Luxury Seaside Living at The Grand in Eastbourne

Tuesday 23rd Apr 2024 |

There’s something special about the unmistakable charms of an English seaside town. The promenade overlooking the vast expanse of sea, the ever-present pier, the fish and chip shops, and of course somewhat dodgy weather. The stylish Victorian architecture lining the seafront, beach huts peppering the pebbles or sand, and that magical light that creates that uniquely enchanting ambiance.

Historically seaside towns have always been retreats for the rich and artists who came in search of inspiration and to take in the restorative sea air. Nowadays people are quick to jump on the plane to warmer climes, and who can blame them, but they are missing out on that intangible allure that you can’t find anywhere else. As I was soon to be reminded of on my recent trip to Eastbourne.

The town is a short and very pleasant drive from the bustle of London, passing through the sweeping South Downs countryside. Eastbourne has a striking pier. that was built between 1866 and 1872 and is said to be the sunniest place in the UK. It’s frequently been used as a movie set with Harry Potter, James Bond The Living Daylights, and Pearl Harbour all shot here, among others and many television series.

It’s home to dramatic Beachy Head – the highest chalk sea cliff in Britain. And also to the Grand Hotel which is our destination for the weekend.

The Grand in Eastbourne was built in 1875 by William Earp as a private residence but legend goes it was always intended to become a hotel, which it did. And a rather magnificent one, too. Also known as the White Palace, the hotel dominates the shoreline at the end of town and has far-reaching vistas of the sea and the cliffs at Beachy Head. The first sight of the grandeur of the Grand is breathtaking.

The Grand in Eastbourne

After the friendliest and quickest of check-ins, we wander through the Great Hall to take the lift up to our first-floor master suite with sea views. It’s enormous with a four-poster, separate lounge, and an enormous terrace overlooking those views and the outdoor pool. And the sun is shining.

We take time to relax in luxury before heading downstairs for a pre-dinner drink in the elegant bar. It’s cosy with a gleaming polished wooden bar that curves along one side of the room. Our charming mixologist (everyone who works here seems to be charming) tells us it is the original bartop, before telling us he can make any cocktail we desire, even if it’s not on their menu. It’s the sort of bar you could spend a lot of time in, but we have dinner plans.

So we head across the Great Hall and along plushly carpeted passages to The Mirabelle with its menu offering modern European food. Newly arrived head chef Alex Burtenshaw (he joined the team in 2023) has an impressive pedigree working in many award-winning hotel restaurants. The setting is chic, the service superlative, and the food superb. From the incredible wood pigeon breast salad and poached monkfish starters to the cannon of salt marsh lamb and free-range Iberico pork mains, each dish has been carefully crafted using a clever combination of ingredients. It’s a real treat to dine at The Mirabelle.

There’s also the Garden restaurant with its menu designed around British favourites with a modern twist. A huge, high-ceilinged room where we enjoy a fabulous breakfast. There’s a continental buffet and a range of cooked options to order. We can’t resist the Classic Grand Breakfast which has everything you’d want on a breakfast plate. The best way to start the day.

Other eating opportunities (yes, there’s lots of them) include the afternoon tea served in one of the opulent lounges or the beautiful and famous Great Hall. The BBC chose the Great Hall for their weekly broadcast ‘Grand Hotel’ by the hotel’s orchestra live every Sunday night from 1924 to 1939. Photographs and vinyl adorn the hotel’s walls, keeping that incredible memory alive.

Downstairs (press B for Beauty in the lift) is the spa offering a range of treatments, a well-equipped gym, and a lovely, large indoor pool to work off some of that tasty food. And there’s also a sparkling azure outdoor pool with plenty of sunbeds for sunny-day lounging.

The Grand in Eastbourne

The sweeping promenade is just across the road for relaxing, rejuvenating walks (or runs) taking in the sea air. The pier is waiting to be explored and the centre of town with its shops, pubs, cafes, and restaurants is also a short walk away. But it’s very hard to leave this palatial base for too much time – our very own white palace by the sea.

The Grand in Eastbourne certainly is Grand. It’s comfortingly luxurious with exemplary friendly service, great food, and an innate sense of glamour. All making for a truly indulgent stay beside that magical English seaside, undoubtedly in one of its most elegant and iconic hotels.

The Grand in Eastbourne is part of the privately- owned collection Elite Hotels

Words by Sandy Cadiz-Smith

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