He’s picked a winner with the building. The hotel was originally designed as a holiday home for a woman named Margaret Bray by the architect behind Portmeirion, Sir Clough Williams-Ellis. “She mixed in some really interesting circles. She was a really out there, avant-garde lady,” says Cragoe. Legend has it that Noel Coward and members of the Astor family stayed, although actual evidence is thin on the ground.
Standing at a 45-degree angle to the sea as if to distinguish itself from the other buildings on the promenade, the facade is positively Gatsby-esque, if a little faded. But, while revellers in that novel partied hard in Long Island, the most those in Littlestone can currently hope for is a takeaway curry or fish and chips on the concrete sea wall. Even coffee seems impossible to find (unless you count the takeaway Costa machine at the local Spar).
The challenge for Cragoe will be to ensure that visitors in the upstairs bedrooms, from which the views stretch to France on clear days, don’t wish they’d gone that extra few miles and made it across the Channel. With this in mind, there’ll be a Bamford spa, a wood-fired sauna for post-swim warm ups, a dry garden on a grander scale than those in Dungeness and a wine list full of English treasures. “Our plan with Littlestone is to bring back the glamour. It was clearly once a very fashionable holiday destination, particularly for Londoners,” he says.