Rye, East Sussex
If you were to combine all the essential elements for the most sublime boutique hotel experience, you’d ultimately find yourself at The George in Rye. A hotel since the 18th century (steeped in history, its beautiful ballroom was built in 1818 as an assembly room for farmers who came to the market), it has been stylishly spruced up. It now has a mix of eclectic and contemporary furnishings and fabrics – some rooms have a romantic Regency feel, others are distinctly more mid-century modern. Joyfully, most of the decor can be purchased at The Shop Next Door, including its signature Gluggle jugs – fish-shaped ceramic jugs that ‘gluggle’ when poured and are available in a rainbow of shades.
The rooms in the main building are more traditional. We stayed in room 31, a former hayloft decorated in a minimalist style with lashings of pale wood (apparently George Clooney stayed in the one next door while filming The Monuments Men in Rye). It’s the perfect family space, with a pitched roof, a giant bed in the centre and a purpose-built cubbyhole, which houses a double bed for the kids with their own TV (bliss for all involved!). Tucked around the corner is a roll-top bath and then a large bathroom that has a shower and lots of Ren skincare products.
It definitely helps that Rye is one of the prettiest towns you could ever hope to visit, too. It’s easily walkable, many of its streets are cobbled and the buildings, a melee of Tudor, medieval and Georgian styles, seem suspended in time. You could spend an afternoon just mooching here. The boutiques are hard to resist (my favourites: Marsha By The Sea, Hunter Jones and Pale & Interesting), but then Camber Sands, with its vast dunes and crashing waves, is a short 10-minute drive away, and with kids in tow, it’s an ideal spot to work off some energy.
We return for the highlight of our stay: the food. If the decor at The George is sensational, the food is something else. West Mersea Pacific rock oysters are served three ways here (Au Naturel, Rockefeller and Bloody Mary), and then there’s the charcoal fire Josper oven, on which steak and lobster are seared to perfection. The frites are salty, the salads unusual and moreish, the puddings (blueberry tart with violet ice cream and clotted cream panna cotta) unmissable. I vow not to eat for the rest of the weekend to compensate, until I arrive at breakfast and spot the yogurt, granola and poached pears, which are all home-made (yes, home-made yogurt!). My husband goes for the full English, my kids boiled eggs and soldiers. We are all in heaven. SARAH TOMCZAK
TRIP NOTES Double rooms start at £135 per night, thegeorgeinrye.com
Clockwise from above: Junior Suites boast luxurious roll-top baths; The George is located in the heart of Rye; guests can relax in the pretty courtyard garden; room 31 is a dream come true