What if I told you that after just a 1-hour train journey from London you’ll find yourself on miles of uninterrupted sandy beach?
Down by the dunes of Camber Sands, The Gallivant hotel is just outside Rye in East Sussex and is only a hop and a skip across the road (and over a dune) to one of the best beaches in England.
Obviously gorgeous in the summer months, but really rather refreshing, peaceful and beautiful at this time of year!
So we got on the train to Rye (with one change at Ashford) and a 10 minute taxi later we were greeted by the smell of fresh sea air and crackling open fireplaces.
By reception there was some complimentary sloe gin which you could help yourself to, and there was even a big jar of dog treats for people bringing their dogs with them!
Just behind reception was a large open plan room with cosy reading areas and a bar..
.. then behind that is a spacious restaurant with a rustic-chic vibe.
We were shown to our room which was back out the front door, with its own front door at the side of the hotel.
The Gallivant hotel has 18 rooms in total, each designed in their signature rustic chic decor – think ‘designer driftwood’.
Our room was lovely, cosy and homely, with country chic furniture, retro phones, a cupboard filled with books, soft cotton robes, a mini-bar and a naughty cupboard filled with biscuits, chocolate and popcorn.
The room had french windows opening out onto a shared garden, and sliding doors revealing a gorgeous roll-top bath!
Aside from the gorgeous roll-top bath, the bath also had a beautiful big marble sink shelf and one of those lovely big rain-showers that you could just stand in for hours (if you could)! As the bathroom opened onto the bedroom with sliding doors, it’s just the perfect place to enjoy a long soak whilst watching a film on the big TV (with a cheeky G&T or glass of wine from the minibar).
As we arrived late afternoon on a wet and dreary day, it was the perfect excuse to snuggle up under the cashmere blanket, open a bag of popcorn and flick through the TV channels to see what films were on (Bewitched with Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell). Then, as evening fell, watching the next film (About A Boy, with Hugh Grant) surrounded by bubbles in the bath, and as we slowly got ready for dinner in The Gallivant’s highly acclaimed restaurant.
The restaurant is the heart of the hotel and attracts both locals and people from out of town.
Each table had a candle, a plant and a map which shows exactly where each of the ingredients was sourced. For example, they buy all their fish from two local fishermen Joe Thomas and John Botterell. They both own small boats using sustainable fishing techniques, mainly static net fishing passed on from generation to generation. ‘They call us whilst fishing to say what’s in the net and deliver it to us the same day, every day.’ It’s some of the freshest and best quality fish you’re ever likely to eat!
Head chef Kevin Bennett makes good use of local produce with all ingredients sourced, where possible, from within 30 miles of the hotel. Even their wines are from Kent and Sussex, and they have the largest English sparkling wine list in the whole of the U.K!
Despite the tempting English sparkling wine on offer, we opted for the beautiful 2006 Chateau Giscours Margaux, which really was one of the smoothest and most incredible wines we have ever tasted.
To start, I had the Winchelsea beef salad with spring onions, wasabi and shrimps – an unusual combination but wonderfully light and flavoursome.
My boyfriend went for the spiced pumpkin soup with lime crème fraiche and toasted seeds.
Moving on to mains, I had the Dungeness dover sole with roasted cauliflower and caramelised yoghurt, which was absolutely heavenly!
My boyfriend went for the Romney salt marsh lamb rump (sourced form Old Hall Farm) with pearl barley, lamb consommé and root vegetables.
We were pretty full after that so decided to give dessert a miss and instead devour the rest of our bottle of magnificent wine
After dinner we strolled to bed, before rising just in time for breakfast.
The continental breakfast buffet was unlike any other continental breakfast I had seen – with homemade yoghurt pots (Kilner jars filled with natural yoghurt and berry compote), homemade granola bars, homemade banana bread, and even homemade muesli!
They even had homemade pannacottas – a delicious breakfast indulgence justified only by the vague plan of a brisk beach walk afterwards!
The best part was their Recovery station of Bloody Marys, ready to help combat any red wine hangovers.
After a pretty indulgent breakfast we checked out, plonked our stuff at reception, and decided to tackle the dune across the road and go for a brisk beach walk (mandatory, really). We explored over the dunes to the beach, which stretches as far as the eye can see!
With plenty of fresh air and even fresher seafood, for a quick, sea side escape The Gallivant ticks all the boxes.