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“Disgrace at the Beach”
Review of The Gallivant

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The Gallivant
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Camber
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed November 23, 2009

My wife and I spent a very disappointing 6-8 November weekend at The Place at the Beach. We booked our weekend stay after viewing the hotel’s web site. As it turned out, the gap between the web site’s pretensions and our experience was huge.

According to the web site, the Place at the Beach is “a hotel alongside the beach”, and “one minute’s walk from…wonderful beaches”. This isn’t true. The hotel is situated across the road from a large park with adjacent sand dunes. It took us about fifteen minutes to walk through the car park and the park itself, and then up and over the dunes to the beach. The hotel’s web site also boasts that it was the Sunday Times’s “Rural Hotel of 2009”. After our experience, I checked on the internet and it’s true that a 16 February 2009 Sunday Times feature story named The Place at the Beach as its Best Rural Hotel. However, that was under the hotel’s previous owners, the current owners having bought the hotel in August, 2009.

According to the web site, the restaurant is run by “a classically trained chef”. At dinner on our first night, we waited nearly a half hour for our food to be served, despite there being only six other customers in the restaurant. When our food arrived, one dish was very undercooked, so we asked that it be cooked some more. Our server took it back to the kitchen but returned a few moments later, informing us the chef told her that this was the way it was meant to be cooked and that it didn’t look as rare under the kitchen lighting as it did under the restaurant lighting. We asked again that it be cooked a bit more. About twenty minutes passed before it was brought back, still too rare, and this time as hard as a rock (perhaps having been zapped in the microwave?). In any case, it was inedible.

Fast forward to Sunday morning breakfast when both my wife and I ordered eggs with mushrooms, tomatoes, and brown toast. Apologising, the waitress and restaurant manager explained that we could have eggs, but no mushrooms, tomatoes, or brown bread, as none of those items had been available that morning at the corner shop! The web site description of the restaurant refers to its “locally-sourced food”. It makes no reference to the corner shop!

The restaurant managers and some of the servers did an admirable job of trying to cover up for the inadequacies of the kitchen and the hotel’s general management: “We’ve only been going for three months under the present owners”; “We’re launching a new menu tonight (though the brochure in our bedroom indicated the menu had begun two weeks earlier)”; “We’re about to start training our staff”; and “We’re going to be refinishing the floors and replacing all of the tables and chairs”. Another staff member, Lisa, who worked at reception, did a very professional job, greeting us warmly, and providing us with copies of walking tours in the area. Also on the positive side, our room was clean and quiet, and large enough for the bed, though not a chair.

What struck us most was that the owners don’t seem to know what customers they’re aiming to attract. According to the hotel's “How to find us” web page, the easiest way to get there is by taking a private plane or helicopter to nearby Lydd airport. That suggests an appeal to very wealthy customers. Yet, a staff member told us that a high proportion of customers come to dinner or stay over because they’re drawn to events at the Pontin’s Holiday Park a half-mile down the road.

During the first months in the life of a small hotel/restaurant, you’d expect to see hands-on ownership, ensuring cohesion between the hotel, the restaurant front-of-house, and the kitchen. During our visit, no-one appeared to have authority to get things done outside of their own area. The brochure in our room included a message from Tudor Hopkins, one of the owners, asking customers to call him on his mobile with any questions or comments. Taking him at his word, we phoned his number and left a message, saying that we’d like to tell him about our experience of his hotel and restaurant. Instead of phoning us back, he sent us a text asking, “Who is this?” Later, we were told by staff that he was away for all of the next week. Hopefully, while he was away, for the sake of some of his conscientious staff, he’ll have figured out what to do with this place, starting with the kitchen.

As I prepared to post this review, I noticed another one, dated 4 September, 2009, making many of the same points I’ve made here. So, two months on the hotel/restaurant continues to offer much the same as it did two days after opening!

  • Stayed: November 2009, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank PJMWestLondon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
HotelManagercamber, Owner at The Gallivant, responded to this reviewResponded November 30, 2009

Thank you for taking the time to write such a long response to your recent stay with us. I think an honest straight up reply to your review best benefits both the hotel and the people reading it!

I have been the manager here since November 08 so am proud to have that award as indeed are the staff some of who are still with us today!

Nowhere on our website does it say we are on the beach……please look again!

I walk my dog on the beach every day and although not the fittest person in the world it takes me around 3 minutes depending on which way the mutt pulls me…….not 15 minutes…..anyone reading this can go to Google earth and measure it against say a car in our car park

The roast partridge you had needs to be cooked pink otherwise it tastes too tough however everyone has there own tastes and I am really sorry we did not get that as you wanted it.

Waiting 30 minutes for your starters is virtually impossible based on how many people were in the restaurant and the dishes you ordered…..my restaurant manager very much remembers you both!!

Your breakfast on Sunday was disappointing and indeed we did run out of a couple of items at the end of service so I am really sorry about this. The guys will run down to the shop as a last resort, but trust me this is very rare indeed.

Things do go wrong and we are not perfect but to post a review like this when we have just purchased this hotel in one of the most difficult climates this country has ever seen is quite amazing and potential puts at risk the job security of the staff who rely of this hotel staying open to support their lives (yes it’s that serious in my view).

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1,301 - 1,307 of 1,383 reviews

Reviewed November 23, 2009

Stayed for 3 nights while working nearby. A small and friendly place with an excellent restaurant that has a good menu. The room I stayed in was comfortable and quiet. The staff were attentive and pleasant.

  • Stayed: November 2009, traveled on business
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Thank RoaringBear
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 22, 2009

Relaxed atmosphere - loved sitting on the super comfy sofas reading papers while looking out towards the dunes. Room quite small but decorated tastefully and very clean. Very attentive and helpful front of house staff. Easy parking. Eat in the evening in the restaurant - highly recommended.

  • Stayed: November 2009, traveled as a couple
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Thank essexSS
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
HotelManagercamber, Owner at The Gallivant, responded to this reviewResponded November 27, 2009

Thanks for your comments…..glad you liked our new seating area!

Next time you come let me know and I will upgrade you to one of our deluxe rooms with super king bed and seating area!

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 25, 2009

Great location, friendly staff and inviting looking restaurant. Having said that, all the rest is average apart from the prices which are very high. The rooms are small but clean, and really quite basic (very small tv, no real cupboard to hang your clothes, just an open rack). They also have some family rooms which are much bigger but the interior is very boring. You will feel like you are staying in a motel. My main problem with this place is that it aspires to be a boutique hotel and they sell themselves this waybut it isn't.
The restaurant is more of the same : ok but nothing special. Our expectations might have been too high...
Hopefully the new management will be able to turn things around as this area is crying out for a contemporary decent hotel.

This should not deter you from staying in this area. The beach is fantastic and the walks in the Rye and Winchelsea area are just great.

  • Stayed: October 2009, traveled with friends
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Thank PSML
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 5, 2009

Our days at the Place at the Beach in Chamber were one of the best of our trip to the UK. The proximity to the superb beach, the superfriendly staff and very nice rooms made our stay a most relaxing experience. Also our two small children had a great time there. For sure a place to return to!

  • Stayed: August 2009, traveled with family
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Thank JMDAmsterdam
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
HotelManagercamber, Owner at The Gallivant, responded to this reviewResponded November 27, 2009

Thank you so much for your positive comments about the hotel. We very much hope you will come back and see us again soon!

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Reviewed September 29, 2009

One of my best friends held their wedding reception here a few weeks ago, and although I didn't actually stay at the hotel myself, I was very impressed with the level of service and warm welcome given by the staff from the moment we arrived to set up on the Friday to when we departed on the Sunday. The drinks reception held in the sand dunes was fantastic and so well run, that it felt effortless to all the guests who just kicked off their shoes and socks onto a blanket and enjoyed the champagne and canapes that the staff brought round. The reception food was equally as good, and the staff friendly at all times which definately helped the party atmosphere!

  • Stayed: September 2009, traveled with family
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Thank pd24
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 29, 2009

I only tried the restaurant once, in August, and I was completely disappointed. If you believe their website, you'd expect service and food fit for royalty but, unfortunately, only the prices match the category. The kitchen staff is probably the slowest I've ever met, it took them forever to get me some scollops and when they eventually arrived they were overdone, cold and a bit on the stale side. The wine was a complete disgrace - not only expensive, but also poor in quality. Below contempt, I'm afraid, it almost tasted as though it had been drunk once before. Did I mention that the floor staff was absolutely clueless? Most likely untrained agency casuals from some country I'd probably not dare visit. I tried to complain to the general manager, but the man seemed also very confused about the many issues he had to take care of in his position so we gave up. Same as we gave up on staying over, because I've only glanced at a room and realized it seriously needed some good refurbishing. I'd been given better accommodation in Bulgaria so I expected a lot more. Spend your money somewhere else!

  • Stayed: August 2009, traveled with friends
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2  Thank Upsetosaurus
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about The Gallivant

Address: New Lydd Road | Rye, Camber, Rye TN31 7RB, England
Location: United Kingdom > England > East Sussex > Rye > Camber
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Camber
Price Range: $141 - $241 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — The Gallivant 4*
Number of rooms: 20
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Welcome to our coastal restaurant with rooms, across the road from the dunes of Camber Sands and beautiful sandy beach beyond. Inspired by the coastal motels you might find in California, we're a calm and relaxing hideaway from the stresses and strains of modern life. We have 20 amazing bedrooms all decorated with an eye to the Hamptons and serve great food using almost exclusively locally sourced fresh ingredients. In 2016 we were included in The Times 'Coolest Beach Hotels - No. 4', The Mirror's 'Top 10 Seaside Hotels in the UK' and Squaremeal's 'UK's Best 100 Restaurants'. The private coastal garden incorporates mini secluded decks behind all the Garden and Luxury Garden rooms and is also home to The Beach Hut, where guests can enjoy relaxing massages and lovely facials after a day on the beach using ethical and natural health and beauty products that are exclusively blended in the UK. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
The Place At Beach
Place At The Beach Rye

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