Unlike the Californians, who have honed coastal living to a fine art, we British are not great at seaside hotels. We do grand Victorian piles and grim corporate boxes, but hardly ever affordable, contemporary chic which salutes the sea.
So The Place at the Beach in East Sussex is a treasure - an award-winning seaside hotel which is smart yet unpretentious and welcomes families and dogs while still managing to convey a chilled adult vibe that weekending couples will enjoy.
Camber Sands is a strip of dunes leading to a broad, clean, sandy beach four miles from Rye, itself a jewelled jumble of quaint cobbled streets and antique shops. The Place at the Beach has already managed, with its new young owners, to corral a 2009 Best UK Rural Hotel award, though decor is simple to the point of shabby-chic. Bleached driftwood furniture, crisp white linen and stripey bed-cushions set the scene nicely. But bathrooms, while spotless, are a tad sparse. Free wi-fi does not reach the studio rooms large enough for families and dogs, but can be accessed in the nice sitting-room.
The bar and grill has also attracted a Michelin mention for its excellent young chef, who turns superb local produce into unfussy but memorable fare. As well as fish caught just a few hours before hitting the grill, there are proper gourmet vegetarian dishes, though organic meat is a speciality; puddings are to die for. Fans of the food can stop in pretty Winchelsea en route home, where much of it is on sale at the deli and bakery.
RATES: £85 double with breakfast
TEL: 01797 225 057