The History of Belle Vue Royal Hotel
Belle Vue "Royal" Hotel
The story behind the suffix "Royal" in the hotel's name is an interesting one. It comes not from being visited by the British Royal Family, but instead is believed to come from the Royal Mail carriages that stopped and set off from the hotel in its early years. In the mid 1800's, there was something of a rivalry between the Belle Vue and the long established Gogerddan Arms. The Gogerddan Arms ran the mail coach to Shrewsbury, and as the profits from the operation came from passenger fares, it was jealously guarded. When the Belle Vue defiantly put a competitor on the road it led to a price war that was carried to almost suicidal lengths. The Belle Vue lowered its fare on the Shrewsbury route and so the Gogerddan Arms were forced to follow suit. Lower and lower the fares went until the incredulous passengers were being taken to Shrewsbury for only 2s 6d, an astonishingly low rate for the time. When the Belle Vue hinted that a free breakfast would be thrown in for good measure, the Gogerddan Arms threw in the towel. With the road all to itself, the Belle Vue was free to raise the fare to the original 24 shillings. In 1852, a seven-day stay for two people including full board and liquid refreshments came to £9, 3s, 1d.
An Historic Hotel
Below are a few mentions of the hotel from the pages of history courtesy of the National Library of Wales and Ceredigion Museum, both within walking distance of Belle Vue.
Lodged at the Belle Vue, and excellent house
Forbes, J.D., Tour of Wales, 1830, University of St Andrews Library, Deposit M, Box no 1.9, p. 65
Belle Vue hotel commands a charming view of the bathing machines and consequently the belles using them and I suppose is the reason why it is so called.
Foley, Edward, Captain of Ridgeway, Pembrokeshire Tours of Cheshire, Caernarfon, Denbigh, Merioneth, Flint and Cardigan and Liverpool about 1830 NLW R.K.Lucas Papers nos 1951-4
The ruinous old castle of Aberystwyth flanks the crescent at one end, and a splendid new hotel terminates it at the other [presumably the Belle Vue], the intermediate houses being handsome lodgings, all apparently occupied, and every window peopled with gay parties, who seemed as if they were enjoying a perpetual jubilee.
Sinclair, Catherine, (1800-1864) Hill and Valley, or Hours in England and Wales 1833 1st edition, New York, 1838 2nd Edition, Whyte and Co, Edinburgh, 1839, 462 pp
At the Belle Vue the Harper came every day at 1 and played incessantly till 10 at night.
Rev Joseph Romilly's Tour of Wales, 1837, Edited by Rev M.G.R. Morris, Llandysul, 1998
Almost immediately on our arrival at Aberystwyth we were gratified for the first time since our arrival in Wales by hearing the Welsh harp so celebrated for the beauty of its tones and so appropriated to the wild and mountainous district in which it prevails. The harp was played at our Hotel by a round faced hearty looking Welsh man and it certainly made a very favourable impression on my mind.’
Horace, Francis, Journal of a tour 1837, NLW MSS 11596B, p. 229 - 235
Charles Marshall of the Belle Vue Royal Hotel begs to inform his friends and those who have so kindly bestowed their patronage on him during the present season, that he has fixed his house-warming dinner on Wednesday 28th October at 4.00 p.m. Tickets including wine and desert £1.1.0
An advert for September 26th, 1840
In the evening a grand dinner was given in the Belle Vue Hotel - a magnificent building with indifferent fare, worse attendance and high charges.
Anon, 'Welsh Journal, 1841' NLW MS 748B, p. 89-90
It was, however, nearly dark when we reached this watering place, where unfortunately the inn was nearly all occupied by tourists, so that it was not till after some trouble we could obtain lodgings, which we did at last in one of the neighbouring houses. As a sort of compensation for this, a serenade was given to the illustrious guest, who was soon recognised – [in] spite of his incognito, and at a late hour of the night, ‘God Save the Queen’ was sung.
Other evidence in the diary suggests that the inn that was full was the Belle Vue.
Carus, Carl Gustav, The King of Saxony’s journey through England and Scotland (London, 1846)
The official opening of the Railway Station. A dinner was held at the Belle Vue in the evening to mark the event.
Aberystwyth Observer, 23.7.1864, 30.7.1864
..The Hotel has been enlarged and a Billiard, Smoking and Chess Room added to the establishment... An omnibus meets every train.
Morgan, T. O., (1869), New Guide to Aberystwyth and its Environs, advert, p. 167
The Belle Vue Royal Hotel occupies a position on the Marine Terrace, midway between the Promenade Pier and the Bath's House. It commands by its position, a full view of Cardigan Bay, the sight starting from the Carnarvon Hills...This hotel, which enjoys a deservedly general reputation for elegance and comfort, is managed by the proprietor, Mr Jonathan Pell. It contains elegantly fitted ladies and gentleman's Coffee Rooms, Commercial Room, Billiard Room, and 60 Bed-rooms. An extensive Posting Establishment is attached to the Hotel.
Morgan, T. O., (1869), New Guide to Aberystwyth and its Environs, p. 16
For some time during the Second World War, the Belle Vue was occupied by RAF pilots, some of whom drew on the wall pictures of aircraft, cartoons of pilots and astronomical maps and a chart showing the wingspans of aircraft.
Photos in Ceredigion Museum