You can’t go anywhere on the South Coast without someone shouting “this is the new Margate!” ” yours.
Eastbourne, however, has long had a lot to offer: a respectable arts scene, proximity to the beautiful South Downs, and the enviable title of being Britain’s sunniest place. It doesn’t need a refresh so much as it does a rebranding – it has a reputation (unfair, actually) of being the go-to spot for blue rinses. That could all change, however, thanks to the modern and fresh Port boutique hotel, which opened earlier this year.
Where is it?
Brighton’s most distinguished sister, Eastbourne is a great option for a relaxing weekend away from the city – it’s only an hour and a half by train from London Victoria. Don’t let the ease of travel fool you: it’s a total change of scenery. The seafront is only about a 15 minute walk from the town center and the town itself is surrounded by the lovely green countryside of the South Downs.
The port itself is a pleasant twenty minute walk from the station, a walk that will take you through the epicenter of the town’s shops and along the pretty waterfront. From the hotel you can walk directly on the beach – continue for 10 minutes and you will come to the famous pier and other town amenities.
You will have no trouble finding this place: the Regency-style terrace building is painted in a striking Gothic black. Some locals would have been upset by this, but it certainly makes a statement. Rather than standing out like a sore thumb over its neighbors, I think it makes the port look sexy and intriguing.
The interior, in full contrast, is a soothing contemporary Scandinavian design – minimalist yet still comfortable. The entrance takes guests directly into the restaurant and bar, which also doubles as the hotel reception, providing a much more informal atmosphere than the usual hotel experience, and the feeling that you are right in the action. The instinct to do things differently fuels thinking everywhere: if you need help, you can contact the team through WhatsApp.
Port’s restaurant and bar have a lively atmosphere: the menu, consisting of small plates made with local ingredients, is adventurous, and the work of local artists adorns the walls. I devoured the Jerusalem artichoke hummus and popcorn mussels, but I have to admit the rich and bold cocktail menu made me crave a few simple classics. The breakfast menu offers old-fashioned staples like full English, but also has smart and luxurious options like smoked royal trout (trout roe for breakfast? Yes, please. .)
If you venture out of the hotel, Eastbourne has a great emerging food scene. The creme de la creme is Skylark, a wonderful restaurant offering friendly service in a relaxed environment, on bustling Grove Road – it’s popular, so be sure to book in advance. The Levels Wine Shop is also worth a visit, which serves utterly delicious cheese and cold cuts, and Company, a modern cafe serving a simple and delicious menu based on local Sussex fare.
It’s easy to sit back and watch the world go by here – there’s a relaxed pace in town. But you won’t be bored either. The excellent Towner Eastbourne, who won the Museum of the Year award in 2020, has a very Instagrammable painted exterior and even greater treasures inside, including the world’s largest collection of artwork. ‘Eric Ravilious to the world. There are three theaters and the huge Beacon Mall offers extensive retail therapy. A must-see is Camilla’s, a second-hand bookstore on Grove Road, filled with towering stacks of books and a resident parrot.
The big draw is Eastbourne’s proximity to the South Downs. The walk to Beachy Head, offering some lovely views, can’t believe I’m in UK, takes about an hour from Eastbourne beach. Put on your walking shoes and then reward yourself with a roast.
The spacious “studio apartment” room, which has, among other things, a record player, a free-standing bathtub and a giant and comfortable bed that will give you the best night’s sleep. The bedroom also has a huge picture window with a direct view of the waterfront. Sit back and feel soothed by the sound of the waves.
Couples who fancy a getaway from the city and anyone looking to explore the great outdoors with a cozy hole as a base. Oh, and there is one room that accepts dogs – so you can bring your pooch for some pampering too.
Rooms from £ 100, £ 230 per night for the Studio; porthotel.co.uk