The Grand, Eastbourne
THE HOTEL: This is the iconic five-star property on the Beachy Head end of the Eastbourne seafront – part of Elite Hotels – easily found via the A27/22 and around a 50-minute from Gatwick Airport.
THE CHECK-IN: Grand best sums up first impressions, from its imposing white stucco façade to the cavernous Grand Hall with marble colonnade that incorporates the reception area. A parking bay had been reserved and formalities at the front desk were swiftly dealt with.
THE ROOM: The second floor room was large and airy with traditional country house hotel décor. No minibar, but 24-hour room service and all you would expect, from robes, slippers and tea and coffee-making facilities to a safe and Molton Brown toileteries. Wifi was installed subsequent to my visit, so too a tiled (rather than carpeted) bathroom floor. Still under discussion is whether to take the room count down and install walk-in showers; there are three rooms with them currently.
THE FACILITIES: There's ample car parking, outdoor and indoor swimming pools, a spa with eight treatment rooms, hair salon, gym, and a putting green. For formal dining there's the Mirabelle restaurant with two AA rosettes, and the Garden Room which insists on jacket or tie for men at dinner. There are also vast public areas: a drawing room, cocktail bar, the Chatsworth Lounge and a sunny terrace.
THE BUSINESS: There are some 17 meeting rooms, all with natural daylight, from the smallest for ten to the Compton Suite – the hotel’s original ballroom with pretty plasterwork walls and ceilings – for 300 delegates theatre-style. DDR is from £65.00. There is also the Gallery Room for 15 people that overlooks the Grand Hall.
THE VERDICT: Built as a hotel in 1875 for the gentry travelling down to the coast, it’s still a tad old-fashioned but the unfaltering service levels make this a super efficient hotel with high repeat business. Plump for first floor rooms, most of which have balconies, to breath in the fresh sea air.
THE DETAILS: King Edwards Parade, Eastbourne, East Sussex, BN21 4EQ. From £199 per night including breakfast and VAT. Tel: 01323 412345; www.elitehotels.co.uk; www.grandeastbourne.com.
Reviewed by Gillian Upton (2012)