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Review: Grand Hotel Eastbourne, the palace by the sea

Understated elegance, fine dining and a prime spot on Eastbourne’s western promenade. Welcome to the Grand Hotel Eastbourne, the only five star luxury resort in an English seaside town. 

The Grand Hotel, Eastbourne at sunrise

I always enjoy a visit to Eastbourne, East Sussex. I head there a few times a year for its laid-back vibe, Victorian pier and coastal walks. The Towner Gallery, theatres, cafes, bars and restaurants also add to the appeal. And then there’s the ‘palace by the sea’…

The Grand Hotel Eastbourne is an iconic landmark on the town’s elegant promenade. This beautiful hotel sits opposite the sweep of the Western Lawns with far reaching views over the English Channel. When I was invited to review Eastbourne’s grand dame I didn’t hesitate.

Reviewed: The Grand Hotel, Eastbourne

As we drove into the car park we were delighted to see a reserved parking space with my name displayed. We began to feel taken care of before we’d even stepped inside. A doorman greeted us and we were whisked through the heavy revolving doors into the hotel lobby. 

The hotel first opened in 1875 and once inside we found ourselves immersed in the elegance and glamour of this bygone age. A large airy guest lounge to the left hummed with conversation as we checked in at reception opposite. 

The Great Hall

The Great Hall, Grand Hotel, Eastbourne

The pillared lobby stretched ahead with sparkling chandeliers overhead. At the far end the Great Hall with its lofty ceiling and balconies opened out before us.

There’s a history to the hotel and the Great Hall played a part in this. From 1924 to 1939 the Grand Hotel Orchestra broadcast live from the hall every Sunday on the BBC programme “Grand Hotel”.

Today, this gorgeous hall is one of the best spots for afternoon tea in Eastbourne. Occasionally, on Sundays, a live string quartet accompanies afternoon tea for an extra special atmosphere.

Afternoon tea at the Grand Hotel, Eastbourne
Afternoon Tea at the Grand Hotel Eastbourne

Offerings include dainty sandwiches, scones and delicious pastries together with tea and fizz. Champagne flutes clinked and teacups chinked as we passed en-route to our room. I’d have liked to linger…

Original Fittings

Many fittings are original like these display cabinets – there’s history around every corner.

The Bedrooms at the Grand Hotel, Eastbourne

The Grand’s 152 rooms and suites come in many types and sizes, from deluxe and executive rooms to junior, master and penthouse suites to the largest presidential suite. Many rooms are sea facing, like our room…

Our Suite at The Grand

On reaching our room we exchanged an ominous glance before entering. Room 101!  We needn’t have worried though. The spacious suite is beautifully appointed with sea views, floor to ceiling windows allowing the light to flood in and a huge terrace overlooking the promenade.

First Floor Suite, Grand Hotel Eastbourne, East Sussex
Lounge area in our suite looking out onto the huge terrace

The lounge area is furnished with a comfy 3-piece suite, writing desk and a small table and chairs in the bay window. Plenty of different spaces to spread out, work or relax. 

A large flat-screen TV, Nespresso coffee machine and tea making facilities with cookies helped us feel at home.

The Bedroom

The bedroom area with four-poster bed

An elegant four-poster bed greeted us in the bedroom area with soft furnishings in lilac, purple and pink to match those in the lounge. The super-comfy bed and high thread-count linen ensured a sound night’s sleep. 

There was plenty of space for clothing with a chest of drawers and large wardrobe, although it contained one of my hotel pet hates – hangers attached to the rail that you need to wrestle from the hook in order to hang anything up. But that’s a minor gripe and I understand the reasoning.

A roomy safe,  telephone and digital radio alarm clock with bluetooth and USB were provided along a good hand-held hair dryer. It was good to see both still and sparkling mineral water from Southdowns Water.

The Bathroom

The bathroom

The bathroom was light and spacious. The basin area was supplied with small bottles of Molton Brown luxury toiletries and lip salve. A powerful shower was located over a roomy bathtub with on-wall Molton Brown shampoo, body wash and conditioner. 

The heated towel rail was loaded with white, fluffy towels. Towelling robes and slippers were also provided. I was impressed with the eco-friendly slippers with cork soles and cotton uppers which came wrapped in paper. No plastic in sight.

An Evening Stroll

Starling murmuration at Eastbourne Pier

It was late afternoon by now and as Eastbourne Pier is not far away we decided to stroll along the seafront to catch the sunset. 

Eastbourne seafront is a great place for a wander with the iconic bandstand and Victorian pier along with a 3-tier promenade, gardens and historic sights along the five-mile stretch. 

The pier is around a 12-minute walk from the hotel and we caught a beautiful sunset along with another Eastbourne spectacle. In the winter along the south coast you’ll often see a murmuration of starlings making their final flights before roosting on the pier for the night. We were treated to a stunner of a show. 

The Grand Cocktail Bar

Back in our room we relaxed before preparing for dinner and then dropped by the cocktail bar for a pre-dinner drink. Matt, the head barman and talented mixologist made me a gorgeous bespoke gin cocktail which slipped down all too easily. 

Grand Cocktail Bar, Grand Hotel, Eastbourne, East Sussex

Mr Jones opted for a traditional gin and tonic made with the hotel’s very own Grand Gin which is flavoured with locally foraged botanicals. We were served some delicious hor d’oeuvres with our drinks.

Live music set the scene nicely in the adjoining lounge and we’ve have liked to stay but dinner was calling.

Dinner in the Mirabelle Restaurant

You’ll find two elegant restaurants in the hotel serving a menu of locally sourced modern European cuisine and  seasonal specialities. The Garden Restaurant which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and the more intimate Mirabelle restaurant. Both offer some of the finest dining in Sussex.

Run by Head Chef Alex Burtenshaw, one of the county’s favourite chefs, the Mirabelle is recognised with two AA Rosettes and voted by The Independent as one of the top 50 UK restaurants. 

Smoked Barbary duck breast at Mirabelle Restaurant, Grand Hotel Eastbourne
Smoked Barbary duck breast starter at Mirabelle Restaurant

We enjoyed a beautiful meal. I started with tender, smoked Barbary duck breast with carrot puree, pickled blackberries, carrot crisps and spiced duck jus. The flavours and textures contrasted and complemented each other perfectly. 

Mr Jones was delighted with his locally sourced pan-fried scallops served with celeriac puree, bacon jam, granny smith apple and puffed potato. 

For his main he didn’t think twice before opting for fillet of Beef with cep puree, beef shin ravioli, parmesan foam and rosemary jus.

I enjoyed succulent lamb rump with salt-baked swede, baby carrots, turnip puree and Haggis cylinder finished with a whisky lamb jus.

Wine from the extensive wine list was an acceptable Baron Philippe de Rothschild Merlot Pays D’oc 2021 suggested by the head waiter.

We declined the dessert menu in favour of a shared cheeseboard. A selection of five fine cheeses, including some local favourites, homemade chutney, grapes, sourdough crackers & salted butter rounded off our meal perfectly. 

Or so we thought, until a dish of  hand-made chocolates arrived at our table. Would’ve been rude not to. 

Breakfast in the Garden Restaurant

After a sound sleep in our capacious four-poster bed I woke early and peeped through the windows to see a gorgeous pink morning sky.  

I’ll often head out to watch the sun rise if I’m staying this close to the sea and although it was a chilly January morning I was glad I made the effort. What a beautiful start to the day!

It got better, with breakfast in the Garden Restaurant. A continental self-service buffet offers all the usual suspects. Dip into a variety of fruit, yoghurts, cereals, compotes and overnight oats.

There’s a full selection of pastries, breads along with deli offerings of roast ham, Italian salami, John Ross smoked salmon, Sussex Charmer and Golden Cross goats cheese. And, of course there’s a range of teas, coffees and juices. 

Don’t fill up on these because there’s also a selection of dishes which are freshly prepared from the kitchen. We opted for the classic ‘Grand breakfast’ aka a full English but the menu also offers smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, smashed avocado on toast with poached eggs, buttermilk pancakes along with a plant-based cooked breakfast.   

Hotel Facilities

We didn’t have time to use the hotel’s leisure facilities so I can’t give you my personal experience but I did have a quick peek.

There are two heated swimming  pools. The outdoor pool is heated to 28-30 degrees from Easter weekend to the end of the autumn half term, (weather permitting). 

Health Club, Grand Hotel Eastbourne, East Sussex
Health Club, Grand Hotel Eastbourne

The health club has an indoor pool with a spa bath and steam room plus a small gym. The spa has 8 treatment rooms with a wide range of treatments.

A large snooker room has two full-sized tables available to guests. We had a game after dinner. I have a lot to learn!

Complimentary WiFi is in all bedrooms and public areas.


There are ramps and lift access for less able guests, accessible toilets and bedrooms. Additional facilities for the hard of hearing are also provided. 

Things to do nearby

You’ll find plenty of things to do in Eastbourne and nearby. For walkers there are some fabulous hikes and coastal walks right from the doorstep including the iconic Seven Sisters cliff walk. 

The Towner Gallery  is a five minute walk away and is currently showing the Turner Prize finalist’s  exhibits. The Towner is also home to one of the largest public collections of work by Sussex war time artist Eric Ravilious. 

Nearby villages worth visiting are Alfriston for general quaintness, good pubs and an excellent bookshop. Close to it Rathfinny Vineyard has wine tours and tastings. 

Charleston, home of Virginia Wolf, is also within striking distance as are Glyndebourne and Lewes. If castles are your thing then head to nearby Pevensey or Herstmonceux Castle. Check out our guide to castles in Sussex.

Getting to The Grand, Eastbourne

By Train: From London Victoria Southern Railway goes direct to Eastbourne in under 2 hours.

From the station take a taxi or it’s around 17-minutes on foot.

By Car: Let the hotel know you’re arriving by car and they’ll reserve a space in their car park for you. There are a number of electric charging points in the car park.

Final Thoughts

The hotel itself is beautiful and harks back to a bygone age of elegance and refinement. It’s traditional but not stuffy, refined yet relaxed. The food was first class and made our visit especially memorable.

The service was impeccable. All the staff were friendly, attentive and willing to go the extra mile. 

If you’re looking for an elegant 5-star hotel with fine dining for your next coastal break you’ve just found it.

The Grand Hotel, Eastbourne is part of independent UK based hotel group, Elite Hotels. They also own Tylney Hall in Hampshire and Ashdown Park Hotel near Forest Row in East Sussex. It’s also a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World.


The Grand Hotel, Eastbourne.

King Edwards Parade, 


East Sussex, BN21 4EQ

Our stay at The Grand Eastbourne  was complimentary for the purpose of this review. However, all views, opinions and love of an iconic hotel are entirely my own.