The Grand Hotel Eastbourne has a lot of history associated with it. Lots of musical connections – Debussy completed ‘La Mer’ here in 1905. The BBC Palm Court Orchestra used to broadcast live from The Grand Hall and Dennis Potter’s Cream in My Coffee was filmed here.
Visually “The White Palace” is quite stunning, it’s very much a remnant of a bygone era. Just the sort of place where you would expect to see Miss Marple sitting in the corner knitting.
Our visit on Easter Sunday when The Palm Court Strings were playing was my first opportunity to have a formal “Afternoon Tea” outside London.
We arrived early enough to check out the bar. The drinks selection was not as extensive or as special as it could have been, just some fairly standard Whiskeys, some common brands of Rum and a couple of Sherries. The Cocktail list was much more interesting and the ones we had were very nice indeed. Even if they were expensive – i.e., London cocktail prices, but then again The Grand is a 5 star hotel. So after a leisurely start we made our way to the far end of The Grand Hall where Afternoon Tea is served. The layout was a bit awkward, set up as it was to accommodate The Palm Court Strings, which made it difficult for the staff to serve tea and rather limited our ability to order anything beyond the Champagne Afternoon Tea we had already paid for.
However I have to say, it was the string quartet that really made this an occasion. They only play on the last Sunday of each month and the very conventional Afternoon Tea would have been something of a disappointment without them. Not that there was anything wrong with what we had to eat. The Cake Stand contained a selection of perfectly fine sandwiches, scones and cakes. It was all just a bit too conventional for my taste.
We also had a brief look at the menu for the Hotels main restaurant. Nothing very exciting there either. The pricing structure for a la carte dishes was a bit odd, in that the price quoted per dish was on top of the £27 set menu price which meant that if you went entirely a la carte you had to remember that there was an extra £27 to add to your bill – What’s wrong with just having a set menu and showing “the real prices” for the a la carte dishes? (maybe Miss Marple can get to the bottom of that mystery!).
When we left the Hotel at about 6 o’clock, we were very surprised to still see people sun bathing by the outdoor pool, indeed Eastbourne (on the Sunshine coast) is certainly a sweet spot for a Staycation when you get the kind of weather we had on our visit.
Marks out of 10