We spent two nights; 25 and 26 May over the Bank Holiday weekend, at the Old Bell hotel which is owned by Shepherd Neame brewery.
Although the hotel has about 8 parking bays in front, it really is pot luck if one is free. Otherwise there is one hour free parking in the side roads (unlimited stay in the evenings or at weekends) or in the public car park (5 minute walk away) for £1/hour.
The exterior of the hotel is beautiful with a very impressive lobby and stunning original tiled flooring. The reception staff are all pleasant but be prepared to be asked to pay for the stay on arrival, as sadly there have been some guests who 'stay and run'!
A majestic staircase takes you to the first floor, there are no lifts, and then more stairs at various levels, some very windy, depending where your room is. Some of the walls and bannisters needed a lick of paint and were badly bashed.
We were in Room 33, one of their larger rooms with a lovely river view. There was plenty of storage, including a blanket box, and a number of mirrors but it would have been better to have the flat screen TV wall mounted instead of on the dressing table, and have one of the mirrors there in its place.
There were two comfortable armchairs. a king-sized good firm bed with cosy cotton sheets, bedside tables and lamps. There was also an ironing board and iron, folding luggage rack, kettle and tea & coffee making facilities. There was a beautiful window seat but shame about the badly peeling paint here and around all the other window frames.
The bathroom was spacious, but hardly any space to put toiletries; just a small shelf above the basin. The brackets of the toilet seat were not fixed in place when we arrived and although this was mended temporarily while we were there, it came totally apart from the toilet and the lid cracked too.
We had a delicious cream tea there on the Saturday in the modern bistro area. The scones, clotted cream and jam were amazing and with a pot of tea each, reasonably priced at £3.25 pp.
Next door to the hotel is a fish n' chip shop, Italian restaurant and Greek restaurant with deafeningly loud music playing till very late on the Saturday night.
Breakfast was taken in the new area or in the restaurant between 7-10am. The staff were pleasant and there was a wide range of food choices; cereals, good quality juices, ham, cheese, granary toast, pain au raisin, pain au chocolat or croissant with tiptree jams. There was then the traditional cooked breakfast - nice sausages but the bacon was a bit fatty, kippers were tasty but the scrambled egg was very watery and smoked salmon had an overly strong taste.
Other than the pretty harbour and the historic buildings, including The Guildhall and museum which can be visited in 10 minutes, and the old city walls, there is not much else to visit in the town.
There are plenty of nearby pubs for dinner which the hotel is happy to suggest.
As far as visiting one of the Cinque Ports, Rye has far more to offer visitors; more upmarket with its eateries, buildings, tea rooms and gift shops.
We enjoyed our time in Sandwich and the hospitality at the hotel, but the accommodaton at £150/night was way over priced and the qualiy of the breakfast disappointing.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- A traditional hotel with a chic modern twist. Thirty-seven individually decorated ensuite bedrooms, a restaurant menu which varies with seasonal availability and a choice of two beautifully refurbished function rooms. The Bell Hotel Sandwich is the ideal choice as a leisure destination or as a venue for weddings, conferences and private events.Throughout the year, the Bell Hotel holds events and exhibitions to: support the local arts, to promote the produce of local and regional farmers and growers and to participate in Sandwich festivals and celebrations ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Bell Hotel Sandwich
- The Bell Hotel Sandwich, Kent