File photo: these days you can check into hotels, even those with an illustrious past. Photo:

London - Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin and Leonard Cohen all, famously, lived in New York’s bohemian Chelsea Hotel. It’s now undergoing refurbishment and set to re-open to guests next year.

But these days you can check into hotels, even those with an illustrious past, full-time as an owner because many are being turned into houses.

In Hertfordshire, Harpenden’s last hotel is set to become 37 homes, while a scheme of new apartments called 51 Degrees Latitude is being carved from a former hotel overlooking Tenby’s South Beach.

In Sheffield, the city’s historic Beauchief Hotel will become 30 new homes and in Newquay, Cornwall, two hotels are being considered by the council for apartments.

The advantages are clear. Former hotels are often in prime spots that no house builder could secure for new homes now — on the seafront, in the city centre, next to railway stations.

They also often possess a wow-factor that makes them stand out — a grand ballroom, a basement pool or a large gym, for example.Car parking or garaging and landscaped grounds are also commonplace in former hotels.

Perhaps the best known conversion in recent times has been the Art Deco Grand Ocean Hotel at Saltdean, near Brighton.

When it opened in 1938, it played host to royalty and was later a war-time fighter pilot base, a branch of Butlin’s and appeared in an episode of Agatha Christie’s Poirot — and now it has become 183 apartments.

Retired teacher Helen Hick bought a studio apartment in another converted Thirties hotel in the St Leonards area of central Exeter.

"The entrance hall is grand, there’s a marble and wooden staircase and a lift. No purpose-built block would have that range of features," she says.

Luke Johnson, of David Burr estate agency in Suffolk, says there are other advantages.

"You get a modern home in a historic shell with character," he says.

Another agent, Darren Warren of Jackson-Stops & Staff, says communal outside space can be at a premium in new-build blocks, whereas hotels frequently offer more.

"The grounds of hotel conversions are often large, featuring beautifully manicured lawns," he says.

But buyers are advised to check the weak spots that occur with all conversions. These include the quality of dividing walls, sound-proofing and cleanliness of communal corridors.

"The best conversions are created vertically, otherwise you have spacious apartments on the ground floor and rabbit-warren-type space on the upper floors. If the job has been done quickly and cheaply without clever ergonomics, the result can be bad," warns James Greenwood, of Stacks Property Search.

He also urges buyers to check ground rent costs, service and communal charges, access and privacy, but adds: "Even if the gardens are communal, outside space should not be under-estimated."