Nethybridge Hotel – a Hollywood Tale!
Anyone living locally will be familiar with the Nethybridge Hotel, but how many will know the property’s unique links with two of the biggest stars of the 20th century’s silver screen … Cary Grant and Mae West? On a recent visit, we discovered a little more …
The hotel has a fascinating history. At the end of the 1800s, the site was occupied by the Abernethy Inn – a dovers’ inn that stood more or less where the hotel’s bar is today. In 1897, a Mrs Fotheringham bought the inn and land, demolished the old pub and built what was the central and original part of the hotel as you can see it today.
In the 1920s, the rounded tower block on the left of the hotel was added and created a number of suites – each consisting of an entrance hallway, main bedroom, separate bathroom, sitting room and a servant’s room.
Roll the clocks forward to 1932 – and the stars begin to align. Mae West was almost 40 years old. She had just signed a $5,000-a-week contract with Paramount Pictures (equal to more than $100,000-a-week in today’s money). Grant was nine years younger – and was earning less than a tenth of West’s wage.
West was a huge star of the stage and screen. A year later, she was cast in the film ‘She Done Him Wrong‘. The story goes that she’d spotted the younger Cary Grant at the studio and insisted he play the male lead. It is rumoured she told the Director: “If he can talk, I’ll take him!”
The film was a box office hit, earned an Oscar-nomination for Best Picture and is credited with saving Paramount from bankruptcy.
Later in the same year, West teamed-up again with Cary Grant to make ‘I’m No Angel‘. It became the most successful movie of her entire career and cemented Grant’s stature as a lead in romantic comedies. His salary rose to $750 a week!
By 1935, Mae West was not only the highest paid woman in the United States but, behind businessman, newspaper publisher, and politician, William Randolph Hearst, she was the second highest paid American.
And so with their fortunes large and not-quite-so-large, these two icons of the silver screen started to spread their wings.
The two took on suites at the Nethybridge Hotel … Grant on the ground floor and West on the floor above – and they kept them into the 1950s.
“Come up and see me sometime …”
OK! It is a misquoted line attributed to Mae West, but we couldn’t help but use it here. And for all the times she fell foul of the US sensors, we think she’d like the tongue-in-cheek reference. Anyhow, famously, Cary Grant once said: “I improve on misquotation” … so we’ll stick with the heading.
Today, all of the suites have been converted into en-suite bedrooms. Mae West’s bedroom was 101. Her sitting room was 101a.
The Hollywood glamour may a distant memory, but the hotel still provides a warm welcome to visitors – be they residents of the villages or folk visiting Strathspey on work or holiday. Why not visit to enjoy their hospitality? Every Tuesday (5pm until 8:30pm) is Steak Night – “a delicious 8oz Sirloin served with chips, grilled tomato and sauteed mushrooms” – £45 for two with a complimentary glass of fizz. Make your reservation by calling 01479 821203.
Why not take time out to visit the Nethybridge Hotel? You’ll find it on the main road through the village (SatNav ref: PH25 3DP).
It is a popular stop for many – including those on coach tours of our area. As their website says: “We have a variety of services on offer to our guests that include overnight breaks, week long trips, organising special celebrations or conferences and group bookings from small scale to large tours.”
With thanks …
The image we have shared is from the West & Grant movie ‘I’m No Angel‘ and is in Public Domain, created on 1st January 1933.
Thanks for reading.