Kris and I recently whisked ourselves away for a long weekend in Eastbourne. Nothing quite relaxes us more than the sight and smell of fresh sea air. Coupled with a relatively fuss free journey (just over an hour from Clapham Junction) and off-season prices, it was an ideal getaway destination.
What exceeded our expectations was the hotel we picked for our short stay. The Grand Hotel in Eastbourne is one of Britain’s only five star seaside hotels. It is also part of Elite Hotels and Small Luxury Hotels of the World, which means every aspect from food to spa to service was gold standard.
From outside, the hotel looks like a white palace, splaying out in a crescent shape and spreading its arms as if to welcome us.
The palatial grandeur continues inside where the interiors are every bit as sumptuous and charming as one would expect from a 5* hotel, without feeling outdated or faded.
As you enter via the revolving doors, you will find the Reception tucked off to one side and a formal large sitting room on the left. Depending on the time of the day, you can spot guests enjoying a luxurious afternoon tea or a classic cocktail.
The entrance hallway leads on to a beautiful space called The Great Hall, complete with lofty ceilings, stylish cornicing, opulent chandeliers and a grand fireplace. This was my favourite place in the entire hotel. Normally, they use this space for their signature afternoon teas, but we spent our evenings cozying next to the roaring fire having some after-dinner drinks and watching the comings and goings of the hotel.
We were upgraded to an Executive room, which was a nice gesture. The room itself was spacious and comfy, with ample light coming in through the large period windows. It was tastefully decorated in hues of violet and purple which are my favourite colours and antique furniture.
A well-designed bathroom stocked with individual bathrobes and luxurious products from Molton Brown further enhanced the in-room experience.
We spent quite a large part of our stay in the hotel’s own Health Club and The Revitalise Spa. They have a heated indoor pool and jacuzzi where I found myself immersed for hours. They even have a warm outdoor pool but we were not brave enough to sample it in the cooler October temperatures. Treatments by Kerstin Florian were by far one of the best I have received and I never felt so relaxed before. If you find yourself in Eastbourne for any other business, do yourself a favour and get one of their day packages. Booking in advance is highly recommended.
If you, like me, feel hotel restaurants are soul-less then The Mirabelle and The Garden Restaurant will spectacularly change your mind.
On our first evening, we had dinner at The Mirabelle. It was an intimate and stylish French restaurant, perfect for a candlelit romantic dinner.
I started with a soulful and creamy Chicken and Chickpea Soup, whilst Kris’s starter was a fresh and elegant Smoked Salmon Mousse, Crème Fraîche, Lime and Dill.
Mains included a beautifully cooked Pan Fried Sea Bass, Sea Aster, Confit Potatoes, Baby Onion for Kris. I had a resplendent Bacon Wrapped Rabbit Saddle, Slow Cooked Rabbit Leg, Tenderstem Brocolli and Mustard Sauce.
We rounded off our meal with an elegant but decadent Lavender Crème Brûlée, Blueberry Financier.
Our second evening was spent at the hotel’s The Garden Restaurant. We opted for the Table d’hote Dinner. It was a vintage and classy affair, with sophisticated food to match. This place is perfect for larger groups, families, celebrations and special occasions.
My Fishcake, Cherry Tomato Salsa, Tartare Sauce was fragrant and pleasing to the palate, whilst Kris warmed up with a Homemade Spiced Carrot Soup, infused with Coriander and Mango.
Mains had an autumnal twist to them. I had the gloriously plated Pan Fried Chicken Breast, Tarragon Cream, served with Creamed Potato, Noisette Carrots and Shredded Mange Tout.
Kris had the Slow Braised Beef Featherblade Steak, ‘Old Speckled Hen’ & Onion gravy which was full-flavoured and indulgent. All the dishes were so generously portioned that we had no room left for dessert that evening! After our meal, we retired to The Great Hall for coffee and petit fours.
Both our evening dinners were refined with beautiful tasting and good-looking plates of food.
A key mention is the service and people – superlative. Everywhere we went we were greeted and served with the most engaging and caring attention. Nothing was a big ask and they happily catered to our requests with efficiency and warmth.
I highly recommend this hotel for a luxurious stay, to get yourself recharged, switch off from the daily grind and enjoy some of the finer things in life, all in a leisurely pace. Their Christmas packages look stellar and I imagine this hotel would be magical during the holiday season.
Location: The Grand Hotel, King Edwards Parade, Eastbourne, East Sussex, BN21 4EQ
More information can be found here.