I can’t believe it’s been a week already since I was getting ready to ditch my dress and frolic in the sea in my bra and pants. I wouldn’t have minded cavorting the bump in front of the packed beach – there were plenty of pregnant women enjoying the waves last Sunday – but they all seemed to have had the foresight to *actually pack swimwear*. A soaked through nude nursing bra and too tight tie-dye knickers may have verged upon a public disorder offence.
We were excited about our little trip the seaside long before we knew the weather would be so glorious. After all, British beaches are designed to be enjoyed whatever the weather. Having a thick smell of Hawaiian Tropic hanging in the air is an unexpected delight, but rewarding a rain-swept dog walk with piping hot greasy doughnuts and polystyrene cups of tea is an equally welcome treat on a British summer holiday. July was kind to us on this occasion and we had two days of sunning ourselves on the golden sand, yet I know that if it had been dreary we’d have still enjoyed our seaside home for the weekend.
We were staying at The Gallivant, just across from the dunes of Camber Sands in East Sussex. Opened in 2014, The Gallivant describes itself as a “restaurant with rooms” which is an idea I can really get behind. If that’s the tag-line, you know you’re going to be well fed! (And we really were, more on that in a minute).
There are 20 rooms and they’ve all been styled with a nod to The Hamptons, so you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d hopped across the pond for the weekend rather than just nipped down to East Sussex in the car. Ours was a Luxury Garden Room and it was just GORGEOUS. The bed was huge (complete with Hypnos mattress), the linens were super soft and there wasn’t a single ornament or picture frame that I didn’t want to shove in my case on the way out.
Our room opened up on to the communal garden but for those worried about privacy, it’s really well designed. You can sit and read on your deck or sunbathe with a glass of bubbles and not feel like you’re in a shared space at all – well except for neighbours in the form of bumble bees and birds chitter chattering.
The evening light was gorgeous in our part of the garden and it was lovely to play cards in the sunshine before dinner. Similarly, waking up to blue skies and throwing the doors open was really nice. We don’t have a garden in London so I was determined to make the most of this outside space!
At 4pm every day the hotel serves complimentary homemade cake and big ol’ mugs of tea to residents, so obviously that was a huge priority for me and I made sure I was down in the restaurant at almost 4pm on the dot. If more hotels could adopt this free cake policy that would be ace.
Post-cake and room admiring, we headed to the beach for a few hours…
I had NO idea how pretty Camber Sands was until we got there. I don’t know why I was so unfamiliar with it as it’s not a million miles from where I grew up, but we used to go to Brighton or West Wittering when it was sunny and I guess I’d just never appreciated that there was this Caribbean-esque beach further along the coast.
We paddled in the sea (or waddled, in my case) and then headed back to our room to de-sand before dinner. This is the point where I’d like to introduce you to our rather splendid bathroom…
Now I’ve been lucky enough to stay in quite a few hotels with these sorts of open plan designs but usually they have one very obvious drawback: you may not actually want to have a bath in the middle of the bedroom. I stayed in one hotel in Spain very early on in a relationship where even the toilet was open plan in the bedroom. WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT THAT? Even if you’ve been with your other half for years and years you probably don’t want to retreat to the corner of the bedroom to use the loo while they just carry on reading on the bed. I’m sure even most pet dogs would try to find somewhere slightly more discreet. Luckily this has been thought through at The Gallivant and there are sliding doors with privacy glass which allow you to keep the bathroom completely separate if that’s what you prefer.
Dinner at The Gallivant was just divine. I was a bit useless at taking pics (completely distracted by ALL THE FOOD) but you can see what we ate in my vlog further down the post. The Gallivant has taken the philosophy of low food miles to a challenging extreme with some 95% of all fresh ingredients sourced or foraged from within 10 miles of the restaurant. We were both really blown away by how scrumptious everything was so it wasn’t surprising to hear how many awards the restaurant and hotel has won, including Sussex Restaurant of the Year and being shortlisted for the Sustainable Restaurant Association ‘People’s Favourite’ award last year. The Gallivant was crowned one of the best beachside hotels in the UK by The Independent in 2015, as well as ranked fifth in the “Best British Beach Hotels” charts by The Times back in April. Safe to say, this place has a devoted fan base.
As I said in my video from the weekend, breakfast was particularly lovely. Warm croissants, bread fresh from the oven, the MOST delicious poached eggs…all enjoyed in the sunshine out on the terrace. There was even a breakfast cake! My kind of place, clearly.
We didn’t have a treatment while we were there, but there is a Beach Hut in the gardens where guests can enjoy massages, facials, manis and lovely things like that. You don’t need to be a resident to book in.
We headed back to the beach on the Sunday and by this point it was properly roasting hot (and properly packed!) but being able to just wander over from our room made it super easy. We borrowed a beach bag and towels and we realised if we turned left out of the hotel and walked a bit further up, we could get to the beach without climbing over the dunes at all. This was a bit of a god send for my pelvis which had practically shut up shop by the Sunday. Oh and it had the added bonus of meaning we “had to” walk past the doughnut stand…and then buy doughnuts. Of course.
Once we’d sunned ourselves for long enough we headed back to The Gallivant to say goodbye, then drove on to Rye (so pretty!) for a quick nosey around before heading home via a cherry farm. It was a really lovely two days away and thanks to the weather, really felt like a proper little holiday.
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in this part of the world, I’d definitely recommend it. Oh and if you have a pup, it’s dog friendly too!
Room and breakfast in a “Cosy” room starts from £95 mid week (Monday to Thursday) and from £140 on weekends. There are lots of categories of rooms (see here for deets!) but a Luxury Garden Room like the one we stayed in is priced from £165 mid week and £230 on weekends. There are lots of offers and packages so you can include dinner and so on. You can phone 01797 225 057 for more info or everything you could need is on the website: http://www.thegallivant.co.uk.
We were guests of the hotel but, as always, all opinions are very much my own. You can read more about how I work with brands in my disclaimer here.