We flung open the drapes and were greeted with the brightest blue sky and sea below. Classical music wafted through the air and the Union Jack flag waved proudly by the sandy boardwalk. Although we only had an overnight in Eastbourne, I couldn’t wait to see what this seaside town had to offer.
It only takes about 90 minutes by train to reach Eastbourne from London, England – although you’ll think you landed in another world. It’s calm and tranquil most days, with gentle waves lapping the beach and countless charming attractions close by. Unlike some of its neighboring waterfront hotspots, Eastbourne seems to enjoy life at a slower pace. But this doesn’t mean it’s lacking any of the grandeur and variety of things to see and do. The lovely endless sunshine and pretty main street appealed to us city slickers as an ideal escape from the chaos.
Eating in Eastbourne
Although it can be a classic experience to have fish and chips along the boardwalk, it’s well worth getting off the main strip to discover what Eastbourne is really about. Easily one of the best meals to be had in town is at the Seasons Café down at the marina. It’s a wonderfully chic and sunny place for a long afternoon lunch, sampling tons of local flavor and perfectly prepared dishes.
While you wait, try their variety of wines with a special card that can be inserted into a machine that provides small pours to sip. While the loaded jacket potato with crab and grilled local fish were plenty, we couldn’t leave without trying the desserts as well – a nearby bakery makes fresh pasteis de nata daily. The owner also let us know one of the server’s husbands had caught the crab I devoured earlier that day. I love knowing restaurants support local economy and support sustainability.
That evening we had another memorable meal with a view at the Beach Deck. It reminded me of Cape Cod in Massachusetts, with neutral beach tones and a sprawling deck overlooking the water.
The staff were incredibly attentive and friendly too – such a nice change from the sometimes cold service in London! We devoured a giant plate of fresh mussels and topped it off with a classic Eton Mess that I’m still dreaming about.
Best Places to Stay in Eastbourne
This town does not lack amazing places to stay. I’m always on the hunt for a little class, a great view and seriously comfy beds as my top requirements. Luckily, the Cavendish Hotel met all my expectations. This pretty waterfront establishment has large, spacious rooms, a lavish lounge and library, lively cocktail bar and ideal location near all the action.
It’s definitely worth booking a room with a seafront balcony, as it affords some super scenic views of the bandstand, boardwalk and beach below. The have room to accommodate groups of friends, couples, families and everyone in between, plus special offers if you’re looking for a quick holiday away mid-week or in the off-season.
It’s an easy walk from the train station down to the main road along the sea, but take your time as there’s lots to experience on the route. We passed tons of boutique stores and places to eat that looked welcoming and bright. All the major shops are also found close by to grab essentials if you need groceries, medicine or other items. Even on a Monday, there were a couple plucky performers that serenaded our walk as well and made it even more pleasant.
After checking into the Cavendish, we boarded the hop-on-hop-off bus to get a better lay of the land. I’ve taken these buses while my parents visited in London, but was very curious to see what Eastbourne’s open-topped bus entailed. We were thrilled to discover that it takes you from town all the way to Beachy Head, so you get a taste of both the town’s history and the incredible countryside and white-chalked cliffs next door. We got off the bus a couple times (it comes every half-hour) to walk along the cliffs and then down the beach to the Seven Sisters, something I’ve wanted to see ever since I moved to the UK. I had no idea we were so close while in Eastbourne!
It was time to get back and gussied up for an evening out on the town. A couple glasses of bubbly got us ready for the Congress Theatre that evening, which was showing a brand new production of Cats. They have a pretty impressive line-up through the year of Broadway musicals, famous comedy acts and concerts. For someone who lives close to the West End, I was impressed at the super professional show, venue and wallet-friendly ticket prices to boot in Eastbourne.
While the summer was just about a perfect time to visit, I’d love to return this fall and enjoy some of that fresh English air along the sea. They will be hosting a fun walking festival in September and October to help welcome more people to hike along the downs and beyond. I’m glad to have found another great place to roam near the city that I can journey to year-round for a relaxing break.
Have you been to Eastbourne? What do you do to escape the city? What’s your favorite UK seaside town? We were invited by the Eastbourne Tourism Board who were wonderful hosts. Absolutely all opinions are my own.