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Tuesday 19 February 2013

Sluttery Travels: The Gallivant Hotel, Camber Sands

A trip to the beach in February? I'd never been to the Sussex coast before and had no idea what to expect but was adamant that even if the weather was bad I was going to build at least one sandcastle. Nestled just behind the sand dunes of Camber and surrounded by the Romney salt marshes lies The Gallivant which after a 4 hour drive down from the Midlands was like an oasis as it appeared around the corner.
With only 18 rooms The Gallivant is small and full of cute little personal touches. I was shown to the Beach Hut room which had a HUGE comfy bed to flop down onto and soft puffy pillows. A little pot of homemade biscuits waited next to a big teapot and selection of teas, the biscuits lasted all of about 30 seconds as I was famished, a huge bonus of travelling alone is extra biscuits. There was UHT milk which is always a bit of a disappointment in hotel rooms but there was a little note to say you could just call for fresh milk from reception (on a very cool retro phone next to the bed).
I fell in love with the rubber duck, he costs £5 to take home. 
There was a huge flatscreen TV, a DVD player, and you can borrow movies from a big selection at reception. I opted for "Inception" and discovered that you can easily see the screen from the bath, so promptly ran a big bath and watched Leonardo DiCaprio until I went super wrinkly. You could buy pretty much anything that's in the room from the big fluffy bathrobes to the biscuits to the books that they leave there in case you get tired of watching movies in the bath or playing on the beach.
How stunning is the beach? And this is FEBRUARY!
Oh the beach! The Gallivant is the only hotel in Camber Sands and is literally a stones throw from the beautiful sand dunes and 5 miles of stunning sandy beach, a beach that is pretty much deserted 350 days of the year. It's all yours.
This handsome chap was staying at the hotel
Whenever I'm on a beach I instantly wish I had a dog with me to play with, this would be a perfect opportunity for me to use the Borrow a Doggy site but The Gallivant have got this covered. You can take one of the owner's dogs, "Camber", off to the beach, he'll even pull you up the dunes (now that's service), I definitely think more hotels should have dogs for you to borrow. If you have a dog already though that's cool as well behaved dogs are welcome at the hotel so you can all enjoy a beach holiday playing in the dunes.
Meet Camber, he wants to be your beach buddy
If the weather is being somewhat uncooperative for beach shenanigans and you want to go out and explore, you're surrounded by stunning countryside to venture out into. Camber is just a 5 minute drive from the gorgeous historic town of Rye so I hopped off in the car to have a mooch about. Rye is packed with loads of great antique shops, artist galleries, old book shops and lovely places to pop in for a pint of local ale or two and we covered loads of great things to get up to during our Sussex Week special.
This awesome car seat was in a shop called McCully & Crane, I definitely want one
The Gallivant is basically a bit of a haven for food lovers as they have a bounty of incredible produce right on their doorstep, and they know what they're doing with it. I visited during Rye Scallop Week and ate the freshest, sweetest, most perfectly cooked scallops I'd had in years.

Chapel Down vineyard is also just up the road so the drinks list features not only wonderful locally made wines but also the most fabulous lager called Curious Brew that's made using the champagne yeast from the vineyard. It's stunning, I was so impressed I headed to the vineyard the following day to pick up a few bottles!
Dinner was amazing, their salt marsh lamb was absolute heaven and served perfectly rare, but it was after a mouthful of melting dauphinoise that I actually wanted to go into the kitchen and hug their chef. Do not leave without ordering their signature dessert of tarte tatin, it truly is a thing of sticky, indulgent beauty.

No matter how fuzzy your head is the following morning make sure you get up early enough to get breakfast though because it's ace. Their homemade banana bread was a particular highlight (I had 3 big slices, well there's fruit in there so it's fine, right?) and everything is local, made to order and perfect to set you up for another day on the beach.
French toast and banana bread = ace hangover cure
All the staff were super friendly and made me feel totally at home from the moment I arrived. Doubles start at around £135 per night including breakfast and they have a whole range of different packages from "Dog Lovers Escapes" to  food lovers weekend packages that include 5 course tasting menus and cookery school breaks or you can hire the entire place out for a wedding weekend (they have a licence and gorgeous marquee).

The sky seems a whole lot bigger in Camber
I really fell in love with the The Gallivant and can't wait to go back (I might even get to build that sandcastle), and at just an hour's drive from London it's the perfect, laid back beach getaway for food lovers and dogs alike who fancy a bit of unspoilt deserted beach life.

I was a guest of The Gallivant.


  1. Dog walkies! Awww, I want to go and play with the dog on the beach.

  2. Gorgeous! I love the borrowing dog too, what a lovely touch!

    Hazel, your photography makes me want to go back and delete every hotel review I've ever done out of sheer shame. How do you get the effect of multiple photos next to each other? Is it Photoshop? Please tell me it's a nice lazy iPhone app I can pinch.

    Kat "going to make more of an effort with photography"

    1. But then we would not have had the JOY of you peeping through a star-shaped window.

    2. Hahahah! Oh wow, I'd forgotten about that - that and drunkenly playing the harp. Amazing.

    3. Aw thanks Kat! Best free collage App I've stumbled upon is called Instacollage which is dead easy and you can add text to your creations, that one can just be downloaded straight onto your phone so you can edit in Instagram then arrange them in Instacollage.

      I absolutely loved The Gallivant AND Camber the dog AND the food and drink, oh I want to go back right now for breakfast

  3. looks gorgeous, added to my must visit list... Jo :-)

  4. Best. Domestic. Sluttery. Post. Ever.

  5. On the strength of only this review, I booked us a family cottage in Camber for this past week. It was absolutely amazing!

    Brilliant beach, incredible food and the locals were so friendly!

    We had lunch at The Beach Bistro and my main was, quite simply, the best fish I have ever eaten (just don't tell my Grandmother!).

    I've just read your review of your stay in Dorset . . . I may be making a booking in the near future!


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