In the list of legends of the South Seas, that of Aggie Grey and her hotel looms large. Dating back to the 1940s, when it was a watering hole for marines, it had a slightly disreputable image, not helped by the entirely false link between Aggie Grey herself and James Michener’s creation, Bloody Mary. In the 50s it was a hangout for Hollywood actors like Marlon Brando and William Holden, whose fales are the closest to the bar. Of course, things became tamer in the 1960s and then the whole frontage was demolished to make way for a new lobby and new rooms. The wonderful gardens and original fales remain. The pool area is old but beautiful, sort of Ruislip Lido meets Paul Gauguin.
I first stayed here in 1994 and loved its quirkiness and its history. I also liked our fale, as dark as it was, and remember fondly Aggie’s daughter-in-law presenting my wife with a fabulous lei at one of the BBQ/fiafias where whole suckling pigs and breadfruit were served. It was one of our great hotel experiences.
We went back last week, just for a day, to find the hotel hadn’t changed at all - but now the rooms seem less quirky-characterful than tropical-dowdy and a bit grubby. Our room had a sky blue wall, pink walls, grotty furniture and bizarre linen arrangements which might have graced a rundown B&B in Blackpool. The service is also a bit casual - we had to ask a receptionist a single question three times in 10 minutes as she had a bad memory for faces, maybe a bad memory for anything, such as what day it was and what planet she thought she was living on. Even so, her inefficiency came with a charming smile.
Be aware, then, that while the legend of Aggie Grey’s lives on the hotel is a bit comatose. At least their prices are reasonable and maybe preserving an era is sometimes better than a complete makeover. Forewarned is forearmed.
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- Also Known As:
- Aggie Greys Apia
- Aggie Greys Hotel
- Hotel Aggie Greys
- Aggie Grey's Hotel Samoa/Apia