Review: The Gallivant, Camber Sands, Rye
I stayed at The Gallivant last week on a cheeky Thursday night. My friend had been raving about the area and so I thought it was time to finally visit the famous Camber Sands and Rye. We were incredibly lucky with the weather in February but I recommend you try to find a time in spring or summer when you can admire the incredible scenery at its full. It’s quite easy to go for a mini break as it is a 2 hour drive from London and by train is an hour.
The hotel itself is small with 20 rooms ranging from snug cabins to luxury garden rooms. From the minute you arrive you are greeted with friendly staff and a nice laid-back atmosphere. We arrived at midday, ready to attack the lunch menu in their conservatory-style resturant. There were lots of decorative palms and 50s style framed swimwear hanging on the walls. The lunch menu was simple with offering seafood dishes from the area. We went for the fish finger burger with pickles, fish croquettes, chips with rosemary and Jerusalem artichoke salad. I really enjoyed this and loved that there was only a small offering!
Check-in is strictly at 3pm so we went for a walk to the beach. The owner, Harry, said that “when you walk over there, it’ll change your life!” This was obviously quite high praise but to be honest, he was right! You have to walk over a road and down a sandy track before you hit it, and boy do you hit it! I think this was probably the prettiest British beach that I had ever seen. The beach stretches for 3 miles and it was completely empty covered in blue skies and sunshine. The sand dunes add to the beauty and are constantly moving in pale shades of green. It was windy but there was a wonderful energy here and I can only imagine how cool it would be in the summer months. It is worth noting that this area is a hotspot for kite surfing!
After the walk, it was time to check-in to our wooden panelled, snug room. I appreciated the navy and white bedheads but the rooms were simple and there was a shower but no bath. After dropping off our bags, it was time for the complimentary teatime at 4pm. This is served by the bar and you are offered tea, coffee and the cake of the day. This is often my favourite time of the day and we took this chance to lounge about and finish off some work. The interiors of the main bar and sitting room have a relaxed feel, with rustic wooden chairs, great coffee table books and a nod to a Scandi design. There are also ample books and board games and a wood burner making it very hygge.
I managed to fit in a 30 minute massage in their beach hut spa with their masseuse, Courtney. They only have one room so you have to be organised about booking as the spaces get snapped up! It was extremely relaxing and they used locally produced salt scrubs and lotions which can be bought in Rye.
Next we headed to dinner and devoured a seafood feast of fish stew with kale, aïoli and Dungeness spider crab salad with pink grapefruit, radicchio salad. Service was slow but the food made up for it. Their house red was delicious and was an organic wine called “Castaño”.
The Gallivant nailed the breakfast! It’s included in the room and they offer homemade banana bread, granola, yoghurt, juices, coffee, tea, muesli and fruit salad. You can order eggs, porridge, bacon and avocado on toast for an extra charge. They use Burford Brown eggs, cure their own bacon and make their own sausages. The service was perfect!
There are loads of places to explore nearby. You have to visit Rye which is well-known for its cobbled streets and lined with medieval, half-timbered houses. I recommend having a beer in The Mermaid Inn and stopping off at the Rye Deli and Hunter Jones. The Trattoria Tuscan Kitchen looked charming but sadly it was shut when I was there. I recommend seeing if you could book this for dinner as the menu sounded good.
I enjoyed this little escape from the city and The Gallivant makes a huge effort to make you feel at home. I stayed for one night but I think you could do two and venture further afield along the stunning coast.
New Lydd Rd, Camber, Rye TN31 7RB