This month SBT heads further east to the historical town of Rye to stay at The George
Having never been to Rye before, I was keen to see what the town, renowned among friends and family for being beautifully quaint, was like. Upon arrival, I saw immediately what they meant. This medieval town was almost a replica of Lewes, where I have spent much of my time, just larger and a little bit more lavish. Located in prime position on the cobbled streets, The George in Rye is a Grade II listed hotel and sixteenth century building, which from the outside exudes history and comfort.
On entering the reception area, I was hit with the community feel of the place. Often the hotels I review, although mostly very welcoming in the end, are quite oppressing: an empty room, a single desk with a single receptionist going about their business, and the temptation to flee over fear of not being in the right place at all. This was a wholly different experience, with The George Tap bar directly in sight of the front entrance, people socializing and laughing and, to the right hand side, two desks where I assumed I needed to go to check in. It was confusing for a moment – almost as if a travel agency had attached itself onto a pub – but refreshing nonetheless, and the staff welcomed my guest and me very warmly.
We were shown to our room, led through the bar to a delightful outside area lit various strings of coloured bulbs, which evoked a nice character and enclosed feel, then through to our room, 44. Room 44 is one of 11 Luxury Rooms at The George in Rye, whilst also offering 6 Queen Rooms, 11 Superior Rooms and 6 Junior Sweets – there are 34 rooms I total. All the Luxury Rooms are decorated differently, encompassing a variety of themes. Ours was inspired by EF Benson’s Mapp & Lucia stories and really was extraordinary in terms of the design. I later learned that co-owner Katie Clarke and her design partner, Maria Speake of Retrouvius, source the fabrics, furnishings and individual pieces from an eclectic range of established brands, reclamation yards and local designers. Equally, should you be inspired by anything you see in the rooms, you can head to The Shop Next Door, run by Katie herself, where you can buy some of the homewares in the rooms, including the bed linen and bespoke headboards using the fabric you see. The whole hotel embodies an interior designer’s creative mind and it was clear that each and every corner had been deeply thought through.
All the rooms feature Vi-Spring beds, Frette linen, William Holland copper and zinc baths, power showers, REN products, flat screen TVs , Ruark iPod docks and free WIFI. Both the room I was staying in and Room 46 face the high street, but you wouldn’t know with both net curtains to screen the windows and a thick curtain which wrapped around the copper roll-top bath, providing two levels of privacy and quiet (not that Rye is ever particularly raucous). The room was decorated in dusky pinks, creams and browns, with a beautiful textured headboard that acted almost as wallpaper, stretching from the bed to the ceiling. The bathroom was spacious enough and the shower powerful, all feeling very modern, which was a nice contrast to the historic feel of the building as a whole.
In terms of food, The George Grill makes for an excellent evening meal. I can highly recommend the Seafood and Chorizo stew, which warmed me up on the wintery January evening of my stay; it was fresh and delicious with the perfect amount of spice. The crustacea, particularly the lobster is a very good choice, with prices not too bad for what it is. Price wise overall, I’d say the restaurant is pricier than your average pub restaurant, but equally I can see why. The restaurant and bar areas are both homely and an ideal place to either finish off some work, or to socialize with colleagues, friends or family. I could imagine myself heading into a corner of the bar and getting on with some writing, replying to emails or even having a meeting with a client here, whilst keeping confidence in good service, a professional yet laid back atmosphere and a range of food choices. Corporate events are no strange thing to The George, with tailor-made residential meeting rooms with the ability to host up to 100 delegates. The hotel also hosts a variety of corporate events, including teambuilding exercises, away days and entertainment.
Breakfast was served from 7 till 10 AM, so my guest and I headed down at our leisure to be met with a small table filled with the usuals: fruit, yoghurt, granola etc. The homemade yoghurt was particularly delicious, so I simply had to have a bowl with dates before indulging in a hot breakfast too. My partner had The George Full English, which, I am told, was filled with flavour and very satisfying, and I had Eggs Benedict. The eggs were a little on the overcooked side, but the sauce just right and the ham flavourful.
For me, Rye was a fair distance to travel for one evening, so the journey back felt a little arduous due to only having arrived less than 16 hours before. However it was a surprisingly easy journey both ways with little to no traffic, and even with just an hour and a half journey, it felt like I had stepped into another world, with stunning surrounding countryside and the Camber Sands beach nearby. Overall I found the hotel to be of high quality, with aesthetics to please any eye, in particular those of you with an eye for design. The restaurant, the facilities and the staff were on point, and Rye itself is such a lovely place to stay for either business or pleasure.
The George in Rye
98 High Street Rye East Sussex TN31 7JT