Hidden away on the East Sussex coast in 1066 Country, The Gallivant Hotel is just the place for a chic weekend getaway. I felt a million miles away from the bustling streets of London…
When in reality I’d just caught the train from Kings Cross and had arrived in Camber an hour and a bit later.
Unlike the seaside towns that surround it alive with the ringing of arcades, there’s not that much going on around here, and that was just the way I liked it. With the glare of LCD screens and Blackberry bleeps filling up my day-to-day life, it was refreshing to switch off and mend my sketchy relationship with nature at Camber Sands, sliding down mountainous grassy sand dunes and meandering along the expansive golden bay studded with sea shells. It felt almost alien and that’s probably why it recently made a cameo in Dr. Who.
There are many bohemian quirks to the Gallivant Hotel, like the bedside tables filled with seashells and the wooden carvings of fish hanging from the restaurant walls, created by one of the hotel owners friends after finding some drift wood while wandering the beach. The Gallivant made me want to spend the rest of my life in flip-flops, just like the Dude from the Big Lebowski.
And as much as I could stroll around in my bath robe and flip-flops all day combing the beach for funny looking shells, I was actually here to do a ‘Boat to Plate’ fish cookery course, a subject I knew nothing about. But that was soon to change as we hopped on a minibus to Rye Harbour to visit the Market Fisheries see exactly where the cod, flounder and world-famous Rye scallops we’d soon be cooking and then eating came from.
The Gallivant takes local produce very seriously, sourcing as much of its food as possible within a 30-mile radius, including their melt-in-the-mouth Romney Marsh lamb and all that freshly caught south-coast fish I’d just seen pulsating in the crates. In fact, the menu changes day-to-day depending on what the boats bring back to Rye.
After meeting the local fish mongers, it was back to the hotel for our master class with Head Chef, Trevor where I go my hands dirty forcefully opening a humongous scallop and then learning the secrets to the perfect Sussex Pond Pudding (a dessert I’ve never head of, funny that!) A true Yorkshireman, Trevor takes a no-nonsense rustic approach to cooking so the course is a very relaxed affair which was perfect for a novice like me.
We finished the evening with a feast fit for kings in the Beach Bistro, filled with dishes we’d covered in the course along with the famous lamb, deep-fried flounder, ham hock terrine and some of the best English wines I’ve tasted. I’m still digesting.
To find out more about the hotel’s cookery courses, or to book your own boutique getaway in a nautical-themed suite, head to the Gallivant Hotel website. And for more ideas on what to see and do along the coast, take a look at our guide to England’s beaches and coastline.