“Stylishly restored 450-year-old inn with an excellent restaurant in one of England's most picturesque near-the-seaside towns”
The 34 rooms (12 of them new in 2011) are superbly designed, combining excellent contemporary comforts with retro exuberance and great style. You'll find plasma screen TVs, bold colours (mustard or lilac, perhaps), and mid-century modern pieces alongside antique mirrors and grand slipper bathtubs. Original features like wooden beams have been retained and unusual ones added - tapestries, corduroy sofas and elegant chaise longues to name a few. Beds are a dream, with thick-sprung mattresses, piles of plump pillows and duvets of Italian Frette linen.
Rooms are located either in the warren-like hallways of the 16th-century inn, or in an equally labyrinthine ground-floor wing across the herringbone-brick courtyard. Clever layout choices allow surprisingly good views of this picturesque town.
Superior Rooms are compact, but still perfectly functional and comfortable. The smallest rooms are classified as Queen Rooms and come with a friendlier price tag as a result. Luxury Rooms are larger (and are the only rooms with the option of twin beds); some have four-poster beds, one has a baby-blue booked-filled headboard, and another has a mirrored armoire and a pair of white leather chairs. Junior Suites are the most impressive, with sumptuous sofas or chairs and statement bathrooms (think freestanding bathtubs and enormous showers).
Our Luxury Room (45) looked towards the tiny town gardens and the church tower. In the bathroom we found a stylish zinc slipper bathtub on a mustard yellow floor, as well as a separate rainhead shower, plenty of fluffy towels and a generous cluster of REN beauty products.
We also liked the wooden box storing Tea Pig teas and proper coffee, the heart-shaped baby pillows filled with lavender, and the inclusion of tonight’s menu on the welcome letter. All rooms have a Tivoli clock-radio and a flatscreen LCD TV/DVD player (with DVDs available to borrow). None have a minibar, but that's no hardship, with the convivial George Tap bar just a short wander away.
The French-style George Grill restaurant would look smart in any city, with tall vases of flamboyant flowers, glass globe lamps, and endearing shades of teal, jade and olive weaving their way through leather chairs, walls and William Morris textiles. The food though, is utterly faithful to the best of Sussex’s fare: shrimp from Camber Sands, Rye Bay lobster and rock oysters, and the famously tender lamb from the Romney Marshes. Our starters of local scallops on a cauliflower puree with raisin and caper vinaigrette and Mediterranean fish soup were particularly superb.
The short but diverse wine list helpfully groups wines under headings like ‘bright and light’ or ‘spicy and bold’ and many are offered as carafes of 250ml, inspiring you to experiment.
The restaurant's glossy tables are re-laid for breakfast: a fine buffet of pink grapefruit, cinnamon poached pears, proper muesli with yoghurt, homemade croissants and artisan bread. Cooked breakfasts are included; the complete George breakfast arrived swiftly and was pretty unbeatable, and the tea was top-notch.
During the day, casual food like smoked salmon, steak sandwiches, terrines and salads are available in the dining room, while afternoon tea is taken in the oak-panelled sitting room. The courtyard garden is for smokers and for those who like to eat al fresco (it has gas heaters).
You also eat in the more informal George Tap bar where wood panelling and classic modernist chairs ensure a sense of elegance. There are other good seafood restaurants in Rye - we had excellent crab bisque for lunch at the Fish Cafe.
Children are welcome and will love the beach and Camber Sands nearby. There's a children's menu and children under 3 years stay for free if using existing bedding; baby cots are available for an additional charge. Parents with young children should bear in mind that baby listening devices will not transmit from most rooms.
Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)
The following roomtypes include 1 family room: Luxury Rooms, Superior Rooms and Junior Suites. These rooms can accommodate an extra bed (under 14s only) or a baby cot. There are 5 pairs of rooms that families can book together (rooms are not inter-connecting but share one main entrance). Suite 31 has its own wooden staircase and a wooden cubby-hole for the kids with its own TV plus a roll-top bath
Baby cots are available on request (for an additional charge)
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking