A LUXURY and lifestyle travel magazine has named the five best English seaside towns – and Eastbourne is one of them.
Condé Nast Traveller is a magazine published by Condé Nast.
This is what it says about our great town:
EASTBOURNE & BEYOND
Its pier presents a chimerical silhouette above the water; its seafront promenade is punctuated by a much-loved bandstand; its streets are lined with grand, Victorian buildings.
Eastbourne in East Sussex is the quintessential, old-fashioned seaside resort; and aside from its first-class art gallery, it has limited contemporary appeal.
But it provides easy access to the glorious new South Downs National Park, and to intriguing and little-known art trails.
Eastbourne is fronted by three miles of shingle, plus sand at low tide. There are deckchairs and cafés on the Grand Parade section. Beyond the town are stunning and relatively secluded beaches beneath the cliffs of the South Downs. Falling Sands Beach, accessed from a footpath and via steep steps, is an attractive (and sandy) stretch.
WHAT TO DO
Stroll the seafront promenade, which is lined with beds of bright flowers. For great views back over the town’s Italianate architecture, walk the 1,000ft-long pier.
Visit Towner Gallery (townereastbourne.org.uk) for its contemporary art exhibitions and wonderful permanent collection including works by Alfred Wallis, Walter Sickert and Iván Navarro. Browse the town’s commercial galleries: post-war prints at Emma Mason (emmamason.co.uk) on Cornfield Terrace; modern art at Nigel Greaves Gallery (nigelgreavesgallery.co.uk) in Grand Hotel Buildings.
Eastbourne’s hinterland has informal art routes that are also well worth following. About 10 miles away is Charleston (charleston.org.uk), which was the home of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant and retains their murals and art collection (including works by Picasso and Renoir).
Nearby Berwick Church is adorned with more Bell and Grant murals. Another ‘trail’ leads to Farley Farm House (farleyfarmhouse.co.uk), near Chiddingly, the former home of the surrealists Roland Penrose and Lee Miller, which is filled with contemporary art treasures (open on the first and third Sundays of the month, April- October). In East Dean, ceramicist Sheila Hay (sheilahay.co.uk) opens her workshop on Saturdays and by appointment, and the picturesque deli Frith & Little is good for picnic food.
WHERE TO STAY IN EASTBOURNE & BEYOND
Well-positioned on the seafront, on King Edward’s Parade, the boldly decorated Citrus Eastbourne (citrushoteleastbourne.co.uk) is furnished with faux-fur curtains and Seventies-style designer wallpaper. The 50 bedrooms are spacious and keenly priced, and most offer good views.
One block along the road is the landmark, 1875-built Grand Hotel (01323 412345; grandeastbourne.com). Its exterior is a confection of stuccowork, and the interior exudes an air of faded elegance.
On the steep, white cliffs of nearby Beachy Head is the Belle Tout Lighthouse (01323 423185; belletoute.co.uk), now a quirky and stylish B&B. Built in 1832 and a working lighthouse until 1902, it was picked up and moved away from the eroding cliff edge in 1999. The refurbished property has six bedrooms and offers gourmet breakfasts and complimentary evening drinks in the lounge.
In nearby East Dean, which must rank as one of the most idyllic villages in Sussex, The Tiger Inn (01323 423209; beachyhead.org.uk) has five cosy yet chic bedrooms overlooking the green. Beachy Head Estate (01323 423878) has eight holiday cottages in the village, sleeping from two to six.
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK IN EASTBOURNE & BEYOND
Eastbourne could really do with a good restaurant. Well-regarded, if slightly stuffy, formal dining is provided by Mirabelle at the Grand Hotel, where main courses include sea bass with langoustine fumet. Much applauded locally is the Waterside hotel’s Waterside Seafood Restaurant (01323 646566), but it is pricey for a place with such an unambitious menu. For light lunches, head to the café at the lifestyle store Sam Sharp (01323 729577) on Cornfield Terrace. The Tiger Inn in East Dean has a lively ambience, creaking beams and bistro-style dishes.