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Great British Boltholes: A Review of Port Hotel, Eastbourne

Great British boltholes: inside the hotel that’s ruffling the feathers in quiet Eastbourne with its ‘controversial painting’

  • Annabelle Thorpe from The Mail on Sunday checks into Eastbourne’s Port Hotel
  • “It feels like something from fashionable Shoreditch in East London,” he says.
  • Rooms are “elegant, quiet and classy” with coffee machines and record players


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It is not difficult to detect Port Hotel, Eastbourne’s new boutique place to stay. Just look for a charcoal-black facade that peeks out somewhat eerily from the middle of a more traditional, icy-hued Regency terrace that lines the East Sussex town’s pebble beach.

Some locals may have been annoyed by the controversial painting, but it’s a smart idea, effectively announcing the hotel’s style and vibe before guests walk through the door. We are here, he says, and we are like nothing you’ve ever seen before.

And they are right, at least when it comes to Eastbourne. The city may now have some quirky modern corners, but its hotels have hardly changed in years. On the contrary, the port feels like something from modern Shoreditch in East London.

Bold: Port Hotel's black facade has upset some of the locals

Bold: Port Hotel’s black facade has upset some of the locals

In the photo, Eastbourne's pebble beach and the famous Victorian pier

In the photo, Eastbourne's pebble beach and the famous Victorian pier

In the photo, Eastbourne’s pebble beach and the famous Victorian pier

We check into a bar, where a speckled pink moon sits between open shelves full of gins. Around us, the room is filled with elegant corner furniture in black and muted plum.

The contemporary style continues in our room, dominated by a double height window with direct views of the sea. By the bed, a Nespresso machine glows alongside a Crosley record player, with some vinyl underneath.

The look is elegant: caramel curtains, matte black furniture, crisp white linen, but not stark. We make tea, choose an album, and watch the rain fall on the sea.

Inside one of the elegant rooms

Inside one of the elegant rooms

Inside one of the elegant rooms

Binoculars are another nice touch, and after a few minutes we spotted a seal floating in the waves.

On the ground floor, the restaurant has a menu of small plates, although there is also a list of bars and restaurants recommended by the staff. Having never stayed in Eastbourne before, we ventured out.

We started at Cru, a lively basement wine bar, then walked to Little Chelsea, a network of Victorian streets dotted with shops and restaurants. We walked back along the beautiful palm tree lined boardwalk.

In the morning, as the sun shines through the restaurant windows, we eat a hearty and healthy breakfast. Great care has been taken with the food – bacon is a slow-cooked piece of pork shoulder that literally melts in your mouth. And as we sit down with a final coffee, we agree that the Port Hotel has dared to be different, and the challenge has definitely paid off.

The USP: It’s unique. Be the first to see a very different Eastbourne.

The rooms: Elegant, relaxing and elegant. Like a design magazine that comes to life.

The food: It is ‘Sussex origin’ and is constantly changing.

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