Five Best Agatha Christie Haunts
As a week celebrating the writer's work begins, Rhiannon Batten follows in her footsteps
Saturday 10 September 2005
One of the Caribbean's most traditional retreats, this Bajan-style former private house is set in 12 acres of landscaped gardens and overlooks an idyllic white sand beach. Agatha Christie stayed here in 1956, the first year it opened as a hotel, and is generally thought to have based her book A Caribbean Mystery on it. When the BBC dramatised the story in 1989 they bolstered speculation by filming it at the Coral Reef Club. But, while the hotel is still family owned, things have moved on since Christie's day. Recent re-development has seen the rooms refurbished, and the addition of a new swimming-pool area.
Coral Reef Club, St. James, Barbados (00 800 5254 8000; www.slh.com). Double rooms start at US$320 (£178), room only.
Imperial Hotel, Torquay
Harrogate's Old Swan Hotel may get more Christie name-checks (it was there she "disappeared" to in 1926 after news of her husband's affair) but, until its £4.3m refurbishment is completed at the end of the year, it won't be nearly as luxurious as the Imperial. The latter was built in 1866 and benefits from a link in print with the Torquay-born author; Peril at End House and Sleeping Murder both feature the thinly disguised Imperial. Torquay also celebrates the inaugural Agatha Christie Week from 12-17 September with a series of plays, talks and open days. For more information visit www.theenglishriviera.co.uk
Imperial Hotel, Park Hill Road, Torquay, Devon (01803 294301; www.paramount-hotels.co.uk). Doubles start at £180, room only.
Christie based much of her writing on real locations, and in this case it was a shifting one. After she travelled to Istanbul on the Orient-Express in 1928, it wasn't long before the most glamorous train in Europe made it into what was to become one of her best-loved novels, Murder on the Orient Express. Today, while travellers can choose from a range itineraries, the concept on board has hardly changed. Expect white-gloved personal stewards, polished wooden carriages, crisp linen tablecloths, gleaming French silverware and expertly put-together cocktails. Not to mention some of the world's most extraordinary dinner-table views.
Venice-Simplon Orient-Express (0845 077 2222; www.orient-express.com). One-way trips between London and Venice start at £1,350 per person.
Nile Cruise Egypt
Voyages Jules Verne offers several boat trips along the Nile but the best one for recreating the atmosphere of Christie's thriller Death on the Nile is its seven-night King Fuad's Nile Steamer trip. Centred on the SS Karim - a 15-cabin paddle steamer that once belonged to the Egyptian king - up to 30 people can be accommodated in wicker-chaired, G&T-soaked decadence for this leisurely amble down one of the world's greatest rivers. The slower pace leaves plenty of time to appreciate the ancient landscapes along the way. Side trips include Luxor, the Valley of the Kings and Karnak, as well as an optional detour to Abu Simbel.
King Fuad's Nile Steamer (0845 166 7003; www.vjv.com). Prices start at £795 per person, including flights, transport, seven nights' full-board accommodation and most excursions.
Burgh Island Devon
Set on a private island, 200 metres off the South Devon coast, this listed Art Deco hotel is reached either across the sands at low tide or, rather less elegantly, by sea tractor. Guests are afforded plenty of modern comforts, but the real selling point here is the history. Famous visitors have included Louis Mountbatten, the pilot Amy Johnson, Noël Coward and, of course, Agatha Christie. She wrote And Then There Were None and Evil Under the Sun in a specially-commissioned beach hut at the hotel and the television adaptation of the latter was filmed here in 2001.
Burgh Island Hotel, Bigbury-on-Sea, South Devon (01548 810514; www.burghisland.com). Doubles start at £275, including breakfast and dinner.
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