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The Rock Hotel

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Subject: Bristol Hotel, Gibraltar, Europa Road, Gibraltar Botanic Gardens, Shrine of Our Lady of Europe, Moorish Castle
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The Rock Hotel

The Rock Hotel
View of The Rock Hotel from the Gibraltar Botanic Gardens
General information
Location Gibraltar
Address 3 Europa Road
Opening 1932 (1932)
Management Bland Group
Technical details
Floor count 5
Other information
Number of rooms 104
Parking Limited

The Rock Hotel, also known as Rock Hotel, is a historic hotel in the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar. It has been described as "one of the Mediterranean's most famous hotels,"[1] and as "an institution in Gibraltar and the Mediterranean."[2] Built in 1932 by John Crichton-Stuart, 4th Marquess of Bute, the hotel is set in a 3.6-hectare (8.9-acre) landscaped garden and contains 104 rooms.[2] It is located in a large white Art Deco building along Europa Road,[3] overlooking the Gibraltar Botanic Gardens.


Early years

The Rock Hotel was built by John Crichton-Stuart, 4th Marquess of Bute, and began operation in 1932. In the years after it opened, the hotel was managed by Rudolph Richard and earned a reputation as one of the finest hotels in Europe.[4] Its notable guests included Sir John Mills, Winston Churchill, and Errol Flynn.[5]

During the 1930s and '40s, the hotel provided visitors with a first-hand perspective on the area's military activities. During the Second Italo-Abyssinian War, visitors could watch as Britain's Royal Navy engaged in manoeuvres off the coast of Gibraltar. American journalist Westbrook Pegler stayed at the hotel and took movies from his balcony of the British fleet engaged in exercises. In November 1935, Pegler reported that the hotel's management instructed guests to leave the full-length glass doors open while a new gun on the HMS Hood, the largest warship afloat at the time, was tested. He noted that the hotel's balconies "afford a fine view of the pageant of peace" and described "a mighty thump that popped eardrums and rattled glasses on the bathroom shelf" of his room at the Rock Hotel.[6]

In July 1936, the hotel sustained minor damage during the Spanish Civil War. A shell from a Spanish warship attempting to shoot down a rebel aircraft exploded over the city, causing a small landslide in which rocks and fragments struck the hotel's fire escape ladders.[7] Also in 1936, a rebel plane reportedly dropped a bomb that damaged the hotel.[8]

Map of the Great North Road tunnel depicting the Rock Hotel - A Brigade Headquarters B Doncaster Adit C Calpe Hole Generating Station. (North is to the left)

During World War II, military officials stayed at The Rock. Guests dealt with noise from the construction of war tunnels. In September 1941, an American war correspondent described his stay at the hotel: "I dropped off to sleep in a comfortable room at the Rock hotel to the thunderous lullaby of the dynamite blasters. The next morning, after a breakfast of bacon, tomatoes, toast, butter, orange marmalade and coffee – a remarkable breakfast for wartime Europe – I set off on a tour of the passages."[9]

Post-World War II

Until his death in 1947, the hotel was owned by John Crichton-Stuart, the Marquess of Bute.[10] The hotel had declined by 1950 when B. Vispaly, who had previously worked at the Hôtel Meurice in Paris, was in charge.[4]

In April 1951, the hotel sustained damage in the explosion of the RFA Bedenham, an incident in which a 1,000-ton British munitions ship blew up at the Gibraltar naval base.[11]

The Rock Hotel has hosted numerous internationally renowned celebrities and a number of celebrity weddings. Bernard Montgomery and Dwight D. Eisenhower stayed at the hotel while they were planning the invasion of North Africa, and Winston Churchill and Errol Flynn also stayed here.[12] In April 1962, Sarah, the 47-year-old actress daughter of Churchill, was married to Thomas Touchet-Jesson, 23rd Baron Audley, in a civil ceremony at the Rock Hotel.[13] Also in 1962, Sean Connery and Diane Cilento stayed at The Rock Hotel after a marriage ceremony in Gibraltar.[14] On 20 March 1969, John Lennon and Yoko Ono exchanged their marriage vows in a room at the Rock Hotel where they were staying.[15][16]


View of the building from the hotel gardens

Since 1959, the hotel has been operated by the Bland Group. The Bland Group was founded in 1810 as a shipping agency and later provided a passenger service and transported supplies for Gibraltar's military garrison.[17] Joseph Gaggero acquired the company in 1891, and it has been run by the Gaggero family since that time.[17]

In 1997, Stephen Davenport, previously of Wood Hall Country House Hotel, Linton, West Yorkshire, became general manager of The Rock.[18] He launched a £1.2 million refurbishment programme at the hotel soon after arriving.[18]

Stephen Davenport has now retired and Charles Danino has taken over.


The hotel is set in a 3.6-hectare (8.9-acre) landscaped garden with geraniums and a wisteria-covered terrace.[1] It is decorated in a colonial style and has 104 rooms, including some suites, junior suites and penthouses.[19] Some of the rooms have bamboo and ceiling fans.[1]

In the 2009 guide book, "Frommer's Seville, Granada and the Best of Andalusia," the author described the hotel's Rib Room Restaurant as the "single finest dining room on Gibraltar".[1] According to the hotel's web site, Moorish, Iberian and British styles of cooking predominate at the hotel's restaurants, which are led by head chef Alfred Rodriguez, who has been affiliated with the hotel since 1973.[18]

The hotel is now in the last stages of a major refurbishment which should finish before the end of October.


Notes and references



  1. ^ a b c d Prince, Danforth (25 March 2009). Frommer's Seville, Granada and the Best of Andalusia. John Wiley & Sons. p. 302.  
  2. ^ a b Alston, E. B. (1 February 2011). Hammer Spade and the Four Horsemen-Volume Two. Righter Bookstore. p. 234.  
  3. ^ Gayesky, Fernando; Gorman, Elizabeth; Luna, Kristin; Legaspi, Andre (7 May 2007). MTV Spain. John Wiley & Sons. p. 607.  
  4. ^ a b Wine and food: a gastronomical quarterly. 1951. p. 212. Retrieved 22 September 2012. 
  5. ^ "The Rock Hotel, Gibraltar". The Daily Mail. 15 April 2005. 
  6. ^ Westbrook Pegler (27 November 1935). "Fair Enough". El Paso Herald-Post. p. 4. (available on-line at
  7. ^ "Revolt Bulletins". The Sheboygan Press (AP story). 22 July 1936. p. 1. (available on-line at
  8. ^ "The Civil War in Spain".  
  9. ^ William McGaffin (14 September 1941). "Gibraltar Glowers at Casual People Dropping In for Visit; Life Inside Big Rock Now Almost Normal". The Helena Independent (INS story). p. 9. (story available on-line at
  10. ^ Barton Patie (26 April 1947). "Death Claims Titled Briton; Worth Millions". The Columbus Evening Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio) (AP story). p. 3. 
  11. ^ "British Munitions Ship Blows Up At Gibraltar: Many Injured, Heavy Damage In Blast". New Castle News. 27 April 1951. p. 1. (available on-line at
  12. ^ Batty, Clive (29 September 2003). "Meeting the rock stars".  
  13. ^ "Sarah Churchill Wed to Artist Lord Audley". Independent (Long Beach, California). 27 April 1962. p. D7. (available on-line at
  14. ^ Michael Feeney Callan (2012). Sean Connery. Random House.  
  15. ^ Steve Bergum (26 January 2009). "Still big man on the block (where he lives)". The Spokesman-Review. 
  16. ^ "'The Ballad of John and Yoko" Recalled: When Marrying at the Rock Hotel "In Gibraltar, Near Spain"". The Rock Hotel. 
  17. ^ a b "Part of a family owned group". Retrieved 22 September 2012. 
  18. ^ a b c "The Rock Stars". Retrieved 22 September 2012. 
  19. ^ Dallas, Jesse. Casino Shrine. Jai Dee Marketing. p. 87.  

External links

  • Official site
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