One of the things that makes Camber Sands such a bright jewel in the South Coast’s crown is its sense of seclusion. Just two hours from London by car or one and a half hours by train, one would expect it’s white sandy beaches and rolling sand dunes to be as busy as the Tube on a Monday morning and about as enjoyable as a replacement bus service. But if you decide to make the most of the brief British summer with a visit to Camber you will be pleasantly surprised, away from the tourist traps of Brighton and Bournemouth is arguably the most beautiful and under used stretch of beach the country has to offer, and nestled in behind the sand dunes is the Gallivant Hotel.
Under the protection of the dunes this beach chic hotel is very sheltered from the elements, in fact it’s so sheltered you won’t even realise you’ve arrived at the coast. It wasn’t until we climbed the first dune that we caught a glimpse of the calm blue sea and deserted beach. The hotel itself combines contemporary design with a beach shack feel, it’s 18 rooms all have furnishings made from locally sourced reclaimed driftwood and little details that give them a unique feel. From the super soft bath robes and rubber ducks in the bathroom to the homemade biscuits waiting for us on arrival there is an attention to detail throughout that makes the guests feel welcome.
A walk on the beach is a great way to work up an appetite, ready to sample the delights of the Gallivant Bistro. The food is an absolute triumph; quality local produce cooked to perfection. The kitchen is run on an ethos of sourcing everything from within 30 miles of the restaurant, but it seemed that nearly everything we tried had come from within 5 or 6 miles. The scallops that had been so beautifully seared were caught by the very same fishermen we had watched sailing in and out of Rye’s quaint harbour just a few hours earlier. The lamb’s sublime taste and texture was quite unlike anything we had tasted before and had been brought up on the salt flats just down the road. But the real treat for us was the restaurant’s championing of, the often under-championed, English wine and beer industry. Most of the wine we sampled came from the local Chapel Down Vineyard in Kent, delicious wines that were dry without being too harsh, or sweet without being too over powering were the perfect compliment to a meal that combined the chef’s artistic flair and technical skill with excellent ingredients.
If you want to head out and about in the evening there’s plenty of pubs in the town of Rye serving local drinks and food. But be warned; if you do decide to head for the evening make sure you book a taxi home, during the week the local taxi drivers head to bed after 11pm unless they have a job on. If you’re not careful you may have to walk the 4 miles back to the hotel, which in 3 inch heels is no mean feat! During the day there’s a number of boutique shops and a few sites to see. The tower of St. Mary’s Church provides the best views in the area. For a small fee you can climb the narrow steps and steep ladders to the top, the views waiting there show off the best of Rye and Camber. Watching the fishing boats going up and down the river and seeing the throngs of shoppers walking round the cobbled streets is so peaceful it feels a million miles away from home, work, and the Monday morning commute.
The more adventurous traveller can take advantage of Chamber’s rather unique micro-climate, a consistent offshore breeze makes it one of the best locations in the country to learn to kite surf. Other activities on offer in the area include wind surfing, sailing, power boating and even an annual triathlon. But quite frankly when you are sleeping in the most comfy bed in existence it becomes very difficult to motivate yourself to do anything other than relax and enjoy the luxurious surroundings.
On the whole we felt that the Gallivant is the perfect place to go to get out of the hustle and bustle of London, or anywhere else for that matter. The staff are incredibly friendly and are willing to go to any lengths to make sure you enjoy your stay. If you want to feel like you’re a million miles from the pressures of work and home and want a bit of affordable luxury this summer I can’t think of anything better than a walk along Camber’s golden sands and a stay in the in this delightful hotel.
Visit http://thegallivanthotel.com/ for more information
words by Fena Boyle