The Real-Life Places Behind Agatha Christie’s Murder Mysteries
Her fictional holidays may be fraught with murder, but the Queen of Crime sure knew how to pick out a vacation destination.
In the forward of her novel, Death on the Nile, Agatha Christie wrote, “If detective stories are ‘escape literature’ (and why shouldn’t they be!) the reader can escape to sunny skies and blue water as well as to crime in the confines of an armchair.” And what could be more welcome right now than an escape–any escape, even one that kicks off with a murder. So why not take inspiration from the suspects, killers, and sleuths that fill the pages of Christie’s classic mysteries, and plan a getaway so perfect that not even the occasional homicide will be able to put a damper on your vacation.
Pera Palace Hotel
WHERE: Istanbul, Turkey
When construction began on The Pera Palace Hotel back in 1892, it was with the explicit intention of serving the passengers of the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits’ recently opened Orient-Express train line. As fate would have it, Christie became a frequent visitor of the hotel between 1926 and 1932, and it’s rumored that she penned Murder on the Orient-Express during one of her stays. Her visits to this opulent hotel were spent in Room 411, which was renamed in her honor. The Agatha Christie Room is outfitted with its original antique furniture, a replica Underwood typewriter, and—naturally—a collection of Christie’s novels (available in multiple languages).
Venice-Simplon Orient Express
You may not be able take the exact Istanbul to London route as Hercule Poirot and company, but the Orient Express’ legacy lives on in all its old-world elegance. Back in 1982, nearly a century after the Orient Express of Christie’s novel had been created, the Venice-Simplon Orient Express was established using two restored Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits vintage carriages. This luxury train experience counts some of Europe’s most iconic cities as points of arrival and departure. But, no matter what route you’ll be taking, the Venice-Simplon Orient Express makes perhaps the strongest known argument for the, “it’s not the destination, it’s the journey” school of thought. Whether you’re traveling to Venice or London or Paris, passengers take in incredible vistas as well as world-class dining experiences, all in the lap of utter and complete luxury.
WHERE: Devon, England
In both 1939’s And Then There Were None and the 1941 Poirot mystery, Evil Under the Sun, Christie’s characters arrive on a small island off the Devon coast of England. Though it goes by the name of Soldier Island in And Then There Were None , it is Burgh Island that served as the real-life inspiration for the novels’ setting. The primary structure on the island is the Burgh Hotel. The hotel opened in 1929 and played host to England’s elite set, Christie among them. The Burgh Hotel remains a stunning example of Art Deco architecture, making it easy for guests to imagine they’re rubbing elbows with Winston Churchill and Noël Coward.
Check in to the Sofitel Legend Old Cataract Hotel
WHERE: Aswan, Egypt
Before Christie’s characters board their fateful cruise in Death on the Nile , they kick things off at the Old Cataract Hotel. Originally built in 1899 to cater to European tourists, today the hotel has been updated with luxurious modern amenities all without sacrificing the sophisticated glamour that has attracted everyone from Christie to Princess Diana. Guests can cool off from the Egyptian heat in a pool overlooking the Nile followed by a leisurely cocktail at one of the hotel’s stylish bars, where you can imagine eavesdropping on conversations that might later serve as clues in a murder mystery. Much like the Pera Palace Hotel, the Old Cataract Hotel pays tribute to Christie with a suite named after their famous guest.
Mohamed M. Raheem/Shutterstock
Cruise the Nile
Unfortunately for Hercule Poirot, there seems to be no such thing as a relaxing vacation. Instead of an enchanting cruise touring temples along the Nile, there’s yet again another murder in need of unraveling. Luckily, you can have your own adventure exploring ancient sites and taking in once-in-a-lifetime sunsets along the Nile with the help of a tour operator like Extraordinary Journeys, a luxury outfitter that specializes in creating custom tours—such as a 4-day cruise on a traditional dahabiya. And while the cruise in Death on the Nile takes a turn for the lethal, the only mystery you’ll encounter are those inscribed in hieroglyphics adorning the ancient tombs and temples.
Stroll Through Lacock
While there isn’t any one town that’s known for inspiring the fictional hometown of Miss Marple, there are a few clues scattered throughout the amateur sleuth’s adventures. St. Mary Mead is described as an idyllic village with a location that appears to be somewhere west or southwest of London. If you called up central casting for a real-life town that fits that bill, they may very well send you to Lacock, a perfect stand-in geographically in addition to being an exemplary aesthetic representation of an idyllic English village. There you’ll find quaint cottages and shops befitting a quintessential English village. Its looks are so charming it’s been used as a filming location for the 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, Downton Abbey, and the Harry Potter movies.
Get Some Rest and Relaxation at The Crane
A Caribbean Mystery sees Miss Marple leaving her idyllic village of St. Mary Mead for the more tropical climes of the fictional Caribbean island of St. Honoré. Her nephew has paid for her to spend a holiday recovering from an illness at a resort, but it’s not long before a fellow guest is found dead in their room and the spinster sleuth takes it upon herself to uncover the killer. While you can’t go to St. Honoré, you can go to Barbados, which served as the setting and filming location for a 1989 BBC adaptation of the novel. There, you can check into The Crane, a resort that was originally founded in 1887 and offers peace and quiet against a luxurious backdrop. It seems like exactly the kind of place where Christie would have felt right at home.
Journey to Petra
In Appointment with Death , Hercule Poirot joins a group setting off from Jerusalem to Petra. But once they arrive at their destination, one member of the party is found dead with a needle puncture in her wrist. Only something as dramatic as an unusual homicide could distract from the incredible site that is Petra, a stunning ancient city in the Jordanian desert that served as an important trading center before the rise of sea trade. Certainly, the most striking and remarkably well-preserved section is the façade of The Treasury, which was elaborately carved from the face of a sandstone cliff.
Luxuriate on the Cornwall Coast
Instead of an adventure in the deserts of Jordan or Egypt, Poirot’s vacation in Peril at End House stays within the confines of England as he heads to a Cornish resort for some R&R. But soon after his arrival, a murder plot starts to unfold—but the nature of said plot takes a few turns that are surprising even by Christie’s high standards. You can have your own (hopefully more relaxing) Cornish retreat at a beautiful property like Hotel Tresanton, where you’re assured to have an utterly charming stay overlooking the sea.