“I HOPE you see a sunset while you are here.”

If I had a pound for everyone who said that to me as I marvelled at the views from Morecambe’s iconic Midland Hotel, I’d be a rich woman.

‘Spectacular’, ‘magnificent’ and ‘unforgettable’ were among the words people used to describe the sun sinking over Morecambe Bay.

I was with my husband on a short break to the Lancashire resort. We arrived under grey skies with outbreaks of rain, so the prospect of us glimpsing this atmospheric wonder did not look good.

But we didn’t care. Simply staying in such a landmark building was enough for us. Just walking into its elegant reception area is, for anyone with even the remotest interest in design, a visual feast.

Its curves, waves, patterns and colours merge to form a whole evocative of the glamour of bygone days.

Even before we checked in, I was photographing the curling staircase, which culminates in the painted Neptune and Triton medallion on the ceiling. I couldn’t stop taking pictures - by the end of our two-night stay I’d captured at least 50 images of it.

Designed by architect Oliver Hill with interior decoration by the sculptor and typeface designer Eric Gill, the hotel opened in 1933. It was built by the London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS), to replace the old Victorian railway hotel. Modelled to look like an ocean liner, it was built in just one year.

The stunning building became a favourite haunt of celebrities such as Coco Chanel, Sir Laurence Olivier, Wallace Simpson and Noel Coward, along with many of the actors and musicians performing at nearby The Winter Gardens.

Soaking up the atmosphere, made all the more authentic by the music - best described as incidental Laurel and Hardy - it was easy to picture the scene in its heyday.

The hotel’s history includes serving as a hospital in the Second World War. It later fell into disrepair and was forced to close its doors in 1998, standing derelict and at the mercy of the sea for nearly a decade.

Thankfully, in 2006, the Manchester-based property developer, Urban Splash rescued and restored it for a new generation with 44 boutique-style rooms. It reopened ten years ago.

We were lucky enough to stay in one of the hotel’s top floor suites, with floor-to-ceiling windows and huge terrace offering panoramic views across the bay to the Lakeland fells.

Once settled in we took a trip to nearby Carnforth, where, in 1945, much of the film Brief Encounter starring Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson, was filmed.

Carnforth Station Heritage Centre is filled with information and memorabilia. There is even a small cinema, where the film plays all day long.

The refreshment room - the interior of which was recreated for the movie in a Buckinghamshire film studio - has been lovingly restored to resemble the set. A working café, it is utterly charming. Sipping tea, you forget that you are part of the 21st century - until an express train suddenly zooms past.

The next day brought blue skies, so, after a delicious breakfast of “delicious” duck eggs Benedict for my husband and beautifully cooked poached eggs for me, we explored Morecambe.

Being on an estuary famed for migrating birds, there are wonderful bird sculptures everywhere in the town, on bollards, benches, even roundabouts.

In a prominent location on the promenade we admired Graham Ibbeson’s bronze statue to the resort’s most famous son John Eric Bartholomew, aka Eric Morecambe - he took his stage name from his birthplace.

It’s a shame the memorial to 22 Chinese cockle pickers - illegal immigrant labourers who drowned in 2004 after becoming trapped by the incoming tide - is not so well-maintained. It was shabby and uncared for.

The tides here are famously treacherous, and anyone wishing to walk across the bay is advised to join a group led by an experienced guide.

We treated ourselves at Brucciani's characterful ice cream parlour, with its wood panelling and rows of schoolroom-like tables.

I found it hard to drag myself away from The Old Pier Bookshop. The exterior gives no clue as to what lies inside: crammed with thousands of secondhand books, its rooms and corridors are a maze of fascination, with Nelson, the one-eyed goose among the characters inhabiting the lofty shelves.

Later, we caught the bus to Heysham and walked along the National trust-managed Heysham Coast, from the docks where ferries leave for the Isle of Man and Ireland, to the ruins of the 8th century St Patrick’s chapel and graves hewn from rock.

We passed signs warning of unexploded bombs - which have occasionally been found on the beach - and others altering visitors to quicksand.

There’s a Heritage Centre in pretty Heysham village, where I bought a brochure containing newspaper extracts from years gone by, of fateful attempts to cross the sands. Then, another treat - tea and scones in one of the village cafes.

Back in Morecambe, we dined at the aptly-named Midland’s Sun Terrace restaurant, facing those famous sunsets. And, lo and behold, we

Locally-sourced ingredients on the menu include Ribble valley corn-fed chicken, lamb, Cumbrian pork and Morecambe Bay shrimps. We enjoyed British classics, me a chicken dish, which was a little heavy on the meat and light on the vegetables, my husband lamb, which he said was cooked to perfection.

My sticky toffee pudding was gorgeous and my husband relished sampling various new-to-him cheeses from the cheeseboard. We chatted to the friendly staff, all of whom loved working in a building with such an interesting history.

The Midland is part of the family-run English Lakes Hotels group, who operate a hotel in nearby Lancaster plus three in the Lake District.

My camera came out again at the hotel’s Ravilious Rotunda Bar, named after the English painter Eric Ravilious whose work decorated the original interior. With dramatic pink columns of candy floss-coloured lights and curved seating booths, it is fabulous place to enjoy a cocktail or two.

With its shoreline setting, the hotel is a popular wedding venue. There was one the weekend we visited, bringing a lively gathering of guests.

There was also a 1940s group meeting for afternoon tea. Dressed in their period costumes, they really looked the part.

Throughout the year The Midland plays hosts to a wide variety of differing events, from the hugely popular Vintage by the Sea festival to exciting murder mystery evenings.

Its striking features have attracted attention from film crews, with the detective series Poirot being among the TV programmes making use of its period architecture.

That evening, wearing coats to keep out the chill, we sipped wine on the terrace, while across the bay the distant lights of Grange-over-Sands and Barrow-in-Furness twinkled, and to the west the setting sun cast rays of gold and red.

*Midland Hotel, Marine Road, Morecambe LA4 4BU T: 0333 220 3109 W: english lakes.co.uk