250th Anniversary of the Paganini Ballroom at the Old Ship Hotel

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The Old Ship Hotel celebrates the 250th anniversary of its Paganini Ballroom this month with a gala dinner. Nick Mosley talks to general manager Paul Wright about the room and what diners can expect.

Without doubt the oldest hostelry in the city with its roots going back to 1559, the Old Ship has played host to a number of famous historical figures including kings Charles II and George IV, authors Charles Dickens and William Thackeray, and even Winston Churchill.

The hotel building has been renovated and added to over its long and fascinating history. Former smugglers tunnels in the cellars have been converted into atmospheric event spaces, however the jewel in the crown of the property is the Paganini Ballroom which has just undergone an extensive refurbishment in honour of its 250th birthday.

“Its an amazing honour knowing that I’m the current guardian of this fabulous room”, says manager Paul Wright. “It can be a little scary at times with maintaining such an historic space but its always an absolute pleasure seeing it transformed for various events”.

Named after renowned Italian violinist Niccolò Paganini who’s playing was apparently so mesmerising and extraordinary that it was rumoured he’d sold his soul to the devil, the ballroom sits to the rear of the hotel with an entrance directly onto Ship Street where invited guests for the gala dinner on Friday 27 October will be welcomed.

“I can’t give too much away about the dinner”, continues Paul. “Suffice to say what our head chef has created is amazing. The menu will feature different tastes from key eras of the 20th century with matched wines and some fabulous entertainment. Its going to be a memorable evening for everyone attending, and all of our guests will leave with a commemorative gift”.

The Old Ship was purchased by the Cairn Hotel Group in 2016, and extensive plans are in the pipeline to ensure the property stays at the top of the game in a city that is seeing a lot of inward investment in the hotel sector.

“The future is very bright. There are massive plans to transform the hotel from its current position in the market to a leading hotel in Brighton and also the south coast”, says Paul. “I just need to be patient as its not just a lick of paint”.

The Old Ship Hotel, Kings Road, Brighton

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