Engineering work is finally taking place at the Royal Albion Hotel at the Old Steine, some six months after a fire erupted at the 200-year-old building in July 2023, leaving only the east section of the hotel remaining. The fire service reported that the fire was accidental, potentially caused by a discarded cigarette. The Royal Albion was one of the few hotels in Brighton that still allowed smoking in rooms.

The Regency Society of Brighton and Hove described the building as of “unusual significance” given its prominent location looking over the pier. The chair of the society said that there were 3D scans and photographs taken to aid accurate restoration. They hoped for limited demolition only where necessary for safety and access reasons.

Demolition of the west part of the hotel took place between August and December 2023. Brighton & Hove City Council undertook the demolition and clearance works to make the building safe, costing over £1.5 million. Under the 1984 Building Act, the costs incurred were charged to the hotel owners – Britannia Hotels – but as of 30 January, they have yet to pay back a penny. Requests for comment to Britannia Hotels from The Argus received no response.

During these demolition works, the seafront road was closed in both directions for six weeks, a major disruption. The roads are now back open, but there is more work to be done, with Britannia Hotels suggesting more remedial work is needed before refurbishment.

There are plans for the Royal Albion to be rebuilt with a traditional aspect so that the heritage of the building is maintained. Part of the hotel is Grade II* listed by English Heritage.

There is great uncertainty of the future of the Royal Albion Hotel, with many locals concerned that if or when renovation takes place, further disruption will be caused in the Old Steine area.

Image taken by Will Gaffney, Head Photographer

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