The Royal Hotel in David Place claims to be the island's longest established hotel, although this claim is disputed by the Royal Yacht Hotel at The Weighbridge, which was almost certainly founded on its present site in the 1820s. Given that the Royal, David Place, is now generally accepted to have been founded in 1842, that also makes it younger than the Somerville Hotel at St Aubin and the Pomme d'Or Hotel
The second edition of the tourism guide Summer Stroll through the Island of Jersey mentioned a Royal Hotel in 1811, but it is not known where this hotel was situated.
It is not known exactly what the hotel was known as in 1842.
The first owner was Elias Bree, who had previously run a hotel in Rue de Derriere (King Street). He called his new establishment Bree's Boarding house, certainly as early as 1848, and that was still its name in 1859, although by 1875 it had been enlarged and was known as the Stopford Hotel. In 1891 it was known as the Royal Stopford Hotel, although it is unlikely that the prefix 'Royal' had any official standing. By 1896 the Bree family had changed the name to Bree's Royal Hotel, and so it remained until 1966, when it became known simply as the Royal Hotel.
A brochure compiled by the proprietor of the hotel about the year 1894 commences:
- “The Hotel is situated in the healthiest part of St Helier and is replete with every comfort. Its Public Rooms, which cover an area of 6,000 square feet, are unsurpassed by any Hotel in the Channel Islands and comprise of spacious Entrance Hall and Lounge, noble Dining Room, Drawing, Reading, Smoking, Billiard and Commercial Rooms. There is a dark room for photographers”.
Important dinners were held at the hotel during the 20th century. The Evening Post held a dinner on 12 December 1926, to celebrate the diamond wedding of Mr and Mrs W E Guiton, the proprietors of the newspaper.
The inaugural dinner of the Jersey Rotary Club took place at the hotel on 20 February 1924.
From the hotel website
The Best Western Royal hotel has long been one of St Helier’s principal hotels. Its town centre location and impressive physical structure have helped it to remain one of the most successful hotels in Jersey.
The precise date of the founding of this hotel is not known but it was probably in 1842. The Royal is arguably the longest established hotel on the Island of Jersey. Its first owner was Elias Bree, who had previously kept a hotel in Rue de Derriere (King Street).
During the course of its existence it has had various names:
- Bree’s Boarding House (1842)
- The Stopford Hotel (1875)
- The Royal (Stopford) Hotel (1891)
- Bree’s Royal Hotel (1896)
- The Royal Hotel (1966)
A 1894 hotel brochure contains only two comments by visitors, one of which is reproduced:
- Mr C H Wood writes in Argosy "We at once decided upon the Bree’s Royal Hotel, and in no way regretted the choice, for it was well placed, quiet and comfortable and moderate in its charges"
The management has found, contained within a Press Cuttings Book, menu cards of dinners dating from the last century that have been held at the Royal. Some of these menu cards are in respect of notable local events.
- The Evening Post held a dinner on December 21st 1926, for Mr and Mrs. W.E. Guiton (the proprietors of the newspaper), on the occasion of the celebration of Mr and Mrs Guiton’s Diamond Wedding on December 17th 1926.
- A complimentary dinner and presentation was given to Mr J.E. Pinel, the Constable of St. Helier, on April 11th 1913, while a similar dinner was given at the same hotel for him on the occasion of his being elected to the Magisterial Bench in 1924.
- The inaugural dinner of the Jersey Rotary Club took place here on February 20th 1924.
This menu book contains much information that could be of use to local historians regarding the social, political and commercial matters of the Island’s economy.
The exterior frontage of the hotel has been restored in keeping with its form when it was Bree’s Royal Hotel. This frontage is of architectural merit and has been designated as such by the local planning department of the States of Jersey. This ensures that the building is protected for future generations.
Morvan Hotels, a long established local hotel company, has taken ownership of the hotel, having purchased the property in 2005. Recently, extensive modernisation and refurbishment of the interior has taken place.
Among those who have stayed at the hotel over the years was none other than Cecil Rhodes, the Victorian businessman, colonialist, politician and founder of Rhodesia. The 1861 census shows him as a boy of seven, staying at what was then known as Bree's Boarding House, along with his aunt Sophia Peacock, who was his mother's sister. We are indebted for this information to Roy Stockdill, a genealogist who specialises in the history of famous people.
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Brees Hotel's courtesy vehicle, photographed by Percival Dunham