Agatha Christie’s Muse: Burgh Island Is on the Market for $18.9 Million

According to Knight Frank listing agent Matthew Smith, the property generated revenue in excess of £6 million last year.

View from the South West Coastal Path near Thurlestone towards Burgh Island in Devon on May 24, 2022
Before it became a haven for the rich and famous, Burgh Island was a home base for pirates and smugglers. Knight Frank

Burgh Island, where Agatha Christie wrote and set her famous mystery novels Evil Under the Sun featuring Hercule Poirot and And Then There Were None, is up for sale for £15 million ($18.9 million). In addition to 21 pristine acres of island in the English Channel, the listing—which hit the market on Wednesday, May 10—includes the iconic Art Deco Burgh Island Hotel, designed by architect Matthew Dawson and opened in 1929.

“It is rare for a hotel of such character and heritage to come to the open market,” Knight Frank listing agent Matthew Smith told Observer. “Burgh Island Hotel is a stunning example of Art Deco architecture…steeped in amazing history and provides guests with a sophisticated and unique experience.” 

A large hotel property with floor-to-ceiling windows on the edge of the ocean.
The Burgh Island Hotel is considered among the best examples of working Art Deco architecture in Europe. Knight Frank

Before it became a haven for the rich and famous, Burgh Island was a home base for pirates and smugglers. It was in the 1890s that the island first became a cultural staple of the elite after music hall star George H. Chirgwin built a weekend home there to host parties. When filmmaker Archibald Nettlefold purchased Burgh Island in 1927, it was already a thriving seaside destination. In the 1930s, the hotel underwent a series of improvements and expansions under Nettlefold’s watch, including the addition of the actual captain’s cabin of the 1821 HMS Ganges warship to the property. 

The hotel features 25 ensuite sea-view guest bedrooms and suites, all with original Art Deco decor and a helipad for easy landing. Several suites and rooms are named after famous guests of the hotel, including Noel Coward, George Formby, Josephine Baker, Lord Louis Mountbatten and Nancy Cunard. Two suites are also named after the main characters in Christie’s books set on the islands, Jane Marple and Hercule Poirot. Two other suites, The Beach House and The Artist’s Studio, are external to the hotel and provide greater privacy. Guests have access to a tennis court, private mermaid pool, and spa treatment rooms.

The hotel’s Palm Court Lounge features an Art Deco glass ceiling and furniture. Knight Frank

There are ample options for dining with three restaurants in the hotel. The Palm Court Lounge transforms into a cocktail bar at night. The Nettlefold offers fresh, local produce with ocean views on a cliff-top setting. Finally, The Grand Ballroom boasts a black tie and evening dress policy, the peak of fine dining with jazz and live pianists, and Art Deco murals and furnishings that allow patrons to step back in time. 

Agatha Christie’s beach house is among the available sanctuaries at the hotel. The author had the seaside retreat built into the rock face of the island in the 1930s as an escape from the mainland. The house is completely renovated into a modern and sophisticated refuge, incorporating cozy blues and natural textures throughout, with a deep soaking tub and an outdoor hot tub added for ultimate relaxation. It features a gorgeous deck and panoramic sea views.

The property features 21 pristine acres of island in the English Channel. Knight Frank

London Fashion Week founder Tony Porter and his wife Beatrice purchased the property in 1985 and made it their life’s work to restore the hotel to its former Art Deco glory. The hotel served as a recovery center for wounded RAF soldiers during World War II. A bombing severely damaged the top two floors, and the property fell into increasing disrepair until it was renovated in the 1990s. A focal point of the hotel was the stained glass dome of the Palm Court Lounge, but when the Porters took it on, half of the glass ceiling was missing. 

When current owner Giles Fuchs of London-based firm Office Space in Town bought the property for £8.4 million in 2018, the property required another round of repairs. Fuchs was attracted to “its unique history, charm, and character. I couldn’t help but fall in love,” he told Observer. Fuchs saw an opportunity to preserve the hotel’s “unique atmosphere and art deco tradition” while giving the property “improved, modernized facilities.” According to Smith, Fuchs’ overhaul of the hotel turned it into a flourishing property that “generated in excess of £6m turnover in its most recent financial year.” 

Fuchs was also instrumental in getting the historic unanimous approval decision in December 2022 for a multi-million dollar renovation and expansion plan. However, Fuchs is ready to part ways and hand the island over to “a new owner, who can continue its legacy and take it to even greater heights,” feeling that “the time is right” for someone else to take on the behemoth task.

Agatha Christie’s Muse: Burgh Island Is on the Market for $18.9 Million