A cult, East Sussex getaway, The Gallivant is an unpretentious seaside hotel that spills onto vast, dun-backed golden sands, with year-round appeal. Along with the beach walks, revitalising pre-breakfast dips in the sea and rosé picnics is the chance to mooch down to the Medieval-mod town of Rye, and explore its string of cool design shops, vintage pop ups and right-on coffee shops just off the old rum-runner allies. It’s up there as one of the UK’s most photogenic seaside staycation spots.
A salty, escape-from-it-all with the opportunity to dip into Rye’s ‘cultural artisanal-foodie scene, before retreating back to cosy seaside rooms or dimly lit libraries with a cocktail and board game.
Set the scene
The first bona fide boutique hotel in the picturesque dunes of Camber Sands, the Gallivant sits in plum position for a beachy break (without the seaside promenade or arcade malarky). The driftwood beach huts and muted hues have a little Nantucket to them, with owners, Sigrid and Harry Cragoe decorating the rooms with local artworks and their own carefully-selected pieces of vintage furniture. The beach feels gloriously secluded here, with wonderful views over the hotel’s eco-gardens then as far as the eye can stretch out to sea. It’s the blast of salty fresh air city rats dream of, and one that comes at a remarkably reasonable rate considering the spec of the decor and food.
Time here is well spent feasting on spanking fresh seafood, before hunkering down in one of the charming shepherd’s huts, with their little fires and enormous beach blankets, or keeping 5pm board games well-oiled with local sparkling wine. Outdoorsy types can hop on a bike to skirt the preposterously pretty Camber Bay or simply plonk a picnic in the dunes for long afternoons oscillating between soft, warm sand and the shallows. The Gallivant also makes the most of this patch of coast’s off-sea microclimate – not something you realise until feeling worlds away from the damp British summer.
20 impeccably choreographed rooms, from the Snug Cabins that include Baby Hampton and Large Hampton, to the Garden and Luxury Garden rooms, all evoke the subdued, creamy hues and textures of the Hamptons, with boarded walls, thick, earthy curtains and bedthrows – all designed by Sigrid. Playful little touches include old telephones, framed vintage swimsuits, and Scandinavian-style chairs draped with thick sheepskins. French doors lead out onto the coastal garden and private decks in beachy shades, all complemented by rustic wooden chairs and cosy nooks aplenty. The standalone bathtubs are a real highlight… reason along to peel yourselves from your beach towels and in for a relaxed spruce before pre-supper cocktails.
Food and drink
The Gallivant delivers an ever-shifting menu that feverishly champions the restaurant’s surrounding bounty (over 90% of the produce is sourced within 20 miles). When the weather allows it, the restaurant drifts onto a sunny terrace, where the form here is a bottle of Sussex sparkling wine in the sunshine while clearing the lungs with a fresh, salty breeze. Inside the atmosphere is cockle-warming and buzzy, serving a simple-done-well spread to locals and guests that might (depending on the season you come) include roast Kent beetroots with walnut cream, land cress and pickled walnut relish, Whole Rye Bay fish with seaweed butter; and wood-roasted Romney lamb rump, baba ghanoush, zhug. The hotel boasts serious food credentials: with award-winning head chef Nico Fitzgerald creative use of fresh ingredients drawing Londoners down throughout the year.
Having opened in 2014 with a recent head-to-toe spruce by its owners, Sigrid Cragoe and Harry Cragoe, The Gallivant is very much the cool kid on East Sussex coastal block. It’s laid-back, beachy vibe is paired with luxurious touches such as thick-down-stuffed duvets, threadcount-busting linens and cashmere rugs strewn across armchairs and sofas.
This is an adult only hotel but four-legged friends are very welcome.
A Bamford spa can be found in a little beach hut, tucked away in the corner of the eco-garden with interiors more reminiscent of a beachy bedroom than any clinical treatment room. The Bamford organic aromatherapy treatments are the final piece to the Gallivant puzzle (a weekend of winding down with delicious local food, wine and an oily pummelling. We highly recommend the Bamford Facial where organic shea butter and coconut oil cleansing balm is deftly massaged into the skin, followed by a gentle exfoliating mask and rounded off with fruity serums and oils. Expect to leave in a happy trance, with beautifully glowing and thoroughly hydrated skin.
The Gallivant sits on the rolling dunes of Camber Sands in East Sussex and is an adults-only hotel with a well-deserved eco reputation. Its sustainable credentials have been earned by its solar panels, a wild eco coastal garden, which encourages the white cabbage butterflies and bumble bee populations to flourish. What’s more, the garden has been planted thoughtfully with drought tolerant shrubs and succulents and wind loving Pinus Pinea pines, and the restaurant is locally-led, whipping up exciting plates from local producers.
Only an hour from central London, and 10 minutes from Rye, The Gallivant is tucked behind steep sand dunes, surrounded by English vineyards and with historic Hastings on its doorstep.
The Unlimited Gallivant starts from £530 per night based on two guests sharing and includes an overnight stay, dinner, breakfast, English wine at 5pm, unlimited drinks from the Unlimited List, Drinks In The Dunes, daily yoga and wellness classes, turndown ‘We Have Drift Off’ tea.
To book, visit: thegallivant.co.uk