East Sussex, United Kingdom

The Gallivant

Rates per night from$98.87

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 60 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (GBP79.17), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

Style

Summering on the south coast

Setting

Sand dunes and salty air

A casual and stylish stay by Camber Sands' dunes in East Sussex, the Gallivant hotel is awash in breezy whites, blues and driftwood furnishings. It’s a comfortable place to relax after a day enjoying the sea and sand. A Scandi-style restaurant serves up fresh fish and seafood.

Smith Extra

Get this when you book through us:

A glass of sparkling wine each

Facilities

Photos The Gallivant facilities

Need to know

Rooms

20, including four Luxury Garden Rooms.

Check–Out

11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 4pm.

Rates

Double rooms from $98.87 (£79), excluding tax at 20 per cent.

More details

Rates include a lavish Continental breakfast (including muesli and granola, pastries and breads with home-made jams, fruit, porridge, fresh juice and coffee), and tea and home-made cake at 4pm.

Also

The hotel's An Evening With dinners are prepared by renowned guest chefs or hosted by local vineyard owners. Tom Aikens and Fleur McCree have taken the reins in the past, so it's a must-try gastronomic fête. Home-made cake and tea are served every day from 4pm to 5pm too. If you've had enough sand between your toes, spend an afternoon in a deck chair in the coastal garden.

At the hotel

Coastal garden and shingle garden, spa, larder, library of books and DVDs, and free WiFi throughout. In rooms, flatscreen TV, DVD player, digital radio, coffee- and tea-making facilities with fresh milk, pantry and minibar, free bottled water and Bramley bath products. Luxury Garden Rooms and Garden Rooms have direct access to the coastal garden, and a small alfresco dining area outside their back door.

Our favourite rooms

Check into a Luxury Garden Room, for doors that open out onto a quiet leafy patch and a small private seating area. Generously sized, these rooms have oak floors, a rolltop bath tub big enough for two and a large selection of books and intriguing knick-knacks – we love the vintage swimsuits displayed on the walls. It also has one of the hotel's famously packed minibars. The Deck Rooms are Hamptons-esque spaces with a very private terrace and stylish, shore-inspired decor.

Spa

You’ll find the one-room Beach Hut in the corner of the coastal garden; book in advance to indulge in treatments in the cosy treatment room of this pampering hideaway. Choose from a range of massage, facial and body scrub treatments, including the Karma De-Stress massage, Beach Bum Himalayan Salt Scrub, and the Skin Fuel facial; made-in-Britain ethical Wideye products are used in all treatments.

Packing tips

Blue, white and taupe to blend in with your coastal surrounds; beach-proof shoes suited to a hilly ramble.

Also

A minimum stay of two nights is required for weekend stays.

Pet‐friendly

There are four pet-friendly bedrooms, available on request and subject to availability. There's a £25 a night fee for small dogs, £35 a night for larger dogs. Really big dogs like Dobermans and German Shepherds aren't allowed (even if they ask nicely). See more pet-friendly hotels in East Sussex.

Children

The hotel does not accept toddlers or younger children, but babes up to 18 months and children aged 12-and-older are welcome.

Eco‐friendly

Almost all (95 per cent) kitchen ingredients are sourced within 10 miles of the hotel, making its food miles pretty negligible. And some of the furniture was made by a local wood-recycling business.

Food and Drink

Photos The Gallivant food and drink

Top Table

The beach may be obscured by grassy dunes, but by the window is best.

Dress Code

Breton stripes beneath your windbreaker.

Hotel restaurant

The dune-facing restaurant is kitted out in cool coastal style, tactile throws are draped over rustic wood chairs, and there's a healthy helping of Scandi design too. Chef Oliver Joyce heads up the kitchen of this renowned beachy outpost, where fresh catches are cooked to perfection, and 90 per cent of ingredients are sourced within 10 miles of the hotel. Try the Dover sole or – if you're staying from mid-May onwards – the Romney Salt Marsh lamb. Breakfast is a lavish affair, with home-made granola, decadent panna cotta, banana bread, compotes, and pastries, and Buford Brown eggs cooked to your taste. A 'recovery station' with perennial Bloody Mary trappings is a welcome sight for sore heads. When the sun's shining, tables spill out onto the terrace.

Hotel bar

The hotel's wine list is so abundant it has its own legend to help you navigate the selection of English cuvées, international reds and whites, and pudding and cheese pairings. In winter months you can sip your libations by a roaring fire. When the weather's fine, there are a handful of tables on the outdoor decking, or nab a deck chair in the shingle garden.

Last orders

Breakfast is served between 7am and 10am on weekdays (starting at a leisurely 8am on weekends); lunch is on offer from 12 noon to 2.30pm; and dinner starts at 6pm and runs until 9.30pm.

Room service

Room service for snacks and drinks only, but guests can raid the Larder of Guilty Pleasures – a grown-up tuck shop – if they feel peckish. Cuvée, wine, beer, home-made brownie bites, chocolate, crisps and nuts sit in this Aladdin's cave of snacks.

Location

Photos The Gallivant location
Address
The Gallivant
New Lydd Road, Camber
Rye
TN31 7RB
United Kingdom

The Gallivant is by the dune-covered beach at Camber Sands, a 10-minute drive out of Rye and close to all the action of 1066 Country.

Planes

The closest major airport is London Gatwick, an hour and a half away by car. There’s also the smaller Lydd, which is five miles away. Private planes can land at Lydd.

Trains

Rye station is three miles away. From here, Southeastern (www.southeasternrailway.co.uk) trains go to Ashford, where you can pick up either the high-speed service to London or the Eurostar (www.eurostar.com).

Automobiles

You need a car to be able to get into Rye easily. From Ashford, it’s a half-hour drive along the A2070; from London, the M20 should come in handy. There’s free parking.

Other

Reach Rye Harbour by boat and you’ll be about 10 minutes from the hotel.

Worth getting out of bed for

Strand Quay has plenty of antique shops to keep bargain-browsers busy. Across the street from the Gallivant is Camber Sands beach, a dune-studded shore with long grass and golden sand. Learn to kite-surf, windsurf, horse ride and fish; the hotel can help with equipment hire. Ramblers can ramble along the High Weald Landscape Trail and 1066 walk (www.highweald.org), which both start at Rye. Take a brisk walk through Romney Marsh (around an hour's drive away) and Dungeness Nature Reserve, which has bird-watching shelters and leads to a pebbly beach. Rye is a great spot to pick up antiques, tuck into fine Sussex dining and down a pint of local ale. 

Local restaurants

A good gastropub is never far away in these parts: try pot-roast pheasant at The Globe Inn (+44 (0)1797 223381) on Military Road, or rack of Romney Marsh lamb at Ypres Castle Inn (+44 (0)1797 223248) on Gun Gardens. Head up to the restaurant at The George In Rye (+44 (0)1797 222114) for a cosy afternoon tea by the fire or Mediterranean-inspired dishes in the brasserie. The Linen Fold at the Mermaid Inn (+44 (0)1797 223065) dates from the 12th century, and is where to go for some olde-world charm. Further afield, but worth the half-hour or so drive, The Curlew (+44 (0)1580 861394) in Bodiam serves fine-dining fare, such as mallard with beetroot, black cabbage and blood orange, and pork with fennel gratin.

Local cafés

Calorie-packed cream cakes and great coffee await at Fletchers House (+44 (0)1797 222227) on Lion Street and Apothecary (+44 (0)1797 229157) on East Street.

Reviews

Photos The Gallivant reviews
Hazel Sheffield

Anonymous review

By Hazel Sheffield, Travelling scribe

The Gallivant Hotel has just had its busiest weekend on the Monday we arrive, thanks to a quirk of the weather. It’s suddenly sunny: the first breaths of spring after the seemingly never-ending winter. People blink at each other behind scarves as they pass on the adjacent three-mile stretch of golden beach, shaking off the winter torpor.

Camber, home of said sands, is tiny: a Pontins holiday resort, some caravan parks, and a few rows of modest houses all facing out towards the sea. The Gallivant is tucked around the bend as you approach from Rye. If it looks like a motel, that’s because it use to be one. This squat cluster of low-rise rooms – wooden exterior bleached by the sea – sit around some cacti and a carpark. But step through the front doors and the motel vibes are quickly dispelled.

All the action at the Gallivant takes place in its elegant lounge. A roaring fireplace in a central chimney is surrounded by velvet armchairs and sheepskin throws. The light filters through linen blinds in an adjacent games room, with quizzes and chess boards, and big bookcases filled with faded cookery and travel books.

Bring your furry friends: the dog treats are plentiful and dog beds are on hand. We may be only aspiring dog-owners, but Mr Smith and I enjoyed the dog-watching in the lounge, not least the Jack Russell who was a wicked hand at chequers.

By this time it’s early evening and we’re thirsty from the drive. A passing barman seems overjoyed to take a break from restocking bottles at the bar to make us martinis. He tells stories about the gin, made by Chapel Down distillery in nearby Kent, while misting the glass with a twist, and seems genuinely sad to go back to the bottles. The rest of the drinks menu is local and seasonal, featuring gin and tonics, pear bellinis, and English fizz in champagne saucers, but I bet they’d find a way to make you anything you wanted.

Dinner is served in a restaurant with only a handful of tables, surrounded by lush indoor plants. The Gallivant has won awards for its local sourcing and the presentation is unfussy; a starter of smoked salmon is accompanied by a wedge of lemon and a little homemade horseradish, while the pan-roasted cod sits on a toasted almonds and purple broccoli, with soft buttered potatoes on the side.

Dessert is simple and satisfying. The salted caramel tart comes with a scoop of yoghurt sorbet from nearby Northiam dairy and the poached rhubarb comes from Kent. Our fellow diners are couples escaping from the city, babymooners and relaxed country types. We catch drifts of their chatter over the eternal muzak: a single track of inoffensive dinner party jazz that morphs into Balearic chillout by breakfast.

After dinner we crave entertainment. Luckily there are no rules against taking your booze away from the bar. In summer the Gallivant makes up picnic hampers on request, or supplies a chilled bottle for sundowners in the dunes. The days might be brighter, but it’s still winter outside, so we take our beers to the room and make use of the bathtub, with its Bramley bath wash, and stretch out on the bed across oceans of duvet. You can’t see the beach from the hotel – a mountain of sand is in the way – but crack a window and you can hear the waves crashing at night.

The Gallivant has a menu of spa treatments available, but the staff don’t always respond to emails, so call ahead if you want to indulge as the slots do get booked up. We spend our days exploring the area, including nearby Dungeness: Britain’s only desert. It’s where the film director Derek Jarman saw out his last days in a black wooden cottage surrounded by a garden of poppies, valerian and plants native to the shingle. The Dungeness estate traditionally restricts building on the pebble dunes to the size of previous houses. Architects, revelling in these limitations, have furnished the landscape with rubber-covered residences and glass fronted huts. One, ‘the experimental station’, has been refurbished from old government buildings into little dwellings. It looks like it belongs on the moon.

Returning to the Gallivant, we’re encouraged to come to the lounge for complimentary tea and cake – a daily event. Cafetieres, a handsome ceramic teapot and plates of fudgy brownies and pale almond cakes weigh down a trestle table. For an hour, we warm up after a day exploring the windswept countryside, before retreating to the room to relax before dinner. Teatime seems to epitomise this place: homely and understated, bringing guests together for a moment in the day to smile at one another in agreement. This must surely be one of the best hideouts on the Sussex coast.

The Guestbook

Whenever you book a stay at a Smith hotel or villa, we’ll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in The Gallivant’s Guestbook below.

We loved

I loved how friendly and helpful the staff were. From check-in to check-out, they were very attentive and accommodating. I booked a stay to recharge and the hotel was perfect for some R&R. I have a plant-based diet and the restaurant staff had spoken to the chef before I arrived to ensure they could offer me meal options. The food was delicious and I've already recommended the hotel to friends.

Rating

Stayed on 5 Jun 2019

We loved

The best thing about the Gallivant was the fantastic, friendly and helpful staff which gave the hotel a wonderful atmosphere. The staff were unobtrusive but aware of guests' needs. The bed was very large and comfy and the location, just a short walk from the beach, was lovely. The Beachhut spa treatment was excellent with, yet again, a top quality therapist on the staff offering wonderful treatments. Food and wine selection was excellent too.

Don’t expect

The Gallivant is not on the beach and doesn't have beach views so don't expect that! The hotel is quirky, needs a bit of updating in places and there was ongoing work happening when we stayed. Included breakfast is continental, and top quality, so don't expect a full English.

Rating

Stayed on 3 Apr 2019

We loved

The feel of this place is incredible; it's luxurious yet approachable, so laid back, and the interiors are beautiful. Staff are so happy for you to laze about in the lounge drinking coffee and reading. And all the produce is of a beautiful quality, so you can rely on good wine, homemade cake and local fish dishes.

Don’t expect

Palatial rooms. We adored our room, but I imagine some people would think it too cosy. Our shower wasn't great, that was my only disappointment. We were in a cabin room.

Rating

Stayed on 1 Jan 2019

We loved

The food! We stayed at The Gallivant for a night to get out of London, just looking to relax. We didnt know what to expect from the food but we were really blown away. It was delicious, and the manager gave us excellent wine pairings. There was even a Bloody Mary station on the breakfast bar. We also booked massages in the adorable massage hut outside, which were excellent. The beach is just a 5 minute walk over the road from the hotel too! The hotel doesnt have a sea view because of the bank, but once you hop over the bank youre right on the sand, and its a beautiful beach.

Don’t expect

There isnt much nearby. Rye is quaint and has some fab little restaurants and cafes but its a 10 minute drive away. Also our room was pretty small and the bathroom fairly basic - perfectly fine for a night or two though.

Rating

Stayed on 23 Nov 2018

We loved

Loved the tasteful decor and welcoming staff. The log fire in the lounge area was very inviting and we thoroughly enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere of the Gallivant.

Don’t expect

Things to do nearby as quite remote but eovdrful location for peaceful, refreshing winter walks along camber sands.

Rating

Stayed on 20 Nov 2018

We loved

We loved the laid-back friendly atmosphere making you feel at home more than in a hotel. There is a lovely courtyard area for eating, especially good on a warm summers evening or just relaxing with a bottle of English fizz in the afternoon. Close to the beach once you've climbed the beautiful sandy dunes, although possible to access with a little walk along a quiet road first. Recommend climbing up the dunes after dinner to look at the sea and early morning on the beach when it's virtually empty - quite a magical feel. Good for children and dogs and a romantic break. Can recommend the squid starter for lunch at the George in Rye, in their pretty courtyard.

Don’t expect

Don't expect large rooms or aircon (we stayed in a deck room), although we did manage to get a fan.

Rating

Stayed on 26 Jul 2018

We loved

This is a nice place: the people, the rooms, the food, the wines, the bar, the service, the location, the dinner, the breakfast - all good! The people are all nice, and the service reflects the people. The food is very good, the wine list is huge - perhaps a bit too big. It's a very dog-friendly place. Personally that's not a plus for me, but I can understand that it may be important to others. The hotel is right across the road from the dunes of Camber Sands - which speaks for itself. The beach is a short walk away.

Don’t expect

Don't expect big-hotel, franchise-type "service", these guys are much better than that.

Rating

Stayed on 29 Jun 2018

We loved

The staff were extremely welcoming and attentive, the recent makeover has worked very well and the rooms are absolutely lovely. The food is very very good, top quality, great flavours and not overly expensive. Great gin selection with a barman who knows his stuff. If you don't like your stay, it's got nothing to do with the hotel or its team.

Don’t expect

To be disappointed.

Rating

Stayed on 25 May 2018

We loved

Fantastic location. Facing the sand dunes of Camber Sands and on National Cycle Route No. 2, making it easy for us to cycle to the hotel. Wonderful restaurant featuring locally sourced produce and some great English wines.

Don’t expect

Complete quiet. It was a former motel and faces a busy road.

Rating

Stayed on 4 May 2018

We loved

The beautiful room with garden access and a lovely sea breeze. The location just across from the sandy beach. We relaxed immediately. Lovely long walks on the beach and into Rye. Great food and drinks in the stylish bar and restaurant. The service was so attentive. Can't wait to go back. 

Don’t expect

Lots of choice in the dinner menu – it is small but very good. Much to do nearby.

Rating

Stayed on 4 Apr 2018

We loved

The bed, linen, complimentary afternoon tea cake and lovely staff. Snug will be great when it's built. Go in winter and walk along the beach when the summer tourists aren't there. Walk to Rye – a great town for pottering and very pretty.

Don’t expect

To walk to anywhere else for dinner – the local town doesn't have much to offer. Book the hotel restaurant – the food is great!

Rating

Stayed on 16 Mar 2018

We loved

The room! The restaurant, tea and cake at 4, the breakfast, and the beach hut for spa treatments.

Don’t expect

Nightlife.

Rating

Stayed on 2 Mar 2018

We loved

The decor and feel of the place: very intimate and luxury without being showy! 

Don’t expect

A polished experience – we had a couple of slightly annoying things. 1. No milk in the room and were told to call for it but when we did no answer 2. We arrived before 3 o'clock and the girl behind the bar clearly found this stressful and and wasn't that helpful (just told us to come back at 3). 3. It was my husbands 40th and someones had ordered us a bottle of wine to have and they brought it out near the end of the meal (although they did refund it to my friends and gave us the bottle to take away). They were undergoing refurbishment and were doing a great job of not letting that effect us so I wonder if everything was a bit up in the air.

Rating

Stayed on 25 Feb 2018

We loved

Beautiful calm surroundings. Lovely decor. Attention to detail which is often lacking in hotels in the U.K. Attentive and friendly staff. Very peaceful stay. There were a couple of teething problems with my room and the on site builders that I was not aware of when I booked however the staff dealt with it very professionally and with good customer service. There was a front of house girl called Freya who was very helpful and who had very good hospitality skills. She should be commended. Guests often will only complain about issues but I think it is good to feedback when there is service that goes above and beyond.

Rating

Stayed on 22 Feb 2018

We loved

The hotel was undergoing some building works/updates during our stay however this did not dampen our visit. The hotel is well presented and the food in the restaurant is well worth a visit. The staff were so friendly and diligent. I would love to stay again but it looks like it's already booked!

Rating

Stayed on 22 Feb 2018

We loved

We loved the restaurant, delicious breakfast and really good service. They made us a cup of tea to take out on our walk which was lovely. The beach is beautiful and just across the road.

Don’t expect

A relaxing shower. There were problems with the water pressure and temperature and I got scalded.

Rating

Stayed on 19 Feb 2018

We loved

The staff were extremely helpful and attentive. The food was excellent.

Don’t expect

Decor was okay but not amazing. Dining area is small and there is nowhere to sit and relax and read the paper. The hotel has just undergone a refurb and there are a number of teething problems.

Rating

Stayed on 17 Dec 2017

We loved

The beach themed rooms, the close proximity to the sea, the spa treatments and the food.

Don’t expect

Busy bars and nightlife.

Rating

Stayed on 25 Oct 2017

We loved

The service was excellent, the hotel was beautifully-designed and very cosy, and the homemade breakfast was delicious! The Standard does a fantastic Sunday roast, we drove to Hastings on the way home and stopped for lunch in a lovely locals pub called The Crown.

Don’t expect

Spacious bedrooms, ours was quite small.

Rating

Stayed on 20 Oct 2017