Personally, I absolutely love winter. It spells the nearing of the festive season, my impending birthday and Christmas themed markets, packed with mulled wine, chocolate and furry hats. However, the one thing it doesn’t offer is a ‘holiday’ on the horizon, as summer seems like a mile away and with work and studying in full swing, it doesn’t present much in the way of relaxation. So, when Danielle and I were offered the chance to travel down to Eastbourne and visit the very luxurious ‘The Grand’ hotel, we both jumped at the opportunity.
Overlooking the sea front and with a beautiful grand snowy white facade, it offers the ideal ‘weekend getaway’ location. Quietly set back in it’s very own plot, it’s outstanding to think that such a countrified, grand manor house can have such a scenic view – and be only five minutes away from the nearest train station. However, pretty much everything about The Grand offers you the chance to feel like royalty – even if it’s just for the weekend.
With friendly, welcoming staff and a classic ‘princess’ castle feel inside, instantly any work worries or woes are put at ease as you settle into your new surroundings. Winding corridors laced with stained glass windows, high backed chairs and balconies make you feel as though you should be wearing a cascading ball gown while ‘swooshing’ to your room, rather than the boots and legging based attire I was sporting.
We were taken up to our room by a very friendly concierge, who explained that The Mirabelle restaurant – where we were later to be dining – was a very special place and one he always took his wife to for anniversaries. Although dressed head to toe in his black, white and red suit which matched the grand demeanour of the hotel, he instantly put us at ease in such a formal building (which can often seem a little overwhelming and pretentious) by talking us through what we could expect.
Our room for the next 24 hours was incredible, far surpassing any expectations I initially had. With a separate living area, bathroom and bedroom and a view overlooking the seafront (so spectacular we could enjoy it from the comfort of our four poster beds) – we almost didn’t want to leave – however with spa treatments booked in for the afternoon, we made our way down to the health club for 80 minutes of luxury facials. It’s a hard life.
While Danielle was whisked away for her Vitamin C Facial (£85), I opted to lay beside the pool with a couple of magazines before being called for mine. With a heavy focus on weddings at the hotel, I entered a little dream world – planning my own ‘special day’, pouring over catalogues of The Grand all set up for Christmas, with 8ft high heavily lit trees and gold trimmings.
Before long, it was time to head down to the treatment rooms for my Sensitive Skin Facial (£65) which was pure bliss from start to finish. Usually spas can feel a little awkward and unnatural (you don’t often get to spend the day in a dressing gown and slippers – with relaxation the only thing on the agenda) however almost instantly, I was made to feel at home by the lovely lady who took me for my treatment (I wish I could remember her name).
Without being too pushy or sales like, she completely took me through my skincare dilemmas and fixed the redness on my face that I’d been suffering from for months. Both a skincare lecturer and a therapist, she gave me lots of advice for clearing blackheads and other skin based woes – in addition to giving me a relaxing massage and steaming my face to open the pores.
When I left the room, I had a wealth of new knowledge about my own skin – and can’t wait to put it all into practice now I’m home. She very kindly even fetched some samples of the products she had used and ones she’d recommend for the dry patches on my face – without pushing me to buy a full sized version or trying to get me to commit to a particular product.
Feeling very relaxed, Danielle and I headed back up to our almost ‘apartment’ to get ready for dinner. With similar interests, hobbies and views – we bypassed a lengthy make-up session for a girlie chat (fuelled by Galaxy, Popcorn and Crisps & Dips) with a Sex & The City box set playing in the background. The high ceilings and plush lounging decor in the ‘living area’ almost made it feel like we were living in the storyline!
Time whizzed by and very soon it was time for cocktail o’clock – so we headed down to the hotel’s bar area to sample some strawberry bellini’s.
Our reservation at The Mirabelle was booked for 7pm, so before long – their head waitress came to take our order. Their main menu is based upon four different starters, mains and desserts – each of which can be ‘upgraded’ to their seasonal menu for a very small supplement (£3.25 for a pudding).
With a good selection for meat-eaters, vegetarians and fussy eaters alike (I fall under the latter categories), I had no hesitations in ordering the Curried Parsnip Soup with Potato Crisps, the Roast Pumpkin and Rocket Risotto for my main (in keeping with the recent Halloween theme) and the Apple Tart with Cinnamon Ice Cream for dessert. Danielle made the same choices – but opted for the Salmon as her main.
All courses were in keeping with the standard I know and recognise within the Elite Hotels chain, served with complementary wine and rosemary focaccia bread. Staff were attentive, friendly and welcoming, yet not intrusive and the evening whizzed away with great company, incredible food and surprisingly large portion sizes for such great quality. We left The Mirabelle with some fantastic photographs (I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s food heaven at its very best), in a very sleepy, full daze.
After a wonderful nights sleep – despite the high ceilings and grand sash windows, it was delightfully cozy – we made our way down to breakfast for an absolute feast. As Eastbourne is relatively close to Brighton (a 33 minute train journey), we wanted to make the most out of our day and so headed over to the famous pier for pictures and macaroons.
If you’re looking for a girlie seafront getaway, with pampering and fantastic food – then The Grand is without a doubt the place to go. It’s your very own palace by the sea.
Deluxe rooms start at £230 per night.
The Grand, King Edwards Parade, Eastbourne, East Sussex, England, BN21 4EQ
+44 (0)1323 412345