Published on November 28th, 2013 | by Kelly Rose Bradford0
Holidaying Solo: The Grand Hotel Eastbourne
Eastbourne holds a special place in my heart; the first time I visited there almost 11 years ago, unbeknown to me, I was expecting my son. I always tell him it was the first seaside resort he ever went to.
On that basis, it was somewhat odd to make my return with a strapping 10-year-old in tow. My first visit had been a girls’ day out; me and a friend having a car-based picnic and then beer on the pier on a blustery day in June, 2002. A decade on, it was just me and my son checking in to the town’s ‘White Palace’, otherwise known as The Grand Hotel.
It has to be said I love a good old fashioned ‘grand’ seaside hotel. I like the pomp and ceremony, the formality, the ‘proper’ dining rooms serving ‘proper’ food on correctly-laid tables and with traditionally attired waiting staff in attendance. And if that hotel has also played host to such guests as Winston Churchill, Charlie Chaplin, Arthur Conan Doyle and King Constantine of Greece, all the better.
The big question though, as a parent, is whether a ‘grand’ hotel is the place for kids?
Like most 10-year-old boys, my son’s needs tend to focus around his computer, his iPod, and, on the Saturday we checked in – Dr Who (it was the 50th anniversary weekend). But, like all primary school aged children, the seaside still holds a magical appeal, so the ‘Junior Crew’ rucksack containing a bucket and spade which he was handed on check in went down a treat when we spent an hour on the beach catching the late November sun.
I adore the seaside in the winter and love nothing more than having long walks with the wind whipping my hair, a chill in the air, and the sun low in the skies. And that is exactly what we got on that Saturday afternoon, leaving us more than ready for our first taste of the Grand’s amenities. We lunched in the lounge – elegant and sumptuous as you might expect (and reasonably priced, with our two soups, hot chocolate and wine coming to around £25) – before having a little nose around the rest of the building.
I’m a sucker for a bit of history, and the Grand has plenty to share: Claude Debussy stayed in 1905, correcting the proofs of ‘La Mer’ there in rooms now known as the Debussy Suite, and from 1924 to 1939, the house orchestra broadcast live on the BBC from the Great Hall every Sunday night.
There are various cabinets of memorabilia around the building, and the lift up to our room had framed records on the wall – prompting my son to ask me: ‘Do you actually remember when music was THAT big?’ (er, yes, I do!)
So. Our room. I’ve stayed in lots of hotels, big ones, small ones, posh ones, budget ones. Contemporary, minimalist, country house chic… Our suite at the Grand just about encapsulated everything I like in a room – ‘proper’ furniture that you could imagine in a home; a squishy sofa, lots of storage space, a spacious bathroom and possibly the comfiest bed ever… plus all those little touches that just make everything easier: a lit wardrobe, a proper hairdryer, TWO TVs, plenty of power points (very necessary when you travel with as many devices as me and my son…)
But it was ALL the little touches that added up to a fabulous stay for us. As it was Dr Who weekend, my son was panicking about getting back to the room in time to watch it. Mega panicking when we were still on our starters at 7.30. But nothing was too much trouble for the staff, who plated up the rest of his meal as room service (and when I returned to the suite an hour or so later, hadn’t just left it for him on a tray, but had set up a complete silver-service dining experience in the room). And the food! We’re veggie. We’re usually left wanting. Let’s just say we weren’t that weekend!
If we had been staying longer than one night, (and Dr Who hadn’t been on) there were a host of children’s facilities William could have enjoyed from the Ofsted approved kids playroom to loan DVDs and board-games. There is also dedicated family dining available – and, most important of all (when you are 10), cookies and milk along with the turn-down service in the evening.
When we checked out on the Sunday morning (full of an amazing veggie full English), we both decided we wouldn’t leave it so long next time before making a return visit.
“That was probably the best hotel I’ve EVER been to,” William announced as we drove home. “Especially as they brought my dinner to the room so I didn’t miss Dr Who.”
See? It’s the little things.
The Grand currently has Christmas packages available – see website for details
The Grand, King Edwards Parade, Eastbourne, East Sussex, England, BN21 4EQ
Tel +44 (0)1323 412345
We had lunch in the lounge and dinner in the Garden restaurant in the evening – both had loads of veggie options. There was also a full vegetarian breakfast on offer the following morning. Children can dine in the family dining area, and there is a kids’ menu, which changes every day. The hotel’s head chef is Keith Mitchell formerly of the Ritz.
Drove. One hour and 40 minutes from west London. The hotel has onsite parking.
Walking on the beach, relaxing in our amazing suite, and enjoying doing practically nothing for 24 hours in a gorgeous environment! If we had ventured further afield, there are loads of local beauty spots and places of interest – Drusillas Park, Pevensey Castle, Glyndebourne Opera House, Sheffield Park Gardens and of course, the South Downs.
Yes. An overnighter or weekend away is the perfect parenting solo break time, I think – it gives both parent and child/ren the feeling of being away and refreshed, without being long enough for childcare issues or boredom to kick in. William loved every moment of our little break, and I would definitely take him back to the Grand simply because it is SO child-friendly (but without being over run with children). But by the same token, I would love to return to just kick back for a weekend in the fabulous lounge with a glass of wine and a good book…