Friday, 6 July 2012

The George in Rye

Friday 14.54 We know we’re going to like Rye the moment we arrive. The Edwardian station, with its wooden signal box on stilts, is straight out of The Railway Children. It’s a few minutes’ walk up the hill to the High Street and our hotel for the night, The George.
Rye station feels like it's straight out of the Railway Children
The imposing, beautifully preserved main building of The George was once a coaching inn, built in 1575. It doesn’t take much imagination to picture horse-drawn carriages depositing their passengers at the grand entrance.
The George has a Gorgeous Pistachio Exterior
The reception, with its plush chairs, formal desks and exposed timbers, maintains the sense of grandeur but it’s welcoming, not intimidating.

All checked in we’re shown to our room. Over time The George's owners have acquired outbuildings and even a complete detached house and converted them into bedrooms, all connected by beautiful shaded courtyards.
The Courtyard sits between the outbuildings at The George

With views over the tiled rooftops of Rye, it almost feels like a self-contained village.

Colourful and playful in Room 45.
We're in room 45, tucked away up its own private staircase. As we enter, we’re charmed by the colourful decor. One wall is papered in bold, but not overwhelming so, flock wallpaper, and its bands of bright hues are picked out in the upholstery and ornaments of the generous space around us.
Man's best friend keeps guard from the mantelpiece
Classic FM is playing on the Tivoli radio by the bed and a perfect shiny apple awaits us on the sideboard.
We’re impressed.

Monsieur 2 always likes a cuppa when we check into a hotel and is pleased to find top-quality Teapigs teas in the caddy. Boiling the kettle is a bit of a challenge; the placing of sockets around the room is a little haphazard, but it’s no big deal, and it’s soon steaming away.

We head out into the town - no need for a map, we just wander. Rye is really beautiful; there are loads of lovely little artsy-craftsy and antique shops clustered down by the quayside and 16th century cottages line the quiet cobbled lanes.

A large cannon (with balls) but no sign of Cher
There’s even a tiny castle, its cannon still pointing out to sea a reminder of Rye’s historical status as one of the powerful Cinque Ports.

Back at The George we decide to freshen up before dinner. In our large bathroom there’s a charming tin bath - very Dickensian! - but it looks barely big enough for one Monsieur never mind two, so we take a shower in the huge tiled shower room instead, happily noting the complimentary REN products.

We’re shown to a great corner table in The Grill and take in the attractive room. Done out in countryside greens with some bold art on the walls it feels modern but unpretentious. As is the menu; divided simply into Starters, From The Grill, From The Sea and Steak-Frites, it’s attentive to locality and seasonality.

To start I have roasted tomato soup, often a boring choice but not here - it’s smoky and subtly spicy, and in the middle there’s a mound of dressed crab on a crouton - the combination of flavours is unusual but works brilliantly.

Msr 2's grilled gambas comes to the table sizzling, the butter bubbling away
I’m envious, though, of Monsieur 2’s amazing main course; five huge prawns, cooked on the white-hot Josper grill and brought to the table in a cast-iron skillet, swimming in bubbling garlic- and chilli-rich butter. Begrudgingly he lets me try one and it’s gorgeous - sweet, salty, spicy...and messy!

Stylish simplicity: marinaded cherries with yoghurt sorbet, served in a frosted Martini glass.
We share a refreshing pudding of marinaded cherries with yoghurt sorbet which, served in a frosted Martini glass, looks as good as it tastes. All in all it’s a fantastic meal; there are clearly some very talented people in the kitchen here.

The bar, The George Tap, has the feel of a cosy country pub even though it sits within the hotel.

It’s busy with locals but we manage to find a corner to cuddle up in for a nightcap.

Cosy corners - perfect for a cheeky night-cap
It’s open 24 hours for guests, a real rarity, but we’re drowsy from dinner so decide it’s time for bed.

We get back to the room to find the bed’s been turned down and the curtains drawn for us, so all we have to do is brush our teeth and fall into bed...

Saturday 08.57
We wake to the sound of seagulls having slept really deeply - the beautiful Frette bed linen was soft as silk and the bed so huge that at times we both wondered if there really was a second Monsieur in there with us!

We dress and go downstairs to the restaurant for breakfast. There’s a huge selection of baked goods and cereals as well as a full English or lighter hot options (eggs Benedict, boiled eggs and soldiers...) - we choose smoked salmon and scrambled eggs. Our hot food arrives before we've even finished drizzling our gorgeous nutty granola in honey; the speed of arrival suggests it’s not cooked to order, which is surprising given the attention to detail at supper. Tasty though!

Time to check out and we can tell that the staff really mean it when they say they hope we’ve enjoyed our stay. We certainly have; The George is a great hotel in a beautiful town that we’ve fallen just a little bit in love with.

Rye is very picturesque
As we stroll back along the cobbled streets to the station, it doesn’t just feel like we’re leaving another place, but another time.

N: The George in Rye
A: 98 High Street  Rye, East Sussex, TN31 7JT
T: 01797 222114
Our rating: 4*

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