The Gallivant is quite simply one of the best seaside hotels near London we know. Easy proximity to Camber Sands, voted one of the world’s 50 best beaches by the Sunday Times, is combined with a passionate commitment to local produce which has won the hotel multiple awards. Combine all that with a carefree, barefoot vibe, a cool Scandinavian meets Californian aesthetic and (even) a welcome for dogs, and you have a very chic update on the classic British bucket and spade holiday.
With Camber Sands on your doorstep, you might decide that sunny (or potentially wind-swept) walks along the beach followed by plentiful R&R is quite enough diversion. However, just round the coast to the east you’ll find atmospheric Dungeness, where filmmaker Derek Jarman created his famous garden. Nearby Rye is a beautifully preserved medieval town and former Cinque Port where Henry James, Paul Nash and E. F. Benson all once lived – it’s now a chi chi little place with quantities of thriving independent shops and restaurants to visit. The nearby town of Battle was the site of the Battle of Hastings, and there’s plenty to see and explore around the area and at the English Heritage site devoted to that momentous event. The Jerwood Gallery in Hastings' Old Town is worth a visit for 20th century and contemporary art, while outdoor types will want to take advantage of the kite and wind surfing on offer– Camber is one of the top 10 sites in the UK for these sports.
Food is really what The Gallivant is all about; they describe themselves as a restaurant with rooms and take pride in the fact that the vast majority of their food is produced within a 10-mile radius. (That, incidentally, also makes them the first place in the UK where you can try new season Romney salt marsh lamb, a famous local speciality.) Daniel Perjesi (formerly of The Capital, Club Gascon and The Hambrough) heads up the kitchen, which has won awards from Square Meal and the Sunday Times; his tasting menu might include ingredients such as Gloucester Old Spot pork, Dungeness cod, Kentish wood pigeon and local cheeses. Breakfast features a delicious array of wholesome homemade treats (muesli, banana bread, yoghurt, jams) accompanied not just by tea and coffee but also (nice touch) an endless supply of Bloody Marys at their ‘recovery station’. Bed and breakfast here also includes afternoon tea; as befits the Gallivant’s cool foodie ethos, tea means a pot of tea and slice of cake, not fondant fancies.