More about The Grand Hotel
Have just returned from a weekend stay with mixed feelings. We went for a special birthday as a party of 9 with ages ranging from 9 to 80. The location is ideal right on the seafront although beware the early morning seagulls and rubbish trucks. The rooms were large and clean. The public areas are magnificent and we were impressed by both the indoor and outdoor pools. The staff could not have been more pleasant or helpful. Our biggest complaint was with the restaurant and the food in general. At dinner we rarely got in and out in less than 2 1/2 hours. Both old and young found it difficult to sit for that long. We tried changing our dining time to speed things up but it made no difference. We ended up describing it as a war of attrition as it was terribly hot in there. This would probably have had less impact if the food had been something special but it was not and certainly not what we were expecting from a 5 star hotel at a price of £35 per head. The vegetarian menu was particularly poor and we ended up asking for plain pasta with tomato etc which the staff were happy to cook for us. The wine list was shocking, with bottles I know are £8 in the shops selling at £40. Breakfast was at least quicker although as other reviewers have said no better than you would expect for a 3 or 4 star hotel. Tea was served in the fabulous lounge but surely for £5 a sandwich you are entitled to more than a scraping of egg mayonnaise! Overall a nice weekend but the catering needs a shake up.
Delusions of Grandeur
I'll start with the good points. Building looks stylish from the outside, and most of the public areas are smart.
Staff were outside to meet and greet, and whisk cars away, this being a very busy Saturday.
However: once we walked inside, all went downhill.
I had booked a Junior Suite, as the weekend was to celebrate my wife's birthday. It was not ready for occupancy at the advertised time of 2p.m. We had to wait a further hour, the delay made worse by discovering that the previous guest had been allowed to stay on beyond check out time: at no extra charge.
I had ordered and paid for flowers to be placed in the room : these were nowhere in sight. Upon going down to the Reception to ask about this absent display, it was found sitting behind the front desk.
The bedroom itself was acceptable, but the wallpaper above one of the windows was wet and peeling back, and the window itself didn't open: the sash cord was broken.
I had opted for Half Board at the time of booking,and was asked to state over the telephone, what time I would like my table reserved for.
When we arrived at the Dining Room on the appointed hour, the Head Waiter couldn't find our names or room number upon his list.His attitude suggested that he was doing us a favour, by finding us a table. It might have been better from our point of view if he hadn't bothered, for the food was mediocre, in the extreme.
I could name two 3 star Hotels in the town, who serve far better food: quality, and value for money.
Ordering both afternoon tea in the lounge, and tea for two at any time, is a rip off. The tiny jug of milk that accompanies the beverage, is barely sufficient for one person: let alone two.
And one final warning :beware of events being staged upon the Green on the seafront, directly opposite the Hotel. Admittedly these are beyond the Hotel's control, but the noise from the loudspeakers and public address systems, permeates into every corner at the front of the Hotel. You can forget the idea of a peaceful siesta. Whilst we were there, we had the joys of a '999' weekend, to endure. Another time, we saw a Funfair in place. Does that really enhance the image of a supposed 5 star luxury Hotel? Or, more to the point, would you want to look out of your window, expecting to enjoy a Sea View, and see such 'entertainment'?
Felt thoroughly spolit!
Although I live in Eastbourne, I have stayed at the Grand Hotel on a number of occassions over the past few years. I also eat at 'The Mirabelle' on a regular basis and take afternoon tea a few times a year... so I like to think that I am a bit of an expert on the place!
In August of this year, I booked an overnight stay to celebrate my husband and I's eigth wedding anniversary. As per the previous review on this site, we booked a junior suite. It was roomy and had all the 'trimmings' you would expect (bath robes, molton brown products etc.). Yes, the rooms are a little tierd in terms of decor, but the view of the sea more than makes up for it.
Our room was ready on arrival and, after we had checked in, we spent the afternoon in the health club (swim, sauna, steam room etc) which was very relaxing. For dinner we eat in the mirabelle restuarant (NB: there are two restaurants - I would also eat in the mirabelle if given a choice) which was, as always, fabulous! This restaurant always gets top marks for the food and general level of service (we can't fault it!).
After dinner we retired to the lounge for a night cap. At the weekend there is a small band/singer who sing songs you can dance (i.e. ballroom) or try and move around the dance (like my husband and I do!).
Breakfast was superb - there was so much choice and the quality was excellent.
Overall we had a great stay and felt totally spolit. I would recommend this hotel to anyone.
P.S. You don't have to be old to come to Eastbourne (Mary, aged 33).
A Birthday Treat
We stayed here for one night on Saturday May 6th 2006. The front of house staff were extremely professional and welcoming and we did not find parking a problem. We had a top floor room with sea views which was well furnished, spacious and could easliy accommodate the two extra beds for the children. The bathroom was small but well appointed.
The children (aged 9 yrs and 6 yrs) thoroughly enjoyed the Kids Club (to the extent they did not want to leave) and the same sentiments were expressed in respect of the swimming pool. Whilst it was immediately clear that this hotel attracts a high proportion of elderly guests, at no stage did we feel that we had made a mistake to choose it as a family hotel nor that we were staying in an old people's home.
We did not eat in the hotel at night but ventured into town to find a more informal eaterie. We simply would not tolerate the pretentiousness of any restaurant demanding "jacket and tie" as at the Grand. It also suited us much better to be somewhere more lively and there are plenty of places around. We did however have post-dinner drinks in the hotel bar and we spent a while playing cards and having a thoroughly relaxed end to the evening. We found that the staff in the bar were extremely attentive and helpful.
Breakfast the following morning was, we felt, one of the best we have ever had in a UK hotel so do not recognise some of the comments in other reviews. All in all a good stay and we would return.
Going to the Grand with Kids?
Checked in for 3 nights with 2 kids (1 & 5), attracted by the website focus on providing a good time for kids.
So what was good? Rooms ready on arrival (2 inter-connecting rooms). Clean and spacious. (If a little old-fashioned in terms of decor - but that's the Grand). The Spa great for kids, and the staff in the kid club cheerful and pleasant. High Tea also provided for kids (at £9.50 a head). We used the baby listening service in the evenings to get out of the room. The public areas (especially the Hall) are immaculately kept, and great for tea/drinks/snacks. Probably what sets this hotel apart from others is the level of customer service, which was pretty awesome. Nothing too much trouble: plenty of unforced smiles, plenty of staff on hand (which should be standard for 5* hotels), and a focus on presentation. From Concierge to room-service, all the staff appear well-trained and customer focused.
What could be improved? Not cheap! The entrance to the Spa from the lift appears to be a service corridor, and needs smartening up, as does the overall feel of the Spa which feels a bit dowdy (it is carpeted everywhere the same as the rest of the hotel). We ate in the Garden restaurant for dinner, which is a formal affair. We found the food overpriced for what it was, and the service overly-formal and lacking in much charm. (Didn’t feel any warmth from the waiters at any stage). Also dinner service can take a long time. My tip: if you want to take dinner at the hotel, eat at their Mirabelle restaurant, which is about the same price, but a much more serious kitchen. Also there is no half-way family dining with kids: it’s either a formal restaurant dinner, or a sandwich/cold salad at the bar in the evenings. Nothing in between.
OK, so the clientele can be on the mature side, however, this is off set by the numbers of families around, and if you take kids, you won’t be on your own. Definitely a good place overall for kids, they are well provided for. The major selling point is the service: they do take care of you…. Will go back.
Is this luxury?
We were impressed by the public areas of the Grand. Our welcome was also impressive - friendly and efficient. The porter escorting us to our room was informative and helpful, as was every member of staff with whom we spoke during our 3-night stay. We were delighted with our room, on the second floor of the East Wing, with views of the garden and sea.
However, we were most unhappy with the overall restaurant experience. We had booked a table in the Garden Restaurant, and we entered on the first night with happy anticipation, to be greeted by the screaming - no exaggeration - of a very small child. As children's high teas were on offer, and baby-listening available, we were surprised to see several other small fretful children - also noisy - in the room. The at times unbearable noise seemed to us, as parents ourselves, completely unacceptable. We are not opposed to children staying in hotels - far from it! However, we DO object to small, exhausted infants being kept up well past their bedtime, unnecessarily, when their parents are unable or unwilling to deal with excessive screams and shouts. We might as well have saved ourselves £600 and gone to McDonalds - it would have been no more noisy.
Breakfast the next morning was even worse than dinner, with conversation between the two of us virtually impossible. The late-to-bed infants were now even tetchier through lack of rest, having been shouting and rampaging round the hotel lounges until after 10.00pm the previous night.
Add to this mayhem the fact that in the Garden restaurant the same dinner menu is used on two successive evenings, and the cooked breakfast is self-service, and you might be forgiven for wondering how the Grand can justify their high charges.
Having stayed in other similarly-graded hotels, the Grand does not compare favourably as a luxury hotel - unless your idea of luxury is ordinary food and deafening noise.
We have mentioned all these points to the hotel management, on their questionnaire, and suggested that children under 7 not be permitted in the dining room during dinner. If the suggestion were to be adopted, we MIGHT consider staying again...
Coming back for more
I have stayed at the Grand twice now, once with a friend and the last time in December with my family. We splashed out and booked a junior suite with a sea view. From start to finish we as a family could not have been treated and served better. The room was spacious and comfrotable. Two t.v's meant that the children (then aged 5 and 9) could watch cartoons whilst we could catch up on the news. Facilities like the children's room and swimming pool meant that there were things for my children to do indoors in the cold winter month of December. The food was wonderful (my eldest managed to eat a four course meal!) and even taking the children into the bar for pre dinner drinks was absolutely not a problem for staff there. We have booked to return this December and I would firmly recommend this hotel to families. Having just read a review from a woman who suggested to the Grand that children under 7 are not admitted to the restaurant I would say that if her suggestion were taken up families like mine would suffer! Perhaps I should also mention that my two offspring are not angels either!
The Grand, a Grand old lady, and very much "in-tune" with its location. Location is just what you want, just far enough away from the centre to be peaceful, but easy to walk into the main town. It is a great looking hotel, white, set back from the main road.
The welcome was superb, all luggage taken away, and my car parked up for me in the horel car park. An excellent set of ladies on reception, everything was taken care of very well indeed.
Afternoon tea, as always, an institution. try and get a table by the fireplace, in autumn and winter months it is the place to have your tea. The small pots of jam are of outstanding quality, try the blueberry. The service was impeccable here.
My room, (120) was a "De Luxe" at the back of the hote, that means non sea view. The room was a good size, bigger than I was expecting. TV is small and old. The decor is comfortable, traditional and very much "Eastbourne". The only issue is that the road outside the back of the hotel. It does not have much traffic, but the hotel windows are SINGLE GLAZED, and the frames do not always fit too well. You keep warm by turning up the radiators, but the windows do leak in some noise.
Not a Grand bedroom but comfortable enough.
The bathroom was OK, a bit small, hot water excellent in the evening, but a bit cool in the morning! Not sure that it is a good idea to have carpet in bathrooms!
Dinner: A part of a package, so we had it in the hotel, (remember, a jacket OR a tie, please!)
Barman in the bar is professional, did a good G & T.
Very good service, beef dish was fine if unadventurous, lamb was very good, just as it should be. Vegetables very good. Wine waiter did a good job, although I had to ask for ice in the water jug.
A good selection of 3 cheeses for my dessert, but, too refrigerated, which meant the cheese lost a bit of flavour, and not enough crackers! Shame. My wife's dessert was terrific though. A nice, Grand style dining room. Super.
Breakfast, excellent choices, great fruit, super jam portions again and lots of hot dishes to choose from, 2 types of bacon to choose. Excellent hot coffee, (hotter than the average hotel, well done) Nice experience.
Overall, a nice place to stay, great for Tea, and breakfast.
A Grand Experience
If you are expecting mini bars, flat screen TVs, DVD players, power showers and cutting edge decor don't set foot in this place!
The Grand has probably not changed much in the 30 years I have known the place. Although the whole place has been refreshed the furniture is dreadfully old fashioned. The WOW factor is the staff. We came away after a 3 night break just after Christmas and before New Year when the rates a lower and have never been so relaxed. Staff actually smile, they are helpful, courteous and pleasant and call you by your name. We even had a real French Maid in a delightful pink frilly uniform.
The success of the hotel (and it was absolutely packed) is attention to fine detail ensuring your absolute comfort. We arrived after a gruelling 9 hour drive, the porter suggested we have 2 large gin and tonics delivered to the room (there is 24 hour room service). Large cut class tumbers, lots of ice and lemon, nibbles were sent up before we even had our coats off.
If you are a people watcher, come here. I have never, ever seen such a spectrum of people, old boys on their own (who book in for the entire 2 weeks), couples, thirty somethings with children,
bored teenagers with parents, whole families!
In essence this is what you get: fanastically comfortable beds, superb linen, Molton Brown in the bathroom, turn down service with water left on your bedside table. The dining room (there are 2 restaurants) offers 4 course table d'hote with coffee, with a different menu every night. Crystal as standard, silver, bone china, silver service, candles, amazing flower displays.
Drinks in the bar come at night with little eats, olives, nuts and crisps
The porter takes your car keys so you dont have to worry about the car park..
We saw people having afternoon tea....best booked...mountains of homemade cakes, strawberries, champagne, superb.
This place is value for money on a big scale.