Great British boltholes: A review of Port Hotel, Eastbourne

Great British boltholes: Inside the hotel that’s ruffling feathers in sedate Eastbourne with its ‘controversial paintwork’

  • The Mail on Sunday’s Annabelle Thorpe checks into Port Hotel in Eastbourne
  • ‘It feels like something from trendy Shoreditch in East London,’ she says 
  • Rooms are ‘stylish, calming and classy’ with coffee machines and record players

It’s not difficult to spot Port Hotel, Eastbourne’s new boutique place to stay. Just look for a coal-black frontage that looms somewhat ominously from the middle of a more traditional, ice-cream-hued Regency terrace flanking the East Sussex town’s pebble beach.

Some locals may have been upset by the controversial paintwork but it’s a clever idea, effectively announcing the hotel’s style and vibe before guests step through the door. We’re here, it says, and we’re like nothing you’ve seen before.

And they’re right, at least when it comes to Eastbourne. The town might now have a few hip, quirky corners but its hotels have barely changed in years. By contrast, the Port feels like something from trendy Shoreditch in East London.

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

Pictured is Eastbourne's pebble beach and famous Victorian pier

Pictured is Eastbourne’s pebble beach and famous Victorian pier 

We check in at a bar, where a mottled pink moon sits between open shelves lined with gins. Around us the room is filled with sleek, angular furniture in black and muted plum.

The contemporary style continues in our room, dominated by a double-height bay window with direct sea views. Beside the bed a Nespresso machine gleams next to a Crosley record player, with some vinyl underneath.

The look is sleek – caramel drapes, matt-black furniture, crisp white linen – but not stark. We make tea, pick an album and watch the rain roll in across the sea.

Inside one of the sleek bedrooms

Inside one of the sleek bedrooms

Binoculars are another nice touch, and after a few minutes we spot a seal bobbing between the waves.

Downstairs, the restaurant has a menu of small-plate dishes, although there is also a list of bars and eateries recommended by staff. Having never stayed in Eastbourne before, we venture out.

We start in Cru, a buzzy basement wine bar, then stroll to Little Chelsea, a lattice of Victorian streets dotted with shops and restaurants. We walk back along the lovely, palm-lined promenade.

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

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

The rooms: Stylish, calming and classy. Like a design magazine brought to life.

The food: It’s ‘sourced in Sussex’ and ever-changing. 


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