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The Gallivant
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Reviewed November 25, 2009

To be fair, I usually stay at B&B's or Inn, which I love.
Due to circumstances, we opted for this small hotel instead, to broaden the horizon etc.

It has a sort of Aussie feeling, located in the dunes, no sea view.
If you drive up from Romney/Dungeness/Hythe, you pass one of the most depressing landscapes in the UK; any location scout looking for concentration camp background?

The hotel is small, all ground level with a sea theme throughout.
Staff is very friendly and helpful, including the kitchen staff but they are also very harried, unfortunately for them. I suspect too high a workload, it shows, it affects the athmosphere.

The rooms are excellent, perhaps providing a hair dryer would be a good addition.

Had a small lunch that was well presented but average, Breakfast was too, but a table for two is far too cluttered and impractical. The traditional English is fine, while the Haddock and poached egg is excellent but a disappointingly small portion. A small square in a huge soup dish, lol.

Not too fond of toddlers in a dining area, especially when the acoustics don't help either.

All in all not bad, but the website and raving reviews made that I expected more. And I do get more value for the amount spent, elsewhere.

Oh, there was an unscheduled firealarm on Sunday morning but the staff handled that very well and apologized profusely.

  • Stayed: November 2009, traveled with friends
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Thank MarieFrance_67
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 for your feedback on your recent stay with us.

I am really pleased to hear my staff were friendly as we have been hard at work getting a team on board who are able to make our guests feel relaxed and at home.

I agree with you the TV’s in the room are small, we inherited them from the pervious owner. I have now changed the deluxe rooms and 2 double rooms to flat screens (this week). Aiming to have them all done by early next year if not sooner.

I also have started a refurbishment of the bedrooms and today I have back 4 spanking new rooms that look fantastic with more interesting colours that reflect the amazing location we are in.

Next week we will be decorating the conference room that will become our guest retreat and I will be continuing with the bedrooms throughout the winter.

I should also add that this work is very much happening behind closed doors (no structural work is being done) and so there is no guest disruption in any way (quite honestly we could'nt afford that!)

Interestingly our restaurant gets the most positive remarks as it is warm, inviting and very beachy. The drift wood bar and reception normally put a smile on people’s faces. We have just recently created a guest sitting area next to the bar which seems to be proving a bit of a hit.

Once again thank you very much for giving us your feedback, it is a tremendous help and keeps us focused on improving all the time!

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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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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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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.
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