A SOUTHEND hotel is gearing up for seven days of celebrations to mark the 120th anniversary of it first opening its doors in the city.

The Park Inn by Radisson Palace, in Church Road, initially opened way back in 1904 as The Metropole standing atop Pier Hill.

After changing hands numerous times and falling into disrepair in the 1990s, the hotel was purchased by the Radisson chain and underwent a £25million refurbishment and re-opened in 2010.

To mark the anniversary, the hotel has a series of events planned including a family fun day of free activities, paying homage to the property’s rich history.

Jodi Turnnidge, acting general manager, said: “This weekend, we’re not just celebrating our rich and magnificent history; we’re also looking forward to welcoming our guests to share the wonders that the Palace Hotel has to offer.

“It’s a real pleasure to work in a hotel with such a fascinating story, not to mention its beautiful location with stunning views of the Thames Estuary and Southend Pier.

“At Park Inn by Radisson Palace, there truly is something for everyone - whether you’re here for business or pleasure, our hotel promises to be the ideal destination for an unforgettable stay.”

On Saturday, the public is invited to join the hotel’s day of free activities, running from 10am to 4pm.

Families can enjoy a kids’ disco, a theatre show, a bouncy castle and a fun-filled treasure hunt located on the first floor, all of which boast features representing the hotel’s past.

On offer will also be the hotel’s restaurant and bar, RBG Bar and Grill, serving traditional family favourites such as fish and chips and burgers.

In addition to the Saturday event, the hotel is also hosting a meetings and events showcase, marking the day of the building’s actual 120th anniversary on Thursday, May 23.

Southend new mayor, Ron Woodley, is set to attend.

Previously, the hotel was the only five-star establishment on the southeast coast and displayed impressive facilities such as a ballroom and billiard room which were frequented by high society.

In a generous move during World War One, the property’s owner, Alfred Tolhurst, allowed the building to be used rent-free as Queen Mary’s Royal Naval Hospital, providing aid to wounded servicemen.

Following the war, the hotel regained its esteemed status, welcoming guests such as Laurel and Hardy, who visited in 1952.

Their stay’s 50th anniversary is honoured by a blue plaque in the reception room.