The Inspector is impressed by his stay at this seaside hotel in East Sussex – a heart-warming place to visit no matter what the weather

  • The Inspector calls at Relais Cooden Beach hotel, near Bexhill-on-Sea, and finds it has a ‘nautical theme’
  • He stays in a room at the top of the house with views of the sea and Eastbourne in the distance 
  • At dinner, the seafood cocktail ‘hits the spot’ but he’s less convinced by the salmon fishcake main course
  • Remember, the Inspector pays his way… and tells it like it is 

The Frenchman charged with redesigning The Relais Cooden Beach hotel, near Bexhill-on-Sea, apparently took inspiration from moneyed Nantucket on America’s East Coast. Which is a big compliment to the good old English Channel.

And it works. Even when arriving on a blustery, wet November night it’s uplifting. Bright and cheery.

I like the palm tree wallpaper opposite the front door and then it’s all open-plan, with various twists and turns to create cosy spaces, plus a central fireplace with wraparound seating and trendy bar. Red and white stripes add to the nautical theme.

The Inspector calls at Relais Cooden Beach hotel (pictured), near Bexhill-on-Sea 

Above is the restaurant, The Rally, which nods to the building’s motoring past 

 Trendy: Pictured is the bar where ‘red and white stripes add to the nautical theme’

It’s a sister hotel to Relais Henley, and Cooden Beach station is only a two‑minute walk away, with direct trains to London.

There’s been a hotel here for nearly a century but it’s only recently that Grace Leo snapped up what used to be the De La Warr (of British motorsports fame) family home and set about transforming it into a chic East Sussex seaside outpost (or ‘resort’, as it claims), which is likely to prove hugely popular in summer.

It’s a 1930s building and once the works have been completed there will be a spa and 45 rooms.

Mine, at the top of the house with views of the sea and Eastbourne in the distance, is categorised as a single but there’s just enough room for a double bed.

The Frenchman charged with redesigning The Relais Cooden Beach hotel, near Bexhill-on-Sea, apparently took inspiration from moneyed Nantucket on America’s East Coast 

Once various works have been completed there will be a spa and 45 rooms, the Inspector reveals 

‘What a joy it will be to dine outside on the huge terrace (pictured) when the weather permits,’ says The Inspector

The basin in the shower room is so tiny that it’s impossible to wash your face without splashing your feet. And attention to detail is needed in the main corridor where some of the door handles and radiators belong to a different and far less salubrious age.

The restaurant is called The Rally, in honour of its motoring past. My seafood cocktail hits the spot — rather more accurately than the big salmon fishcake main course. But what a joy it will be to dine outside on the huge terrace when the weather permits.

There’s only one other person eating breakfast at the same time as me and I wonder if she finds the far-too-loud music as intrusive as I do. Nothing against Ed Sheeran and Craig David, but there’s a time and a place.

TRAVEL FACTS

The Relais Cooden Beach, Cooden Sea Rd, Bexhill-on-Sea, TN39 4TT. For more information call 01424 842281 or visit therelaisretreats.com/coodenbeach. 

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