hotels are being considered by the council for apartments.

The advantages are clear. Former hotels are often in prime spots that no house builder could secure for new homes now on the seafront, in the city centre, next to railway stations.

They also often possess a wow-factor that makes them stand out a grand ballroom, a basement pool or a large gym, for example. Car parking or garaging and landscaped grounds are also commonplace in former hotels.

Perhaps the best known conversion in recent times has been the Art Deco Grand Ocean Hotel at Saltdean, near Brighton.

When it opened in 1938, it played host to royalty and was later a war-time fighter pilot base, a branch of Butlin s and appeared in an episode of Agatha Christie s Poirot and now it has become 183 apartments.

Leaders estate agents has two, two-bedroom flats for sale there from 289,000.

Scenic stairway: The Grand Ocean Hotel's magnificent spiral staircase

Scenic stairway: The Grand Ocean Hotel's magnificent spiral staircase

Retired teacher Helen Hick bought a studio apartment in another converted Thirties hotel in the St Leonards area of central Exeter.

The entrance hall is grand, there s a marble and wooden staircase and a lift. No purpose-built block would have that range of features, she says.

Luke Johnson, of David Burr estate agency in Suffolk, says there are other advantages. You get a modern home in a historic shell with character, he says.

Old meets new: This one-bedroom, ground-floor apartment in Wickhambrook has a spacious open-plan living room and kitchen. Amid the modernity sits one of the old hotel s original fireplaces

Old meets new: This one-bedroom, ground-floor apartment in Wickhambrook has a spacious open-plan living room and kitchen. Amid the modernity sits one of the old hotel s original fireplaces

Another agent, Darren Warren of Jackson-Stops & Staff, says communal outside space can be at a premium in new-build blocks, whereas hotels frequently offer more.

The grounds of hotel conversions are often large, featuring beautifully manicured lawns, he says.

But buyers are advised to check the weak spots that occur with all conversions. These include the quality of dividing walls, sound-proofing and cleanliness of communal corridors.

The best conversions are created vertically, otherwise you have spacious apartments on the ground floor and rabbit-warren-type space on the upper floors.

Well appointed: Molyneux Place, converted from a hotel, is one of Tunbridge Wells most desirable apartment blocks. This two-bedroom, first-floor flat has a terrace and Victorian features such as coving

Well appointed: Molyneux Place, converted from a hotel, is one of Tunbridge Wells most desirable apartment blocks. This two-bedroom, first-floor flat has a terrace and Victorian features such as coving

'If the job has been done quickly and cheaply without clever ergonomics, the result can be bad, warns James Greenwood, of Stacks Property Search.

He also urges buyers to check ground rent costs, service and communal charges, access and privacy, but adds: Even if the gardens are communal, outside space should not be under-estimated.

And if you do buy a home in what was once a hotel, you may well be able to impress your friends with a little celebrity stardust.

London s former Halcyon Hotel in Notting Hill guests included Mick Jagger, Robert de Niro and Yoko Ono is now a set of homes, while elsewhere in the capital some of the few properties overlooking the gardens of Buckingham Palace are in a hotel next door, recently converted into flats.

Home, suite home, as they say.

Tags Property

ABOUT THE AUTHOR celebrityrave

Journalist, writer and broadcaster, based in London and Paris, her latest book is Touché: A French Woman's Take on the English. Read more articles from Agnes.

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