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A la Colthard : The Grand Eastbourne

There is one in Brighton and many in the capital cities of the world but for me there is only Grand by name, style, reputation and tradition: the Grand at Eastbourne.  In her time Daffers has been a naughty girl in many hotels but one which I would never contemplate a cheeky time is the Grand. It’s simply not done.

This is the hotel where Claude Debussy stayed and composed, where the Queen of Spain will book a floor to see her nanny from Eastbourne, where the finest tennis players in the world foregather for the championships at Eastbourne.

I cannot think of any hotel with finer exterior architecture.  A friend of mine who has sadly passed on but had exacting but exquisite taste described it as a wedding cake with its white-as-icing decorated frontage of balconies and terraces. Inside it’s more a case of haute grandeur with comfy armchairs and spacious lounges. It has two restaurants: the Mirabelle and the Garden restaurant. I normally choose the Garden for its gracious salon, somehow more typical of the atmosphere than the Mirabelle, more metro high end dining.

A local couple were my guests. We had Pimms on the outer terrace and on a gloriously sunny day we could have been in Biarritz, Cannes or Monte Carlo in one of their luxurious hotels. We all chose from the set menu, a fish cake and chicken supreme. The fare is traditional but reliable. Another feature I like is that the staff do not change. My guests are regulars, were instantly recognised and called by their  surname, no first names at the Grand. Our waiter chatted of his extra mural commercial activity as an antique dealer. The Maitre D, dressed in those short jackets that Etonians wear known as bum warmers, surfed the big room ever alert, never intrusive. It’s more of an observation than a critique that the cuisine is not innovative.  For puds I had a choccy and mango mousse which did nothing for the Daffers waistline and everything for her taste buds, coffee was take naturally  in the lounge.  There was a slight delay and the Spanish man in charge of the lounge who resembled a courteous Don, mindful of my concern, assured me it was on the way. One advantage of five star hotel dining is the service is impeccable .

With a bottle of Pouilly Fume and the use of two for one discount card my guests possessed the bill came to a reasonable £123. When I asked if this included a tip, they Maitre D informed me that this was entirely at my discretion they would not presume to add it. I had no hesitation in leaving a £20 note and was assured this was put  in the box for the staff.  Some readers might not be aware that the tronc system of collective tipping administered by a tronc  master can be abused by  some restaurants and treated as revenue not as gratuities for staff but I doubt if this would be permitted here . Not at the Grand.



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About Daphne Colthard

After graduating at RADA but finding no roles Daphne went into magazine journalism with Good Housekeeping. Widely recognised as one of the country's leading restaurant and hotel reviewers, particularly by herself, Daphne is the author of "Bedded and Breakfasted", a light hearted chick novel and Grand Hotels DC: the Daffers Dictionary. Daphne lives in West London and is married to an investment banker Oliver. They have 2 boys Humphrey and Tarquin. More Posts