This month, SBT Sales Executive, Geoff Diamond, describes his stay at the Hydro on Eastbourne’s seafront.
With the Eastbourne coastline offering an array of hotels to choose from, I arrived at The Hydro Hotel, situated on the South Cliff, early evening but found the hotel car park to be full. With unrestricted parking around the hotel, I was able to secure a parking place right outside the front door. I made my way into the reception area through the revolving doors where I was greeted by the receptionist who instantly made me feel welcomed and like a valued guest. I made my way through the foyer area where I was able to take in the splendid 19th Century ambience of the hotel.
Upon entering The Downlands Suite my room for the evening, I was confronted by a fantastic sea view from the living room – it was breathtaking. The room itself was furnished with two sofas and a coffee table, a flat screen TV, and a mini bar (which was wisely left empty). Stepping into the bedroom, I was greeted by yet more spectacular sea views, as well as the hotel’s perfectly manicured, award-winning garden.
After a quick change for dinner, I made my way downstairs to the bar where I enjoyed a gin and tonic on the terrace by the garden whilst waiting for my dinner guest for the evening. After my guest finally arrived we made our way into the Crystal restaurant, which can seat up to 130 at any one time. The setting was a delight – from the fantastic chandeliers to the attentive service received. As a starter, I chose grilled Mediterranean mackerel with a lightly spiced cherry tomato coulis, whilst my guest went for the bacon, pea and chestnut risotto, with parmesan and olive oil. Both starters were beautifully presented and absolutely divine, though I believe that my starter took the trophy. The citrus flavours complimented the mackerel perfectly and the fish was cooked to perfection.
For the main event, I had slow braised shank of lamb, parsnip puree, braised root vegetable and rosemary sauce (I was told that this was one of the most popular dishes), whilst my guest went for poached fillet of chicken with a pesto farce, sautéed potato, and tomato, garlic and basil jus. Once again, both meals were very well presented. The lamb was juicy, tender, and perfectly cooked and just melted in my mouth. It was very well complimented by the selection of locally sourced vegetables that I had ordered. Having tried both, I certainly feel that mine edged it once again. The chicken, although very good, was to me a little dry and the garlic a touch overpowering.
Finally, the desserts! Now I don’t normally have much of a sweet tooth and usually choose a lemon sorbet, but as my guest decided that she would beat me to my usual order, I felt that I had to try something a little more substantial. I went for a baked Alaska with vanilla ice cream and summer fruit compote and boy did I make the right choice! My dessert was well balanced – the warm with the cold, the summer fruit balancing out the sweetness of the baked Alaska and ice cream. Both were ideally sized, leaving us full but not bursting at the seams.
The pièce de résistance however, was when we were brought some fresh homemade fudge to go with our coffees. I’m not a fan of fudge but on this particular occasion… having tried just the one piece, I went on to eat three more! It was a nice touch to what had already been a fantastic meal in a remarkable setting.
If I had one criticism about the whole dining experience – it wouldn’t be the service as that was exceptional, it wouldn’t be the food as that was divine, it wouldn’t be the price as £26.95 for a three-course meal of this quality represents great value – but it would be the lack of music. This is the only negative that I have with regards to the dining experience as myself and my guest found ourselves whispering when speaking to one another in order to not expect the guests around us. I shouldn’t imagine this to be a problem usually as I imagine that the restaurant is most likely full but due to the day that we were dining there, coupled with the fact that we did have a late dinner, this was unfortunately noticeable. However, this is a very minor niggle and did not detract from the wonderful evening overall.
After a very pleasant and relaxing night’s sleep, I went downstairs for breakfast. There was a buffet style breakfast with various juices, pastries, fruit, cereals, and yoghurts. Once sat down, having fetched my grapefruit juice, a pain au chocolat and some fruit, the waitress came over to ask whether I’d like a coffee and a cooked breakfast.
I ordered a full English with scrambled eggs – it was perfect.
Following breakfast, I called down to reception to ask whether I could have a tour of the grounds and the hotel facilities and I was told that Jonathan Owen, the recently appointed General Manager, wanted to give me a tour of the hotel facilities himself. I was shown the Garden Suite, which links to the conservatory, where private functions can be held. The conservatory’s natural light, projector, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth makes it an ideal place to hold a conference, combining 19th Century charm with 21st Century technology.
We went on through the drawing room and into the Meads Room, a room full of character and where a small conference could be held for up to 10 people. My tour continued through the conservatory restaurant and into the garden where croquet tournaments take place in the summer. At the end of the garden and heading towards the sea, Jonathan showed me the outdoor swimming pool, which is on a lower ground level than the garden and is surrounded by hedges, giving guests privacy.
The hotel has 81 guest rooms, 2 restaurants, 2 private car parks, unrestricted street parking, Wi-Fi access throughout, 5 function and meeting venues, spa treatments, a hair salon, award-winning gardens, a traditional and historical atmosphere, excellent personable service and, best of all – breathtaking, uninterrupted ocean views.
I would highly recommend a stay at the Hydro Hotel. Whether it’s afternoon tea, a meeting, a conference, a memorable event like a wedding, or a simple lunch or dinner, you can be sure that the Hydro and its dedicated team will not disappoint.