Travel: Morecambe on comeback trail to reclaim title as ‘Naples of North’

Morecambe Sailing Club.
Morecambe Sailing Club.
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There was a time when Morecambe was known as the Naples of the North.

As we arrived in the Lancashire resort on the tail end of Storm Ophelia with the sky and sea a moody grey and the wind howling it was hard to see why.

The distinctive Art Deco facade of The Midland Hotel.

The distinctive Art Deco facade of The Midland Hotel.

Equally baffling was why The Midland Hotel, an iconic grade two listed Art Deco masterpiece, which stands alone on the promenade, was ever built there.

But a new day dawned and, this being the UK, we woke to sunshine and blue skies. Now, the vista from our top floor suite was almost Mediterranean.

From our balcony we took in the stunning panorama; the vast, ethereal beauty of Morecambe Bay, from Heysham to the south across the shimmering Irish Sea to the beauty of the Lakeland fells.

Now we could see why Morecambe, now a little down at heel like many of our once grand seaside resorts, was once THE place to be. And why The Midland was built and attracted the in-crowd of the 30s.

Fast forward to 2017 and Morecambe is fighting back with its impressive prom and striking public art and the four star The Midland - rescued, restored and re-opened in 2008 attracts guests keen to stay in an hotel with a history that nods to a Golden Age as well as see what Morecambe and the wider area has to offer.

An interesting history of the hotel (The Midland Hotel: Morecambe’s White Hope by Barry Guise and Pam Hope) recounts how when an episode of the popular Agatha Christie drama

Poirot was watched by 12 million viewers when it was broadcast in February 1990, the hotel was inundated with phone calls.

The 1933 hotel - white rendered and in the fashionable style of the era with sweeping curves reminiscent of an ocean liner - had been used for exterior shot in Double Sin and callers demanded to know whether it was actually real.

Sadly , eight years later it closed in disrepair and it would be another decade before it re-opened; now it is part of the family-run English Lakes stable.

That exterior is still impressive. And walking into the huge lobby with its restored grand, cantilevered staircase you do feel like you are stepping onto the set of a period drama.

Elsewhere, where period features did not survive, restoration follows the 30s trend for sleek minimalism.

Our spacious luxury suite boasted not only stunning views, but also a hot tub - and several comfy seating options - from which to enjoy them. The vast, sleek, modern bathroom features his and hers basins - and loos, a huge free-standing bath and rainfall shower.

We had dinner in the Sun Terrace Restaurant where local produce is the order of the day and

the cooking is modern and stylish. Breakfast there comes with views of the prom and the bay

beyond. Less formal dining is offered in the - circular as the name suggests - Rotunda Bar, which was popular with guests and visitors alike for drinks too.

A bit of research had revealed that The Bay Cycle Way - which stretches 130km from Barrow in Cumbria to just south of Lancaster passes right by the hotel ( as does the more challenging Way of the Roses which finishes in Bridlington on the Yorkshire coast).

So we set off for a leisurely ride along the five mile long promenade admiring the metal sculptures of birds that form part of the award-winning Tern Project ( for the bay is a world-renowned area for birdlife), along with the statue of the much loved comic Eric Morecambe of course.

On a clear day we enjoyed glorious views of the lakeland fells, which were just beginning to take on an autumnal hue.

We turned inland to follow the Lancaster Canal to the that historic, bustling city, returning along the traffic-free Greenway which links the city and Morecambe.

After an enjoyable twenty miles in the saddle that balcony hot tub was very alluring.

Travel facts:

- At The Midland Hotel – – we stayed in a luxury suite . Prices start from £270 per room per night, bed and breakfast (£326 with dinner).Classic rooms start from £125 per room, per night bed and breakfast - £165 with sea view.

- Special Offers: A two night winter saver is available with bed and breakfast including dinner on the first night from £250 per stay.

- The offer runs from December 4- March 22.To book, call 0330 4042928.

- For ideas of what to do in Morecambe and the wider area visit the website.