Port Hotel

Eastbourne, Sussex, United Kingdom
Book from Book from £85 per night

A refreshing reincarnation of a classic seafront hotel turned hip haven, with excellent food and drink and stylish rooms

Sussex has attracted movers and shakers for some time: folk are drawn to the gorgeous South Downs National Park, its charming small towns, iconic white cliffs and long beaches. Proximity to London and good transport links help too. Quintessential seaside resort Eastbourne is shaping up nicely as the next big thing. On its western flank is Beachy Head, Britain's highest chalk cliff, with terrific far-reaching views. The Victorian grand mansions stretching along the seafront are protected (no shops allowed). And there's a striking and award-winning art gallery, good browsing in eclectic shops and a host of independent cafes and restaurants.

Taking advantage of all this is on-trend Port Hotel, which opened in summer 2021 following an extensive transformation of a townhouse B&B. By every measure the hotel contrasts with its neighbours: the exterior is painted not magnolia but black (very controversial!); you get cork flooring instead of carpets; design-led interiors pull off the neat trick of being both functional and beautiful. 19 contemporary rooms come in a range of sizes, accommodating everybody from romantics to families to dog-owners. The inviting ground-floor restaurant, bar and lounge has original artwork and a sea-facing terrace. Most pleasingly, the locavore-focused plates served at Port are packed with interest and invention – delicious beyond mere fashion. A bold new opening which deserves its success.

Highs

  • Fabulous Sussex-sourced food and drink, including organic wine and craft beer, plus excellent vegetarian and vegan options
  • Rooms are really stylish and comfy: we slept deeply on our super-kingsize Hypnos mattress
  • You're a pebble's throw from Eastbourne's lovely pier and beach (there's six miles of it to explore), and it's easy walking to antique and vintage shops
  • Genuine eco-credentials, from the cleaning products used to the cork flooring and emphasis on natural materials
  • Though it was new when we visited, we found the staff very helpful and friendly

Lows

  • It may be on the up, but we felt Eastbourne doesn't yet have the vibe of Brighton or Hastings
  • Only six of the rooms have sea views; the rest face the rooftops and the South Downs
  • No lift and not ideal for those with reduced mobility as there are quite a few steps
  • The beach is shingle not sand (as most are along this coastline)
  • The restaurant is only open Thu-Sat in winter months (Jan-Mar), small plates available at other times

Best time to go

Any time of year is nice to be beside the seaside! That said, the English Channel does become much more attractive when the sun shines on it. In common with its neighbours Brighton and Hastings, Eastbourne has mild winters and sea breezy summers. The famous Eastbourne Tennis Tournament is held in June each year, while the Eastbourne Airbourne air show is in August.

Our top tips

It's no coincidence that Port Hotel has a lot of wonderful art and ceramics on display. There's a vibrant local art scene, and much of what you see was sourced from local creative hub Devonshire Collective. If you would like to check out their wares and workshops, head to their Volt Gallery and Makerspace.

Great for...

Beach
Eco
Foodie
City Style
Family
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 19 rooms
  • Restaurant open Tue-Sun, breakfast served daily
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
Room:

Rooms

The 19 hip bedrooms are all decked in sandy and earthy tones; warm cork floors are neatly offset by black trim in taps, window frames, radiators and chair legs. Additional colour-coding in subtle green, neutral or blush pink is seen in the poured concrete sinks, kettles, throws and mini-fridges.

Six rooms are sea-facing, the rest not – your budget will determine which to choose. Top of the pile is the first floor Studio Apartment (where we stayed), with built-in shelves and desk, a big bathroom with egg bath and twin sinks, and impressive bay windows opening to a private balcony. We loved the cool turntable and LPs. Two Sea-View Rooms have freestanding tubs, and two have a balcony. Sea-facing rooms all have super-kingsize beds and – a nice touch – binoculars.

In the lower ground floor are the Family- and Dog-friendly Rooms, also with super-kingsize beds and large walk-in showers, plus small patios for outside access. One family room has adult-length bunk beds.

To the rear are the compact, entry-level Cabin Rooms and Town Rooms, which have kingsize beds and walk-in showers. The further you ascend, the better the view to the South Downs across Eastbourne's rooftops.

All rooms come with comfy Hypnos mattresses, uplifting Faith in Nature products, attractive designer pottery, a coffee-maker with Craft House bio-degradable capsules, and a kettle with fabulous Hoogly teas (and a choice of soy, oat, almond or cow’s milk).

Features include:

  • Alarm clock
  • Central heating
  • Hairdryer
  • Iron/ironing board on request
  • Safe box
  • Satellite TV
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

Food and drink at the Port Hotel is a highlight: every meal was sheer delight. Seasonal produce from within a 30-mile radius is seen in inventive and enticing menus created by Head Chef Alex Burtenshaw and team.

Breakfast could be cereals with an extra element (porridge with sea salt and sugar or marinated apricots for example), or cooked breakfasts in 3 varieties: vegetarian (with Sussex halloumi), plant-based (including scrambled tofu), or meat. It was duck royale with smoked hollandaise, and avocado on toast with smoked salmon and poached egg which took our fancy. Divine smoothies and coffee (choose oat, soy, almond or cow's milk) round it off.

We stayed in the autumn, so menus had a harvest flavour. For lunch, try little delicacies such as a Sussex cheese board, local charcuteries or brown crab on sourdough; or large plates including chestnut gnocchi or roasted cod bisque.

Dinner blew us away. After kicking off with Jerusalem artichoke hummus, nigella seed crispbread and venison Scotch eggs with Cumberland sauce, we moved onto goat kebab with beetroot carpaccio in a truffle and ponzu dressing scattered with cashews. To finish: waffles with poached apple and miso caramel. And the Sussex wines weren't half-bad either. The luminous Lunar Bar is full of award-winning artisan drinks and local brews; there's an impressive cocktail list too. Note that the restaurant only serves cold small plates Sun-Wed in winter months.

If you fancy a change of scene, recommended eateries include Bistrot Pierre on the seafront; all-day Company for Sussex produce; The Green Almond for vegetarians and vegans; wine-restaurant Cru or tasting-room Levels for oenophiles.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Coffee maker
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Step outside to admire the Pier and stroll along the beach, a shingle strip which stretches for six miles to Beachy Head
  • Amble through Eastbourne's under-rated Old Town for Victorian architecture, cafés and pubs (The Lamb Inn is its oldest), antiques and bric a brac emporiums
  • The Devonshire Quarter, where the more traditional wedding-cake seafront hotels predominate, has three of the town's theatres
  • Walk on the wonderful, rolling South Downs - over chalk cliffs, to Friston's beautiful beech forest (excellent views of Cuckmere), or on to Cuckmere Valley; if you want a picnic made up, just ask
  • Visit the attractive towns of Alfriston and Lewes, or dip into award-winning wineries at Rathfinny and Tillingham
  • You can't miss the striking Towner Art Gallery, Museum of the Year 2020, which has 4,000 works by historic and contemporary artists, with a focus on modern British art (Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Vanessa Bell, Henry Moore, Grayson Perry, Olafur Eliasson)

Kids

Children are welcome at Port Hotel, although there are few dedicated facilities for them. Kids of all ages will love the proximity to the beach. There are baby cots, high chairs and two family rooms (but no extra beds in the other rooms).

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

There are two Family Rooms for a family of four (plus a baby): one (on the lower ground floor) with a pair of full-length bunkbeds, the other with a double sofabed. Both have a small external patio. The Studio Apartment on the first floor has a double sofabed and can also sleep a family of four plus a baby.

Families Should Know:

The hotel is on Marine Parade, which is a relatively busy road, with the beach opposite.

Distances:

  • Airport: 1 hour
  • Hospital: 8 minutes
  • Shops: 2 minutes
Kid Friendly: dog

Location

Port Hotel is right on Eastbourne's seafront, just to the east of the iconic pier.

By Air:
The nearest airport is London Gatwick, which is about an hour and 15 minutes away by car. Or you can get direct trains from Gatwick to Eastbourne which take an hour.

By Train:
From London Victoria take Southern Railways directly to Eastbourne. The line extends eastwards to Hastings or westwards to Brighton, and connects to Ashford. Get a taxi from the station or it's about a 15 minute walk.

By Car:
A car is useful if you're intending to explore the area, but you'll probably not use it much in the town itself. If renting a car, see our tips. The hotel doesn't have its own car park, but they'll lend you on-street parking permits.

Detailed directions will be sent when you book through i-escape.

Airports:

  • London Gatwick 70.0 km LGW

Other:

  • Beach 0.1 km
  • Shops 0.3 km
  • Restaurant 0.3 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 1 independent review from i-escape guests

10/10
Room
10/10
Food
10/10
Service
10/10
Value
10/10
Overall

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