The never-ending beach of Camber Sands, just outside the town of Rye, is something to behold. And it’s really hard to believe it’s actually in the UK.
When did we go
2 days and 2 nights, 17th May-19th May. We road tripped down from our hometown and rejoiced we didn’t hit a single traffic jam. Camber is just 1hr 17 minutes by train from London, via Ashford Intl.
Where we stayed
Camber is a small beachside village. It’s predominantly holiday lets, a garish Pontins and a Haven holiday park. Then, rather surprisingly just as you pass the ‘Welcome to Camber’ sign, you come to aesthetically pleasing The Gallivant. A little out of sorts with its neighbouring ‘rivals’. We have held a torch for Watergate Bay ever since we laid eyes on it. We’re yet to venture down to Cornwall, but it got us thinking, there must be similar beachside boutique hotels closer to home. We were naturally delighted to come across this place.
It’s actually excellently positioned. If we didn’t venture any further up the road, we’d never of known we were in holiday let land. So you really do get the impression of an intimate beach retreat. A (very) short stroll, hike over a dune later you’re there, on the beach with the sea looking as though it were miles away in the horizon. It’s beautiful.
As for the accommodation, we booked a Deck Room. We were assigned Room 1, next door to the Larder, an honesty based store. We didn’t actually get round to using it but it’s full of virtuous and lavish treats, from champagne to cocoa nibs.
Our room had a private terrace and ample sized en suite and was decorated in their trademark grey. Beachy paraphernalia adorned the shelves, and I particularly enjoyed creating our own countdown conundrums out of the letters SAND (spoiler it spells DANS). It was a lovely little bolt-hole for the next couple of days.
What we did
We used The Gallivant as our base as we really wanted to explore the surrounding area. We visited the town, Rye and ventured to Dungeness, Hastings and a very washed out drive to Battle. (Read: tsunami sized flood planes on the road that engulfed the car – entirely!).
Our main draw to staying in Camber over Rye was the chance for lazy morning strolls along the dunes, board games in the snug in the afternoon and a trip that we could set at our own pace.
We were rained on A LOT. So we didn’t really get to the beach as soon as we arrived. But after dinner we donned the free to borrow wellies from reception and grabbed a couple of golf brollies and headed up the dunes in the pitch black and pouring rain – but there was something very romantic about being the only two on the beach at that time.
By the morning, the rain had cleared and we were able to see the beach in all it’s glory.
On the last morning, we woke up early for a run, headed for breakfast and planned to venture to the beach one last time to say goodbye. It was a special morning as it was our fifth anniversary, and having set a very humble £20 budget for our gifts, we went up into the dunes to swap and take in the serenity once again.
We’ll never forget that particular dune, the view and the sound of the sea, as at that moment in time, Dan proposed. And of course, I said yes!
Where we ate
Our room came with a continental breakfast included in the price. But it was much better than your average continental. With fresh bread, fruit loaves and granola bars, madeleines, yogurt pots and our personal fave – yogurt panacotta we were spoilt for choice. Topped off with lots of lovely fresh local juices too. We tried to sample it all across both days. They do offer a cooked breakfast as an additional extra too.
Whilst we didn’t lunch in Camber as we were out and about during the day, we made sure we came back for afternoon tea and cake at 4pm, also included in the room rate. We enjoyed strawberry sponge, lemon drizzle and carrot cake across both days. It’s really a nice extra when booking somewhere like this. We spent one of our afternoons trying to play dominoes whilst the rain poured outside – but there really was no where we’d rather have been.
One our first night we tried the restaurant. All the food served at The Gallivant (or as much as possible) is sourced within a 10 mile radius. As we were so close to the sea we had to try their seafood offering. We both agreed that we enjoyed the food. Yet we can’t help but think the place is undersold as a restaurant with rooms; the room, interior and other interaction are what made our stay a memorable one.
On our last night we decided to head out of town to Simply Italian. We booked into their branch in Battle, but it’s worth knowing they’re in Rye too. Given the history of the place we felt it was worth a look as we were in the area. We must warn you it’s not local – it’s a good 40 minute drive down winding roads from Camber!
Dan went for pizza; I went for putanesca and between us we ordered all the deep fried bread and arancini.
Would we go back?
As hand downs the best hotel in Camber, we wouldn’t hesitate to stay here again. And given the meaningfulness of the place, of course we’d love to return.
We loved visiting in May and mid-week, not warm enough for holidaymakers or weekenders, yet dry and clear enough to appreciate our surrounding! The beach was more or less deserted other than the dog walkers. Humans were easily outnumber 2:1 by dogs – it was the best. We need a dog.
Have you thought about visiting Camber? Don’t worry we’ll be writing up about our day trips to Rye, Hastings and Dungeness too in the coming weeks so look out for those too.