On a sunny, Saturday morning in the spring, is there anything better than getting on train out of London and heading straight for the coast? After doing just that on a recent a trip The Gallivant Hotel in East Sussex, I can confirm that yes, it's definitely a better option than being holed up in a one-bedroom flat in South London.
However, I can't say it's something I have done before. In fact, I had never been to this quiet, quaint part of the world – Camber Sands to be precise – probably because I never had sand dunes high on my list of places to go in the UK.
After a quick train journey to nearby Rye, I quickly learnt that sand dunes are actually pretty impressive and even better, the beach-side Gallivant is a 30-second walk (literally) to the dunes and the beach that they lead to.
The Gallivant is a small, 18-bedroom hotel and the New England style decor is perfectly fitting for the seaside location. There is nothing pretentious about this hotel – what you see is what you get – but the beauty of it has to be its proximity to the beach. You can walk for miles and the view doesn't get boring, plus there's the brilliant Beach Bistro waiting for you on your return.
Locally-sourced food (paired with a great selection of Kent wines) is served up by chef Trevor Hambley and while there's plenty of delicious seafood on the menu (cured trout, fish soup, plus the catch of the day), the salt marsh lamb served with potato gratin dauphinoise is truly amazing if you're a meat eater. Lighter meals are served at lunchtime – hello Ultimate Fish Finger Sandwich – and the cooked breakfast options and homemade banana bread are a must before starting the day (they are included in the room rate).
And once you've made your way through the menu and walked it off on the beach? Rye is well worth a visit, purely for the old-fashioned sweet shops and The George – a cosy gastro pub with rooms which serves excellent food. As the hotel is a £10 taxi ride from the town, it would be helpful to have a car – particularly if you want to explore more of the Sussex coastline.
The hotel has recently lost its lounge area (two new bedrooms are being built instead), so there's not much space to sit around and relax in this hotel (unless you book one of the more expensive deluxe rooms which come with sofas) but if you've got good weather – there's nowhere else you'd rather be than on the beach. English seaside in the sun? It's hard to beat.
For more information about rooms and rates, visit The Gallivant Hotel.