“Friendly gastro inn with 10 cheerful rooms and great food in historic Rye”
The 10 rooms are on the top floor, opening off slightly municipal corridors - a hangover from the previous incarnation, now enlivened by local photographs. None are big, all are cute, decorated in a jaunty retro coastal fashion.
On each comfy bed you'll find high thread-count linen, soft towels and a welcome stick of rock. Window sills and bedside tables have anglepoise lamps and bright Roberts radios. You may have an armchair, or poster extolling the virtues of bygone theatre productions or a nautically-themed picture. Feature walls and headboards have bold fabrics and wallpapers. Mod cons aren't extensive but there are small flatscreen TVs and tea- and coffee-making facilities.
Spotlessly clean bathrooms have showers and tubs or just showers; rubber ducks add a touch of whimsy. Complimentary toiletries are by Burt's Bees.
There are 2 categories of room - small double and standard double - but none are the same shape or size. Room 2 is the smallest, Room 8 is the largest by virtue of its corner position (and thus best for families), Room 9 has 2 windows. We were in Room 4, a standard double, and were flooded with sunlight across Rye's rooftops. We slept very soundly (you're 2 floors above the bar).
The welcoming bar/dining room takes up the entire ground floor of the building; there's seating in windows, in the fireplace lounge and beside the bar. Good, unpretentious and tasty food adheres to regional and seasonal principles, and is served for breakfast, lunch and dinner, 7 days a week. Meat is all free-range and local, fish is fresh from Rye Bay, bread is from a local artisan bakery.
Breakfast, included in the rates, is a small but comprehensive buffet: cereals, toast, jams and honey, homemade granola, yoghurts, freshly squeezed juice and cake. A great range of teas and coffees is available. The a la carte menu includes classics like kippers on toast and porridge; we went for the Eggs Royale, which were great.
Lunch and dinner menus change according to season, taking advantage of the Garden of Kent's bounty; there's always a Specials Menu, and portions are hearty. Lunch offers lighter dishes - fish & chips, homemade cheeseburgers or a full ploughman's. For dinner, we had the salad of asparagus, samphire and Manchego cheese dressed with lemon and olive oil - simply delicious - followed by haddock and salmon fishcakes, with hand-cut chips (we were also sorely tempted by the baked cod on lentils and cherry tomatoes). Desserts were an elderflower pannacotta and peach melba sundae.
The drinks and cocktails are a source of pride for The Ship - Sussex and Kent are blessed with great cider and up-and-coming vineyards, as well as excellent local ales. Both the wine list and fab cocktail menu deserve careful perusing; even the mocktails are sip-tastic.
There are plenty of choices for dining out in Rye, including an Italian just next door.
Families are welcome at The Ship Inn, and children will enjoy being in a smugglers' haunt, but note that the property is not geared around kids and you will have to bring your own travel cot if bringing a baby/toddler. Children sleeping in their parents' bed stay for free; there is a charge for an extra bed. The property is probably not ideal for toddlers, and teens may be bored unless they get stuck into kitesurfing at Camber Sands or the fascinating local history.
Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years)
Standard Double rooms have space for a rollaway bed. Room 8 is the largest, and has a bath plus shower. Families with 2 children will need 2 rooms.
If you bring your own monitor, you could have dinner downstairs while your child sleeps upstairs.
There's a kids menu - sausages and chips, fish and chips, homemade burgers and pasta dishes.
Steep stairs up from the ground floor, and wonky floors in bedrooms.