Elegance – the quality of being graceful and stylish in appearance and manner.
I don’t know much about elegance, but if I were to look for a way to describe the word The Grand Eastbourne would be the perfect solution.
In an industry that has gulfs of difference in quality be in 5 star ratings, AA stars and the endless other markings of excellence it can be hard to know whether you are going to get what you expect. That said The Grand Eastbourne you would think is a safe bet in as much as its the only 5 star coastal hotel in the UK.
But to give some context, this was our first night away from our son, for the last two years we’ve been everywhere together, so it was a nervous time when we left him with family and made our way to Eastbourne. With that in mind we were hoping for an a nice pleasant stay in a place that we believed would help us put our minds at rest.
I think its safe to say that when you first see the building its hard to take it all in. As you drive along the seafront looking at the various other establishments you get the feeling that there is alot of competition here for your money, and there are very few that you would say no to if you were to base your stay on the first impressions. However being situated virtually at the end of the seafront away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist attractions plays right into the hands of The Grand.
You come upon it with the feeling like they’ve saved the best for last, its hard to think that once you see the building you would ever forget it.
Bathed in sunshine the brilliant white property with the gold trimmings and flags flying is truly on a different level as far as looks are concerned.
As you enter the hotel you are greeted with the offer to take your luggage and immediately you feel like people genuinely want you to feel at ease. The staff on reception are fantastically efficient and personable with an effortless ability to run you through your stay and the check in process while taking an interest in you. As much as you think this is just basic, I would suggest alot of places we’ve stayed at struggle to do both at the same time.
Once checked in you are shown to your room and once again you don’t need to worry about luggage, its all taken care of (Chris was like a ninja, silently waiting for us to check in and then appearing to show us the way through the hotel). We were given the run down on where everything was as we walked which is always a great help in a place this size, however as you walked through the communal areas you got a sense of history. The paintings on the walls, the pillars and lighting all led you to think you were part of something special. Its not a stretch to say the inside stood up well to the name of the place, it truly is grand.
Once in our room, we had a junior suite, it was time to take a leaf out of the Four in a Bed playbook. we had a good look round and its not an exaggeration to say it was spotless. Not a speck of dirt or smudge or swear anywhere. However cleanliness in this day and age should be a given (should be), so what was the actual room like? Well generally speaking most people enjoy either a traditional or a modern feel to a room and with experience its hard to mix the two, some do it well some miss the mark. The Grand Eastbourne I am happy to say get it just right. With sash windows next to the flatscreen TV, the writing desk just over from the bluetooth compatible speaker system and the stain glass windows in the hall way sitting right with the wireless keycard door entry. its a sympathetic blending of two era’s. People want traditional but we like our modern convenience.
There are plenty of other features in the room to enjoy, the two armchairs and the sofa are perfectly placed to allow you to sit back and relax after a morning of shopping or an evening of dining. The Jack and Jill sinks will make you wonder how you ever managed not to kill each other with just the one you have at home along with realizing the bathroom is bigger that most peoples second bedroom. The bed has what is now the standard cushions and blanket on top of the actual pillows and duvet, but I don’t think I’ve ever picked up a heavier cushion. It literally felt like I was having to move a medium sized goat onto the floor (probably).
As an aside there are what feel like dozens of little subtle features to look out for, the shoe cleaning mitt, the sewing kit, the design magazines on the table. I’ve never used a sewing kit in my life, but now I feel like I need one in every room of the house.
We had booked a couple of things before we arrived, one was the Afternoon Tea, the other was dinner in The Garden Restaurant. A great example of how seamless the hotel runs was that they had all of the details of everything we had booked, the time, the options all ready and waiting even though we booked it all separately.
The Afternoon Tea was like something right out of a Jane Austin novel (from what I hear anyway). Surrounded by artwork that looks like it should be in a museum, with a roaring fire flickering and furniture that you would love in your living room, you have the option of the original afternoon tea or the champagne version. We opted for the original version which came with 4 different selections of sandwiches filled with things I would never put in the same room let alone eat, several pastries that look like they could be fakes and some of the best looking scones you will see with jam and clotted cream. This is topped off with whichever of the endless types of tea you choose.
Whilst we’re on the theme of food its a good time to talk about dinner, or as it would be better referred to, The Dining Experience.
You could go straight into the restaurant if you like, or you could turn it up to 11 and head for the lounge. Take a seat and you’ll be greeted and your order taken for whatever cocktail, spirit or other choice of beverage you would like. You’ll then get bar snacks and a surprise entree brought over with your drinks. Whilst enjoying this you’ll be brought a menu for you to choose what you would like to eat this evenings. There is more than one menu so make sure you look through it all as you might miss something, we almost didn’t see the fillet of beef and that would have been a travesty.
Once you are ready you go to the restaurant, in our case just across the hall for The Garden Restaurant, you get seated and one of the Sommeliers come and ask you what you would like to drink. Now here’s when it gets interesting, if you know your wine then you’re probably all good and know what you want, we don’t know wine. I could tell you what I like but I’ve no idea why other than it tastes quite nice. This guy that talked to us about wine walked us through how different bottles tasted and made some suggestions before letting us taste before making our decision. We now really started to feel like this is something a bit different.
When it came to the food we had more than just 3 courses, we had another entree, the started, a sorbet, then main then dessert. The service was fantastic, there was the perfect amount of time between courses to talk and take in what you had just had before moving onto the next one, nothing felt rushed, it was as if time stopped and the night lasted for hours (it actually did, I think it was nearly 3 hours). I believe it was Martin that served us and just like Chris, I’m sure he was some sort of ninja as alot of the plates he put down we didn’t even see him, they just appeared.
However the star of the night was Olivia, she saw us to our table at the start of the evening and then appeared again at dessert to do the crepe suzzette. As desserts go it doesn’t get any better, she had the flame on that pan so hot you could feel it across the table. So although the dinner was magnificent all around the end just put it over the top.
The following morning we made our way down to breakfast, you have a choice of ordering off menu if you want the traditional full English, fish or even steak, or you could use one of the three buffets. You had a cereal one, another for make your own full english and another for fruit and pastries. There was again no pressure to turn tables or get things moving faster so we had a slow enjoyable start to the day.
Now I know I’ve gone into alot of detail here but quite honestly you need to know the detail. We’re not talking about the average premier inn (and the price is obviously reflective of what each offers), this is a word class hotel that offers you the best of everything. When was the last time you stayed somewhere that had the desire to meet your every need in a way so effortless you barely even knew anyone had done anything.
If you think somewhere like The Grand Eastbourne is snobby and pretentious, maybe stay there and then see if you think the same after. If you do, we can’t be friends.