Gallivant; verb: to roam around in search of pleasure or amusement, often in search of food.
We were certainly hunting for a weekend retreat, somewhere not too far from London with good food and some nice scenery to literally gallivant around. We stumbled upon The Gallivant, a shabby chic boutique hotel which boasted a 2 minute stroll from the beach dunes of the Camber Sands. It was pretty reasonable too considering the location, and the prospect of roaming around on the vast golden beaches in the sunshine ticked a few more boxes!
We packed an assortment of nautical inspired layers and drove down to the East Sussex coast. The hotel was charming, with a real Californian-beach-motel vibe and lots of couples and families who had brought along their dogs to run around on the beach. We got there in time for lunch in their restaurant which is full of white washed wood, fireplaces and cozy faux fur blankets. The chef (Ben Fisher – previously of French Laundry and sous-chef to Tom Aikens) prides himself on only using ingredients were 95% or more either live or grow within 15 miles.
That afternoon we couldn’t wait to find the beach. It was hidden behind behind long grass and tall sand dunes so you have to clamber up the slope to the top of the hill. Once you’re there (potentially a little out of breath *must do more cardio*) the views are magnificent. You’re immediately taken by how vast the beach is – it stretches for miles as the wide golden landscape glistens in the sun. It’s so vast that it almost seems like you have it all to yourself, although as your eyes adjust you can see people horse-riding and running around with every breed of dog imaginable!
Further down the bay you can see people kite surfing and there’s a bit more activity near the surf stations. We spent a few hours running around and meandering through the sand dunes that frame the beach and provide the perfect view point to take a breath (again – more cardio) and enjoy the view.
Back at the hotel, there was some afternoon tea with free cakes and coffee – the hotel was full of these little quirks and touches that we love. They have paid attention to the little details which is something we always look for in the boutique hotels that tends to get lost in the big high-rises. We stayed for dinner (great menu and wine list) and then when we woke up on the Sunday with slightly sore heads, there was the most charming little Recovery Station ready with my favourite – Bloody Maries – complete with Alka Seltzers and Berocca tablets!
The breakfast selection was also generous with lots of homemade accompaniments and delicious granola options. Later that day, we stayed for the Sunday roast which was superb after another stroll on the beach. There are other places to eat nearby but this restaurant is so lovely that it was nice coming back to it after our bouts of meandering the dunes.
It is definitely somewhere we’ll come back to when we’re looking for a relaxed weekend away – make sure you go when the forecast is good as there’s not an awful lot else to do, and definitely take your dogs as they all seemed to adore the beach!
To sum up… it’s a homely, shabby chic, nautical hideaway where you can enjoy the fresh salty air and dip your feet in the sea, all within 2 hours from London – what’s not to like?